Part of the series Perceiving complexity
Let’s move to the Jewish perspective relevant for this general part. In this case I don’t have already written the extended version like for the previous Altaic perspective, which allowed me to keep that one short. I will need to get into more detail, I would want to publish the general part now, the extended versions for each cultural background take lots of time.
First, something about the local Middle Eastern background. Here too it is about women psychologically strong, only that their style has some differences compared to the Altaic feminine one. They involve themselves much less in direct organization, it is more about a background control of the situation, with a very developed psychological arsenal. The men don’t like this and they have classical masculine reactions to impose a straightforward control. The situation degenerated a long time ago and continues until today as a millenary arms race between genders.
I don’t know what caused this, it looks like the Epic of Gilgamesh has some echoes about the initial degeneration of the situation. The man is too despotic with his static mental plateaus as control of the situation. The coherence of such plateaus is based on the female responsibilities in facing the raw reality perspective, which decreases for the man the level of complexity he needs to take in consideration and thus enable some organization. The woman needing to put up with such a despotic man does not want to challenge the situation through the overall meaning created by his static plateaus. This would mean partaking in his organization based on him dominating her and enframing her in a static imagery (she can’t find a way to develop an organization of her own in that psychological environment).
But still, she is using those static plateaus for cognitive orientation in life. Her approach is to develop her own expertise in thinking from the point of view of the raw reality to the point she can set the tone in how the mental plateaus develop. If the man thinks he is so great through the control exerted with those mental plateaus, the woman has her own initiative to think that he is great. Her version about his greatness unfolds from the point of view of a grassroots raw reality perspective.
This is the Middle Eastern feminine response to a masculine despotism in the civilized society, as symbolized by Gilgamesh. “I am going to provide you with a paradigm of masculinity that will trump your current one.” The Enkidu version of masculinity shows the civilized man for who really is, namely with a hunter-gatherer mindset, the woman introduces his mind to the background paradigm of the real complexity of the civilized life, it provides feminine expertise about the mental fluidity in a way that the man really has to take in consideration that paradigm.
In the classical human gender relations, the woman is too overwhelmed by the complexity supposed by that perspective and is dominated by the man. The Middle Eastern women cultivated the expertise in thinking from that perspective to the point they can turn the tide and set the tone themselves about the man’s self-image (I perceive Enkidu as the self-image developed by women for Gilgamesh). Some of the women worldwide can do this to some extent, but in the Middle East it got “political” early in history. The man’s self-image developed by the woman is not so much seeping in the man’s own self-image as it is usual worldwide. It is too much of an alternative self-image as a personal initiative and organization of the woman.
Given the level of expertise in working with the raw reality perspective such an alternative self-image supposes, it provides much more vibrancy and the man tends to like it. Only that he may act like Gilgamesh in the epic, namely rather loving Enkidu than being interested in the woman. The woman leaned too much on the concept of a masculine self-image in order to be able to develop an alternative one. Enkidu tells Gilgamesh about Humbaba, the part of this alternative self-image out of the man’s control, they need to kill him and they succeed.
When the woman learns about this, she retreats her support and Enkidu dies. This is when the man learns that it was an illusion to imagine that the mental plateaus in his mind really have a hard consistency. Enkidu as his alternative self-image was based on a much more grassroots use of the raw reality perspective with much more immersion in its complexity than the classical masculine thinking is aware.
The man has for the first time such a direct, serious, deep awareness of death. If he were by himself, only with his thoughts and organization in a closed ecosystem, he wouldn’t have had such perceptions about death, he does not really experience a loss in that closed ecosystem. The variant of him created with the woman’s involvement was not entirely based on his own organization, yet he integrated it as a part of himself. Now he sees it dead and he experiences such an unexpected loss in himself. By living in that closed ecosystem, he wasn’t aware until such a moment that something can be lost.
This creates the pathos of the Middle Eastern men about the perishability of the static mental plateaus they are used to think with, like ya’aburnee (“you bury me”), referring to the difficulty of accepting the idea of the death of a loved one before yours. Or wuquf ‘ala al-atlal (“stopping by the ruins”), a motif in the Arabic poetry about the pain experienced when finding the remnants of the encampment of a friendly caravan.
