The Quarantine Chronicles 30 😷 Caroline Stockford

Detail from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Triumph of Death”, 1562

A Daily Feature | سلسلة يومية

This is an extraordinary time, wrote Carol Sansour to, among many others, the British poet and translator Caroline Stockford, and I would like to document it by means of testimonies from you and others around the world.  I would appreciate it if you could answer those four questions in whichever form you see fit (preferably a short video):

What is the most pressing thought/idea you are having these days;

What are you hopeful for (personally and for the human race);

What scares you;

How are you spending your time (please indicate if you are on lockdown or not)?


The Quarantine Chronicles 28 😷 Rana Haddad

Detail from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Triumph of Death”, 1562

A Daily Feature | سلسلة يومية

This is an extraordinary time, wrote Carol Sansour to, among many others, the Syrian novelist Rana Haddad, and I would like to document it by means of testimonies from you and others around the world.  I would appreciate it if you could answer those four questions in whichever form you see fit (preferably a short video):

What is the most pressing thought/idea you are having these days;

What are you hopeful for (personally and for the human race);

What scares you;

How are you spending your time (please indicate if you are on lockdown or not)?


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I’m thinking a lot about whether Covid 19 is a curse or a gift. Perhaps it carries the possibility of both depending on how we choose to look at it, like one of these strange Freudian drawings.

I’m also thinking a lot about the idea of ‘Post-Truth’ – In a time of chronic post-truth how can we trust what the media and politicians and even international organisations are telling us about the virus? Are they weaponising it for their own ends? Do they have our best interests at heart? They never did before, so why would they now?

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The Quarantine Chronicles 26 😷 Sari Zananiri

Detail from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Triumph of Death”, 1562

A Daily Feature | سلسلة يومية

This is an extraordinary time, wrote Carol Sansour to, among many others, the Palestinian-Australian artist Sari Zananri, and I would like to document it by means of testimonies from you and others around the world.  I would appreciate it if you could answer those four questions in whichever form you see fit (preferably a short video):

What is the most pressing thought/idea you are having these days;

What are you hopeful for (personally and for the human race);

What scares you;

How are you spending your time (please indicate if you are on lockdown or not)?


The Quarantine Chronicles 16 😷 Diego Cano

Detail from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Triumph of Death”, 1562

A Daily Feature | سلسلة يومية

This is an extraordinary time, wrote Carol Sansour to, among many others, the Spanish cultural entrepreneur Diego Cano, and I would like to document it by means of testimonies from you and others around the world.  I would appreciate it if you could answer those four questions in whichever form you see fit (preferably a short video):

What is the most pressing thought/idea you are having these days;

What are you hopeful for (personally and for the human race);

What scares you;

How are you spending your time (please indicate if you are on lockdown or not)?


The Quarantine Chronicles 15 😷 Larissa Sansour

Detail from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Triumph of Death”, 1562

A Daily Feature | سلسلة يومية

This is an extraordinary time, wrote Carol Sansour to, among many others, the Palestinian artist and filmmaker Larissa Sansour, and I would like to document it by means of testimonies from you and others around the world. I would appreciate it if you could answer those four questions in whichever form you see fit (preferably a short video):

What is the most pressing thought/idea you are having these days;

What are you hopeful for (personally and for the human race);

What scares you;

How are you spending your time (please indicate if you are on lockdown or not)?


1. My work often deals with the speculative and contextualizes politics in the framework of science fiction. In my films, I often imagine post-apocalyptic future scenarios based on our present and I try to underline the blurry line between the real and the fictional. These days, it is hard not think of the apocalypse as fictional. It feels that my work has become documentary overnight.

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The Quarantine Chronicles 10 😷 Chrisoula Lionis

Detail from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Triumph of Death”, 1562

A Daily Feature | سلسلة يومية

This is an extraordinary time, wrote Carol Sansour to, among many others, the Greek-Australian scholar Chrisoula Lionis, and I would like to document it by means of testimonies from you and others around the world.  I would appreciate it if you could answer those four questions in whichever form you see fit (preferably a short video):

What is the most pressing thought/idea you are having these days;

What are you hopeful for (personally and for the human race);

What scares you;

How are you spending your time (please indicate if you are on lockdown or not)?


