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Barie Fez-Barringten

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Anomie
By Barie Fez-Barringten   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, June 13, 2014
Posted: Friday, January 30, 2009

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Exhuming my past Anomie and fond memories.
From childhood I knew that “man” remembers his past, animals do not; they repeat their habits. This is their nature. Man’s nature is to experience one thing and then remember it. Once remembered he may choose to repeat it as part of his life style and cultural habitat. The behavior then becomes his cacoon, habitat, inner circle, turf security zone and place where he can orient himself. I too knew that one may feel alone in a crowd. I could sense separation and distance while with family and loved ones. Change and dislocation were not the only reasons for discomfort. Was I really the authentic person who I was told I was?

"Anomie"

By Barie Fez-Barringten

www.bariefez-barringten.com

I welcome your email:bariefezbarringten.gmail.com

 

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Exhuming my past Anomie and fond memories.

              This is written to help those who may have a sense that things are not just right and yet do not know what that might be. You may be jsut beginning ,in the midst or at the end of life's journey and find your very being challanged. Aside from our faith this may be one of the most improtant fundamentals. From childhood I knew that “man” remembers his past, animals do not; they repeat their habits, this is their nature, but man’s nature is to remember what he has experienced. However, once remembered he may decide to repeat it as part of his cultural habitat. The behavior becomes his cacoon, habitat, inner circle, turf, security-zone and place where he can orient himself. I too knew that while one may feel alone in a crowd, I could sense separation and distance even with family and loved ones. Change and dislocation were not the only reasons for discomfort becasue I questioned the authenticity of the person others made of me. What ever they said did it not resonate and knew I did not know! I had anomie.
So what is anomie?

                  I was a person in anomie who no longer had metaphors, values and symbols in common with society. I was alienated and disassociated. Nothing  nor me  was right and but was outside of what is right. I wasn't even sure of what was prescrptivly right or wriong. Anomie and alienation were related whereas as an alien I may not know my identity because I realize that I have no agreements and contracts within my realm where anomi I am in the disconnected context,  but I didn't know who I was.  In other words I had neither authenticity nor authority.

c                      I had become a person conditioned for anarchy who adopted conformity to survive and succeed. I was an artistic entrepreneur who found himself in schoolhouse prisons of the forties and fifties. I later wrote an essay on Schools and Metaphors which was published by Main Currents in Mordern Thought. I contrasted the repetitious, inane conformity with individuality, anarchy creativity and intellect. I often choose not to repeat and I also remembered intracate and large details about the past, with which I could easily describe to the awe, delight and shock  to my parents and friends. I could remember what we wore,  the places and the decorations and locations of the places. The names of people, their background and most phone numbers and addresses. I did not need a written list of names and numbers; I carried them in my head. I was what the sociologust labeled other-directed.

 

                            In this regard, Albert Einstein noted how inherently “stupid” was all of mankind for this trait. The trait that compels men to mindlessly repeat behavior over and over without thought, rhyme or reason. He likened us to the lowest life- forms that do the same predicatble things to get food. Of course he included himself and his behavior as part of this phenomenon. I knew it was all very stupid and had to be interrupted. I must face that while I threw away my abhorrent past and many intermediate contexts they are now fond memories and affections which linger and bring me great pleasure to recall and resurrect.

                     Add innate distrust and compulsive skepticism and you have a continuous sense of not belonging and misfit in most situations. I sought companionship, alignments, familiarity and likeness. I usually found competitiveness and challenge. The familiar contexts in which I inhabited rejected and openly confounded trusts with betrayals and disagreements. Hostility and distrust were the ambience in which I found myself on the streets, school and at home. The few trusts I had were fragile and disassociated. My later marriage to Christina was the first certain trust. As alienation due to distrust so alienation separated and kept me from the alliances that could have built bridges of partnerships and development.

                  For most of  my childhood I had the awkward sense of being an outsider.  In fact, for most of the cases I actually was an outsider because we changed our residence and with that the change of schools and neighborhoods surrounding the schools.   I learned anomie at a very early stage in my life and had no concept in which to cloak and understand what I was experiencing. But it was the rift and disruption due to change.  It was also, due to outside changes occurring in our society due to the war, rationing, depression, resocialization and of course my parent’s failed marriage and father’s development of his career and later successful business.

                   I had the sense that I did not fit into the class at school, on the street,  in the neighborhood or amongst the gangs on the block. I only felt at home with some friends.

                        Music, records and radio provided the continuity, focus, sense of belonging and legitimacy missing from the real world. It was  no accident that I saw my first and only career move to become a professional radio broadcaster, not only as a profession, but as a life. It was where I lived! I did not know it then but I was amongst a whole society suffering from social instability caused by erosion of standards and values.

