I remembered you today

And that was ugly and sad

I was carrying a small amount of money

I bought with it some flowers from street children

Because it’s the cheapest in this cruel city

I went to the place we last said goodbye

And put the flowers there

I stood as if before a small grave

Wide enough for our feet

And for our embrace in front of the door

When you said, imitating my naïve accent:

“It really does seem you fell in love with me.”

You’re the kind of man who doesn’t believe love

But does it with others anyway

 

-Manahel Al-Sahwi

A Syrian poet

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فقط كيس بطاطا آخر

انظرْ لتلك الخِربة البشرية, بذاءة متنكّرة, إهانة للحواس. خراء المستنقعات هذا يجب أن يزالوا من قبل أنظار الجميع, و أن يُنقلوا إلى مكان بعيد, حيث يستطيعون أن يذوبوا و يختلطوا ببعضهم لشيء أقل بشراً, أكثر مخاطية, حيث لا بئس .عليهم و لا هم يحزنون

أخبرها بأن من مثلنا سيبادون قريباً بوجود هؤلاء. أنصاف بشر تملأ الشوارع, أشبه بشوالات بطاطا متحركة ناطقة. قشر القشور, يعملون سخرة كعقبات لنا, كإحدى منغّصات الحياة, شيء لا يمكن تفاديه إلا بالقتل. لا, ليس القتل. هم بالفعل موتى, مقتولون منذ زمن طويل. هم كالأشجار التي استسلمت و لم تعد تورق أو تزهر, خلعها من جذورها واجب للمواطنين مثلنا, أنا و هي.

مناظرهم تأثر فيك كآلة زمن. هم ليسوا أكثر من غرائز تأخذ صور آدميين؛ يأكلون ينامون يتنايكون, و ليسوا حتى جيدين في أي من هذا. مدفعون نحو هذه الضروريات بخواء عقلي شبيه باللحظة التي تنظر فيها إلى أسفل جرف صخري, و تدرك كم تفاهتك و عدم أهميتك, و لكن رغم هذا تبقى تتنفس للسبب نفسه. آلة زمن تعيدك إلى الوراء, إلى زمن سحيق لم يعرف فيه البشر أي متعة واعية, يفعلون الأشياء لضروريتها ليس أكثر.

ماذا تفعل بهؤلاء؟ كيف تتعاطى معهم؟ أتذكر أنني قلت لها, و لا أتذكر كيف ودّانا الحديث إلى ذلك: “لهذا الأحسن أن ينوضعوا كلهم في مخيمات بعيدة, يعني بجم لا تميز بين هنا و هناك, اعطيهم شوية برسيم و ماء و فُتَح لأيورهم و لن يعوا حتى أنهم نقلوا من مكانهم.”

هالتها الفكرة _كان لها ماضي يساري_ و بهدلتني. تقول شيئاً من قبيل: “الناس ليست مشاريع استثمار.”

“يعني لن تنفذي مخططي معي؟” سألتها و أنا أحكّ ذقني بشراسة. قمّلتْ؟

“طبعاً لا.” تجاوب بحدة. تعيد نظرها إلى المرآة و تكمل تمشيط شعرها.

“يعني بودك أن تصبحي ستّ بيت سمينة تقضي نهارها تفقّي البزر و تضرب أولادها على قفاهم كلما سألوا سؤالاً لا تريد الإجابة عليه خوفاً من تفاهتها و خجلها الصبياني من أولادها؟ هذه آخرة النساء هنا, كلهن بدون استثناء.”

تأفأفت. “مش ضروري.”

(مش ضروري). تلك هي المانترا, ذلك هو الهوس. الإيمان بأنك مختلف لأجل الاختلاف. بأنك غيرهم. بأنك شخصك المنفرد الفريد الذي لم يمر على الزمان قبله. التميّز كهدف بحد ذاته. أفنوا عمرهم و هم يشاهدون أفلام هوليوود عن حياة طلاب الثانوية الأمريكان. طلاب ثانوياتنا… ثانويون, بالأكثر, و لا يتحدثون الإنكليزية بطلاقة, رغم أنك لا تحتاج تلك اللغة فعلياً لأي من تحركاتك هنا, من سؤالك عن سعر الخس إلى ملاطشتك إحداهن. كيف تقول “يقبرني رب هالشفايف” بالإنكليزية مثلاً؟ يستحيل!

