Penmanship, Calligraphy, Scripts, and Scriptoria

Soraya Syed, Islamic Calligraphy and Penmanship

To Characters, Puppets, Mimes, and Masks
To Folk Tales
Italo Calvino, Italian Folktales

Book, Vladimir Propp, Theory and History of Folklore
Book, Vladimir Propp, The Russian Folktale

To Myths and Mythology, Gods, and Men

James G Frazer, The Golden Bough
Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces
Edith Hamilton, Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes
Robert Graves, The Greek Myths
Robert Graves, The White Goddess
Roland Barthes, Mythologies
Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology
Stephen Fry, Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece
Christopher Dell, Mythology: An Illustrated Journey Into Our Imagined Worlds
Thomas Bulfinch, Bulfinch’s Mythology
Arthur Cotterell, The Illustrated A-Z of Classic Mythology
Donna Jo Napoli, Treasury of Greek Mythology

Thoughts on Theatre - Poets, Players, Playwrights, and Plays

To Books, Writers, and Writing

To Interesting Writing Sites, Magazines, Journals, and Publishing Houses

Coming soon …

To Films, Screenwriters, and Film Directors

To Art and Artists
To Museums


To Music

To Dancers and to Dances
On Good Teachers - And Good Teaching

Kahlil Gibran, “On Teaching”, Adapted from “The Prophet”
Teachers who walk in the shadow of the temple, among their followers, give not of their wisdom but rather of their faith and lovingness. If they are indeed wise they do not bid you enter the house of their wisdom, but rather lead you to the threshold of your own mind.

Inspiration in French

“Il était une fois … l’homme”, une série d’Albert Barillé

Inspiration in German

Bruno Ganz
(Goethe’s Faust)

Otto Sander

Inspiration in Italian
Inspiration in Spanish
Inspiration in Portuguese
Inspiration in Russian

Vladimir Pozner

Paola Volkova

Inspiration in Arabic

YouTube, Learn Arabic with Maha

YouTube, Learn Arabic with Saafa
Saifi Institute for Arabic Language
Pasteur Street – Gemayzeh
Beirut, Lebanon

ICAM L’Olivier, Geneva


Inspiration in Chinese

Chinese Animation – Magic Brush

Chinese Animation – Uproar in Heaven

Chinese Animation – Why is the Crow Black-Coated?

Chinese Animation – The Proud / Conceited General

Empresses in the Palace

The Empress of China

Chinese Odyssey – Love of Eternity

The Classic of Mountains and Seas

The Legend of Chusen
The Screen Foxes
The Legend of the Blue Sea
The New Shushan Knight Errant
The Journey of Flower
The Princess Wei
Princess Jieyou

Film, The Curse of the Golden Flower


Inspiration in Greek


Ancient Greek
Book, Athenaze
Book, Reading Greek, JACT, Cambridge
Book, A Greek Prose Reading Course, Cambridge
Book, An Intermediate Greek Reader, Lucian, The Ass

App, Memrize

Charity, Classics for All

Inspiration in Turkish

Turkish Language School, Zurich

Inspiration in Latin

YouTube, Cambridge Latin Course
YouTube, Learn / Study Latin

Book Series, Cambridge Latin Course
Book Series, Oxford Latin Course
Book, L A Wilding, Latin Course for Schools
Book, G D A Sharpley, The Complete Latin Course
Book, Eleanor Dickey, Learn Latin from the Romans

Inspiration in Hebrew
Inspiration in Sanskrit

YouTube, Learn / Study Sanskrit

Book, A M Ruppel, The Cambridge Introduction to Sanskrit
Book, Michael Coulson, Complete Sanskrit
Book, Warwick Jessup, A Sanskrit Course for Beginners – Sanskrit is Fun
Book, Warwick Jessup, A Sanskrit Course for Beginners – The Stories of Krishna
Book, Dennis Waite, Sanskrit for Seekers
Book, John M Denton, A Sanskrit Grammar Text
Book, August Schleicher, A Compendium of the Comparative Grammar of the Indo-European, Sanskrit, Greek and Latin Languages
Book, Charles Wilkins, A Grammar of the Sanskrit Language
Book, George Cowell, Life and Letters of Edward Byles Cowell
Book, Carl Cappeller, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Inspiration in Kazakh

Voicework - Bodywork
Harmonic, Overtone, or Throat Singing
To Inspiration in Chanting Mantra
On Meditation
On Monks and Monasticism
To Bindings in the Study of Yoga, Faith, and the World's Religions

Among the Alevi



To Philosophers and Philosophies
Inspiration in PPE - Politics, Philosophy, and Economics
Inspiration in Psychology
To Personality Types


On Identity - Individual and Collective - Group, Tribe, Culture, Religion, and Nation

