killing denouement

الحريات المصرية و الطريقة الجديدة

No hyperinsightful solutions, unfortunately. I don’t actually know too much about bolitics in Egypt right now at that, though I really should. ‘Egyptian freedoms’ are probably more of an oxymoron than I realise. This illustration though, lovely no? From a 2nd grade Arabic language reader from 1938, it was donated by Christian Awaraji in Beirut 1997, and used to belong to his aunt, Flavie Awaraji who was born in 1938 and died in 1947 in a bicycle accident. Its inside cover reads “This book belongs to the honorable mademoiselle Flavie Awaraji, 11th (2. elementary) 1944, Lycée Français in Beirut”. I am slightly overwhelmed by these kind of traces of unknown people, like forgotten pressed flowers in the pages of old books. Traces of the geographical kind are becoming fascinating too, after burying (bunkering?) self in Paul VIrilio’s work lately (and of course the recycked Weizman fetishisation. I need to segue away from print back to image though, perhaps even film (which shouldn’t fizz out with a castrated film major?)

July in Cairo!

petrodollar summer

Dubai again and a strange affection for a city that I guess is my home, little as it does want me here. Jobs here seem impossible at first hunt, perhaps I should look to skip and dip on standby tickets for the next two months? I will definitely be in Cairo (and not Berlin) for a fortnight sandwiched in June, and Kashmir/Mumbai for the first 2-3 weeks of July. Hopefully finding an affordable (!) sublet in NYC for August and couchsurfing for the last dredges of July til I can inshallah move in. My life is currently packed into six boxes in the radio station – I fascinatingly had five last year and four the year before. I suspect the number could go down though as I have scores of books to disperse (like theory, like cats) into the atmosphere, and several boxes lined with wake-up-an-hour-before-kickout-time dump and run panic. [you can’t go home again..]

in the beginning was the language, and the language was gravity

In the beginning was the language, and the language was gravity. Before the beginning was infinite violence. When violence met language, there was conflict; at once collision and collusion. Conflict became a reproductive space of exchange, and atomisation became the original sin. We learnt what evil was, and it was the One.

Gravity meanwhile was inscribed into (celestial) bodies, becoming the first legal contract between them. So it is that particles collide to produce fragmented planets and people, in an exchange of violent energy. Humans similarly collide to exchange pleasantries, and sometimes bodily fluids. On the level of language, morphemes collide to exchange ejaculations of speed and to reproduce meaning. In the eighteenth century, these forms might have been approached through money, character and root.

Yet this beginning is simply the beginning of the rational, instinctual Man-form, and its subsequent trajectory through time and space. Following Nietzsche, the universe itself is a monster of energy without beginning, without end, not expanding but constantly transforming, in an infinite play of forces, and waves of forces which work like concepts to create embodied affects. Violence is this monstrous energy.

our own material world is like an atomised pomegran(i)te, and we exist as six billion unitary seeds in it, bounded by State membranes

I sometimes think I envy those people who know where they belong

I sometimes think I envy those people who know where they belong;
writers who have a language and a history that is granted them with no catches, no hooks. Theirs for the taking. Along with a nation of willing accomplices, compatriots who see their own fate and that of their nation’s history and literary tradition reflected in the mirror the writer’s labour. It is all so neatly sewn up. Of course, I enjoy no such privilege. I belong to that nomad tribe, the great unwashed, those people born in the joins between continental shelves, in the unclaimed interstices between time zones, strung across latitudes. A tribe of no fixed locus, the homeless, the stateless. I have two passports and quite a variety of other documents to identify me, all of which tell the world where I have been, but not who I am, nor where I am going to…
A petrodollar summer?

glamming up the IDF

Is this the new face of war? It’s no secret that the Israeli Defense Forces could probably do with a PR boost these days. Their solution? A new glammed up self-refreshing banner on their english language website, featuring a slew of sexy soldier femme-fatale types, smiling and pouting at the camera, sometimes in fields of red flowers. Some of them look almost editorial, replete with artfully smudged warpaint, and the kind of careful dustings of grainy sand that you most often find in swimwear shoots. The image above is particularly striking, with its sweeping bullets and row of machine gun ammunition. Out of context, I would personally find it very difficult to identify the bullets as anything but jumbo crayon oversized sticks of kohl, perhaps the shimmery highlight kind. Sex sells, sure, but can it really sell occupation and massacre?


is gaza genocide? darfur, palestine and the politics of naming

Is Gaza a genocide; is Darfur a genocide? Where do you draw the lines between ‘land conflict’, ‘ethnic cleansing’ and genocide’, and what are the political value(s) of doing so? And how does something get designated as genocide anyway – is it, legally, only when the ICC at the Hague says so?

These are a couple of things I’ve been thinking through lately, having just taken a fairly broad based intro course with Mahmood Mamdani, which ended by looking at Darfur. To be fair, his somewhat controversial views did not come out explicitly in lecture, but having looked them up, I found myself agreeing, at least in part. With Darfur, as with Palestine I admittedly know only smidgens of the context from what I have read, but even in a vacuum, there’s value in the consideration that naming something a ‘conflict’ or ‘genocide’ has very real political affects. (The above is a real ad by the way, not a culturejam riff on Miranda July as I first thought. It ran in the New York Times Magazine, on April 10, 2008).

It’s especially interesting then as I just wrote a paper on said politics of naming in both Darfur and Palestine. (And ‘interesting’ is such a strange go-to-in-order-to-highlight word, one that I awkwardly cycle with ‘fascinating’, and even the aggrandising ‘significant’. Because it is not strange, but indeed heart wrenching and what else can you do in powerlessness but a detatched and masqued quasi-academic commentary?

more… (a lot!)

the military, the media and class analysis uber alles
So the US Army’s trying video games to prop up its flailing recruitment numbers in urban areas now. This adds an interesting dimension to the question of whether videogames glorify violence? The Army certainly seems to think so, probably with some pretty solid research before theypour their dollars into it, not to mention consolidating three recruitment centres into this one. I wonder how they can spin this though – killing people is easy, just click this button; killing people is engaging, stimulating, fun? It would be interesting to see a video/interactive game try stimulating something like PTSD, if that can even be done. On the tail end of the recent NROTC debacle, it would have been nice to have had some of these figures beforehand, though:

“The Army recruited 80,517 active personnel in the fiscal year that ended in October, slightly surpassing its goal of 80,000, though as in recent years it fell below its goal of having 90 percent of recruits be high school graduates.”

This blog-essay by danah boyd (I like that she too lower-cases her name) Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace is pretty fascinating,, especially with regards to the military, and the way it plays out with Facebook and Myspace

more more more


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