Saturday, August 21, 2010

Contemplating Rarity & Intellect Among Egypt's Masses

I recently read a blog post written by an Egyptian friend who recently finished university and has now entered the working world. In his post, he discusses the weight of words to ordinary Egyptians, a consequence of rarity, and the implications on intellect.

I want to post a few excerpts here, but I highly recommend you read his post. It offers both an interesting - if sad - theory and a look into the mind of a young working Egyptian.

When someone is expressing an opinion which happens to deter from the norm, unfortunately your average Egyptian would consider it a proverbial slap in the face. A 'how could you?' reaction is automatically fired back. This sensitivity has given more weight to the word. Since the average Egyptian is a text book conformist, varying opinions are a rarity, which produces millions of citizens who can't converse objectively and effectively with people they may disagree with.
He goes on to discuss intellect and education in Egypt, beginning with the following observation:

I've was curious in school why the Arabic word for mathematics was a word almost exactly like the word for sports. The answer to that of course was that the brain is like any other muscle in the body that always requires exercise. Mathematics to the brain is like running to the legs.
Unfortunately, he argues, a combination of factors - including summer hit films and music mass-produced by the culture industry - have led to a declining intellect, as Egyptians no longer exercise their brains. "It is not uncommon to meet a person with esteemed academic merits and a frigid inflexible mentality," he says.

Anyway, these are his thoughts, not mine. Go read his post and think about it.

In other news, a stolen Van Gogh painting has been recovered at Cairo Airport. An Italian couple had it. The painting, worth $50 million, was stolen this morning from Cairo's Mahmoud Khalil Museum. Turns out, this is the second time it's been stolen from the museum - the first time was in 1978.

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