                        This was accompanied by alienation and purposelessness as a result of a lack of standards, values,and ideals: I was suffering from something more than adolescent anomie and rage. It is only in retrospect that I can both shape and form what I had eperienced. . East Germans we met before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, spoke of the mistrust of each other and the alienation to Germany, family and themselves.  Every one felt alienated. This was the Leipzig we found in 1989,1990 and 1992. It is the Germany we know today which is still recovering from alienation of its own identity and sense of place and metaphor. I wrote a book called "Exhuming Leipzig from 70 years of Neglect"  It was much more emotional and pathetic than what I could tell and write. It was not the only one but there were many cities and families that had lost themselves. Even their children born in this time were alienated within their own families not knowing the trust that comes from family of love.

              This shape and form came to me from Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist who introduced the concept of anomie in his book The Division of Labour in Society, published in 1893.

              He used anomie to describe a condition of deregulation that was occurring in society. His, not my society.  But it turns out that my family and I were suffering from the same phenomenon. 

              This meant that rules on how people ought to behave with each other were breaking down and thus people did not know what to expect from one another. The element of surprise, disorientation and vulnerability pervaded our time. That was the least of it ; the worst was the inner absence of a self image, esteem and evidence of authenticty.

                    Sometimes the opposite of anomie can jar reality as this Arab News article by Lubna Hussain who is based in Riyadh. After she asked, “What will you miss the most? “ The expat speaks of her departure from Saudi in negative terms regretting what had not happened. While I shared her testimony I did not regret not knowing more locals closely. I had known many and could have known many more. I simply had enough at work, teaching, running AIG/ME, attending hospitals, gymnasium, etc. Between the laws that said I could not speak openly or take pictures I was turned off and really learned to keep private.

              The expat responded:” “I will miss more what I haven’t had the ability to experience than what I have. “ And then continued:” “Do you know what the saddest thing is? I have spent my youth here, all my golden years and yet I have hardly had any cultural contact with the people of this country. With the Saudis themselves that is.

                  People who spend a year in other countries have had more success in this regard than I have had in twenty. Their frequent acquaintance means that they even become fluent in the language. The only Arabic I can take away with me is ‘Mafi Mushkila’ (not possible) and a few (75+-) other choice idioms but that’s about it. I don’t think I could string together one coherent sentence in Arabic even if my life depended on it! ”Lubna then comments:” Gregarious and outgoing, most expats possess an innate curiosity as to the customs and traditions we follow and crave firsthand knowledge of who we are and what it is that we represent. For the most part, the majority of Westerners are limited to shuttling between the confines of their compounds and the shopping malls in scheduled air-conditioned buses in absence of any better form of exposure to our highly defensive and guarded society.

              Saudi reeks of distrust and hence alienation most notably between natives and foreigners and between tribes. Even internally within families there is distrust but loyalty.

 

                 A trip to Dirriyah or the carpet souk is about the closest they get to experience Saudi culture. They appear to be recreating their own idiosyncratic world within their luxury havens and are often criticized for not bothering to assimilate. But where is the opportunity to mingle with the general Saudi public? In addition to this, they are normally too intimidated to directly approach people in a casual manner. Language is a definite and tangible barrier. Arabic, being a very complex and difficult language to master, serves to compound the problem, but there are so many other ways we can communicate with others if we have the inclination to do so.

 

                  There is something quite forbidding about approaching a stranger here. I remember one instance recently when a cameraman had arrived from the States on his first visit to this part of the world. We were in a lift with some women and in all innocence and politeness he looked at each of them individually with a huge grin plastered across his face and said a generic “Hi!” You could visibly see them twitch with disdain under their veils as if he had attempted to molest them in public”.

         I found the above remarks poignant and important. My problem is that I did not want what the Saudi’s had. None of them in all the time I lived there changed my mind. Whereas,  when I visited European cities, etc. I craved to know more because the people made themselves and they’re lifestyles desirable including their love of Jesus and our common Latin, Roman or Germanic roots.

                  I did however greatly  desire to contibute to their welfare and my self be usesful in this regard. It seemed that this was my purpose.  The conformist aspect of my character  motivated me to accept goals and means set by society, even though failure was a likely outcome. I did not know what else to do!

            I had to innovate when I accepted the goals set by society but rejected socially acceptable means e.g. find another (legal) way of making money or live as an outlaw. The latter would be very unacceptable. I wanted to be rightous. In my case we became moblie Americans so we could employee our specail gifts and talents. I adopted rituals including means and goals to which I conformed but lost  sight of those goals. It seems that while one performs work outcome are less important.

              Neil Diamond in one of many fine songs expressed everything about anomie in the following lyrics of “I am, I said”

“L.A.'s fine the sun shines most the time,

and the feelin' is lay back,

Palm trees grow, and rents are low,

but you know I keep thinkin'

'bout makin' my way back

Well, I'm New York City born and raised

but nowadays I'm lost between two shores.

L.A.'s fine but it ain't home

New York's home but it ain't mine no more”.

