Sunday, July 31, 2011

An Overview Regarding the Blog + a bit of Sartre

I tried to remain faithful to my promise to post a blog entry every day, and I was successful, even though some of those entries consisted of meagre lines. I shall try to do the same this month, hopefully write more substantial entries. I'm also thankful for those that have been reading my blog, and even more so for those that have been commenting (Izdiher).

I’ll comment briefly on what I read today, I started reading Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. His prose seems circular to me, and I find myself constantly re-reading certain lines. Thankfully, I don’t have to read it in its entirety, but I am finding some of his ideas appealing. I’ve come across them in one way or another in the past, but I’m experiencing his concepts differently. In summation , what I understood so far, is that Sartre disrupts Kant’s distinction between noumena (or appearances) phenomena (things as we perceive or experience them), and posits the latter as the only reality. From there, he analyzes two categories of being: being-for-itself and being-in-itself. The former is the conscious—characterized by concreteness, passivity, and physical-- and latter the unconscious—characterized by fluidity, movement, and nonphysical. These categories extend into one another, since the being-for-itself comprises of physical attributes as well. We exist in an ontological web in which our facticity (being-in-itself) and our transcendence (being-for-itself) seep into one another, or even collide.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

brief sentiment + Irigaray quotation

As usual, I am moved to explore the past, mine, that is, but I’ve discovered it to be a wastebasket

I will invoke a quotation by Irigaray, which might seem out of context, but it’s relevant, nonetheless: “Women among themselves begin by laughing. To escape from a pure and simple reversal of the masculine position means in any case not to forget to laugh.”

Laughter should transcend spaces, times, and tenses.

Friday, July 29, 2011

this feeling

this feeling of slipping, i sought silky sin hung on clothes lines. thoughts sinking of self worth slyly swinging against the murmuring wind.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

july 28, birthday

i charge your memory amiably and there i am a sunken sun against the violent sky, aging.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

ruins, repetitions

we repeat to forge simplicity; paradoxically this repetition enables us to zoom in on the shimmering details of dawn, colour in the crevices below the moon-windows, supplement angry fixes with fictional heroines, slip the sun-god underneath the door, invent embryos embracing magic balls, touch threads swinging forth from the painted curtains. repetition is a detachment from an origin, leaving not a trace, but a caress. this repetition betrays us, moving onto its own path, never settling between dreams.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Agency and Butler's Gender Trouble

Here’ s q quick post summarizing what I’ve read concerning gender norms and it is a text I’ve read a few times before. So you may have guessed which book I’m referring to, it’s Judith Butler’s groundbreaking book Gender Trouble. Following Simone de Beauvoir’s famous observation “one is not born a women,” Butler shows that gender roles are performed according to scripts that precede the emergence of the body. These are scripts that delineate our behaviour and normative constraints. It is only through repetition that these gender norms appear natural. She wonders whether there is room for subversion and whether such gender norms enforced on our bodies can be subverted. In response posits her famous example of gender subversion through performance: drag. She asserts that the parodying of gender norms does not, contrary to what some have argued, reinforce patriarchal norms, but, in fact, exposes the constructedness of that gender, whether through femme-butch or male drag, that is supposedly traced back to the body. Her work has been influential not only for queer studies but also for minority studies, but it did come under criticisms that were rallied with the following two objections: Butler assumes a fluid identity that one can slip into and out of as one wills; she evades the materiality of the body. In Bodies that Matter, however, she addresses both criticisms making a strong argument against the first criticism, and what I find a less persuasive response to the latter criticism. Perhaps more on that in a post to follow.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

take your time

turn it over slowly
scatter bullets on the album which is bursting with fables of fanciful thoughts exposing
open minds that bleed through bright lights demolishing someone’s reality, a being’s fantasy
scattered with doubt, toxic drinks below pyramids, peel the sky and look, name the bitter being
admit you could have been somewhat, slightly, perhaps, possibly, maybe...
no, take your time