Book, Amin Maalouf, On Identity

Reflections Specifically on Certain Curiosities in National Identity

Book, Amin Maalouf, On Identity

Open to Desire - On Sex and Sexualities

Book, Mark Eptstein, Open to Desire
Book, Dr Michael Bader, Male Sexuality

To Reflections on Colour, and The Play of Light

Film and Book, Derek Jarman, Blue

(Play of Light)
(Rainbow of Many Colours)
(Colouring It All In)
(Seeing the Light)

On Human Anxiety, Fear, Frustration, Aggression, and Violence
Crime and Punishment
Conflict Management, Hostage Negotiations, and Peace Studies

Book, George Kohlrieser, Hostage at the Table : How Leaders Can Overcome Conflict, Influence Others, and Raise Performance
Book, George Kohlrieser, Care to Dare : Unleashing Astonishing Potential Through Secure Base Leadership

(Book Series, Daniel Goleman: Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence, 11 Volumes)

Book, Alec Grimsley, Vital Conversations : A Practical Approach to Handling Difficult Conversations, Managing Conflict, Giving Feedback, and Influencing Difficult People

On Tyrants and Tyrannies

Art Spiegelman : The Complete Maus
Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny : Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century
Theo Deutinger : Handbook of Tyranny
William Easterly : The Tyranny of Experts : Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor

On Torture


“Nevertheless, the very fact that these punishments, however benign, were meted out is indicative of a shift in views among the French judicial and political elites. For the first time, an officer who had both ordered and carried out torture himself had been brought to justice and received a legal condemnation.

These and related developments help us to comprehend why, even after fifty years after its outbreak, the Algerian war remains a subject of passionate interest for millions of French adults. They are encouraging the young among them to read The Question, in order to comprehend the true history of their nation, even its darkest moments, and to alert the rising generation to be on the lookout for any possible return to barbarism.

But there is yet another explanation, even more contemporary, for the renewal of interest in issues raised by The Question. This explanation moves beyond the boundaries of France. We know that French specialists in ‘muscular interrogation’, or ‘extreme questioning’ (the habitual euphemisms for torture), were able to pursue new careers well beyond the borders of Algeria as soon as the conflict ended there in July 1962. With the authorization of their superiors in the cabinet ministries and the military general staff, General Aussaresses and his fellow officers responded positively to the solicitations of Latin American dictators. These rulers, many of them former military men, had need of the particular talents of their French colleagues to enable them to suppress their populations, which were becoming more and more resistant to their tyrannical rule.

During the years of apartheid, the rulers of South Africa also called upon these professionals for their help and advice. In various countries, including the United States, numerous intelligence officers thus received training in the tasks they would be asked to perform. They were initiated into the methods of the “French school”, with their instructors being former torturers during the Algerian War. This ‘instructional model’ which we have recently seen in operation in Iraq, at the Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere, and at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, is still widely emulated. We have every reason to believe that it will continue to be practiced well into the future.

For a long time it has been a characteristic of governing elites to devote themselves to the interests of the powerful, rather than to the welfare of the masses. Fraudulently they continue to invoke the ‘barbarian menace’ of terrorism. They respond to the grave problems that assail our world – social injustice, frustration, misery, inequality, sickness, and hunger – by a refusal to listen, to understand. Instead they give us war, violence, and torture.

And this is why it is always useful for those who retain a belief in peace, and a hope for a better future, not to forget the lessons of the past, even when they are painful to contemplate.”
Henri Alleg, The Question, pp100-102 (University of Nebraska Press, 1958)

Book, Darius Rejali, Torture and Democracy (2007)

Book, “The Torturer in the Mirror”, Ramsey Clark, Thomas Ehrlich Reifer, Haifa Zangana

Book, Henri Alleg, The Question (University of Nebraska Press, 1958)

Book, Alfred W McCoy, A Question of Torture : CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror (Henry Holt, 2007)


Global Arms Trade

Book, John Berger and Naomi Klein : War With No End


“Poverty to Wealth : Rags to Riches”
William Easterly : The White Man’s Burden
William Easterly : The Tyranny of Experts : Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor
Jessica Cohen and William Easterly : What Works in Development? Thinking Big and Thinking Small
Alan Marsh : Poverty : The Facts
Stephen Armstrong : The New Poverty
Professor Pete Alcock : Understanding Poverty
Ruth Lister : Poverty
Ian Gilbert : The Working Class : Poverty, Education, and Alternative Voices

On Drugs

Make love, not war!

Concerning Our So-Called Oldest Profession
On Homelessness, and Tom o'Bedlam

Tom o’ Bedlam

From the hag and hungry goblin
That into rags would rend ye,
The spirit that stands by the naked man
In the Book of Moons defend ye,
That of your five sound senses
You never be forsaken,
Nor wander from your selves with Tom
Abroad to beg your bacon,
While I do sing, Any food, any feeding,
Feeding, drink, or clothing;
Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
Poor Tom will injure nothing.