             Neal Diamond’s story is mine as well.  Owing to the success and popularity of the song there must be many others suffering from this anomic state. In fact he expressed in one song what Durkheim and the others have said in several of their essays and books.

                In my teen years I dealt with my revulsion and anathema of my context by creating Ostranenie about me which is literally, 'making strange'. A term coined in the early 20th century by Russian Formalist critic and writer Viktor Shklovsky: 'The technique of art is to make objects 'unfamiliar,' to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged.'

              Ostranenie, the temporary estrangement of objects and relationships in order to make them freshly visible, overlaps with Brecht's Alienation Effect and Marcel Duchamp's concept of Delay. I guess I did this in order to bring attention to my self hoping that I may thereby gain a favorable identity while on the other hand trying to distance my self from the dissonance and vulgarity of my context.

                 Ostranenie was really anti metaphorical in that we took  the familiar and denied its identity and value. We tended to see it another way as when I returned to see townhouses in Brooklyn. While their form and scale were recognizable their value and connectivity to a recognisable culture and context were missing. They were shadows of what I had seen a thousand times except without the collective memories of context and the value of the life they represented. They were like cardboard stage designs of a foriegn context  as mock-up models which had no indiginous nor recognisable life.

                 My scholarly friend, John Warren Jackson explained how much of classic literature’s purpose was not what was said but the manner and writerr's ability to divert the reader away from reality into an another world of contemplation and delight. An expereince I have had with many of our classic books swith ome written by Samuel Johnson.

                  This understanding coupled with William J. Gordon’s synectics of making the strange familiar has led me to antother way of thinking and understanding my conversations with Saudis, Indians, Pakistanis, Koreans, Chinese, Europeans, etc. They express themselves “tangentially’ and “circuitously” where the telling and experience of speaking and the language is enjoyed by both speaker and listener. This is the art of delightful conversations where one enjoys the presence and animation of another human being.

               In my Yale lecture series of architecture as the making of metaphors and in his book William J. Gordon teaches how to make the strange familiar though games and plays so that we are able to learn and conceive of our lives in a different way. He teaches people to talk about one thing in terms of another. To see science from an artist point of view; to study medicine from using construction vocabulary, etc. In other words, to use “other words” to describe what we are doing so that which is familiar becomes strange and understood in a different way. He calls it the “the Metaphorical Way of Knowing

 Knickers and short Pants:

            Speaking of identity, Mom bought me knickers and short pants and dressed me daily. I recall dressing differently from all the other children. Few wore cloths as nicely chosen, ironed and clean as mine. I was always impeccably dressed. My appearance was one of my mother’s proudest accomplishments. She especially liked dressing my brother in navy suits and shorts with his blond and curly hair. This was the ideal.

               There were lots of ideals and many of them originated in  Europe. I recall feeling the tweeds and the smell of the cloths as my Mother would fit and dress me.  The streets were sunny and clean. We’d ambulate to the grocery and shops. She would take us visiting friends and relatives dressed ever so nicely.

            The “flaming youth” of the roaring twenties, however became but memories as the global depression deepened. It was in the war- time that I came of age to wear these cloths and my Mom was determined not to let a silly thing like this war hamper my youth and its moment. All of this was before the so-called juvenile delinquency of the fifties. My brother would ask my parents what this meant and they would simply explain it as kids that are bad, meaning that we were not. No, what every my mother thought of me, it was not as a juvenile delinquent. I was not! We were rightous!That did not mean taht I was not naughty, mischievious and challanging.

             However,  a culture obsessed with youth was ememrging. Culturally, the  line between naivete and maturity was being defined.  Talk was about to a shortened  childhood. I remember, not using bad language around my parents for fear that they would  perceive me as a grown-up. The same with smoking. All to protect the relationship between me as a child and them as the gown ups. It was what both of us wanted. Them to be the parents and us the children. It was the age of inocence!

                It was the same when I was leaving junior high school: I asked my home room tacher, Mr. Cohen  if  I could remain in his class next year and not graduate to which he replied that although he was flattered but I must learn to go on and take the best from the present and look forward to growing into the future. He was very kind. Independence and empowerment surrounded the times but I was really happy being my parent’s child. I soon learned that dependence, irresponsibility and naivete were dangerous and dysfunctional. I just beleived that the changes did not have to be neither as cataclysmic nor as dramatically clipped as they eventually became. However, this anomie happened and prepared me for a culture of anomie that was to come.

           Christina’s father Max witnessed the erosion of his individually designed and constructed furniture being replaced by factory design and manufacture. His life and Her’s was further frustrated by the destruction of their home and city in Leipzig.

                 We were socially disoriented anomic loners musing over our fate  because we lived in an age of rootless alienated people. It exacerbated our every decision and stressed our daily choices. But it did  lead from one context and effort to another as we sought  relationships that would fit and welcome us home.