Friday, July 22, 2011

nightly abstractions

while the world lies asleep in a field, here, now, i am meaning. less devastating than the past. forgotten national realities. as i move i’m momentarily moved fort/da by the details. iteration makes me less lonely. i know what is passing has passed, no epitaph uncited. i slow down for the stars are statues made of glass, glowing, swirling. beauty. i lift the lid. there are no stars outside. there is no field.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Here I am

Here I am past 5:00 a.m. and i can't fall asleep. so many factors; thoughts of space and difference. in between a bridge i've fabricated, so the distance is as it always was. i feel like a cloud that has descended onto the asphalt ground that is decorated with a looming street light. this fall is heavy, yet immeasurable. i’m not here, but here i am listening, trying to splice the silence, the past. complicated, the now is so tense. forms transform in the shadowy heat, but here i am listless, lying awake. where are you?

what freaks me out?

Well, many things, but lately it has been critters, whether strange or familiar. They freak me out and appal me. My place, being extremely old, attracts strange bugs and insects particularly in the summer. It’s one thing to see them outdoors, but in doors is a completely different matter. If I see a fly, it must either leave the house or I spray it with Clorox bleach. Last night there was a flying ant in my place and, for whatever reason, it completely freaked me out that if it flew in my direction I would jump out of the way and freeze momentarily. I embarked on a journey to kill it; yes, I’ve become a ruthless bug killer. I feel badly about killing them, but they truly freak me out. The worst I’ve seen was an earwig, didn’t even know the name of it until I looked it up. Earwigs are creepy. I sprayed my entire place (being a very tiny as I live in a bachelor or more properly called a studio) with bleach and Lysol and told my landlord about the earwigs (because I saw a few). Imagine that. Thankfully, I saw none today or I would’ve sprayed my entire place with the bug-spray my landlord bought. I’m not normally a squeamish person, but I jump and my heart races when i see them in my place, particularly because I’m so careful to keep it clean. It even goes further, I dream of these critters with their red eyes and hairy bodies. My apologies for what I’m going to share, because it’s disturbing, but I dreamt, I had a nightmare to be more precise, that tiny black worms came out of my foot. Why should I dream of this? It was disturbing, disgusting, and dreadful. Bugs, insects, they make me nervous. Some times it seems that I have a warped imagination.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A quotation on language and violence

While I haven't read Gloria Anzaldua's beautifully written and dense text Borderlands in a while, I was reminded of the epigraph she uses at the beginning of her chapter "How to Tame a Wild Tongue." Here she quotes Ray Gwyn Smith who posits the following rhetorical question: "Who is to say that robbing a people of its language is less violent than war?" This theft amounts to: the premature silencing of a people; the erasure of an identity; the cutting of a tongue. This insidious erasure is at times subtle, silent, but never sudden. So let's not devalue our tongues.

Here's a painting by Ray Gwyn Smith:

Ray Gwyn Smith, Dream of Eritrea, 2002
While I haven't read Gloria Anzaldua's beautifully written and dense text Borderlands, I was reminded of the epigraph she uses at the beginning of her chapter "How to Tame a Wild Tongue": here she quotes Ray Gwyn Smith who posits the following rhetorical question"Who is to say that robbing a people of its language is less violent than war?"