و هكذا كل مرة. إذا بقيتْ هكذا سأضعها في ثلة أكياس البطاطا, مع الباقين. هكذا دائماً, يتسلل القبول و الخنوع إليك دون وعي. في البداية توافق و تصمت, و ينتهي بك الأمر إلى ترديد كليشيهات العامة نفسها. هكذا بدون أي مراجعة لمواقف سابقة. نحن نعيش هنا في زريبة يملؤها “يساريون سابقون”, أياً كان ما يعنيه ذلك, و كلهم أتفه من بعضهم. كلهم خرابات بشرية و قنابل من الزبالة قد تنفجر في أي لحظة. كلهم مخاطيون دنيئو النفس يبيعون نفسهم “للقضية الجديدة” كلما ظهرت و أينما ظهرت. تحسهم يريدون أن يُلاحظوا بأي شكل من الأشكال, و حتى ولو اضطروا للنزول إلى أوطى مصافِ الإنسانية, لذلك يرغبون في تعدي حدودهم, الفعلية و الوهمية, بعيداً عن الكل العارف بتفاهتهم, ليبنوا أمجادهم و تاريخهم المختلق فوق كوارث أكياس البطاطا الأخرى و التي قبلت مسبقاً بانعدام أهميتها.

حياتنا هنا, و هذا الحبس المكيّف, هو نكتة ربانية بذيئة, و غير مضحكة. هناك مأساة في أن يعتقد الله أنه ظريف. مأساة حقيقية, و فجاعتها أكبر من أن تُحتمل. و مع كل هذا الألم المحاط بالبشر, مازلت أؤمن بأن هناك كياناً أثيرياً يراقبنا و يحكم علينا و يسجل أعمالنا و يجيرنا من أشياء تافهة كحوادث سيارة أو كسر في الحوض, لنموت لاحقاً في شيء مسلي أكثر, كتفجير, مثلاً, أو قصف عشوائي. هو يتابعنا إن لم يكن لشيء إلا لإمضاء وقته. أنا أكثر رومنسية من أن أرفض فكرة وجوده, و أرفض قطعاً أن أكون كؤلائك الملحدين الذين يقضون وقتهم يسبون الآلهة نفسها التي لا يؤمنون بوجودها.

نقضي العمر كله نتخبط عشوائياً, و نموت ألف ميتة لنحصل على ما نريد. لا نملك أنفسنا. نولد عقارات لأشخاص آخرين. و نكتشف متأخراً أننا مسيّسون, و الفرق يصير بمن يقبل بهذا الاكتشاف. نظن أننا نتمرد إذا شاهدنا فلماً ألمانياً أو قلنا رأينا في مساوئ العنصرية, و نحن حقيقة لا نخرج عن حلقة المقبول و المرضي عليه.

ثلة من البدو خارج سياقنا التاريخي.

نلف و ندور و نعود إلى حيث ننتمي, إلى حيث نشبه الجميع, بحذائنا “الماركة” التقليد الصيني و أفقنا المعزول. و يأتيك ذلك المنيك المعثر ابن جارك ليطلعك على أخبار تقديمه على المنحة و أنت حتى لم تسأل. يظن أنك تهتم و أنت جلّ ما تفكر به أثناء كلامه هو كم الذل الهائل المتجسد في تلك العينين. يحدثك عن أحلامه و آماله و تصوراته المهترئة عن الغرب و حياته في الغرب. ماذا تقول له؟ أتقول له إن مكاننا نحن وراء البقر, مخبئين عن عيون العالم و عن الناس الأحق بالحياة؟ يا حبيبي أحد من أولائك له حياة شخصية أعقد من قضيتك بكثير, و فيها زخم و انتصارات لم تعرفها لا أنت و لا أجدادك. هم لا يعرفونك و لا حتى يعرفون بلدك بالاسم, و أنت أتفه من أن تُعرف. العالم لا يهتم لك و لا يهتم أنك كنت الأول على دفعتك و لا يهتم أنك قضيت أيام قطع الكهرباء تدرس على ضوء الشموع. يا حبيبي تعليمك لا يريد لك أن تكون أكثر من موظف دولة, فاقبل بهذا.

