Presentation on theme: "From Ahdaf Soueif, Sandpiper (1997, Bloomsbury): Now, when I walk to the sea, to the edge of this continent where I live, where I almost died, where I."— Presentation transcript:
From Ahdaf Soueif, Sandpiper (1997, Bloomsbury): Now, when I walk to the sea, to the edge of this continent where I live, where I almost died, where I wait for my daughter to grow away from me, I see different things from those I saw that summer six years ago. The last of the foam is swallowed bubbling into the sand, to sink down and rejoin the sea at an invisible subterranean level. With each ebb of green water the sand loses part of itself to the sea, with each flow another part is flung back to be reclaimed once again by the beach.
That narrow stretch of sand knows nothing in the world better than it does the white waves that whip it, caress it, collapse into it, vanish into it. The white foam knows nothing better than those sands which wait for it, rise to it and suck it in. But what do the waves know of the massed, hot, still sands of the desert just twenty, no, ten feet beyond the scalloped edge? And what does the beach know of the depths, the cold, the currents just there, there – do you see it? – where the water turns a deeper blue. (Soueif, Sandpiper, p. 36)
From Iain Chambers, Mediterranean Crossings (2008, Duke University Press): The Mediterranean becomes the sight for an experiment in a different form of history writing; an experiment in language and representation where it becomes possible to engage with the ‘outside of the history of modernity’ through points of resistance and refusal that continually relay us elsewhere, and lead to an inevitable ‘questioning of history as status quo.
From Iain Chambers, Minority Mediterraneans, (2013): If the Mediterranean is overwhelmingly claimed as the site of the ‘origins’ of Western culture, at the same time there is an increasing reluctance to be associated with its present ‐ day realities. Somehow, in order to be modern the existing Mediterranean has to be repudiated. Sun ‐ lit sloth, civic chaos and corruption, represent the distasteful under ‐ belly of a heritage that the incisive management of modernity north of the Alps and along the Atlantic shore has apparently overcome. Reduced to the leisurely pace of a time ‐ out in which to entertain the senses with food, wine, sea, sun and antiquated cultures, the rationality of modernity is apparently exercised elsewhere.
However, if this is the repressed side of Occidental modernity it can never really be kept at a distance; it is always destined to return and disturb the procedures of a purified rationality. So, apart from signalling a banal escape to pleasure, the Mediterranean as a repressed alterity within modernity can also be re ‐ routed into a further, and altogether more disturbing, groove. As a line of flight into another unauthorised critical space, the present and past histories of the Mediterranean propose a radical revaluation of the very processes and powers that have led to its contemporary subordination, marginalisation and definition. Rather than simply clinging to some purported authenticity being threatened by modernity, there lies the altogether more complex issue of the latter being worked out, lived and proposed in transit and translation. (Chambers, Minority Mediterraneans)
From Laila Lalami, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits (2005, Harvest): Fourteen kilometers. Murad has pondered that number hundreds of times in the last year, trying to decide whether the risk was worth it. Some days he told himself that the distance was nothing, a brief inconvenience, that the crossing would take as little as thirty minutes if the weather was good. He spent hours thinking about what he would do once he was on the other side, imagining the job, the car, the house. Other days he could think only about the coast guards, the ice-cold water, the money he’d have to borrow, and he wondered how fourteen kilometers could separate not just two countries but two universes. (p. 1)
From Laila Lalami, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits (2005, Harvest): He looks at the Spanish coastline, closer with every breath. The waves are inky black, except for hints of foam here and there, glistening white under the moon, like tombstones in a dark cemetery. Murad can make out the town where they’re headed. Tarifa. The mainland point of the Moorish invasion in 711. Murad used to regale tourists with anecdotes about how Tariq Ibn Ziyad had led a powerful Moor army across the Straits and, upon landing in Gibraltar, ordered all the boats burned. He’d told his soldiers that they could march forth and defeat the enemy or turn back and die a coward’s death.