             Indeed the craving for the “homey with welcoming aura “was a welcome context to a shipwrecked vagrant or castaway. I can recall going to social gatherings, parties, ambulating streets and working in offices feeling alienated and out of place.

              The historic anomic moments in my life started with my brother’s birth and the shift of me being the center of my parent’s attention to sharing that role with my brother including sleeping alone and the nightmares that followed. I was cast off co-dependence with my parents identy into the emptiness of my own. The start of the war was no less an anomie as while I slept alone in the living room witnessing the air raid sirens, spotlights in the sky and the looming "black outs".

             When I was nine we learned that the Russians, too, had the “A” bomb, I was greatly in stress, disoriented and confused. I recall the anomie we experienced in New Haven during the race riots and particularly the march that paraded in front of our house.

              Kessel says that one of the first areas Durkheim applied anomie to was the shift of an essentially rural-based feudalism to urban industrial modes of production as my grandparent’s shift from Rhodes and Rumania to the USA. This explains their reticence and disdain of their ancestory, heritage and silence in my childhood. To them it was enough to speak with disdain and keep silent about their place of origin and ancestry.

               My parent’s marriage began with one set of expectations and the actual experience with another set of realities brought my mother into anomic shock. Would this not have happened the burdens she carried could have been born joyfully  One anomie led to the inability to handle the others, explaining why many anomies of dislocation, change and relocation can be handled with ease and joy. In this regard Kessel continues Durkheim’s message was: “change happens” and anomie is a result as well as a causal factor in more change happening. Change could have been easily born if she had an independent identity. In fact I beleive as Dirkhiem and Kessel that we live in an anomic reality. A perennial Alvin Toffler, “Future shock”

                And, finally a kind of prophesy confirming the bibles prophesy of these end times Kessel says:” While there have certainly been wars, big and small for a long, long time on this earth, recent events have called forth...given rise to...emerging anomic states on all levels...and very well may turn out to be the most unprecedented. The “twists and turns” of this are by no means. Kessel speaks of the on-rushing anomic state of this planet.

                 Kessel adds, “but 9/11, as we so euphemistically call it, has had a ripple effect of anomie almost unbelievably so. The excruciating details of the event, which were fed to us like a massive force-feeding, flooded over us and gave rise to a questioning of almost every single aspect of our lives.... A whole world...has had to struggle to “normalize” itself in spite of the persistent anomie...well; ANOMIE is now the norm, in effect.

            Christina and I have played social “tag” all of our lives ,where tag is a children’s game in which one player pursues the others until he or she is able to touch one of them, who then in turn becomes the pursuer. It is a process, which goes on, and on until both sides decide they have run out of time or energy; where one child chases the others; and the one who is caught becomes the next chaser.

          We have pursued society and our place in it while society has prevailed upon us and so on. Our context, city, social fabrics, politics, and religious affiliations have evolved and been replaced. We too have often been a square peg in a round hole.  It always seemed we were living in wrong places with the wrong people. Not for status, prestige, or vanity but often ideological, cultural or political. It is hard to talk about faith to your best friends who are atheists and about aesthetics to bankers and politicians, about gourmet cooking to parents of six children and about world travel to provincial farmers.  Many of our context have been humorously ridiculous, ironic and radically absurd. However, by the grace of God we were able to adapt, adjust and find God’s way. When we lived on Puerto Rico’s Island we’d simply go nuts and have to return to Manhattan for a walk down Fifth Avenue to regain our metaphoric equilibrium.

            In Saudi Arabia we counterd debilitatiing anomie by exercising freedom. I agree with the words spoken at the death of former president Ronald Regan as I tried for years to convey this to congregations and students.. It was a Mission of Freedom triggered by acute and sustained anomie in our life. Even going to India I preached on the bible's comparison of warriors to grasshoppers and from Galatians choosing freedom over bondage.

             In his essay called “Anemic America” David H. Kessel says about Durheim and anomie that Durheim simply meant...”normlessness.”

                And further about anomic people that, “they are...or have been...weakening as the standard by which to exist...so much so that people feel “lost,” uncertain, anchorless as to what’s going on. Sociologically, people love their routines, their patterns of behavior, their usual ways of thinking and interpretation, in short...“order” or even more to the point, their “normal” reality.

               Anomie Kessel writes results from a transition from one to another society, and in my case from Faille to Simpson Street. Durkheim really delved into this transition in his work:” The Division of Labor in Society” which echoes the many works on the industrialization process and change.  There are different kinds and degrees of anomie depending on their context and what has caused them.  Some are natural and in follow God’s will, while other are cataclysmic and deviate. Others seem to blend from one into another also resulting in differences and not being stressful. For example, I fit very well in to new workplaces such as Designs for Business; Edward Stone; Khan and Jacobs; etc.

