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)?


1-

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.

𝐹𝑜𝓊𝓃𝒹 The new hope is despair

“The hope of reason lies in the emancipation from our own fear of despair.” … It is not despair that is the agent of imprisonment, not despair that keeps us, (or reason), in a state of unfreedom in need of emancipation; but rather fear. The problem is not despair, but our being afraid to feel despair. In other words, it is not pessimism that is a challenge to the liberating effects of rational hope, but our fearful dismissal of it. It is optimism itself that keeps us from achieving what optimism hopes for. Optimism is its own worst enemy; it is self-destructive … Kierkegaard suggests [we] give in to despair … Any life that isn’t fundamentally lived in submission to God is a life lived in despair anyway, whether it is lived in pursuit of aesthetic enjoyment, or in pursuit of fundamental ethical commitments. The problem is that both sorts of life unavoidably must involve various kinds of mechanisms for covering over despair, of distracting us from it. But such mechanisms cannot succeed forever, and in fact the mechanisms usually only serve to make things worse. So the advice is just to cut to the chase, to choose hopelessness. Despair is the necessary step to God, so being openly in despair is better than trying to fool yourself that you’re actually not; and in this sense despair takes you closer to God and to genuine hope.

— from “Hope & Despair: Philosophical considerations for uncertain times” by Michael Stevenson

2018

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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Ulayya bint al-Mahdi’s Epigram by Yasmine Seale

Gustav_Klimt_046

Gustav Klimt,  Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907. Source: Wikipedia

To love two people is to have it 

coming: body nailed to beams,

dismemberment.

But loving one is like observing

religion.

I held out until fever 

broke me. 

How long can grass

brave fire?

If I did not have hope

that my heart’s master’s

heart might bend to mine, 

I would be stranded, no

closer to gate than home.

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Julian Gallo: Pieces

Benoit Paillé, from "Rainbow Gatherings". Source: lensculture.com

Benoit Paillé, from “Rainbow Gatherings”. Source: lensculture.com

New York City — The Recent Past

There’s that “something” in the look she is giving you, something in her gaze which tells you that she thinks you’re interesting. You pretend not to notice it, of course, try to maintain your “cool detachment” but you aren’t sure why you’re doing it. You don’t really like to talk about yourself too much but she asked about your writing and writing is, at least to you, essentially the “core” of who you are. How could you not talk about it?

“What do you write? Would I know anything?”

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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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