The Quarantine Chronicles 9 😷 Julian Gallo

Detail from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Triumph of Death”, 1562

A Daily Feature | سلسلة يومية

This is an extraordinary time, wrote Carol Sansour to, among many others, the American writer Julian Gallo, and I would like to document it by means of testimonies from you and others around the world.  I would appreciate it if you could answer those four questions in whichever form you see fit (preferably a short video):

What is the most pressing thought/idea you are having these days;

What are you hopeful for (personally and for the human race);

What scares you;

How are you spending your time (please indicate if you are on lockdown or not)?


1

The direction the world is heading. I’m particularly concerned with the right wing populist turn in America and across the world. You’re beginning to see the same things and hear the same rhetoric one heard in the 1920s and 1930s and it’s quite alarming. The rise in division: ethnic, religious, and so on. I fear we haven’t learned any lessons from history and as the saying goes, we are doomed to repeat them.

2

There are good people around and I think the more we focus on each other’s humanity and realize that we really aren’t so ‘different’ from one another, that we have the same hopes, fears, concerns, dreams, desires, that maybe — maybe — there’d be a little more empathy in the world. Right now there’s too much righteous anger but I think these are just the loudest voices in the room. There’s also a lot of good and it’s important we focus our attention on that and shut off all the noise. Personally, I just want to keep writing and hopefully connect with others with similar interests and ideas.

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The Quarantine Chronicles 8 😷 Joe Linker

Detail from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Triumph of Death”, 1562

A Daily Feature | سلسلة يومية

This is an extraordinary time, wrote Carol Sansour to, among many others, the American writer Joe Linker, and I would like to document it by means of testimonies from you and others around the world.  I would appreciate it if you could answer those four questions in whichever form you see fit (preferably a short video):

What is the most pressing thought/idea you are having these days;

What are you hopeful for (personally and for the human race);

What scares you;

How are you spending your time (please indicate if you are on lockdown or not)?


 

My response took the form of a folk song because the virus comes without boundaries,

and while Folk originates in a particular place and time, it travels, and becomes universal.

 

There are four simple verses to the song, each in answer to one of your questions:

 

“The Hotel Cairo Cosmopolitan Talking Blues”

 

Well, I don’t know what to think these days,

walking around in a purple haze,

 

praying for peace and happiness,

hoping the finish rubs off on me.

 

I’m not afraid of nothing, yet still I fear

children walking by dressed in tears.

 

I’m spending my time making up these rhymes,

homeword bound going round and round.

 

The Quarantine Chronicles 7 😷 Erik Noonan

Detail from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Triumph of Death”, 1562

A Daily Feature | سلسلة يومية

This is an extraordinary time, wrote Carol Sansour to, among many others, the American poet Erik Noonan, and I would like to document it by means of testimonies from you and others around the world.  I would appreciate it if you could answer those four questions in whichever form you see fit (preferably a short video):

What is the most pressing thought/idea you are having these days;

What are you hopeful for (personally and for the human race);

What scares you;

How are you spending your time (please indicate if you are on lockdown or not)?


The Quarantine Chronicles 4 😷 Luciana Erregue

Detail from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Triumph of Death”, 1562

A Daily Feature | سلسلة يومية

This is an extraordinary time, wrote Carol Sansour to, among many others, the Argentine curator Luciana Erregue, and I would like to document it by means of testimonies from you and others around the world.  I would appreciate it if you could answer those four questions in whichever form you see fit (preferably a short video):

What is the most pressing thought/idea you are having these days;

What are you hopeful for (personally and for the human race);

What scares you;

How are you spending your time (please indicate if you are on lockdown or not)?


The Quarantine Chronicles 3 😷 Nasser Rabbat

Detail from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Triumph of Death”, 1562

A Daily Feature | سلسلة يومية

This is an extraordinary time, wrote Carol Sansour to, among many others, the Syrian-American architecture scholar Nasser Rabbat, and I would like to document it by means of testimonies from you and others around the world.  I would appreciate it if you could answer those four questions in whichever form you see fit (preferably a short video):

What is the most pressing thought/idea you are having these days;

What are you hopeful for (personally and for the human race);

What scares you;

How are you spending your time (please indicate if you are on lockdown or not)?