لن تحتفي بك جامعات الغرب, و لا ينتظرك أي من بروفيسوراتهم و لن يكتشف أحد “عبقريتك الكامنة” و لن تحتفي بك أي من تجمعات الكتّاب السخيفة و تناقش شعرك الخرائي بحمية و لن تغير وجه “المشهد الأدبي” المعدوم أصلاً و لن تظهر في البرامج الحوارية على “الجزيرة” و تُقدم ك “مفكر عربي”. أنت تفوق كل ما سبق تفاهة.

رفاقك هم كذلك ليس لشيء إلا لأنهم يحتاجون حارس مرمى في كرة القدم. لا أحد يحبك سوى أمك, و حتى هي في أعماقها تتمنى التخلص منك و من العائلة كلها و لو لنصف ساعة. يا حبيبي لا خلاص لك, لا انفكاك من حقيقتك, عارك الصحراوي سيتبعك إلى آخر ما عمّر الله. لا يهم كم المارتيني الذي تشربه في مخيلتك مع “زملائك” الجامعيين الأجانب, أو كم الشقراوات اللواتي تصاحبهن في أحلامك تحت الغطاء ليلاً أو المصطلحات التي تتدرب على لفظها خجلاً من مستمعيك الأجانب المتخيلين. كله كله لا يهم.

لا مكان لك في عالمهم يا حبيبي, فابدأ بالبحث عن واسطة و أمّن لنفسك كرسياً بلاستيكياً _من الذي يدور_ وراء مكتب و أرسل أمك تبحث لك عن عروس و حينها تكون قد قدمت الخدمة الوحيدة في حياتك كلها و أرحت أمك, فقدم هذه الخدمة و انسحب إلى غياهب الكون حيث من مثلنا يقبعون و مارس طقوسك في أظلم كهوف الذاكرة الإنسانية حيث لا أحد يزعجك و لا تزعج أحداً, و ستتحول تدريجياً إلى شوال بطاطا و لا بئس في ذلك. سينكشك الفضول أحياناً و تمد رأسك خارج الكهف و سيمر الناس من أمامك و لن يراك أحد. أنت أتفه من أن تُرى. ستعرف يا حبيبي حينها أن الخفاء أشرف للذين مثلنا.

و أرجوك, لا تكبر لتصبح يسارياً سابقاً.

ما بيعرف يجدّل

جدّلي شعري. بدّي جدّولة. وحدة بس, مش اثنتين. بس جدّولة وحدة.

ظفيرة

أو سنبلة. ما بعرف. حطْ إيدك بشعري. هيك روس أصابعك على جلدة راسي.

لا مش عجنب. ما بدي الجدّولة على جنب, بدي ياها تنزل على ظهري. يعني شعري مش طويل كثير بس هيك حابة الجدولة تنزل على ظهري.

لازم جدّل شعري منشان الشوب. شوب كثير و شكلة الجو مش حيتحسّن. الله و الحكومة عم يتآمروا علينا. لما يبرد الجو شوي, بتجي الكهربا كثير, بس لما الهوا يصير كأنك جوا مايكرويف –عارف عليّ- بتصير تجي الكهربا أغلب النهار.

المهم هلق, جدلي شعري. مشطته اليوم منشان هالشغلة.

Adam

Adam is the static. Adam is the archetype.

Adam is the skeleton before the flesh, the figure before the character.

Adam is empty.

Adam is so lonely he agreed for a rip to be pulled out of him, yet we never hear of his pain.

He is the painless.

He is the unreal.

He is the inadequate patriarch. He has no will of his own.

He is not yet man, just a figment of God’s imagination.

Fuck the World

This is so good.

The Foulosopher

Fuck the AUC privileged class for acting like self-entitled douchebags who subconsciously dream of being white, fantasizing about their own country like an exotic tourist drooling over karkade.

Fuck the other AUCians who feel ashamed about being rich, and therefore fetishize being “poor” as some sort of entitled rebellion against their privilege. Their poverty is a luxury they can afford, not a reality they must live. Deep down, they revel in the security of their looming inheritance.