Compare this with Ramayana, which has a similar structure, but there the man chases after the woman. Hanuman is like Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the variant of the man developed with the woman’s psychological contribution. Ravana is like Humbaba in the Epic of Gilgamesh, also the variant of the man developed with the woman’s contribution, but which escapes the man’s control. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, after they fall in love, Enkidu tells Gilgamesh about Humbaba and that they should kill him. In Ramayana, Rama notices how Ravana took Sita, he wants her back and he is helped by Hanuman.
Mahabharata is the situation in which the man does not feel he is losing control of the side of him that was developed with the woman’s involvement. It is something between how the woman can focus on the core issues of masculinity and how the man accepts that he is not a monolithic structure (Draupadi’s marriage to the five Pandava brothers with different specializations). The antagonist Ravana turns into the supportive Krishna and, in Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna has such a perception of the raw reality complexity. Fascinating how “the beast” / “the bad guy” turns into “the good guy”, isn’t it?
Both Ramayana and Mahabharata suppose some feminine psychological support of masculine static organization, this is why in Ramayana the man chases after the woman. The result of this support is that masculinity is comfortable with the complexity of the raw reality perspective, but the man does not really face all its mental abyss by himself. He relies on the woman’s responsibilities, while not really sensing the psychological gist of the source of such a mental fluidity. This turns into a situation opposite to the Middle Eastern one, the man feels how he is caught in static mental plateaus and he does not know how to get out of them to really experience that raw reality fluidity and work himself with it. Facing death is rather seen as liberating and resetting you. To give a musical example, you can see Jinddriye of the Punjabi singer Harbhajan Mann.
For some people the prospect of death is so dreadful, for others it can open the mind to such a liberating and refreshing view. The latter still may be clueless about what a mental abyss supposes really facing such a fluid complexity as a man. The ethos of the Romani people consist in an awareness of both these perspectives. They have an Indian psychological structure, but it looks like in their migration through the Middle East they also sensed the perspective in which the woman does not provide the support for the man. They have a fascination with death like other Indian cultures, but they also sense what a dreadful abyss is that psychological fluidity about when you just see it directly as a man (which further on affects the women too as the general cultural ethos).
In the Middle Eastern situation, the woman’s approach is to not get entangled in classical masculine mental structures, thus the version of the man she develops with her raw reality perspective is utterly disconnected from the usual cooperation in the classical gender relations. She wants to develop it unhindered. In a sense, she has the right to do this, why should she be stuck in the stifling feminine status from the classical gender relations? And, personally, as a man, I notice how valuable the Middle Eastern feminine expressivity can be in some aspects, as a result of the fact that the woman has more psychological freedom.
The problem is that this was not followed by a new workable balance in gender relations. The man is still expected to assume the general responsibilities, the woman still leans on the man. It is not a feminine endeavor that really strikes into the unknown with its own organization, it relies on masculine responsibilities. The woman likes experiencing masculinity, she experiences herself through this raw reality version of masculinity what is like to be in power. But this is a sheltered experience to some extent, as she does not really face the responsibilities of the unknown as a man with that power. She is an artist of such a vibrant raw reality power, but that is a power which does not really face real life issues, as she is shielding herself from them under the umbrella of the man’s responsibilities.
A man who, on the other hand, is very unprepared to face such a depth of unhindered feminine expressivity. In order to do this, she had to detach herself from the classical gender cooperation, from the usual feminine involvement in supporting for the man that version she creates for him. The man’s lack of proper psychological preparation is not only about the increased quality of the feminine expressivity, but also about her retreat from depersonalizing identification with the man (a retreat that does not really strike into the unknown, it still leans on male responsibilities).
Some of these women have such a polished psychology regarding the fluidity of the raw reality perspective, as a result of this unhindered raw reality immersion. See Ana meen (translation) of the Lebanese singer Najwa Karam. “Who am I? If they ask me who I am I tell them I am you, I am from your ribs.” (It refers to the Abrahamic story about the woman created from the man’s rib.) This “I am you” is in fact about a woman detached from the identification with the man, it is an unhindered personal endeavor in exploring the raw reality perspective, with the man rather as a fool assuming responsibilities about real life.
This “I am you” is likely to find a man very unprepared for the complexity of the raw reality perspective. This is compounded with the fact that the woman likes him with classical masculine responsibilities and the result is something like in Bel Rouh Bel Dam (translation) of the same singer. The man is so devoid of a psychological life of his own, so unidimensional, it is rather the woman in charge of the psychological depths and in control of the situation (although this may not be so apparent at a superficial level, it all looks like the man is in charge). The man is something necessary on the sideline, he just needs to look good, be protective and affable.
