Yesterday morning, I received an email in which I was told I would be killed. My killer claimed he was from al-Qaeda.
In theory, I was murdered last night because I did not respond. The killer wanted money. I was to supply him with part of the money after which he would tell me who hated me so much that I should pay with my life. He would also provide me with tapes of conversations with the person who hates me. I would then give him the rest of the money he requested and my life would be spared. Failure to comply meant instant death and harm to my family.
I did not respond, i.e. comply, because I am certain my would-be killer wanted money and that he used the crisis in the Middle East to scare me. I don’t have enemies, so who would want me dead?
I am told that my telephone is bugged, that I am being watched, and that his “boys” are at my doorsteps.
Needless to say, I was instructed not to talk to anyone or phone the police. I waited until today, but did phone the police so that they would know about this latest scam. One does not reply to such emails nor does one send money. It’s extortion.
A police officer came by so he could see the email and collect information.
We must make absolutely sure migrants are not humiliated and that they are given homes and comfortable temporary shelters. Yes, it’s expensive, but so is war. In fact, war is more expensive and children are killed. The carnage has to end now! I am not giving up on Bashar al-Assad. If he wishes to remain President of Syria, his best option is to be a father to his people.
An Angel playing a Flageolet by Edward Burne-Jones (Photo credit:WikiArt.org)
Let me pause so I can wish all of you a Merry Christmas.
You have been very dear to me for several years. In fact, you have been at times a life-line and, because of you, I have researched many topics. I knew these existed, but I took a closer look.
Your posts are informative, lovely, and always a pleasure to read or view.
An Angel playing a Flageolet
Sir Edward Burne-Jones was William Morris‘ friend from the moment they met at Oxford until Morris’ death in 1896. They shared a passion: beauty, the Middle Ages in particular. Burne-Jones is a little somber.
They, Walter Crane, and other members of the Arts and Crafts Movement domesticated beauty and beauty can be domesticated. The apartment I live in has been a disappointment. It has inadequate soundproofing, etc. But what a fine space. It was beautifully designed and a joy to decorate.
A Contract with Saudi Arabia
Raif Badawi: to be flogged
no intervention by Canada’s Prime Minister
I will close by asking you to pray for Raif Badawi. Saudi Arabia is showing no compassion. Flogging Raif Badawi will resume, but he will be flogged indoors. He asked for more tolerance and is therefore innocent. Being flogged will kill him.
Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has decided not to intervene on Raif’s behalf because, under the previous government, Canada signed a lucrative contract with the Saudis: 15 billion dollars for supplying light armoured vehicles.
Planes filled with refugees are arriving in Canada, but the government will fall short of its goal of transporting 10,000 refugees before 2016. Quebec was to greet 3,650. Will it?
Altogether, Canada will take in 25,000 refugees and 15,000 civil servants are working to make sure the normal procedure is followed. Refugees must be identified before they board the planes that will fly them to Canada. They cannot otherwise be supplied with a Social Insurance Number (SIN or NAS) and a Health Insurance Card as soon as they arrive. The Syrian Civil War has created a bureaucratic nightmare for host countries. Canada must nevertheless give Syrians a home.
It will be a humble Christmas, but it will be Christmas. We are now past the Winter Solstice. It occurred on 22 December. Nights will be shorter and shorter.
Refugees started arriving yesterday at Montreal’s Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau airport. Those who arrived yesterday were privately sponsored but the next group will be government-sponsored refugees.
Canadian planes are picking them up and they will find products they may need at the airport. They will also be given a Social Insurance Number so they can start looking for employment and have access to essential services.
I suspect they will also be seen by medical doctors. To my knowledge this is standard procedure. Some may be ill and most will have suffered from exposure. They will be fragile. Their health is an important issue.
We should also consider that many refugees may not find in Canada as comfortable a lifestyle as they enjoyed before war forced them out of their country. They will be homesick.
Given the recent attacks on Paris, several Canadians oppose the Trudeau government’s willingness to take in refugees. They are afraid some Syrian refugees will be terrorists in disguise. Reticence on the part of Canadians is understandable. Moreover, there are real problems in Canada, such as unemployment and underfunded social programmes. Accepting refugees is difficult, but…
Persian Winged Lion with Ram’s Head (Photo credit: Britannica)
Persian Susa (Photo credit: Flicker)
Consider the Opportunities
There is also a very real possibility that these new Canadians will be helpful to Canada. They are bringing far more than a body to feed. They are bringing fine minds and fresh ideas.
A year or two from now, many will be our doctors and teachers. I hope Canadian universities start offering more courses on the Arabic language and Arabic literature. Canadian entrepreneurs could also establish a rug-making industry. Few Canadians can afford hand-knotted rugs made in Canada, but we have billionaires who might commission a few if they find skilled immigrants. The rest of us will make do with tiny manufactured rugs.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, Air Canada has offered to airlift refugees.
A favourite guest of celebrities
Wit, his chief quality
Voltaire lived in a castle, le château de Ferney and befriended Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, and other royals and dignitaries. For instance, in the above image, he is at Sanssouci [literally “without worry”], a castle owned by Friedrich der Große who was an admirer of François-Marie Arouet, known as Voltaire. The artist is Adolph von Menzel (8 December 1815 – 9 February 1905). However, do not expect an example of this decorum in Voltaire’s Candide.
His indomitable wit and his pen were Voltaire’s chief weapons. He rarely went unnoticed. The French call this présence. However, he was forever running to escape the Bastille.