Brief summary of Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle

I didn’t write last night as I was feeling a bit tired, but will hopefully make it up, perhaps two entries tonight instead of one.
I’ll discuss what I read today: I just finished reading Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle(1920) published right after the First World War, so Freud is preoccupied with trauma. Having already made the discovery of the pleasure principle, he is puzzled why trauma victims seem to compulsively return to the traumatic event instead of the pleasure principle? His text is based around the aforementioned inquiry. While he doesn’t deny the pleasure principle, he argues that there is an instinct for self-preservations that delays pleasure. To examine his question he turns to an example of his young grandson, Hans, who would repeatedly throw his toy away and yell fort (gone) and then retrieves the toy exclaiming da (here). This game, for Freud, functions as a child expressing the absence of his mother and his attempt to return to the situation as to regain control. Freud’s discussion of reliving or repeating unpleasant events for the sake of mastery culminates in his analysis of compulsive repetition, which works in contradistinction to the pleasure principle. He ends his discussion by turning to biology speculating over the tendency of organism to return to its earliest state, which is that of being inanimate. He calls this the death instinct and argues that this concept is opposed to the life instinct which he refers to as Eros. The death drive obscures the life instinct, which Freud saw as the purpose of civilization.
Essentially, Freud calls the pleasure principle into question by introducing the death drive particularly by showing how the psyche compulsively repeats traumatic events. This is not to claim that Freud is postulating that we strive for death, rather than pleasure, but of an ongoing tension between the two instincts.

Monday, July 18, 2011

this silence yearns

Despite questioning the valorization of voice, this silence yearns to hear its name. This yearning is not for mere confrontation; nor is it to have a gaze returned. As Fanon notes in his chapter “The Fact of Blackness,” a black man (woman) experiences “crushing objecthood," as his (her) subjectivity is denied. He does not fall under the universal conception of human, according to his oppressors. Though, Fanon is referring to a racial gaze, and the alienating consequences of colonialism on the psyche and the body, the act of non-recognition, for an identity formation, creates a non-identity, a negative. This weighs down on the created, with each footstep chains ring. For in the end, as Fanon contends, the colonial subject experiences itself as nonexistent. It is not only the thoughts that are deemed nonexistent, but the whole. This silence yearns ....
Sorry for the short and choppy entry, but I decided I will not sleep without having written something down, any thought and this is the thought that came to mind.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Here goes another dream: pale strangers

I begin watching a movie in medias res: a young girl waiting for a train with an elderly man standing close to her; he is dressed in a suit with a hat covering his eyes and grey hair falling to his shoulders. I fear that this man wants to kidnap her, because even with their proximity, I could tell they were strangers. As the train stops and they begin to enter, I also merge into the movie and enter with them. I note that the young girl with blond hair is approaching a group of three other girls, a bit older than her as they appear to be in their early teens, they also have blond hair, but much shorter than hers. She tells them that she wants to live as they do. I am struck and puzzled by her request. What does this mean? What are the implications of her request? Can one choose to live as an other? Upon closer inspection, I notice the girls have an otherworldly paleness. I'm disconcerted and suddenly cold. I begin to worry as to how she’ll survive and how they’ve been surviving.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

another dream, full of twists this time.

I thought I`d record another dream I had, this time, however, it was a bit more odd. At the same time, I`m prone to having weird, but vivid, dreams. It`s going to sound like a clichéd movie, so brace yourself. It was dark outside as I entered a new city only to be met with a row of cars where the windows were covered with patches of crimson red, for the passengers and drivers dead. It was a horrific scene, but I wasn't afraid. It turns out there was an experiment being conducted whose effects were horrific, tragic, and beyond anyone`s calculations. There are some survivors it seems, and as I wait a driver in a jeep stops and I get in, but the passenger seat is too narrow for me, and I feel myself squished, uncomfortable, almost suffocating. Suddenly, we arrive at a food market where all the survivors had gone to eat. Yet, I hear some child complaining that they eat things differently here, and, for whatever reason, I note a cereal box with almonds in it thinking to myself that that wasn`t so odd.
The second part of my dream consists of me listening to a woman describe how she`d met her lover, who happened to be a superhero, by the way. There had been two superheroes standing next to each other on top of a building, she explains, and she had pushed one and fell with him, and with that fall, they both fell in love. He happened to be a British superhero with a bit of acne.

Very odd, indeed.

