Resolving Differences in the Desert


Bab’Aziz, the Prince who Contemplated His Soul. Directed by Nacer Khemir. Switzerland /Hungary /France /Germany /Iran /Tunisia /UK, 2005.

“Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows. The really diligent student in one of the crowded hives of Cambridge College is as solitary as a dervis (sic) in the desert.”Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Whether Thoreau really understood the religious ecstasy of Sufi practice firsthand or was offering an off-hand orientalist reference may remain debatable, but what strikes one as most compelling in the above quote is the acute contrast of the simile: a bustling intellectual center and the starkness of an exotic locale.

The desert, that powerful setting, is just the type of place where contradiction, like the one Thoreau offers, seem to resolve themselves and where paradoxes shape reality. It is a landscape where the unseen is as undeniable as the awesome forces of nature that cut the extreme terrain. Nacer Khemir evokes this leviathan of the desert sea and then tries to wrestle a harness over the beast by contrasting it against an alienating modern world.

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Dry Humor on Humid Grounds

Being a YouTube celebrity requires cutting edge creativity, cunning new media awareness, or utter obliviousity – I like to think of myself as a paragon of all of these.

My name is Hisham Fageeh, and I am the owner of the hit Saudi YouTube comedy channel HishamComedy. The channel is just shy of 3 million views in its 11th week.The channel is distinguished by its stylistic approach to (Saudi) humor, which is a satire faux-vlog of a disenfranchised Saudi guy living in the United States. He uses outdated Hijazi, specifically Makkawi, idiomatic expressions to articulate his disillusioned, cynical view of the American experience.

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