This creates “masculine blondes”, they are the counterpart of the stereotype of the blonde women in the central/southern parts of Europe, they don’t need to think too much in contact with real life. Such Middle Eastern women shelter under their responsibilities while turning these men into some psychological accessories, which means that these men do not really face the unknown either, since they lean too much on the woman’s psychological organization. The responsibility in facing the unknown can get lost in this situation.
There is some overall responsibility there, the woman upholds responsibility in unfolding some organized coherence of a deep fluid psychology, but that is mostly a responsibility around psychological coherence, not so much in facing the unknown of real life. And usually such women do not seem to realize this issue. The masculinity they are developing is by proxy, they do not really work themselves with it in real life to notice the practical aspect of facing the unknown with it. They face the unknown in the usual feminine manner by orientating their mind around the masculine organization. They lean psychologically on the impression that this organization just unfolds naturally. It is not really about facing the daunting complexity of real life and further on the man, if he does not end up as a clueless masculine blonde, notices how dreadful everything can be when you have such complex awareness. Some serious psychological overhaul is necessary to face real life with this awareness.
See also Sheikh El Shebab of the Lebanese singer Diana Haddad. This is such an art of masculinity that I did not find in other cultures. But then you see her in Ya Bashar (translation), she needs to have a man there as a live fulfillment of this masculinity she creates. She is kind of comfortable with her son in the wheelchair at the end. She has also some songs in which it seems at times to unfold a feeling of some direct immersion in the unknown of real life, as in Ya Saykeen Al Thain.
I should add that I like expressivity like in the previous Sheikh El Shebab, it is not like I’d want to see women only like in Ya Saykeen Al Thain. The same in the previous case of Najwa Karam, I like a lot an expressivity like in Ana Meen, but I don’t like the masculine foolish part. I wrote more about these singers in the article Some Lebanese female singers facing static mental plateaus.
Some of these women are such unhindered artists of a fluid raw reality masculinity, but they may not be very practical in real life. I am not referring to immediate practicalities, in the short term, but the direction in life in the long term. My approach to this is that I see how valuable is an unhindered feminine expressivity, but I try to pay attention to not feed a situation in which nobody assumes responsibilities. And let’s see how gender relations can evolve for an unhindered expressivity that takes in consideration real life.
When I was thinking about my position around this issue (as, before writing this text, I did not think too directly about it in a clear manner to put in words), these two songs came to my mind as expressing the impressions around it. One is Ana Al Insan of Diana Haddad (better audio quality here, but without the video and subtitles), in which she is facing practical issues of this classical human psychological organization, but still only orientating her mind around it. She can’t find anything else to rely on psychologically beyond the word “I” (I also notice now that the song revolves around the issues from the Epic of Gilgamesh and its further consequences). The other one is Kanadım Değdi Sevdaya of the Turkish singer Burcu Güneş, in which the woman can think deeply beyond this classical human organization and have the possibility to unfold psychological organization beyond it. This is the Altaic environment with a deep sense of facing reality beyond the classical human organization, which can produce profound reorganizations in difficult circumstances, like Atatürk’s Reforms or the Meiji Reforms. This kind of perspective makes me pay attention to the sense of reality in this Middle Eastern context.
But don’t take this as a straightforward solution, as there are lots of unknowns that need study in the Altaic perspective too. This sense of reality can be deeply complex and fluid. And there are also lots of valuable aspects in the Middle Eastern perspective too. It is good to see the situation from both these perspectives. I did not have knowledge of the song Ana Al Insan when I was developing the Earth-Moon allegorical worldview from the previous parts of this series. But when I saw it recently, I noticed how it reached some similar nuances, it is the kind of cultural environment in which you can study the inner coherence of the human psychological ecosystem, given the woman’s empathetic immersion in the man’s perspective.
And for me that ecosystem was rather “on the Moon”, given this Altaic direct perception of the raw reality. I am not so necessarily stuck in the organization around the word “I” and all its inherent limitations. In a sense, the perspective from a song like Ana Al Insan has the possibility to see from an external, yet empathetic angle how human psychology works, but at the same time it can be so involved and stuck in what it notices, like a butterfly attracted to a light bulb. The woman is not identifying with the man, she creates an alternative Enkidu, but she still is caught in this manner in this particular psychological organization (and the solution is not to dislike this involved situation, as this only makes you even more stuck because you may not have straightforward organizational alternatives, you need to see what is going on). I would not have been able to have a perspective like that from the previous parts of this series only with this view.