Of thirty bare years have I
Twice twenty been enragèd,
And of forty been three times fifteen
In durance soundly cagèd
On the lordly lofts of Bedlam,
With stubble soft and dainty,
Brave bracelets strong, sweet whips ding-dong,
With wholesome hunger plenty,
And now I sing, Any food, any feeding,
Feeding, drink, or clothing;
Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
Poor Tom will injure nothing.

With a thought I took for Maudlin
And a cruse of cockle pottage,
With a thing thus tall, sky bless you all,
I befell into this dotage.
I slept not since the Conquest,
Till then I never wakèd,
Till the roguish boy of love where I lay
Me found and stript me nakèd.
And now I sing, Any food, any feeding,
Feeding, drink, or clothing;
Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
Poor Tom will injure nothing.

When I short have shorn my sow’s face
And swigged my horny barrel,
In an oaken inn I pound my skin
As a suit of gilt apparel;
The moon’s my constant mistress,
And the lowly owl my marrow;
The flaming drake and the night crow make
Me music to my sorrow.
While I do sing, Any food, any feeding,
Feeding, drink, or clothing;
Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
Poor Tom will injure nothing.

The palsy plagues my pulses
When I prig your pigs or pullen,
Your culvers take, or matchless make
Your Chanticleer or Sullen.
When I want provant with Humphrey
I sup, and when benighted,
I repose in Paul’s with waking souls
Yet never am affrighted.
But I do sing, Any food, any feeding,
Feeding, drink, or clothing;
Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
Poor Tom will injure nothing.

I know more than Apollo,
For oft, when he lies sleeping
I see the stars at bloody wars
In the wounded welkin weeping;
The moon embrace her shepherd,
And the Queen of Love her warrior,
While the first doth horn the star of morn,
And the next the heavenly Farrier.
While I do sing, Any food, any feeding,
Feeding, drink, or clothing;
Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
Poor Tom will injure nothing.

The gypsies, Snap and Pedro,
Are none of Tom’s comradoes,
The punk I scorn and the cutpurse sworn,
And the roaring boy’s bravadoes.
The meek, the white, the gentle
Me handle, touch, and spare not;
But those that cross Tom Rynosseros
Do what the panther dare not.
Although I sing, Any food, any feeding,
Feeding, drink, or clothing;
Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
Poor Tom will injure nothing.

With a host of furious fancies
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander.
By a knight of ghosts and shadows
I summoned am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wide world’s end::
Methinks it is no journey.
Yet will I sing, Any food, any feeding,
Feeding, drink, or clothing;
Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
Poor Tom will injure nothing.

Human Flow


Film, Ai Wei Wei, Human Flow

(Migration) (Exile) (Seeking Refuge) (Returning Home)

Human Rights

Text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.

(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.

(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.

(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

United Nations


To Readings in the Study of History

Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

The Venerable Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People


Simon Schama
Michael Wood

Inspiration in Popular Science
Shakuhachi Sounds
The Song of the Ney

Ostad Lotfi


Hedi Azarpour

Saz Baglama
Yerba Mate


How did yerba mate arrive in the Middle East?
I guess to answer this question, we have to take a step back and talk a little bit about History. The first wave of Arabs came to South America around the 1860s. Around this time, Pedro II Emperor of Brazil travelled to modern day Lebanon and was amazed with the culture he found there. Upon his return to South America, he arranged for several Arab immigrants to settle in regions bordering Argentina and Paraguay (modern day Parana).

Around the same time, many other Syrian and Lebanese immigrants were making their way into Argentina in order to escape persecution by the Ottoman Turks and the Italo-Turkish War.  When they were first processed in the ports of Argentina, they were classified as Turks because what is modern day Lebanon and Syria was a territory of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Even today, we still call all Arabs “Turks” in most regions of Brazil.

Around the 1940s the number of Arab immigrants, mainly from Syria and Lebanon, increased again because young people were called to fight in World War II (Syria and Lebanon were French colonies); this number increased further during the Lebanese civil war, which began in 1958.

Finally in the mid 1970s, the number of immigrants decreased dramatically, due to the poor instable economic situation of most South American countries and the oil boom in Arab countries. It was also around this time that many Lebanese and Syrian immigrants returned to their homeland, taking with them the acquired habit o drinking yerba mate.

Today, Syria remains the biggest importer of yerba mate in the world, importing 15,000 tons a year. It is mostly the Druze community in Syria and Lebanon who maintain the culture and practice of mate.

To Fashions and Lifestyles
From the Archaic to the Arcane
From Alpha to Omega, and Other Odds and Ends

YouTube, “Geography Now”

Books Still Waiting To Be Read






Key Questions

To where does your heart most often take your thoughts?

Curses Upon It