Friday, July 15, 2011

a dream

It was a somewhat hazy dreams, as dreams usually are, though the main topic being going out. It was a mundane dream, but yet I`m curious as to how it may be interpreted. It consisted of several stages, but in stage 1, apparently i had taken too long to meet up with my friend, not that I was busy getting ready, but rather I was preoccupied with chores, that they had left. However, finally, when I do met up with my friend, one of the friends, we are at a cash register and said friend is about to pay when i note that the bill she`s carrying is counterfeit. I expose the fact that it`s counterfeit not to embarrass X, but rather to avoid the discovery by a stranger that may provoke hostility. At the same time, in the dream I was also aware that X`s not completely at fault for having counterfeit bill and that someone else was behind them.
What could this mean? Am I exposing a friend's duplicity? Am I question the concept of friendship?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

death, a theme

There seems to be a tendency where an idea, an occurrence, an event, a theme, is unleashed. Yesterday's theme, undoubtedly, is death. Naturally, when you're having a discussion on a particular topic, your discussants will only add to this topic with their own examples and experiences. But it's odd when the conversation continues even when you speak to a different group that same day without having initiated the topic, as it's probably on one's mind. At the same time, death isn't an odd subject to bring up when one is mourning. However, yesterday, death seemed to be an event. After these conversations had subsided we heard news of a few deaths, none related and all due to a diverse set of sad causes. Further, these deaths had a similar origin, that being human stupidity because all of these deaths were untimely and were due to avoidable factors. death's inevitability shouldn't stop us from enjoying this life.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

at this moment

I feel guilty that I haven't written today, so I shall write whatever comes to mind before I head to sleep. In this state of semi-consciousness, i'm filled with uncertainty and doubtfulness about a great number of things. I feel as though I've currently begun building a fortress, but with sparse windows for strangers and friends, but some weave intricate tales that mangle me, while others speak of frailties, and still others place bricks unto this fortress with their thundering silence.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

tracing scribbles

in describing the instability of a sign, Derrida uses the word trace to signify that signs bleed into one another, leaving a trace. he defines trace a “a mark of the absence of a presence, an always-already absent present." traces have ghostly effects. In my passion to write, traces manifest themselves. to desire to give birth to words already born; forgo sleep; scribble notes on walls; tip the scale; eat songs; all without uttering a word. to have words rush out so fast that they are barely audible, understandable; free sentences of syntax; express the inexpressible; scream noise; drown in words softly sinking; to make meaning. this artefact is not without its ancestors; it is not without its chains.

Monday, July 11, 2011


leaving always
the warm moonlight dipping
into my pockets
an automaton
Perfected by fog

Sunday, July 10, 2011


A sigh turning against the stillness of a battlefield where lilies no longer breed
because the rain drops like granite covering decaying secrets , Marx and Lenno taking over the world, sweet scented grandmothers holding up pyramids, a lover’s howl.
at the end of the field i hear that honesty takes bravery, but my honesty is repulsive, distasteful, unnecessary it seems.
my listener decries my words as poetry continuing that poets only imagine diaphanous forms hung on a clothesline. I wanted to share my pain, not all of it, only a segment, an episode, a flash, waiting again, even for a tip of a hat, a frown, a sigh, my breath slips between lips, again knowing i await nothing, but for the sky to dry up granite

Saturday, July 9, 2011

my grandma`s passing

Death is always a difficult issue to talk about. It’s bewildering, foreign, and not something I can easily rationalize. It’s inevitable, of course. Yet, sometimes we’re selfish that we’d want to extend the person’s life, even when we realize he/she is suffering. In the morning, I heard the terrible news of my grandma passing. I knew of her illness and that her days were dwindling down, but it’s always a shock to hear. The tears didn’t flow right away, because sometimes it takes time to realize what you’ve just heard—that the last time you say this person will be marked as the last time you’ll ever see this person that you hold so dear. Let me tell you about my grandma for a bit, if you’d met her you would’ve fallen in love with her. She was kind to everyone, even strangers. She had so many virtues, all of which i can’t recount. Overall, she was a good person with a tender heart. She never upset anyone and spent her life giving. Her passing is loss for the entire family and every single person who’d come into contact with her. Even though she didn’t live the easiest life, this never made her a hard person, but always forgiving, understanding, and a joy to be around. Allah yer7mek ya tata wh yej3al matheek el janneh!