Fuck those who obsess about the West and those who over use the term orientalism. Seeing orientalism everywhere is the newest form of orientalism. It reveals nothing insightful. It only highlights our fragile reactionary identities to dominant narratives.

Fuck the post-thawra bourgeois petty nationalism of taking the metro and using yamli to write facebook statuses in Arabic. Accept that you speak English better than Arabic and move on. There is no shame in…

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Every Single Article Ever Written About Being Gay in Beirut in One Convenient Article

ohmyhappiness

It’s a dark night in Beirut, the San Francisco of the Middle East. This darkness is powerful. It represents Beirut’s past, its present, and its bleak future. But tonight, it also represents the state of gay people in this Middle Eastern city by the sea.

Hassan, whose name I have changed to protect his privacy even though there are thousands of Ahmeds in Lebanon, is sipping on a gin and tonic, and in doing so, powerfully defies his religion. For him, having grown up in a Muslim household, religion has turned its back on him, because you see, Hassan is gay. A gay Muslim. In Beirut. Shocking.

Hassan tells me how hard it is to come out in Beirut. This story is very specific to the Arab world, because everywhere else on this planet, it’s so easy to come out. We are sitting in Bardo, a gay bar in Hamra…

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All those theres: Sargon Boulus’s Iraq

тнє ѕυℓтαη'ѕ ѕєαℓ

4 September 2011: Baghdad via San Francisco, for Youssef Rakha, makes more sense than Baghdad

Thanks to a flighty wi-fi connection at the riad where I stayed that time in Marrakesh, I heard Sargon Boulus (1944-2007) reading his poems for the first time. Sargon had died recently in Berlin – this was the closest I would get to meeting him – and, lapping up. the canned sound, I marvelled at his unusual career. He was an Iraqi who spent more or less all of his adult life outside Iraq, a Beatnik with roots in Kirkuk, an Assyrian who reinvented classical Arabic. He translated both Mahmoud Darwish and Howl.

wpid-sargon_boulus2-2011-09-4-12-53.jpg

In Sargon’s time and place there is an overbearing story of nation building, of (spurious) Arab-Muslim identity and of (mercenary) Struggle – against colonialism, against Israel, against capital – and that story left him completely out. More probably, he chose to…

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Annoying Arabs to Avoid: The Arab Straw-Feminist, The Female Version

The Arab Straw-Feminist is another subspecies that inhabits the Middle East and North Africa, its natural habitat being her room in her parents’ house, and her main source of nourishment is Facebook likes. She is an odd creature, functioning at the most basic level of human intellect, and scientists are still searching the original home of this subspecies, with some suggesting it came from between the pages of a crappy Ahlam Mustaghanmi novel and then spread to the rest of the region.

The men of her country and Arab men at large are the target of her internalized racism, and she does not miss an opportunity to ridicule them and hold them against white cute men in the West as a standard.

The Arab Straw-Feminist is not familiar with feminist theory, nor does she know such esteemed figures like bill hooks, Audre Lord, or Angela Davis. The term Intersectional Feminism is alien to her, and she is not well-acquainted with the feminist scene in the West or elsewhere, instead opting to post quasi-feminist videos removed out of context on her Facebook page, using them to glorify a West she does not know beyond Hollywood movies.

And in the true spirit of straw people, she is out of touch with reality. This manifests itself in her inability to analyze the socio-economic and political reality of the society around her unless she falls back on orientalist stereotypes, since her feminism, like everything else about her intellect, is imported.

And since she has not had one original thought in her life, and does not really understand how feminism works, she attempts to persuade men into her side of the fight by amplifying what true manliness is like, such as saying true men do not hit women, or true men help their female friends and relatives, or true men are those who appreciate women, and the like.

The Arab Straw-Feminist whines all day long about ‘Eastern’ men. This blob of Eastern Men is characterized by inherent backwardness, savagery, lustfulness, and general stupidity. To her, the ‘Eastern Man’ is irredeemable unless he interacts with the ‘developed’ West, and learns from it how to be civilized and love women.

This brings us to the hugely popular category of the ‘Eastern Man’. The Arab Straw-Feminist tends to avoid specifying who this man is exactly, but her audience recognizes she means Arabs, and similar people in surrounding areas.