               Kessel continues,” Divorces create anomie...in fact, divorces themselves are anomic when the norm is marriage, or simply to stay married. One partner may be thinking one thing while the other another. One then sues to end the potential contract because there is no longer agreement and the two are not “in one accord”.

              Even the thought of dropping atomic/hydrogen bombs creates anomie. There is a potential for a complete end to all things, as we know them. Even a mere change of jobs can be anomic. My greatest concern throughout my career has been that when my work in one or anther firm is complete and I have to announce this to my wife. She was concerned about the potential change to context, life-style, and venue .

 

                  And Kessel says that Durkheim postulated that many suicides, but not all, was the result of anomie. Riots may be considered a consequence of anomie...and then, the riots themselves create more anomie. The examples could go on and on...on all levels of reality...macro, meso, and micro. But not all anomie is “crippling.” as it were. Many of us, in countless ways, adjust fairly quickly and smoothly to anomic states of being...as the new norm emerge and take over

          At parties of which I was not a member Iwas a awarer of being a stranger. Everyone knew why they were there and enjoyed the happiness and social fellowship; except me, I was seperated and set apart.

              In Saudi I noted that many of the expats arriving in Saudi were showed symptoms of being disconnected  from their native culture, folkways and habits. Saudi was not the cause of their stress and anxiety but their co-dependent context was left at their point of origin. To counter this one of the favorite medical prescriptions by Saudi's medical professionals was “valium”as a cure-all for most complaints.

            I recalled the many train rides through Europe conversing with both men and women in so many different languages. The hundreds of times I sat in offices listening but not understanding Arabic which reoocured in India, Puerto Rico and so many other countries. I got the feeling as I watched the film Lost in Translation that I never want to do this again. The prospect of going through that experience again unnerved and upset me. It seems it produced the most stress of all the time I spent abroad. Yet when I recntly worked  in Doha I acclimated and enjoyed everything very well .

Being a stranger!

              There are times when like King Saul of Israel, one feels cut off and alone.  It is times likethese that one's anomie is intrense. As Saul called for David to serenade him so do we call for pop singers, media, culture to fill the vacuum created by the loss of a self identity when we feel anomic. Saul responded to the quickening of the Holy Spirit reminding him that he was out of God’s will and needed to pray and obey God. We are not any different, but instead we often turn to media and media-culture to supply us with an identity.

                   Anomie is also when a child comes home from school in tears because of a teacher's prophecy of her horrifying death if she does not recite  five daily prayers.  Or when a Christian Pakistani girl is forced to take classes  in order to attend school and she must attend school in order for her father to work. Her identity and much more was being threated.

                  At a cafe, a man is berated because his wife's abaya, the black cloak that women must wear in public, too daringly outlines the shape of her upper body. A researcher at the Education Ministry who raised questions about religious extremism expressed in some textbooks finds himself suddenly out of a job.

               I have cut and pasted italciesed items from the world wide web's Saudi English language newspapers.

               These scenes persist in Saudi Arabia even though the kingdom's leaders — worried at complaints their country is nourishing Islamic radicalism — have urged officials, the clergy and educators to preach moderation and promote tolerance of Western values.

               Saudi leaders understand the dangers facing their nation following the Sept. 11 attacks, which were blamed on Saudi dissident Osama, bin Laden and carried out mostly by Saudis — 15 of the 19 hijackers were from the kingdom.

              King Abdullah  has urged his people to cling to Islam as "a religion of moderation and wisdom." and has made initiatives to reforms.

                  The below in italics were cut and pasted off of the world wide web from Saudi English language newspapers.

                 "Beware of extremism," he said, "because the annihilation of nations that came before you was caused by religious extremism."

                  This month, Minister of Religious Affairs Sheik Saleh bin Abdulaziz Al Shiek, told mosque preachers they should not "use Friday sermons to vilify people, vilify countries ... Vilification is not lawful."

                 The minister warned that preachers should not allow just any worshipper to speak out in the mosque after prayers because they may "say words that incite people. ... Some have called for jihad (holy war)."

            Still, a small yet powerful minority of fanatics persists in spreading a radical interpretation of the Quran, Islam's holy book, in their quest to make the kingdom more Islamic.

                They are in government, schools, and mosques and among the muttawa, the religious police who enforce Islamic social codes.

               These radicals create an atmosphere that breeds hatred of the West. They reject any behavior they feel is Western or could lead to what they view as Western-style decadence — mixing of the sexes, drinking, and women’s emancipation.

                 It is said they try to rule every aspect of people's lives. Extortionist and thug’s rule use classic bully tactics having everything to gain and nothing to lose. They have virtually taken a nation hostage. The siege is not by the USA as they proport, but by them who object to another power moving in on their territory.

           Take the Saudi woman who was out shopping. A muttawa agent stopped her because her feet were not fully covered and asked a policeman to make sure she didn't escape while he got her a pair of dark socks from a nearby shop.