Don’t register this too much as a simplistic cultural specialization either, as each of these two views still deals to some extent with the issues raised by the other one. As an idea, I have used in the previous parts the example of Habeit Ya Leil of the Lebanese singer Nawal El Zoghbi, in which the woman makes the difference in her mind between the classical masculine organization and her “cinema seat” point of view outside of it. But she is still orienting her mind too much around that organization (which still can give valuable perceptions to a man around the human psychological organization).
In the Altaic mindset, the woman has some organization about that outside perspective and can bring the man to see from the “cinema seat”, like in Sargardoringman of the Uzbek singer Umidaxon. For me, after many years of exploring what is going on, this feels like being on Earth and the organization of the “film” like being on the Moon.
Plus that, with such a perspective in itself, in the particular Middle Eastern case, I can also further notice how foolish can turn at times the masculine situation (and the seriousness and value in some aspects of the Jewish masculine approach to this situation). I see how a Middle Eastern masculine increasingly absolutist control of the situation slides in something like in Taram-taram of the Uzbek singer Farruh Komilov. This explains also the otherwise mind-boggling Middle Eastern self-assured haughtiness mixed with countless conspiracy theories about how the others control them and do whatever they want with them (as a particular result of this situation in the contemporary context).
But, as I said before, there is also some Middle Eastern angle in studying human psychology when I am able to organize and articulate such perceptions (including perceptions around the Altaic mindset itself). It is good to have both these perspectives, plus other cultural perspectives in which I noticed interesting and valuable angles.
If it is about music videos, I also remember when I saw some years ago Bawsit Abel El Nawm (translation) of Najwa Karam for the first time. At 4:35, when the man enters her garden, it came to my mind the expression Kol HaKavod (“all the blessings” in Hebrew, used to congratulate someone for something good, for a job well done). It was something like what may be called an intuition, as it was very disconnected from anything I was thinking at that moment. What was that about? I got back to it to probe around, I sensed that the moment was reminding me of something, but it is too deep in the mind and I cannot figure out what.
For a few days I kept pondering around that feeling and I was getting increasingly more clear and coherent about it until I realized what was reminding me of the moment with the man entering the garden. It was the atmosphere from The Castle of Kafka, now also sensing it even more in depth as a result of all these days of deepening perceptions around the moment from the video. Only that in the video the man was successful due to the woman’s psychological competence to guide him into that seat of power, hence the congratulations. In The Castle, it was that feeling of being so close to such a tremendous raw reality power, but yet not having the slightest idea about how and where to start in order to approach it.
But I kind of admire from distance such femininity, I feel like I would lose myself if I get too close. It is like I can’t find a way to really face as a classical man the mental abyss of such a feminine unhindered expression without turning myself into a masculine blonde (a Jewish perspective). I have the option of a sort of a Jewish openly acknowledged and thus controlled masculine blonde unfoldment, something like an Adam Sandler or a Sacha Baron Cohen (who are not entirely masculine blondes, they still have some background control of the situation), but I sense even such control lost with an expressivity like that of Najwa Karam.
Unlike Kafka, I am lucky to have my Jewish religious satisfactions in facing that mental abyss and I can go by with my life. In fact, as I watched now the video again after some time, it does not feel so abyssal and daunting like some years ago. In the meantime, I progressed a lot, I feel like I have some relevant experience around this mental abyss from other angles, I am not so totally uprooted mentally by its expression. And the way I was processing some aspects may not even be so interesting anymore, given more profound horizons in some psychological areas.
What I wrote by now is about those women who manage such polished psychological expressivity, those who are setting the trends in the society. The other women need to face the consequences of this situation. See Habib Galbi (translation) of the Israeli band A-WA. The old man is despotic with the young women, the old woman is manipulating as she pleases the young men, they dance happily to her tune. The young women realize their situation, they move from the old man to the old woman and thus the problem just keeps perpetuating, both sides locked in an arms race along the generations, the men increasingly despotic, the women increasingly manipulative. This while many other local women are not able to find that “old woman” in themselves and/or they are too responsible themselves about real life and they end up very oppressed.
