scraps and vignettes

it often happens that an idea knocks and i transcribe some shorthand note with the intention of returning some day to write about it. which happens only sometimes. and then at other times, i find these disjointed scraps many months later while cleaning emails (received in the form of emails to myself) or text messages or pieces of paper here and there. when this happens, and when a lot of time has lapsed, there is no more the urge and eagerness to return and write these in full, as originally intended.
so it is that i dump them here in their original shorthand glory for your kind perusal:

She was standing there in the blinding sunlight with her crutches, her blue chadar thrown back, and a child holding a book
Safarit bakhair bachim. Safe journey, my son.
Double take.

The intoxictating beauty of Mila Kunis

flashbacks of the big apple.
the huge boulders in the central park in the sitting sun, the barnes and nobles encounter, the late night wandering of the city after the thriller. that momentous visit to the big apple. also the visit to the met.


what a brilliant touch to begin a war movie with ‘the end’ from ‘doors’ playing to a backdrop of burning palms and the old, familliar, terrifying beat of helicopter rotors.

watching apocalypse now for a second time, i was convinced all over again that coppola is a master of imagery and story-telling and (with apocalypse now and the vampire under his belt) of blood and gore and surrealism and terror and of course of the sort of cinematography and editing that can only be rightly described as visual festivity. the redux version is one of the best movies ever made. and with such immediacy in these times of woe and want, and blood and gore, and war and tear, and lies and lullabies.

when was it that i first watched apocalpyse now? i don’t remember. it may be over five years ago now. because when i was watching the movie again so much of it hit me as new. but then again rarely one catches all of a new movie at first glance. which is why i am convinced that if i am to watch it again in a few months’ time, it will still be new. because this sort of movie is not primarily driven by plot that once the plot is given away, it loses interest. quite the contrary. i can give away the plot right now -a journey upriver in a boat in search of an insane officer- and still the experience that is the movie won’t be spoiled. spoilers can’t touch classics. every scene is a plot and narrative of its own. from kilgore to kurtz, every character has a story of his own. truly a character-driven movie.

apocalypse now

i am generally not in the habit of hanging around posters in my living space. all the same a massive poster -i think the shorter dimension was one meter- of apocalypse now (above) with the late marlon brando’s hecrulean skull dominating half of it did fully adorn one of the walls of my dormitory room for a year. there were times i would wake up at night and in the dim light coming from the window emanating from the campus lamp posts, kurtz seemed to come alive and disturb the peace with his talk of the heart of darkness.

and speaking of kurtz talking, here is what i transcribed when i paused the movie at 1:15:57

commitment and counter-insurgency, by col. walter e. kurtz
journal of se asian affairs, voll ii, 7 april 1965‎

as long as our officers and troups (sic) perform tours of duty limited to one year, they will ‎remain dilletantes in war and tourists in vietnam. as long as cold beer, hot food, rock ‎and roll and all the other amenities remain the expected norm, our conduct of the war ‎will gain only impotence. the wholesale and indiscriminate use of firepower will ‎only increase the effectiveness of the enemy and strengthen their resolve to prove the ‎superiority of an agrarian culture against the world’s greatest technocracy. ‎

Commitment and Counter-Insurgency, by Col. Walter E. Kurtz
Journal of SE Asian Affairs, Voll ii, 7 april 1965

As long as our officers and troups perform tours of duty limited to one year, they will remain dilletantes in war and tourists in Vietnam. As long as cold beer, hot food, rock and roll and all the other amenities remain the expected norm, our conduct of the war will gain only impotence. The wholesale and indiscriminate use of firepower will only increase the effectiveness of the enemy and strengthen their resolve to prove the superiority of an agrarian culture against the world’s greatest technocracy.
1:15:47 – Apocalypse Now

The expat in Kabul
Some habits and idiosyncracies

Like many men of yesterday who preffered their women demure and shy and preferably a little childish and not grown up and so forth
The expat also likes his native to embody the best traits of the noble savage
i.e. not fully grown in the rational faculties, preferably emotional and strong and a little full of the primordial force of nature within him, not able to articulate his own thoughts, and experiences (would love the analysis and rationalization and writing and communication of his thoughts and emotions and experiences be left to the expat who will speak on his behalf and for instance write that the native must have gone through such and such emotions etc.) and it is not really attractive to see the native self restrained, able to communicate and articulate his own experiences and thoughts, and worse, speak of the expat in terms that bear a whiff of intelligence and rationality and reason, and not in angry hateful emotionally charged tones..
like his colonial forebears of yore, the expat loves to ‘discover’ –so if you want to endear yourself to the expat, act mysteriously and demurely and in a tight-lipped manner and try to express yourself in broken language and inarticulate language and preferably English that he will need to decipher for himself and thus through having discovered and deciphered your language and communication, have ‘discovered’ you.
Edward said –orientalism
Patronizing

Stuck with late night afghan tv – the rta channel
Discover that old afghan tv archives are still up on and well
Heer yaadona هیر یادونه
Standing there
Scarlet lipstick and gloss
Short hair
That tinge of red
Pink cheekbones
That familiar unfamiliarity with camera
That stationary stature, with the slight sway
Flirting with European fashion
A name like Roxana, or something like that
Not a great voice, but who cares, it is 1972 and Afghanistan has got itself a tv and adorable women singing inside of it.
Always reminds me of her- whose era it was, whose youth was spent in it, with so many hopes, so many hopes, my god, so many hopes. She must have loved them.


he was the nemesis of everyone who said that Afghanistan lacks capacity.
he knew. he sounded so joyfully full of himself, but that’s what he declared out loud in a state of indignant outrage in a meeting to a bunch of not so particularly capacitated expats after he had had it just about up to here with their run of the mill complaints about Afghanistan lacking capacity and making it look like a basket case of morons and retards. Yes, with his mere BA under his belt he stood up there and made the announcement.

What would we do without farabi and jabir ibn hayyan and Khwarizmi? We should commit collective suicide or something

and some thoughts for doing posts on safrang if i ever get around to it

 Tom Schweich’s muchraking – esp. on poppy –poverty nexus, which, contrary to all the hysteria and mythology simply does not exist – refer readers to ICGA to see what comes out
 Another myth – ‘half afghanistan poppy-free”? which half? The half that never did grow poppy? That’s like taking credit for cleaning bamiyan of all Taliban elements…

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~ by safrang on May 17, 2009.

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