Friday, October 7, 2011

Mabrûk, yâ Tawakkul ! Mabrûk, yâ sha`b al-Yemen !

Traditionally, the Nobel Prize in the various sciences  honors milestones -- faits accomplis, not mere moves of great promise.  That is why Einstein got his Nobel, not for Relativity (still too conjectural at the time of the award), but for various other, instantly evaluable contributions.   Which means that the restriction to living laureates runs contrary to the main idea -- you cannot glean the high-points of the history of physics, by examining the Nobel awards, owing to that restriction.

Which is not to say that the restriction is necessarily a bad idea, for considerations of quite another order are valid in their own right.  As, that winning one is pretty much the career highpoint of a scientist’s life -- so why waste one on those no longer living?

The Nobel Peace Prize has gone quite a different route:  like the MacArthur, it has a soft spot for those who may be at the beginnings of what we hope may prove a stellar career;  yet more, increasingly this particular prize  means, not merely to crown, but to cause.  (Such, of course, was the one awarded to Barack Obama.  Love him a whole bunch, but the award was surely premature.)   Or to return to the physics:  not simply to measure in the classical sense (fait accompli), but in the quantum sense, where the measurement itself affects the course of events.  (Hence the Nobel for Obama.)  Yemen's fate still hangs in the balance; the Committee wishes to nudge the beam.

And so it is here.  Tawakkul Karman is not the fons et origo, nor the nec plus ultra, nor the sine qua non of the Yemeni resistance.   But she is an honorable and worthy representative of the stalwart Yemeni people, whose sparkling and inventive mouvement de contestation  we have saluted  here and here.

[Note: Her name is pronounced ta-WAHK-kul kar-MAN.
In Arabic, tawakkul means 'trust in God'. Much as among the early American Puritans, it is quite common for Muslim given-names  to have a transparent dictionary meaning.]

[Update 21 Feb 2012]
Listen to the lady herself, on the transition of power:

No comments:

Post a Comment