It is not unusual for this subspecies to adopt a cool behavior in cases of conflict and impending threat from outside ‘Eastern’ forces, such as sexist comments, so she will not be accused of irrationality and emotional outbursts typical of women in her area.

She happily devotes her internet connection to hate on Arab men, and exercise her internalized, unexamined prejudices against them. The Arab Straw-Feminist would also not mind siding with any foreign, developed Western elements against the men of her country, because after all, they need the push.

The pages of the many Arab Straw-Feminists tend to parrot one another, so following only one page is enough to give you an idea of the fast rate at which this subspecies is growing in numbers. Their main defense mechanism is headache-inducing Facebook posts that have proven their effectiveness in rebelling enemies of greater intellect and empathy.

Scientists studying this fascinating phenomena have mapped out the ways in which to avoid the Arab Straw-Feminist:

-Extermination. Cut off her internet connection, though in some circles this method is considered insensitive and socially unacceptable, and could fall into the realm of fighting free speech. Please adopt all levels of precaution before doing this, and think of the poor Arab man who will be accused of this deed and held at trial on charge of his Arabness and Easterness in the courts of the Union of Arab Straw-Feminists.

-Reality Brick on the Head. Bring her to visit America, and find her a job at an abortion clinic working undercover somewhere in the Bible Belt. And while you’re at it, make sure she is subjected to racial profiling, orientalism, sexual harassment, catcalling, and slut-shaming. Last but not least, assign her to write an insider’s report in Arabic about the struggles of black women and other minorities in the frame of white feminism that she so happily adopts, and encourage her to join a support group for liberated American women who had experienced the trauma of rape.

-Books. The easiest and less extreme option is to simply gift her with books dealing with actual feminism, and keep her updated on the most recent news of the many faces of feminism all over the globe.

We would like to assure you that the Arab Straw-Feminist is not evil, she is simply a snob who is misguided, misinformed, and seriously out of the loop. This does not mean that she cannot evolve out of her shell, -despite increasing evidence against this claim- on the contrary, she is definitely capable of learning from her mistakes, though the option of extermination remains preferable in cases of extreme frustration.

Annoying Arabs to Avoid: The Arab Englishman

One type of Arabs is the Arab Englishman, a subspecies observed all over the Middle East and North Africa. The Arab Englishman is not content to be like the rest of his kin, but opts to adopt not only the manners of his British counterpart, but also his language.

The Arab Englishman peppers his speech with English words, and will sometimes be kind enough to form a whole sentence in English. Do not expect the Arab Englishman to be proficient in English (he’s not), but do expect him to correct you when he finds the time from his strenuous duties to mingle with the lesser folks of his country.

The Arab Englishman will tell you that no, he is not full of himself. You envy him, because you exhibit typical Arab behavior, which he is above. Naturally.

This subspecies believes with unrelenting heart that they have been bestowed with a heavenly gift that sets them apart from the rest, and they will attempt to downplay this gift by telling you that there is a lot they still don’t know, using the English language, of course.

The Arab Englishman, contrary to his claims, has only seen England in pictures. He is a strong advocate for women’s right to wear what they want, but will insist on his girlfriend having a short hair cut because, as he will happily explain, it’s “cool”.

This subspecies is mostly concentrated in the Art and Music faculties of every collage; and oddly enough, Arabs who major in English literature do not exhibit the same behavior as the Arab Englishman, and are, in fact, despised by him, for the English of this Arab is superior to the mainstream English of the education system.

He does not know what the word mainstream means.

His English is the English of songs and movies, which he will always remind you, he can watch without subtitles.

He has not for once in his life picked an English novel, least an Arabic one, though you are likely to find in his Facebook page tons of likes for esteemed works such as “The Old Man and the Sea”, “Anna Karenina”, “Hamlet”, and “Twilight”.

The Arab Englishman’s favorite genre of music is Jazz. Jazz is classy and English, like he is. He might occasionally say Rock. Do not ask him why he likes Rock. It just feels right to him. He will sometimes have a picture of Marilyn Monroe in his room, despite never having watched any of her movies.

For this species, the Arabic language is crude, senseless, and devoid of beauty. He will tell you how he better expresses himself in English, and how English helps him express himself better. Similar to the previous sentence, the Arab Englishman tends to rather repeat himself, for lack of an extensive vocabulary, but he will manage to conceal this by exchanging words, and using them in their wrong places, relying on the ignorance of lesser Arabs who are not as proficient in English as he is.