1-Two ideas: safety of my loved ones and their future, and will I finish all the writing projects I have/or that I dream of doing.

2-Electing Bernie Sanders, which is unfortunately receding as a possibility more and more to the detriment of the US and the world.

3-Business as usual, the capitalist order withering this crisis, even getting stronger by it and the rest of us paying the heavy price of economic depression and the detritus of the pandemic.

4-Soft lockdown (going out for walks and shopping and visits to the office but no students meeting, classes, or visit, and of course no restaurants/bars/cafes). Writing and reading, but so far only writing what I need to write with looming deadlines and reading students papers. I read only one book since the soft lockdown: Iman Mersal في أثر عنايات الزيات. I liked it a lot and found in it wonderful insights about how we can reconstruct people’s lives in a culture that is not so good at recording and keeping archives, something I struggle with all the time. Soon I will get back to my book on al-Maqrizi, for which I dealt with the same problems. I have to finish it this year.

Rana Haddad: from “The Unexpected Love Objects of Dunya Noor”

The customers of Café Taba were tapping their feet on the floor, up and down, following the beats of the hakawati’s song.

The hakawati gulped his third glass of tea, and then continued to sing in his alluring voice, which gave his audience goose pimples, making even the stoniest hearted of them almost want to cry.

No one knew why.

None of the audience could take their eyes off him, nor could they stop listening to every word and every syllable he uttered even though they were sure that he knew nothing about love. He was clearly too young and too vain and had never suffered. Even Dunya was sure of it. None of them could fully or even partially understand the theories he was trying to peddle through the vehicle of his songs. How could Fear be the opposite of Love? Wasn’t Hate its eternal enemy and opposite? The hakawati was talking nonsense, trying to be clever, they were sure of that. Even Dunya who thought of herself (relatively speaking) as an expert on the theories of love and its manifold manifestations did not understand. But none of them really cared whether he was right or wrong because what they loved about him most of all were not his stories, or his theories, nor his rhymes—but the voice in which he sang them. Perhaps in Europe or America people could follow their hearts, some of the men reasoned. But here, in the conservative Republic of Syria, Fear was the master. Fear held everything and everyone under its sway, and everyone respectfully bowed their heads to it.

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Stacy Hardy: The Empty Plot

The empty lot gapes, yawns and quivers. It exhales dust and sucks the blue out of the sky. It draws her to it, an emptiness that calls out, that whispers and jeers. A wide mouth, that says, come, that dares her.  She has no business with the empty plot. It is a nothing place, a no place, not a place but a gaping, an emptiness that is yet to be filled, something still to come.

It has no address at present, nothing that sets it apart in the neighbourhood. There are so many. Empty stretches of land cleared for some future construction never to come, suspended in the eternal yawning present of oblivion. Plots that have stood so long that they have become part of the landscape, vast parks where rubbish accumulates, some partially developed, deep holes sunk in the earth, now filled with murky water that collects debris, the pokes of steel foundations casting dancing shadows on the surface like the spines of poisonous fish; ruinous scaffold of catastrophic geometries that shade rows of empty buildings, concrete structures looming like theme park wreckage, dark and sullen, windows dust coated, shattered in places, doors padlocked against squatters that never come. The streets that hem them, nearly deserted, monuments to some moment of false hope, a future that dims with each day, grows wary, listless, the air dirty with stalled development.

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Caroline Stockford: Manual for mourning a great poet

Hüseyin Özdemir, küçük İskender, 2006. Source: instagram.com/huseyinozdemir1

“Because life is the most tragic, most magnificent, most merciless trick death can play on us.”

küçük İskender, “Someone Call an Ambulance”

.

1.

When you first hear of his illness, you should be in the company of a genius journalist at seven at night and still at work. Upon going into the underwater world of shock, you should walk with said visiting journalist to the fountain that the ravens frequent in Vienna’s Volksgarten. Sit on a bench.  As you watch the cascades of crystal beads streaming from between stone wreathes and sculpted longing you might say,

“I can’t cry yet.”

