12 May 2009

Century Of The Self

An amazing, inspiring, revealing documentary by Adam Curtis.

There are four episodes:

  1. Happiness Machines
  2. The Engineering of Consent
  3. There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed
  4. Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering
I have embedded these Youtube recordings of the film below, in order.

Episode 1:
Happiness Machines

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Episode 2:
The Engineering of Consent

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Episode 3:
There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Episode 4:
Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6


17 January 2009

My friends, Maymanah and Athir

Maymanah Farhat's articles, most recently an article on Gazan artists.

Maymanah with husband, painter Athir Shayota (1) (2), and new daughter Souha.

11 January 2009

Israeli Terrorist Army stooge PUNKED

listen to the audio here as a stooge of the Israeli Destruction Forces is PUNKED by a caller:


07 January 2009

Modern David & Goliath

artwork by Ben Heine
click to enlarge

06 January 2009

Gaza Endures

A blogger living in Gaza under fire. Click banner:

(design by Ben Heine)

29 December 2008

Gaza Rising, Palestine Rising

07 December 2008

20 October 2008

Saga of a Calling Card

(enlarge pictures for larger view)

I've been asked countless times if I had a business card or calling card, and my answer has always been an awkward nay. So I set out to create one. I started with the first one below. I wanted to incorporate images from my paintings as well as my Arabic geometric design work. I included one of the most recent paintings from my Land Memory series, as well as a cropped section of an earlier watercolor portrait. I also included my name written in a Kufi script I developed in Adobe Illustrator recently; (I will post about this script in the near future.)

But I did not like the design. It looked too contrived, too organized; and the Arabic geometric designs on the left felt too random, and looked too small and detailed to be visible with any accuracy when printed in such a small format as a business card. So I played with it some more and enlarged them:

and considered some other background color options, including this one:

But Alas, it still felt too, I don't know, blah. So I experimented with a vertical design, in which I decided to showcase only one painting, and came up with these two variations of one design:

but I was still dissatisfied. So I called Radfan Alqirsh, a good artist, graphic designer and filmmaker, and he took the elements that I had been playing with and came up with the first design below. At first, I was shocked. How could he chop off my painting like that? and how could he cover it up with so much stuff? and how are people supposed to see the Arabic geometric designs if they are all white and faded like that? But still, there was something about the design that captivated me, yet I would not succumb to admit it to myself.

I decided to sleep on it. Literally. (I was watching old episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents on my laptop, in bed, and actually fell asleep a bit too close to the laptop, which sat on the mattress next to me.) When I woke the next morning, I took another look at Radfan's design, and decided that I liked it very very much. It not only focuses on quite a dramatic section of my painting, but it also does a marvelous thing with color, juxtaposing that blue-green with a nice pumpkin red-orange; and I also love the way the pattern of Arabic geometric motifs disappear in the white areas of the painting, and come through in the dark areas, as if to follow the curve from left to right. But I still wanted to expose at least one of the geometric stars, so I added a bit of color to one lonely star, and Radfan liked it. So finally, this is the one I'm printing.


12 October 2008

Arabic Geometric Design 7azzoora

Who would like to try to solve a 7azzoora? In my ongoing quest to dissect, try to understand, and re-invent traditional Arabic geometric design through a digital medium, I have created here 12 versions of the same design motif. Here's the 7azzoora: Which two are identical?!?

(click on image for larger view)

© Ibn Bint Jbeil 2008

30 September 2008


On the occasion of this happy Eid, one cannot but look forward towards a hopeful tomorrow, when future generations of Arab-Americans will evolve into a more synthesized community of Arab + American, when they will become a truer hybrid (!) of the two cultures. Some presumed new elements of this new culture will be things like new hybrid foods, fashion, and language.

While many of these phenomena have already manifested themselves today, such as "Hijab Chique," "Robot Hijab," and "Shawarma Ceasar Salad," the future Arabic language, in particular, will have evolved to become a vague semblance of its original self, used in incomrehendible fragments, marginally, and in passing, within everyday English speech. One predictable word that may arise could very well be a standardized Eid greeting that will be popular amongst most of the new Hoamus, Tibuli & Meatloaf generation. I think it will be something easy to remember and almost mono-syllablic, like: "TENADELEYK!!"