On the surface, the men have this propensity to show a tough image, while in reality they are very unprepared for the complex raw reality psychology some of the Middle Eastern women have. Habeit Ya Leil of Nawal El Zoghbi that I gave as an example a few times is how the man is seen by the woman in such situations. He may fluster like this in real life (a man who just minds his own business, unexpectedly he has to face such a sophisticated woman and he is caught unguarded) or he may show on the surface a tough image, but he does this exactly because he is flustering inside. After all, why would he need to look so tough, it is not like he would expect her to punch him in the face any time soon.
When there are more men together in masculine social spaces and they gather some courage to face what is with this feminine expressivity, this tends to turn into whining about the fact that this is so satisfying, but it does not stay as a plateau of satisfaction, you realize the inherent perishability it brings in your otherwise closed ecosystem as a result of the female retreat of the usual psychological support for man for the image she creates about him (the theme from the Epic of Gilgamesh). Something like in Halawet Rooh (translation in the video) of the Egyptian singer Hakim. This knowledge of the strings attached supposes some experience with this situation or simply growing up in this cultural environment. Men from other cultural areas at first may just be dumbfounded by this Middle Eastern feminine expressivity, like in Selma Hayek’s The Art of Seduction part of the film From Dusk Till Dawn (1996).
This is about that side of the Middle Eastern men that is apprehensive about what this feminine expressivity brings and notices the corrosion of the closed ecosystem. The other side of them thinks from the point of view of the feminine mental fluidity and does not notice any “Enkidu’s death” issues. The previous example of Habib Galbi showed how the women make the mental passage for the men from one side to another. The singers are Jewish and they are more upfront about what is going on. Officially, among Arabs, they do not face the elephant in the room, the image tends to be that the men are still in control of the situation, they just get a little too excitable, something like in Abead Eaniy of the Egyptian singers Hassan El Raddad, Mahmood El Laithi, Amy Samir, Ayten Amer and Mai Selim. In Ew3a El Wa7sh of the Egyptian singers Hassan El Kholaey and Johara, you can see a man wondering what is going on with him in this state of mind, under the subterfuge that this is a dream. In Abead Eaniy is how a man still keeps following in this state of mind the classical masculine thinking of growing branches in a tree, in Ew3a El Wa7sh is how a man stops for a while and just watches as a spectator what is going on in his mind.
That side of the Arab men thinking from the point of view of the feminine fluidity doesn’t like things getting stale, they have the expression of “thinning the blood” for the moments when they feel like doing things that bring mental freshness. The “blood thickens” if things start to get stale in their minds. Only that they don’t have much masculine reorganization to work constructively with this fluidity, everything is still too much focused on classical masculine mindset. The overall situation swings between too many restrictions on women and just letting this fluid side unfold. And, if it is about restrictions, it is those women who are not very experienced in feminine expressivity and/or who are too responsible themselves about real life who bear the brunt.
There is an Arab intellectual refinement of this fluidity, but it is focused on the aesthetic value from the point of view of classical human thinking based on stable mental plateaus. The vibe is “this feels so good” and “look at me how aesthetic I am”, something like in Aminti bil-Lah of Hela Melki with the National Arab Orchestra or this Nay and Percussion Improvisation by the same National Arab Orchestra. The previous Turkish and Albanian examples that I mentioned as useful for a man have a psychological component which permits for the man himself to have a start at thinking from the point of view of the raw reality perspective. Only that for this you need to have an opening to reorganize masculinity in order to work as a man with this point of view. And I am not saying this from a static perspective, the Arab men may find such ways.
Occasionally, I notice interpretations of Arab women that can make a bridge to open a masculine mind about aspects from the long-term accumulated feminine experience with the raw reality perspective (i.e. it is not just aesthetic, it also has a valuable psychological component). For example, Ya Msafer Wahdak of the Lebanese singer Fabienne Daher, it is about how to deal with this huge amount of perceptions you get when you see the people from the raw reality perspective. Each person is enormous in the complexity you sense, but there are ways to be fluid in it and make some sense of it. And it is not that I copy exactly what I see in these situations (like this inspiring interpretation). With a fluid masculinity it turns into my own take with a focus on being authentic. But for this you need to have an opening as a man to the raw reality perspective and by now I did not notice a specific Arabic masculine one.