             Or the mother who angrily recounts what her 6-year-old daughter learned in school — when she dies, her face will turn black and worms and blood will come out of her mouth as punishment for not praying five times a day.

         Or a recent, full-page article in a Saudi daily on the sins of men and women mixing, signed by a member of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which runs the muttawa.

            Its headline: "It has been medically proven that repeatedly staring at the opposite sex with lust causes sexual weakness."

              Then there's the story told by Khalid Nasser, who was having a quiet coffee with his wife at a mall when a muttawa agent barged in, ordering women to cover their faces and hands. "Protect your religion, Muslim women. The Christians and Jews are trying to tempt you away from it," he screeched.

              All of these misleading, superstitious tales are part of the hostile seige of extortionist and bullies.

               The agent berated Nasser for 10 minutes and threatened to drag him to jail because his wife's face was uncovered and her black cloak was of a type rejected by radicals as un-Islamic because it gives a hint of a woman's bust.

                "Extremists like him know nothing about Islam," Nasser said later. "They're racists who are biased against anyone who's not as radical as they are."

            While these incidents may seem mainly to infringe on the daily life of Saudis, they also help create a religious environment in which militants can find justification for urging murderous actions against the West and, in particular, the United States.

Before the Sept. 11 attacks, little attention was paid to fanatic elements in Saudi schools, mosques and the government's religious establishment. Now, the hijackings have focused the spotlight on what influence fundamentalist Islam may have had on the hijackers.

Some in the West have blamed the hijackers' militancy on the austere form of Islam the kingdom has adopted, based on the strict teachings of an 18th century cleric named Muhammad bin Abdel-Wahhab.

"Before 9/11 we lived in a world where we accepted the peculiarities of the political system in Saudi Arabia," a Western diplomat said on customary condition of anonymity.

             "But that has changed, and the Saudis have to wake up to the fact that the rest of the world is concerned about the religious environment in this country," the diplomat added. Non-Saudi’s visiting and on short stays within the kingdom do not experience the subversive underlying threats to the kingdoms families, businessmen and religious leaders. It is wide and pervasive.

The ruling Saud family is bound by an 18th century pact between its ancestor, Muhammad bin Saud, and Abdel-Wahhab that allowed the Saud clan to consolidate its control over Arabia in the early 1900s.

Key religious positions are still held by Abdel-Wahhab's descendants, giving them sway over legal and social policy in return for helping maintain the royal family's legitimacy.

             But the pact has meant the ruling family finds itself constantly in a balancing act between the quest for modernity and the need not to upset the religious leadership.

That has not always been easy.

When the late King Faisal introduced girls' education in the early 1960s, delegation after delegation of radicals protested at the monarch's court. Today, almost as many girls as boys go to school.

            The same extremists fought the introduction of radio, television and even cars, which they thought were driven by the devil.

When satellite dishes began sprouting on balconies in the early 1990s, religious zealots enraged at the amount of flesh on TV often shot at the dishes. Today, many homes have dishes — though they still are not legal — and Saudi Arabia is one of the most high-tech Arab countries.

             A woman who is a Western-educated member of the royal family, and who spoke on condition of anonymity, said introducing change slowly has always been important because most Saudis are conservatives who worry about the West encroaching on their society.

"If you react quickly, the alternative may be worse," the princess said.

"There's been a huge change in Saudi Arabia in the past three decades," she said. "People were unequipped to deal with it. The one constant they hold onto is Islam."

After the Sept. 11 attacks, however, even gentle critics of the kingdom say the Saudis must speed up the pace of change.

                        Hasan al-Malki, the Education Ministry employee who was fired, had prepared a study on extremism in textbooks that contained an unprecedented questioning of the ideas of Wahabism's founder.

"The religious curriculum is based on (the teachings of) scholars such as Sheik Muhammad bin Abdel-Wahhab and the scholars who followed him, who, at the end of the day, are human beings who are sometimes right and sometimes wrong," the report said.

              The anomie is deep and dangerous because the results can be deadly. One can postulate that revolutionaries, dictators, terroists and anarchists of all kinds quite purosesfully insinute themselves and their ideolgy on people who suffer form anomie. For them anomie is their best allyto make new recruits. There was a time not long ago when America had no threats to its shores and on its land.  9/11 has proven this to be not the case and this factor has created an anomie harkening back to the days of the cold-war when the thereat of a soviet nuclear attack seemed possible. This new anomie is worse because the attack upon US soil did happen and went beyond the imaginary to the actual and with it our imagined invulnerability and point of view. Our invulnerbilty identity had been destroyed. We had based our behavior on one standard and value and when violated was therefore no longer applicable.  Those born and raised in this new reality will not understand the change and will live in the new reality while those who have experienced the difference will live with an anomie only a colleague could understand. We of the 9/11 generation will be a disaster support group the size of a city,as the nation of survivors of the depression and world war two.