Therefore, youngsters might approach an elder of their family on the day of the Eid and say something like:

"Tenadeleyk, Amo!"
(listen to audio)
To which the elder might respond:
"Smella, smella, yekzaleyn! Tenadeleyk, everybody!"
(listen to audio)
Of course, rarely will one find anyone in the future Arab-American community who will actually have any notion of the original etymology of these new words. (I learned the word etymology from wikipedia.)

So that's it for today. Oh, and when someone dies, they might say, "Awadeleyk" instead of "Tenadeleyk."
:: authored by Ibn Bint Jbeil. Original conceptual development in conjunction with Ibn Her Bear's Bird.

14 September 2008

This Ramadan...

This Ramadan does not feel complete. I am alone during this Ramadan, and it is not a good feeling. Some things are missing from deep inside me.

Gracious Ramadan and Blessed Eid

graphics © Ibn Bint Jbeil 2008
(click for larger images)


11 August 2008

The Passing of Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish
In Loyal Memory
to the greatest Arab writer of our time

(graphic by Ibn Bint Jbeil)

Mahmoud Darwish passed away this weekend, and with him passes a grand epoch of our collective existence. For many of us, his poetry embodied our life struggle, our populist dreams and our humanist expressions, and the struggles and dreams and expressions of our mothers and fathers. His writing will remain a testament to his artistry and vision, and will always light the path so long as the struggle for freedom continues.

With an inspired voice unparalleled by anyone in the realm of modern Arabic literature, Darwish uttered eloquent ballads of Heaven and Earth. With words, he painted lavish murals depicting the struggle between the heroism of the meek and the futile brutality of the faceless tyrant. With an eloquence reminiscent of sages and prophets, he spoke revelations of man's grappling with his own humanity, with his tragedy and his memory. His poems stood on the virtues of a humble commonness, a melancholy beseeching for love and truth, and a fervent honorable struggle for dignity and freedom.

Mahmoud Darwish's poetry inspired millions of my generation, and many more millions of my parents' generation, to a deep, emotional understanding and appreciation of our own humanity, with all its contradictions, through the lens of the Palestinian and Arab struggles. Many of my friends and artist-contemporaries who grew up as exiles, be they Palestinians, Lebanese or other Arabs, became artists, writers and filmmakers and nourished from the roots of the Palestinian, Arab and African-American struggles, and were inspired by such giants of Arts & Letters as Mahmoud Darwish, Naji El-Ali, Marcel Khalife, Malcolm X, Sheikh Imam, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, and others.

In addition to all the shortcomings that will be found in Western obituaries about Darwish, perhaps the greatest bias perpetrated against him was his continued exclusion from the Nobel Prize for Literature, which many favored him to receive in recent years. The Nobel committee chose instead a token Arab for a once and only time granting of the prize to an Arab, giving Naguib Mahfouz the prize in 1988. No comparison there, but the reasons become clear when one considers the subject matter of Mahfouz, more palatable to mainstream Western political persuasions, and when one also considers that the mere utterance of the word Palestinian, let alone Palestine, in the West, in any way that gives recognition, is almost unfathomable.

Mahmoud Darwish's death makes us sad today, but he will not be missed, for he left us with a resplendent and revered volume of poetry that will inspire us for generations to come, and his characteristically Palestinian nostalgia for freedom will also manifest itself in generations to come.

LISTEN to Mahmoud Darwish's voice in recitation of his own poetry.

31 July 2008

Fee Lubnan

I guess my article about "Life in Lebanon: Between Shatara and Junoon" did not come. Instead, I came up with the poem below. Maybe the article will come in a week or a month or a year; but it will definitely come. Also, check out the pictures at the bottom of this post. (I have been slow in downloading and organizing the pictures I've taken. More to come later.)

As I type this, I am sitting in an internet cafe, listening to a couple of shatreen men argue in a shatreen way about shatreen stuff.

Maybe the article will manifest itself when I go back to the States and am able to observe "American Shatara" in contrast to "Lebanese Shatara." We'll See. Oh, and for the English-only readers out there, sorry that the poem below is in Arabic. Any writer-translators care to translate it for us? Also, since Arabic grammar is not one of my strengths, I would appreciate it if someone points out any silly grammatical errors in my Arabic writing.

