3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

April 15, 2002 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on April 15, 2002.

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3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to: kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45, payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at kessler@well.sf.ca.us


FYI France: the Institut du Monde Arabe


For all of us with new - found, or rediscovered, interests in the Middle East and Islam and the Arab world, the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris has a wonderfully - useful W3 site.

The utility of the site is at least dual: you can read fascinating material about all of this, and you can read about it in French. In addition there is a French approach, to the Middle East and its many possibilities and problems, which is very rarely heard in all the sound and fury emanating from the US news media recently -- la différence française, again, for a geopolitical issue on which they really are very different. For those of us who truly believe that "Everything has Changed", since September 11 last year, as well as for those of us who truly don't, a tour through a foreign take on fundamental aspects of the problem can offer revelatory balance.

The Institut du Monde Arabe site offers several major resources, at,


-- among these,

* Architecture

A photo - tour through the Institute's remarkable Left Bank buildings, with their glass and steel, and sunken patio, and "tour des livres" -- "en marbre blanc. Sa forme hélicoïdale rapelle les minarets des anciennes mosquées" -- and the famous "diaphragmes" -- "La façade sud reprend les thèmes historiques de la géométrie arabe dans la conception des 240 moucharabiehs qui la composent. Ces diaphragmes s'ouvrent et se ferment à chaque changement d'heure."


* History

An outstanding introduction to the history of the Arab world -- first stop, for both anyone unfamiliar with the area and anyone desiring a quick and easy online review "in these troubled times" -- the beautifully - illustrated presentation is divided in two:

* Library

The bibliothèque of the Institut has mounted extensive and extremely - useful bibliographies online:



plus materials on the Arab World for children --

and in Paris, at the Institut, on the rue des Fossés - Saint - Bernard 5eme, a full schedule of events and activities for both adults and children, plus access to library book, photograph, film, music, and Arab television collections, all are offered.


A Note:

At least two civilizations are bleeding themselves to death in the desert, in the Middle East this month, again. It would be useful if all of us were to look at both, very closely, and from as many angles as possible, before any of us begins to advocate the inevitably - simplistic solutions which will be imposed on that terrible situation.

That was one of the problems in Afghanistan -- nobody could find it on a map. At least, in the Middle East case, the map is well - known. But that sometimes can pose an even worse problem: of mistaken assumptions, and preconceived notions, and partial understandings based on rumor and bias and the darker ghosts of our own histories -- a little knowledge can be a thing as terrible as no knowledge at all.

So the Institut du Monde Arabe W3 site offers correction: if not of the politics involved -- which may not be corrected, by anything, until several generations of both peace and justice have passed in the region -- at least of our own ignorance of the depths and complexities of the people involved, on all sides. There are Monophysite Christian Arabs, and Baptist - Anglican Arabs, and Jews are protesting Israeli policies in the San Francisco streets this week... Hindu Indians live in Beirut...

And the Institut W3 site offers all this in French, in a very attractive online presentation, and using an "aesthetic" approach -- for which the French are justifiably famous -- a view notably absent in the "soundbyte and immediacy" newsmedia reportage currently informing and to some extent forcing decisions being made now on the Middle East region's fate.

One problem, with the ancient "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" explanation for Middle East politics, is that to use it you have to know who your friends are -- didn't work so well in Afghanistan either, recently, for this reason. You also have to know your enemies. Ignorance helps neither judgment, nor the situation as a whole. But one ray of hope, for a situation which currently is pretty bleak, is that the more you get to know people in fact the less they seem so clearly to be divided into simply "friends" and "enemies".




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M. Eiffel

Copyright © 1992- by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved.
W3 site maintained at http://www.fyifrance.com
Document maintained by: Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us
Last update: May 20, 2002