                Even in South Africa those growing up under apartheid are now reeling from the loss of there values and standards. This was created by the pollicies and values of the new government implementing a nationwide policy of accessible hiring preferring the less qualified and untrained to the culturally developed, educated and experienced. This has led to a mass exodus to heal the anomie and find new homes where they can reconstruct their former metaphors or find exsitng metaphors into which they can fit; much like Europens who migrated to America.

                   My wife and I noticed that as we changed from one to another context we spent so much time and energy to build in the new context that we had little capacity to recall what we had abandoned. Friends and values of the old context were  forgotten and emptied to make space for the new. Workers, neighborhoods, facilities and resources demanded that we drop the past and concetrate on the present. In so doing the failures,  troubles along with the former delights and pleasures were lost and gone. Often we did not communicate with those were left behind and many of them knew we were starting over again. It is only now in writing my autobiography I can  retrace and rethink the times, peoples and places we left for what had to follow. Only now that we could remember, link and sew one to another; we just had so little capability, capacity and opportunity to do otherwise. In the same manner, the anomie of change had little to no impact on most of our changes. Our focus on our new identity eclipsed the loss of our old identiy.

Life on Hold:

                    When our life in the world was suspended it revealed that what we call life is “world-related” being as how it is distracted and derailed. The intervening circumstance stoped everything and anomie ensued. Anomie starts when one version of world-life that has been suspended  and not conveneintly replaced  by another. However, if one’s life is already rooted in a non-worldly mind, then the physical circumstances that changes will not alter the continuum of the already invulnerable concept of one's life. In other words, when a person perceives hsi life as a concept and state of mind then this perception is the reality and he we regards the physical and material as being transient and temporary with ideas, beliefs and faith both permanent and invulnerable.

                When we continue to live after a cataclysm we enjoy freedom. We may be free because our income was interrupted  and removed. However, when the gas and electricity stops and the storm is over we learn that there is yet another life without the media, resources, and energy. It is also life but not the life we expect, anticipate or find righteous. It has an anomie of great proportions and scope beyond a mere change of jobs, location and residence.

             It is what happens after a hurricane such as we experienced in Florida after Charley and Francis. The hurricanes of 2004 and my childhood’s hurricanes and blizzards teach that life as we know is interrupted by these events. A new life then begins. What we have come to call life is merely a continuum of power and energy related utilization events. It is the life we have chosen and relish above all. When it is interrupted and out of our control we are anxious, upset and stressed. We suffer anomic stress and disorientation. Our air conditioning,heat,  media, electricity, lights, television, communications, telephone, internet, gas and transportation modes are discontinued. This in itself is bad but when combined with loss of home, building, possessions, personal possessions is calamity and traumatic. It is similar to being robbed or having a loved one kidnapped or killed.

             Our time in war where every one obeys. Imagination disappears. Everyone instinctively submits to curfews and limitations. I have surrendered freedoms in favor of being controlled for the common good. I watched society subordinate its creativity in 1953 when the war was over. The world wanted the USA to continue to conform and obey while others rebelled and said “no”. The early fifties was the beginning of a political and social split in values and interruption in the continuity of values. In the aftermath of the Alkaida attack on the world trade center a state of war where everyonewas  politically unified to rely upon man to reestablish security and restore the status quo.

                  In Saudi,  I was in the middle of one thing and doing another: I was at work developing AIG/ME; sending tapes to Christina; maintaining the apartment and working on articles for publication. I was usually focusing on one thing while doing another. Even practising our  faith was  a way for many to escape, be controlled and managed. It fulfilled our urge for survival by bonding together for security. I used to say at AIG/ME meetings ”together we can do, what alone we cannot.” It is one thing if it is God and another if it is the denomination and the laws of man’s order. Several generations of expatriate workers for many nations wallowing in poverty have been able to build a new life in Saudi Arabia with new friends and activities which have helped to dull the ache of being homesick and lonely.

                   The work I have done finding the music for my fiftieth year high school reunion in 2005 provided a recent example of why I tended to keep my past a secret and my relations vague and obscure. I distanced my self from the characters and morality of those that were before me who’s standards had neither integrity nor morality. In 2004 Ken Whitkin the chairman of the reunion committee requested I chair the music committee and find a DJ because I suggested in an email that the next reunion not play rock and roll but the music of our period from 1951 to 1955. He called me and on the phone explained how to find the DJ and that I was to do every thing to select and finalize the selection. There was to be no intervention from any one else and I would make the final decision. Well I found hundreds of providers and authored a n request for proposal and before sending it I sent him a copy for his review and the review of all the pother member so of the committee. I just knew there would be intervention and other suggestion. Lo and behold there were and I welcome them but they did not participate in their respond to the RFP. Instead after I had made the final selection and recommendation Ken called me and told me that Arnie Greenspan whose club building we were to meet wanted to investigate a possibility. In the end he selected the band and all my efforts of nearly a year were totally abandoned without any thanks or a proper follow-up to the proponerts. Needless to say the sense I had of the leadership and characters of the committee were not very high. I originally had suggested to Ken that the club provide the music and we only select the music. He assured me that this was not possible and I should do this job. Once again I was duped!

