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Saturday, June 24, 2006

How You Could Dance So?


Dr. Lester CN Simon

Some people can wine better than others. The Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage defines wining as “erotic or provocative dancing with vigorous swinging and gyrating of the hips”. It goes on to note the link between wining, Carnival and vulgarity.

I want to propose to you that good wining says a lot more about the winer than simply being vulgar. According to the Oxford Dictionary, Vulgar means “making explicit reference to sex or bodily functions”. But the dictionary also notes that the word vulgar comes from the Latin word for “common people” and hence it simply means “characteristic of or belonging to ordinary people”. In this etymological sense, The Daily Observer is the most vulgar newspaper in Antigua and Barbuda.

To appreciate the sophistication and implications of a good wine we have to understand the variety of movements of the hip, the lower part of the spine and the knee. The first requirement is to discover the different kinds of movements possible by each joint in isolation. For example, the hip joint can perform six different movements all by itself. It can bend forward, backward, rotate outward, rotate inward, move outward with no rotation and move inward with no rotation. Examine the different movements of the lower spine and the knee separately.

The art of wining requires combining all or some of the possible kinds of movements of the joints to create a smooth, flowing, seemingly complex, singular movement. This leads to the central argument that persons who are adept at multitasking in any activity might make good winers. When you consider all the disparate activities women have to undertake from dawn to dusk, it is no wonder that they generally out-wine men.

But sadly, there are many women and men who seem to be good at multitasking who cannot wine at all or who wine very poorly. There are reasons for this. Some persons who are doing many things at the same time are very inefficient although they appear very busy. Others, who may multitask very efficiently, fail to bring the art of multitasking to the art of wining; or they may be too tired after all the hard work.

If it is true that poor winers might be poor at multitasking, there is hope for these needlessly hapless persons. Firstly, when you approach a seemingly complex activity, you have to put up broad headings or categories or (in this computer age) folders. Without these signposts, you will get lost among the rubble of the details. People who gossip or tell jokes by starting with the small details and end with the punch line will endear themselves to their friends and audience. However, a reversal of this approach is mandatory in learning to multitask, to study a complex subject, or to wine properly. You have to be like a manager, newspaper reporter or editor (for a vulgar newspaper) who can place the singular items in categories, brackets or columns (headlines etc) and then combine them to make a complex, exciting and organized whole or bestseller.

Being able to distill all the possible movements of the joints into a good wine is no different from cooking a good meal and really wining and dining your guests. Good wining may also be a reflection of expert negotiating skills, especially at Carnival time when you have to jostle between the Carnival Development Committee, the myriad groups and troupes, associations, and the press.

It should not surprise you that wining is regarded as vulgar, if by vulgar we refer to the common people. Common people have to multitask all the time to make ends meet. They simply carry over that art of everyday living to the art of wining. Even high-society women are now expert winers as they remember their roots and realise that they too have to multitask regardless of their vocation. Not to be left out, especially with the physical separation of the extended family, men are now being asked or forced to multitask in concert with their womenfolk to make ends meet at home. This can only be a good thing for the family and for conjoint wining which is best confined to the privacy of the home.

As you look at dancers during this Carnival season, try to determine how well they have combined the various possible movements of the spine, the hip and the knee. Look out for those winers with additional, unusual or unique movements which may include holding their head, hands or feet in positions that embellish the central movement. Is the central movement clockwise or anticlockwise? Why are the knees at a particular angle and how does that angle contribute to overall stability? Is that angle utilized in architecture? What different skills are deployed in wining while sitting compared to wining while standing or walking? Do not be fooled or enamoured by those winers who appear to be all over the shop, explicit to the extreme, only making plenty noise, like empty vessels.

One word of caution as you studiously regard parts of the anatomy in collusion and collision: Having discovered the best winer for the Carnival, please do not make the silly mistake of complementing her by asking her if she has applied for the voluntary separation package.

May we all have a happy and safe carnival 2006. Remember the ABC of HIV/AIDS: Abstain, Be Faithful, use a Condom.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Whale of a Time


Dr. Lester CN Simon

Some of us who are neither pro-whalers nor anti-whalers and who are seeking to arrive at a position on this important issue are deeply disappointed with the local debate before and during the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission in St. Kitts and Nevis.

The level and content of the local debate underscored the need for a national library in Antigua and Barbuda with access to modern scientific journals. One may argue (successfully) that such journals and other materials are available on the internet with and without subscription. But those of us who frequently access these data encounter periods of disinterest and lonesomeness largely because information must be properly disseminated, churned and debated in a civilised way to be of real and lasting value.

The way information is shared says a lot about us. Simply visiting a library to borrow a book or to nestle in the unique aroma of reams of data, or surfing the internet until you are bubbling with information all fall short of the needs of a modern society. In Antigua and Barbuda we have to ferment and nurture a culture of dialog that will secure the proper format for healthy, social discourse.

The entire whaling issue is so complex it demands a diverse panel of real experts presenting and jostling scientific, economic and other relevant data in a local, public forum. This should be one of the functions of a national institute of social, natural and medical sciences. Commonsense, logic and truth tend to carry a transparent quality that most people can see through.

Before anyone makes the vile suggestion that we ask Japan for a national library to complement the school of fishes from the fishing complexes, let me simply suggest that we ask Japan for assistance from some of its manga artists. Manga is the Japanese word for comics and Japan has become the world leader in this art form.

When the whale swallowed Jonah it represented the myth of someone going into darkness and emerging transformed. In our local, manga version, we the Jonahs on all sides of the whale debate need to swallow our whales of self-righteousness and emerge transformed with a more reasoned, balanced, civil and sincere approach to the way we discuss issues of national and international import.