في لبنانَ بينَ الشطارةِ والجنونِ

في لبنانَ، أشتاقُ لنفْسي

أشتاقُ لأحلامي

وليومٍ ضِعتُ فيهِ بينَ الأرضِ والسماء

ليسَ في الشوارعِ هُنا إلا كبتُ الأنفُسِ والأنفاس

ونِسيانُ التفكُّرِ ونُكرانُ التأمُّل

وشطبُ العيونِ عمَّنْ يراها

هنا، إمتدادُ ُ هائلُ ُ منَ الأغلاطِ والهستيريات

في يومٍ، كان في عينيَ اليسارُ وحدَها

خمسُ ُ وعشرونَ الفَ شجرةِ ليمون

في لبنانَ اليوم، شوقُ ُ كبيرُ ُ لزهرِ الليمونِ ورائحةِ الطُّمأنينةِ

شوقُ ُ يمتدُّ من أفواه المارّين

يمتدُّ في الشوارِع

بين الخيرِ والمـُصيبة

هنا في لبنان، الغيومُ لا تبحثُ عن أحدٍ، لا تبحثُ عن دورٍ

بل تجلِس دائماً في الهواءِ، جامدةً كثيرانٍ حديدية

تتثاوب كعادةٍ مُـملَّة، من الوظيفة المفروضة عليها

تُراقبُ بائعي الأصوات المرتفعة

تُراقبُ غلاماً يتلاعَبُ بين واجباتِه

مَطلياً بزيتِ الموتيراتِ من أضلاعِهِ حتى رباطِ حِذائِهِ

جُلُّ نُكرانِ الخالقِ اضطهادُ غُلامٍ صغير

لم يبقَ في عينيهِ زيتونِيَّةِ السوادِ

ليمرَحَ معَ رفاقِهِ في مروجِ أُرجوانِيَّةِ الرُّمان

عيناهُ فقط تَبصُقُ الويلاتَ في الدُروبِ

بينَ الإحتيالِ والنِفاياتِ

عيناهُ تمنعُ المقتِرِبَ مِنهُما عن معرفةِ أسماءِ الآلامِ

ليسَ في الأزقَّةِ هنا إلا رموشُ ُ فتيَّةُ ُ، مُثَقَّلَةُ ُ بالجهلِ والغَبائر

هنا في لبنان

الشوارعُ كشرايينِ النَّدَمِ، تَضيقُ داخلِ نفسِها

والغضبُ المريضُ يسبَحُ فيها باحثاً عن نافذة

والرِّجالُ فيها تَصبِحُ بِدونِ قداسة

والأطفالُ فيها تَصبِحُ بِدونِ خوف

والنساءُ فيها تَصبِحُ بِدونِ غريزة

في لبنان

أبحثُ عن حِبالِ الأمَلِ

لكي أَحيكَ بها لولدي بلدُ ُ بحجمِهِ

مُتنامي الحجمِ الى الكواكِبِ

متينُ الزَّرعِ الى طموحِهِ

نظيفُ الوعدِ الى طُهرِ قلبِهِ

لا يحتاجُ فيه لأحدٍ لكي يُعَلِّمَهُ عن جمالِ الأرض

لكِنَّ في لبنان اليوم، البلادَ تحتاجُ لأن تُذِلَّهُ

تُذِلُّهُ في آخرِ كسوفِ البلاِد المقتربِ دوماً

تُذِلُّهُ في صراعِها المُتبقِّي دوماً، بين الشطارةِ والجنون

في تفكُّكِ الليلِ المُعتِمِ

أبحثُ عنِ اللًّونِ في يدي

أسمَعُ رجُلاً يُفلِتُ بُكاءَهُ في سمَّاعةِ الهاتِف

متسائلاً عن وجهه الضائع

في لبنانَ، شطارةُ الإنسانِ تأكُلُ عقلَ الإنسان

والشطارةُ تبحثُ عن رفشِ فلاحٍ ليقطَعَ رأسَها

ليَتَخَلَّصَ عقلُ الإنسانِ منها

هنا المجنونُ يركبُ مِـنبَراً أو قريةً أو شاحِـنَةً أو سوق

ليُروِّضَـها بمهارةِ لحَّامٍ

فلونُ اللَّحمِ الأحمرِ الأبيضِ يَسُرُّ عُيونَ الناظرين

واللَّحامُ الشاطرُ يُصَـنِّفُ المذبوحينَ

بينَ المُستَحِقِّ والـمَغبون

والناسُ تَسعى لاهِيَةً

بينَ بِلاطِ المجنونِ الشاطرِ

وبِلاطِ الشاطرِ المجنونِ

My boy on Farah, my uncle's horse. Behind him is the olive grove, and the Barn that Israel destroyed in 2006. Also destroyed were his goats, hens, rooster, doves, quail, and 75% of his beehives. Some of the olive trees were damaged.