                   Boris Pasternak reminds us that many new stories will be written about interrupted, disjoined and broken lives caused by both external and internal factors. The ones which are uncontrolled by the individual and yet change everything for the individual are the most tragic. The life of Jesus and his deciples can be seen from this point of view as well as the lives of the many millions displaced by wars, political upheavals, coups and natural disasters. Some of life’s interruptions are controlled and planned and these can be more easily concluded. But the ones which are caused by accidents and bombs are often capricious, arbitrary and often unfairly executed. In Saudi, one very early Friday morning at sunrise I drove alone to newly opened corniche road leading to Sunset Beach. Midway I saw the aftertmaths of the tragedy of a Saudi family’s dead bodies and an overturned new white very large Cadillac. Their dead bodies were on the ground, hanging out and in the car. All were dead and had apparently struck the medium divider in the dark and over turned many times. Their life ended abruptly. In Puerto Rico, Pastor Bergen suddenly died of a the hemorrhaging of a barin aneurysm and fell off the roof. Suddenly his young family was left without a father and husband; John Kane suddenly died of natural causes in Puerto Rico leaving his wife Betty and their three children, etc. So many died suddenly and before their time leaving families suddenly without loved one who they counted on to spend the rest of there lives.

                Disasters and changes make us take our homes, family and arts more seriously. After the 2004 Florida hurricanes we planned to shutter and be more prepared for the next season and potential of being hit by another hurricane. In time of trouble and sudden change, I have turned to God for help, rescue and His salvation. The tsunami of December 2004 left millions without context, family, connections, place, metaphors, reference, nor identity.  

 

Eternal Life:

             Did you ever have a friend and or family member suddenly reappear afttrer a long absnese? And then died.  Or,when one who died you were at peace becasue you believed they remained part of your life whether you saw  them or not.  In other words in your mind,  whether they are alive or not or that you see them or not is inconsequent since their importance in your life has less to do with their flesh and blood and more to do with an idea you have that about who they might really be.

                  This kind of awareness resists anomie by faith and belief in divine will. It transcends flesh and its changed status. What you did not have you can not loose. The idea and impact of anomie is to those of the world whose faith and credibility depends on tangible coveted flesh and the flesh’s evidence. My own experience with the death of so many relatives, both parents, close friends distant acquaintance, pets and icons has been more about ideas and disputes; about unfinished differences; about ongoing love and passions; about their well being and affection than it has been about their physical presence. In most cases my relations have been about their spirit and soul or there status and meaning or about their accomplishment or meaning than about their flesh. And when it was about flesh they have been replaced or eclipsed by more flesh. Most of my affection, love and concerns for people is about their heart, minds, courage, passions, zeal, ideas even in their physical presence. The physical presence bore the passion and mind but the mind and passion is what lives in their name, song, memeory, words, and accomplishments. My closest friends who were absent for a long time and died are absent but it is in their physical death that they are no longer a contributing link in the world. Since they were not present with me their absence by death or by space is negligible in the realm of their spirit, idea and my memory of them. There are many deceased persons whom I have known and loved and whose departures I grieved and bear sorrow. However,  the sadness and sorrow is no more or less for their death than their active involvement in my life. A loved one's death is not about us but about them and their hope.

                They are no longer part of my bridging experience but in a memory of today's bridge.  They accumulated in my metaphor but are no longer connect to the future. They are in the past and can only be part of the future by my own mind bringing their ideas, words, and accomplishments into my mind as I act upon the present. So it is with many of people who have been lost to me by space, distance, or death. They all still remain dear and when I recall any of them I recall their presence and lessons and the way we connected the past with the future by our faith, trust and loyalty toward our shared hope. 

Footnote:

            Technically "ab” or “a” or “off”, “away”, or “from" while "nomie" is name and the idea of a name without any objective existence but simply the identity tied to artifacts against which it represents. Nomie is therefore the personal metaphor bridging one with another, the person and the artifacts, place and context.

              The Greek's word for lawlessness is anomie such as a person out of the agreed realm of the law and what is right. Anomie (without an identity) is a person who is out of the law and all that the law represents including righteousness, agreement, standards, values and the artifacts and systems that limit and bound such agreements.

           Anomie is personal state of isolation and anxiety resulting from a lack of social control and regulation including a possible lack of moral standards in a society. It includes states of disorientation and a definite sense of alienation and distancing from normalcy and the average workings of society. Nothing one does seems to have any contexts or make any sense because the boundaries and gyroscope keeping the social norms from flying into space are gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Web Site: Anomie



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