You may regret not having published books with the great poet and letting him have his own way with the stage play you wrote as a canto of his lines.  But you didn’t finish it. Now, this is finishing it.

“When the question is asked: ‘Is there death, after life?'”

küçük İskender, “Necromantic”

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𝐹𝑜𝓊𝓃𝒹 Fear of forever dwelling in the hell of bad writers

That is, it was the fear that afflicts most citizens who, one fine (or dark) day, choose to make the practice of writing, and especially the practice of fiction writing, an integral part of their lives. Fear of being no good. Also fear of being overlooked. But above all, fear of being no good. Fear that one’s efforts and striving will come to nothing. Fear of the step that leaves no trace. Fear of the forces of chance and nature that wipe away shallow prints. Fear of dining alone and unnoticed. Fear of going unrecognized. Fear of failure and making a spectacle of oneself. But above all, fear of being no good. Fear of forever dwelling in the hell of bad writers.

— from 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Natasha Wimmer

2004 (2008)

Yasmine Seale: A Poem by Dakhtanus bint Laqit

Six images of the Rub al Khali (Empty Quarter) by Stuart Franklin, 2008. Source: magnumphotos.com

He came early with the news:

the best of Khindif, full-grown

and young combined, is dead.

No one brought their enemies

more fear, nor saved so many

held captive. Their pearl. Excellent

in war, undaunted, always the one

to meet kings: it did them proud

when he spoke. His bloodline

was perfect: you could trace it

back, a column reaching all the way

to the tribe’s origin. As a bright star

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Tam Hussein: The American

Christopher Anderson, Kunduz, Afghanistan, 2001. Source: magnumphotos.com

“What do you reckon that is?” Abu Imad said, tapping the scope. He looked at me, rubbing his bushy beard thoughtfully. He wanted me to make the two-meter journey to take a look.

“I’m all right here to be honest,” I said, looking at Abu Imad’s powerful frame. In my experience, God creates two types who stay on for the long haul. Either the rugby player variety or the wiry knife wielding sort, used to taking down bigger opponents. Abu Imad belonged to the former.

“Come,” he insisted, “come.”

I didn’t really feel like giving him my opinion. I didn’t want to entertain the mad shit bouncing around his head. What’s it going to be? Either some mountain goat or a hardy plant that has somehow emerged out of this cruel valley where we’d been stuck for years. What new excitement could this brother show me? We hadn’t progressed against the enemy, not because we were weak but because the commanders were arguing sometimes over strategy, sometimes over tactics, most of the time over honour and on rare occasions about God. In spite of them, we held this crag. We were mountain lions in courage and mountain goats in stubbornness.

“Come,” he pleaded, “check it.”

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Nourhan Tewfik: The Second Life of Lewis Nawa

Nourhan Tewfik reviews Ebola ’76 by Amir Tag Elsir, translated by Charis Bredin and Emily Danby

Health care workers, wearing protective suits, leave a high-risk area at the French NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without borders) Elwa hospital on August 30, 2014 in Monrovia. Liberia has been hardest-hit by the Ebola virus raging through west Africa, with 624 deaths and 1,082 cases since the start of the year. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET        (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

Health care workers on August 30, 2014 in Liberia. AFP photo by Dominique Faget, Getty Images

As Lewis entered, Ebola was all around. It hovered inches from him, anticipating its moment to pounce. The virus had already claimed the bodies of most of the people he encountered there. It coursed through the blood of the old, sunken-cheeked beggar woman as she silently extended her hand towards Lewis to receive his half franc. It had infiltrated the veins of the stern guard, who now leant against his battered old rifle, his gaze flitting between the visitors as they came and went through the main gates. It inhabited the many mourners who passed before Lewis’s distracted gaze. Even as he knelt in tears beside the grave of his lover, who had died just two days previously, the virus was there, lurking in her corpse beneath the soil.

In his short novel Ebola ‘76, a Darf Publishers title translated by Charis Bredin and Emily Danby, the Sudanese writer Amir Tag Elsir moulds a fictionalised account of the 1976 Ebola outbreak in South Sudan and Congo.

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