03 July 2008

Lebanon grabs me and shakes me up

I am still in shock.

Actually, I have moved to a state of depression. (But am also still in shock.)

For someone trying to settle his family in Lebanon, and thereby deal with everyday matters from the perspective of a resident of the country, not a happenstance tourist, Lebanon is certainly a very difficult place to be. It is utter chaos.
I am sure there are some places elsewhere in the country that are more orderly and user-friendly, but are probably out of reach, financially speaking, for the average low income Lebanese.

When I say chaos, I mean literally, a place that runs on a chaotic array of non-systems of living. With all due respect to the various wonderful anarchists I've met over the years in Detroit, who romantically dream of a time and place one day when everything and everyone will be free from all authority and and all systems and all constraints and all that jazz, well, I think I found it, and I don't think you want to try to live here!! Or maybe you do, I don't know. It might be a fun experiment for a single person or a group of young people, but trying to raise a family here is going to be more complicated than I thought.

Everything is counter-intuitive, irrational, aggressive, vague. From driving, to requesting a telephone line, to talking to strangers, to socializing with relatives, to trying to get a simple home repair, to the gross abuse of the working class by the government and by those with capital, to the gross abuse of the environment by everyone, etc.. The bottom line is: If you are not one of those elites who have gazillions of American Dollars to wave around and make things happen, then you are left to the mercy of the street culture, where every human, be they man, woman or child, is primarily engaged in the act of survival in a jungle of wits, where the last thing you should expect is an honest, straight answer.

I am beginning to develop of sense of caution and apprehension at any word that is promised to me by anyone.

I want to write a book or a long article titled:

الحياة اليومية في لبنان

شطارة أم جنون؟

I am tired now and will post more later. Wish me luck.

14 June 2008

Off to Lubnan

My family and I will be leaving for Lubnan in two days. I went to the studio yesterday and emptied my entire library of books into almost two dozen boxes, which I stuffed into our little car, which I am shipping to Lubnan (the whole car full of books) via a big sea ship across the Atlantic. I hope to revive my library somewhere in Lubnan. I have some book shelves, a drafting table, easle, and a few paintings left, which I will store in my brother's garage. Thus ends 29.8 years of accumulation of material stuff in the U.S., a period which includes 12.4 years of marriage and 10.97 years of raising children.

It is customary for our people that when a person sets out on a long journey, one asks for forgiveness from all his acquaintances in the land that he is leaving, in case perchance he has wronged them somehow, and in the event that misfortune or ill may befall him on the way of his travels, and he does not receive another opportunity to ask for forgiveness. So please forgive me and my family for any maltreatment, gossip, or any physical, emotional or monetary harm we may have inadvertently or knowingly caused you.

See you in Lubnan!

30 May 2008

5 Days Until . . . .

. . . . my family and I will smell, see, touch and taste the lovely red soil of Lubnan.

I promised my 9 year old son, who is infatuated with geography and nature, that we will visit the highest white peaks of the Lebanese Mountains, and explore the blue sea, and roam amongst the hills and valleys of the South, and swim in all kinds of rivers, and climb all the fig and olive trees.


17 May 2008

Karm el-Meedan, Land Memory Series

This is the latest of my paintings in the Land Memory Series (see here for previous paintings in this series.) This latest one is called Karm el-Meedan, and is actually a composite of 16 unstretched canvases, each 12 inches square. It is not just paintings, but mixed media composed of paintings and found objects, including ceramic shards, bullet casings and rusted barbed wire fragments.

I found these objects on my last visit to Lebanon in 2004, in my family village of Bint Jbeil. I had not been to Bint Jbeil since 1978, when Israel first occupied it. I was in Karm el-Meedan, the field that my ancestors had farmed in the past, located next to my family's home in BintJbeil, walking around the field, kicking up dirt and rocks, when I suddenly saw the glistening color of a glazed object. I bent over to pick it up and found that it was a broken piece of old pottery. (The first question that came to mind was how old it was.) I kept walking around the field, looking closer into the ground, and found that there were more pieces of pottery in the soil, some deep in the soil, which i found after digging into the dirt, and some peeking slightly from the surface, more easily discoverable. I spent quite some time looking and in the end was able to discover almost 100 pieces, of various sizes. Some had a distinctly familiar beige/reddish brown pattern on them, such as on the drinking Ibreeq that most Lebanese have had in their homes at one time or another; but other pieces had more strange and curious patterns and colors, one particular lime green one remains my favorite.