Friday, July 8, 2011

“Estranged Labor” and Friendship?

Today I read Marx’s essay “Estranged Labor” or “Alienated Labour,” and on the back of my mind was thinking of friendship. While I seem to be drawing a far-fetched link, nonetheless, I find we can establish a relationship between “estranged labor” and friendship, failed friendship to be specific. In this essay Marx explicates the economic system in terms of ownership divided into two classes: the property owners and the property-less workers. The workers experiences estrangement from the external world, because the objects he produces belong to the outside world. Here the worker is alienated from the product of his labor. Further, the worker is alienated from the activity of production belongs to an other, who is superior, independent, and is characterized as hostile. As such, the work arises not from one’s creativity but is forced from an outside force. After experiencing alienation from the act of production, the worker is also alienated from “species-being.” That is to say, the worker is estranged from other humans because being human, or recognizing one’s identity, arises from creating things from inorganic matter. The final estrangement that Marx postulates is the estrangement of man to man because the owner is not perceived as a human.
I think it may have become clear why I’m drawing an analogy between Marx’s description of estranged labor and friendship. Friendship should arise from the premise of recognizing the other as human and like oneself. It must be consist of mutual exchange. Not to say that the same things are being exchanged, but rather a mutual recognition of the other’s humanity. Marx’s final description of alienation is particularly relevant here, because once one feels alienated from his/her friend, friendship stagnates and returns us to the relationship between lord and bondsman as explicated by Hegel and which Marx takes up. While friendship isn’t always consistent, it should not fall on possession.
This entry will strike you as commonsensical, but I’m curious as to how you would define friendship? Is some sort of estrangement required for a strong relationship to develop? Have you been in a friendship that ended in estrangement?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Unhappiness as worthwhile?

SO, happiness, what is it? How can we attain it. In the Phenomenology of Mind, Hegel investigates the evolution of consciousness and the attainment of the Absolute. What’s most interesting is postulation of the concept of “unhappy consciousness.” which results from estrangement. Here’s a crude summary: Hegel illustrates the development of consciousness which relies on a life-and-death struggle that results in the figures of bondsman and lord. Bondsman must be aware of his subordinate position and for the lord, the bondsman is unessential and so he negates the bondsman’s consciousness. However, the lord feels unease at doing so, because earlier he had radically identified with the bondman in order to conceive of himself as independent. Therefore, he feels guilt over denying mutual identification. Social life, then, is based on competing moments of mutual identification and objectification. Moreover, the bondsman identifies with his labour and is able to establish some sort of independence through the things he creates. But self-consciousness that is aware of this duality is labelled by Hegel as “unhappy consciousness.” While I’ve oversimplified here, underpinning his description is the idea that with awareness and recognition comes moments of unhappiness. That is to say that recognizing our own otherness and the contradictions inherent in self-consciousness. This is not to say that Hegel would advocate the adage that “ignorance is bliss.” For, in fact, he turns to religious matters and describes this “unhappy consciousness” as other worldly consciousness where one devotes oneself to the Absolute which will be rewarded. In this case, unhappiness is worthy.
In my attempt to reach out to my readers, I wonder whether you can think of ways to complicate this? Or can you describe some unhappy moments? Can unhappiness be productive? The question I began with, what is happiness?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A poem revisited and Lacan's repetition automatism

Even though I promised myself to write daily, I've decided to revisit something I've written before. This led me to think about, not only my laziness, but of memories and the fixation of certain memories. Some memories return for obvious reasons, because they played such critical roles in our lives. But there are memories we wish to put to rest, yet we’re constantly returning to them. I’m reminded of Lacan’s notion of “repetition automatism” which he articulates in his seminar on Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Purloined Letter.” It is this compulsion to repeat and it is related to the death drive. We are compelled to repeat painful, even destructive, actions, many times in hope of a different outcome. So, in other words, the death drive leads to the continuous re-locating/moving/positioning of the subject which “materializes the agency of death.” For Lacan, as for Freud, this repetition s inevitable as we’re moving along a chain of signifiers. Alas, we should examine why we return to certain points.

