Friday, November 26, 2004


Today is Black Friday. We have a new baby in our family; my cousin's son was born last week. I am siting in Panera Coffee Shop and good for me, they have wireless here. I have to write 3 papers in the coming week and I have only chosen the topic for one of them; so you see, I should be nervous, but surprisingly I do not have any feeling of such kind. I'm ahead of my reading for the book club, which I'm part of, and I had 10 people over last night. Maybe I am dreaming or ... Please wake me up.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


When I was in third grade, our teacher asked us to compose an essay as usual for the end of the week but the subject this time was challenging: assume that you have to go to a trip and you can only choose one thing to carry; what would you choose? Well I chose “Takhte” which is backgammon's board. (In Farsi the game is called “Takhte Nard.”) Well, I got into trouble, because it was a forbidden game (not a big trouble though). Any way, I learned it from my grandfather, when I was 7. Then for a long time after my essay, I could not play, simply because we had to hide it. My favorite game today is still Backgammon and I take my board with me, wherever I go. So if you have bothered to read till here, please take a look at the rest; it is intresting to know where Backgammon, the oldest game in the world, came from.

Backgammon is believed to have originated in Mesopotamia in the Persian Empire or the present day Iran, Iraq, and Syria and it is the oldest known recorded game in history. The game was typically played on surfaces such as wood, using stones as markers, and dice made from bones, stones, wood or pottery and it can be traced back thousands of years BC to board-games played by the Egyptians, Sumerians, Romans, and Persians.

The name Backgammon became known around the mid-seventeenth century when the Saxons called it the "bac" (back) "gamen" (game) since the checkers when hit go "back" and have to re-enter the "game".
In certain societies, backgammon was outlawed. In Japan, during the reign of Empress Jito, it was illegal. In England, in the time of Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey commanded all boards to be destroyed by fire. To continue playing, the English crafted backgammon boards inside hollow books to look inconspicuous also in Iran it is illegal because it is considering as a gambling tool and gambling is forbidden in Islam.

Finally, today, the history of backgammon is taking yet another turn. With the invention of the computer and subsequently, the Internet, people from all over the world can meet and play with each other from the comfort of their homes on a number of commercially available backgammon servers. Computer programs such as Snowie and Jellyfish, often referred to as robots or 'bots', can now be used by every level of player to learn and practice with.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Helen Cixous and Woman's Writing

I was reading Feminism Art Theory and browsing some articles and I found Helen Cixous’s writings so interesting. Although I do not agree with her in many parts, I can not avoid the power that her writings give me as a woman. Here is her biography and some small parts filled with The Power of her thinking:
Censor the body and you censor breath and speech at the same time. Write yourself. Your body must be heard.
-- "The Laugh of the Medusa"*
Writing: as if I had the urge to go on enjoying, to feel full, to push, to feel the force of my muscles, and my harmony, to be pregnant and at the same time to give myself the joys of parturition, the joys of both the mother and the child. To give birth to myself and to nurse myself, too. Life summons life. Pleasure seeks renewal.
-- "Coming to Writing"*
Myth ends up having our hides. Logos opens up its great maw and swallows us whole.
--"Coming to Writing"*

Cixous was born in Oran, Algeria in 1937, which was a colony of France, and was raised in a German-Jewish household. She received her agregation in English in 1959 and her Docteur en lettres in 1968. Cixous has taught at many different universities throughout France including the University of Bordeaux (1962), the Sorbonne (1965-67), and Nanterre (1967).
In the 1970's Cixous became involved in exploring the relationship between sexuality and writing, the same kinds of work being done by theorists like Kristeva, Barthes, Derrida, and Irigaray (Shiach). In this time period she composed such influential works as "Sortie," "The Laugh of the Medusa," and "Coming to Writing."
Since the authoring of these texts in the seventies, Cixous has become even more mysterious and complex, but has somewhat lessened her radical ideology for a more inclusive exploration of collective identities. She is currently an English literature professor at the University of Paris VIII-Vincennes where she has established a center for women's studies and is a co-founder of the structuralist journal Poetique*.