I later discussed these pieces with my father, asking him why there were so many and which time period he thinks they came from. He remembered that when he was a child in the village, it was common practice to dispose of broken pots and jugs by breaking them into smaller pieces and throwing them back into the earth. Pottery was one of the few items of waste that human society created back then that did not degrade into the earth immediately, although its integration into the soil is not altogether harmful, because it retains water and later releases it back into the soil. (This is in strong contrast to the unfathomable amounts of toxic and non-bio-degradable waste that we create today, and heap into the earth or air or water, without the slightest apprehension or care.) So we surmised that the pieces of pottery must be approximately half a century old or more; this would would have been the last time my family had peacefully farmed their land in Bint Jbeil, before the advent of Israeli aggression which brought the ceaseless harassment of village life, eventually forcing the majority of people to migrate out of the village or out of the country. Along with the pieces of pottery, I also found the few bullet casings and pieces of barbed wire, remnants of war whose sounds still echo in our ears.

Since the discovery, I've known that I would use the found objects, especially the pottery, in some kind of art assembly, but had no idea how I would go about doing this. For a while they were in storage, until I was midway through the Karm el-Meedan painting. The idea came to me when I began to realize that the land formations in the painting seemed a bit empty, as if they were awaiting some kind of additional element, such as the evidence of human existence on the land; thus the fusion of imagined land fused with actual objects from the land came together to complete each other in the finalized work.

Here are close-ups of some of the 16 panels:

Below is Karm el-Meedan as it appears on display at Siraj Cafe.


09 May 2008

in Palestine, in Lebanon, and everywhere...

I like to imagine that
the spirit of this painting glows radiantly
within the breasts of the freedom seeking people
of the world,

but it's meaning is lost on those who grovel
at the feet of money and empire.

( image: Le domaine d'Arnheim
René Magritte, 1962 )

06 May 2008

Penetrate the Wall With Poetry

Click onto Edward's angelic face
to penetrate the apartheid wall
and hear Mahmoud's cosmic voice.

18 April 2008

Vote for ONLY ONE!

UPDATE: The poll closed at the end of May. There were a total of 40 votes. Kabar Mo Aba received 11 votes (27%), Noj CmMain received 12 votes (30%), and Ryhilla Tinclin came out on top with 17 votes (42%). Too bad she lost in real life. Ha Ha!

(The poll question was: which candidate's campaign picture do you like most?)


13 April 2008



05 April 2008



28 March 2008



24 March 2008



21 March 2008



07 March 2008

Palestine Forever

Domination, enslavement, besiegement, starvation, terror, slaughter. This is daily life for the Palestinians of Gaza. The malicious, detestable, vicious, repulsive, contemptible world looks on. The cowardly, unscrupulous, gutless, deceitful, devious, disingenuous, snide Arab governments look away.

click picture for slideshow of images

25 February 2008

Gallery Talk at Sari Khoury Exhibit

I will be giving a gallery talk at the Arab American National Museum this coming Sunday, to coincide with their current retrospective exhibit of the art of Sari Khoury. The gallery talk is titled "Abstraction and the Personal Voice," and is open to the public. Everyone is invited to come, and participate in the discussion if you like.

Date: Sunday, March 2nd, 2008.
Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Place: Arab American National Museum, 13624 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, Michigan.
Museum admission is free on Sundays.

Click to go to the website of the late Sari Khoury:


16 February 2008

Images from our World

Some photographs of our world in recent weeks, taken from news sources. Click for larger images.

Ramallah, Palestine

Gaza, Palestine

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Amman, Jordan

Beirut, Lebanon

Beirut, Lebanon

Baghdad, Iraq

Baqouba, Iraq

Beirut, Lebanon

Beirut, Lebanon

Gaza, Palestine

Gaza, Palestine

Bethlehem, Palestine

Jerusalem, Palestine

Lahore, Pakistan