I’ve always wondered what you think of
When you stop talking

You do think, right?

Your thoughts are surely of a light blue
a blue flame -- Copper Halides
you were always warmer in silence
your frown calm

or have you been enveloped by capitalism
that you think in green
meadow fields on fire

or do your neurons dance
every colour
and all you see is movement
swings and hips

or do you deconstruct the alphabet
digging up ancient codes
translating red scripture

or are you thinking of a response
and rethinking that response
and of my response to your response

or has the conversation ended
and your thoughts colourblind

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Constructing Space: from Pizan's City to Woolf's Room

Forgive me if this is rushed, but I’ve promised myself to write on a daily basis, even if a few sentences.
So I read Virginia Woolf’s Room of One’s Own today and having read Christine De Pizan’s A City of Ladies, a comparison was inevitable, as I’m sure many have done. Pizan wrote in the early fifteenth century and Woolf five centuries later, but lamenting the status of women in literature, particularly as depicted by men, and the need for women’s voices to be heard. In short, Woolf argues that women writers require a space of their own and must be financially capable of attaining and sustaining such a space and Pizan an entire city. What’s interesting is not only the relevance of Pizan’s work at the present time but her aims surpassed Woolf’s, suggesting that women have been able to acquire a space of their own. While both attempt to distance themselves from their work, Pizan by introducing three allegorical figures, Reason, Justice and Rectitude, and Woolf by introducing the first person narrator as Mary Breton. Unlike Woolf, Pizan herself is the first person narrator actively constructing a city of women. So while sexual politics are present in both texts, Pizan attempting painting women as superior beings as to oppose the common held belief of their inferiority. Woolf was aiming for something more androgynous, yet her definition of androgyny sprang from a masculinist view of literature and writing, that is not to say a patriarchal view as she clearly denounces patriarchy; that is, she aimed to write as men have written, since they’ve had a freedom of mind and space. Throughout her text, she represses any form of emotion or anger in the hopes of appearing as a rational, collected, suppressing that which is connected with the feminine, mainly emotions (I’ll have more to say on women’s writing and essentialism when I write on Cixous and Irigaray).
An abrupt ending for now!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Lights went out: Kant’s Sublime

Last night there was a storm that wiped out the power and I was reminded of both Lebanon and Liberia particularly when I took a shower by candlelight: places where both water and electricity were scarce, and still are. Though, this time, I didn’t have to worry about running out of hot water or water in general. But I was also reminded of something else, particularly of Kant’s conception of the sublime in the Critique of Judgment. He defines sublime in the said book as that “which is absolutely great.” As branches fell outside, and the unstoppable rain poured and thunder and lightning played a dramatic beat in the background and the sky began to change colours, I was faced with the absolute. The storm instilled both fear and awe, overpowering my cognitive faculties. At the same time, I became cognisant of myself as a rational and moral subject, more so of the former. For Kant, the sublime, as I understand it, registers in two parts: at first, it represents the inadequacy of our imagination, but at the same time, since we have access to it from a position of safety, we sense superiority over nature; that is, we find “a faculty of estimating ourselves as independent of nature." In this scene, the storm proved the inadequacies of our physical capacities, in that we are not able to resist it, yet this is revealed through our faculty of reason. In other words, the sublime subordinates our imagination to our reason.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


i wrote this a while back, but thought to return to it:

uttering lacerated words--
like bullets searching for a lover
in a straitjacket
I reach out my hands to touch a stranger
but I’m read in reverse