Casanova From lair to lair: “traduit de l’Allemand”
Next to Voltaire, at the round table (Taflerunde) is Casanova, theChevalier de Seingalt (pronounced Saint-Galle) (2 April 1725 – 4 June 1798), the famous Venitian womanizer, but a person who lived among princes and wrote the history of his life, L’Histoire de ma vie (See Casanova, Wikipedia.)
Voltaire published his Candide under a pseudonym, that of Mr. le Docteur Ralph, and claimed the novella had been translated from German, “traduit de l’Allemand.” The frontispiece (cover) of the first edition of Candide, published in 1759, is the work of Jean-Michel Moreau le Jeune. Voltaire was protecting himself.
Voltaire’s Candide is a novella consisting of thirty (30) chapters and published in 1759. It has been described as a picaresque novel. The word picaresque is derived from a Spanish novella entitled La Vida de un pícaro (The Life of a Rogue; short title) or La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes y de sus fortunas y adversidades (The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of his Fortunes and Adversities), by Lazarillo de Tormes (1554). In picaresque novels, characters move from place to place.
The novel is also considered a Bildungsroman or a coming of age novel. In this regard, Voltaire’s Candide resembles Henry Fielding‘s Tom Jones(The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling), 1749. Henri Fielding’s Tom Jones is characterized by obliqueness because Tom, a “foundling,” has no lineage, which gives him a degree of anonymity and impunity. As a Bildungsroman, Voltaire’s Candide has also been associated with Laurence Sterne‘s Tristram Shandy (a Bildungsroman), 1759 – 1767 (9 volumes).
As an oblique novel, Candide has affinities with Montesquieu’s Persian Letters(Lettres persanes) (1721). Montesquieu’s Usbek and Rica, his two Persians, are foreigners and may therefore say anything with impunity. Tom Jones is an “illegitimate” son and a foreigner of sorts. Moreover, Candide invites comparison with Blaise Pascal‘s Lettres provinciales (1656-1567). (See Lettres provinciales, Wikipedia.) Both works feature naïve characters.
Candide, ou l’Optimisme, 1759
Candide is Voltaire’s answer to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz‘ optimism. It has a second title: Candide, ou l’Optimisme. Key sentences and concepts are:
Tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes. (All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.) Il faut cultiver son jardin. (One must cultivate one’s garden.)
There is a cause for each effect.
We are in Westphalia. Candide, the illegitimate son of the Baron Thunder-ten-tronchk’s sister, is kicked out of Paradise when he kisses Cunégonde, the Baron’s daughter. (1)
Candide leaves and is made prisoner by Bulgarian soldiers who flog him and are about to execute him when the Bulgar King arrives and saves Candide whom, he says, is not worth hanging. (2)
In Holland, Candide meets an Anabaptist who looks after him, provides him with a shelter and becomes his teacher. (3) Dr Pangloss, Candide’s mentor at the Baron’s, appears unexpectedly. He caught smallpox and is pockmarked. He tells Candide that everyone has been killed, including Cunégonde. (4)
They leave for Lisbon but are shipwrecked during an earthquake and a tsunami (the 1755 Lisbon earthquake). A sailor lets the Anabaptist drown. Candide is wounded but he and Dr Pangloss survive. (5)
In Lisbon, Dr Pangloss is hanged by the Inquisition and Candide, spanked. (6) Cunégonde watches the auto-da-fé (act-of-faith) and recognizes Candide. An old woman is sent to fetch Candide. (7) Cunégonde is owned by a Jew and an Inquisitor, (8) but staves off their advances, she says. Candide kills both men. (9)
They flee to Buenos Aires. (10) The old woman, the daughter of a pope and a princess, tells how she lost one of her buttocks. (11-12). In Buenos Aires, the Governor falls in love with Cunégonde. (13) Candide and Cacambo continue to flee the Inquisition and arrive in Paraguay where they find Cunégonde’s brother, a Colonel, who has not died. (14) The Colonel will not let Cunégonde marry Candide who belongs to an inferior class. Candide kills him. (15)
Candide and Cacambo carry on but are captured by Oreillons and nearly eaten. They are spared because they are enemies of the Jesuits. A river propels them into El Dorado or Paradise. In El Dorado, there is no religion, just Deism, but they leave. Sheep, laden with treasures, guide them above mountains. They think they will be able to take Cunégonde back. (17 – 18) On their way to Suriname, they lose their sheep and much of their riches (jewels, etc.). However, Cacambo is sent to buy Cunégonde back while Candide and Martin, a poor philosopher, sail for Venice (19).
During the trip across the sea, Martin tells his philosophy. It is diametrically opposed to that of Dr Pangloss. (20 -21) They stop in Paris where Candide falls prey to various crooks, cheat on Cunégonde and gets in trouble. He has to flee. (22) As they, Candide and Martin, pass England, they see an admiral who is being executed because he lost a battle. (23)
In Venice, they find no sign of Cunégonde and the old woman, but meet Paquette, the baroness’ suivante, and Giroflée, a friar. (24) They also visit with a man who claims to be happy, the Pococurante.(25) It’s Carnival time in Venice. While they are having dinner with six dethroned and impoverished monarchs, Cacambo surfaces. (26)
Cunégonde is a slave in Constantinople and has grown ugly. Among the galley slaves in the boat taking them to Constantinople, Candide, Martin and Cacambo recognize Pangloss and the son of the Baron. They have not died. They are bought back. (27) Pangloss tells how the Inquisitors failed to kill him. Similarly, the young Baron was unskillfully killed by Candide and is still alive. (28) Candide buys Cunégonde back and is repulsed.
He will marry her nevertheless, despite the young Baron’s objections. (29) They buy a piece of land and start cultivating their garden. Paquette and friar Giroflée also reappear. All will cultivate the garden. (30)