The Arab Englishman’s biggest fear is for his lack of knowledge in the English language to be exposed, since he has built his entire persona around being better than others in this regard, and he will fight tooth and nail not to engage with anyone who actually speaks English, for fear of appearing small.

This is not to say that the Arab Englishman is completely hopeless; he is, in fact, capable of change. Whether by a conspicuous murder attempt on his life, or by accumulating enough English words to alleviate himself to the level of an Arab who happens to speak English.

Words they are likely to use during normal Arabic speech with others: “Shit”, “Excuse me”, “Oh My God!”, “Sorry”, “Cool”, “Fuck”, “Bitch”, “Man”, and the occasional “Welcome”.

Ways to avoid the Arab Englishman primarily consist of not engaging with him in discussions of new songs and movies, for obvious reasons. Some recommend you completely cut off contact with him, and others advice that you ask him for a challenge. I say neither, for the Arab Englishman is not a bad person, but merely misguided and rather pretentious, incompetent, and egoistic. And like he himself would call others he does not like, an Asshole.

When I Was An Orange Tree

An orange tree, small and lush, poses timidly at the side of an ancient stone stairs, half-way between earth and sky. The stairs, from down, appear endless; some say God waits up there, not with open arms, but with idle expectancy, like He knew you’d come, but wasn’t really waiting for you to show up.

An orange tree, bent but strong, hunches slightly over the stone, neither guarding divinity nor displaying interest in earthly manners. Something about it is too ordinary, simple, confined, disarmingly so. You expect too much of it, yet it is an ordinary orange tree.

When man fought God for the very first time, he did so on the backs of elephants. His weapons were his confusion, his limited perception, and his yearning for the primality of faith. Not faith itself, especially after encountering God, for he found that this deity was just as confused, just as limited, and just as primal as he was.

Those elephants he rode did not descend down to earth with him. They remained stuck on the ancient stairs, after earth become too little to contain them. The orange tree does not remember who came first, itself or the elephants, perhaps it was too young to recall. But in the spirit of true orange trees, it kept the perplexities of the two distant worlds, and what transpires in the stretch of stone between them, to itself.

At noon, the orange tree faces its wobbling shadow, for hours and hours, but time matters not here. Here, the orange tree leads a calm existence, at margins of divine fury and human suffering, caring for neither. When God invited it to share a glass of wine with Him, it politely declined; these nights were reserved for observing elephants swaying with enchantment from the Sufi music played from across the ocean.

In a world so unbelievably vast, the orange tree owns nothing but the little space it occupies, but one day, when the earth was drowned in a flood so violent it uprooted God’s throne, the orange tree found itself drifting silently away from the stone stairs, away from the elephants and the Sufi music.

Away from the scent of Paradise’s winery.

It landed in a swamp. A large one circled by tall trees bearing no fruit. Green was everywhere, alarming yet dull, one tree replicating itself a thousand times. Somewhere in the swamp was a walled pond, filled with water glistening like a starry sky, and inside the pond was an elephant and her calf, doing a ritualistic bath, tossing water from their trunks everywhere around them.

For a moment, the orange tree was a hunter. Its silent observation manifesting itself in eyes, brown and alert, a malicious intent sipping through its body. But something was approaching. Something bigger than the orange tree. A large vehicle driven by two men came crashing on the tranquil green around them.

The elephants wailed loudly.

Water rippled, the whole scene wavered, the pair of brown eyes disappeared; the orange tree remembered it’s a tree, not a hunter, when the two humans’ faces almost cracked open, their vehicle running over the calf.

Blood seeped into the water, the elephant cried out, a sound so human and terrifying, the swamp began swallowing it, the elephant mingled with the green around it, and the orange tree no longer recognized who was an extension of the other.

Green was devouring everything around it, the scene had no beginning and no end. There was no stone stairs, no elephants, no odd vehicles, just an orange tree, drowning, aware for the very first time of its being, of its existence.

It’s an ordinary orange tree. It’s an extraordinary orange tree.

It’s an orange tree forgotten by God.