The men had followed their general, topped the Visigoths, and established an empire that ruled over Spain for more than seven hundred years. Little did they know that we’d be back, Murad thinks. Only instead of a fleet, here we are in an inflatable boat – not just Moors, but a motley mix of people from the ex-colonies, without guns or armor, without a charismatic leader. (Lalami, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, pp. 2-3)
From Iain Chambers, Meritime Criticism (2010, in Insights): Insisting on the centrality of the sea and ocean space to the enterprise of modernity promotes the adoption of a more fluid cartography. The presumed stability of the historical archive, together with its associated ‘facts,’ and the cultural identifications proposed in territorial museums, academic syllabuses and political understandings, can all be set to float: susceptible to drift, unplanned contacts, even shipwreck. (pp. 2-3)
From Ahdaf Soueif, In the Eye of the Sun, (1992, Bloomsbury): You cannot disclaim responsibility for my existence, nor for my being here – beside your river – today. But I haven’t come to you only to take, I haven’t come to you empty-handed: I bring you poetry as great as yours but in another tongue, I bring you black eyes and golden skin and curly hair, I bring you Islam and Luxor and Alexandria and lutes and tambourines and date-palms and silk rugs and sunshine and incense and voluptuous ways... [...] Or is it not ridiculous? Ridiculous and naive.
Is it a sinister, insidious colonialism implanted in her very soul; a form of colonialism that no rebellion can mitigate and no treaty bring to an end? What would happen to her if – as in 1956 – the old lion shook himself awake, growled, and stretched a paw – its claws old and yellow but still sharp – towards Egypt, Syria, or Iraq, or any other Arab country? How would she feel then standing here among his trappings? Asya turns again to the Thames. A river is a river is a river: water and fish – no, probably not fish, it looks pretty dirty – what, then? Bodies. (Soueif, In the Eye of the Sun, p. 512)
From Pauline Kaldas, “Home” (in The Poetry of Arab Women, ed. by N. Handal, 2005, Interlink): Home The world map colored yellow and green draws a straight line from Massachussetts to Egypt.
Homesick for the streets filthy with the litter of people, overfilled so you must look to put your next step down; bare feet and galabiyas pinch you into a spot tighter than a net full of fish, drivers bound out of their hit cars to battle in the streets and cause a jam as mysterious as the building of the pyramids...
sweetshops display their baklava and basboosa glistening with syrup browned like the people who make them, women, hair and hands henna red their eyes, khol-lined and daring. (Kaldas, “Home”)
From Nathalie Handal, “Amrika” (in The Lives of Rain, 2005, Intelink) New England quiet echoes raindrops autumn leaves an alley of tiny butterflies the difference between where we are from and where we now live. The years behind a broken door My father’s grief – I understand nothing – Only later do I hear the Arabic in his footsteps...
I walk through Fenway Park, through streets with names that escape me, their stories of sea their cries for a stranger’s grief. I understand – no one can bear partings... (Handal, Lives of Rain, pp. 60-61)
I wear my jeans, tennis shoes, walk Broadway, pass Columbia, read Said and Twain, wonder why we are obsessed with difference, our need to change the other? I wait for the noise to stop but it never does so I go to the tip of the Hudson River recite a verse by Ibn Arabi and between subway rides, to that place that I now call home, listen to Abdel Halim and Nina Simone
hunt for the small things I have lost inside of myself – and at the corner of Bleeker and Mercer through a window with faded Arabic letters see a New York debke... It is later than it was a while ago and I haven’t moved a bit, my voices still breaking into tiny pieces when I introduce myself to someone new and imagine I have found my way home. (Handal, Lives of Rain, p. 64)
From Etel Adnan, The Indian Never Had a Horse (1985): from the persistent Mediterranean to the persistent Pacific we cut roads with our feet share baggage and food running always one second ahead of the running of Time (p. 65)
From Mohja Kahf, “Hijab Scene #5” (E-mails from Scheherazade, 2003, University Press of Florida): “Assalam-O-alaikum, sister” “Assalam-O-alaikum, ma’am” “Assalam-O-alaikum” at the mailbox “Assalam-O-alaikum” by the bus stop When you’re wearing hijab, Black men you don’t even know materialize all over Hub City like an army of chivalry, opening doors, springing into gallantry. Drop the scarf, and (if you’re light) you suddenly pass (lonely) for white.
From Susan Abulhawa, Mornings in Jenin (2010, Bloomsbury): Feelings of inadequacy marked my first months in America. I floundered in that open-minded world, trying to fit in. But my foreignness showed in my brown skin and accent. Statelessness clung to me like a bad perfume and the airplane highjackings of the seventies trailed my Arabic surname. (p. 169)
The divide could not have been greater, nor could it be bridged. That's how it was. Palestine would just rise up from my bones into the center of my new life, unannounced. In class, at a bar, strolling through the city. Without warning, the weeping willows of Rittenhouse Square would turn into Jenin's fig trees reaching down to offer me their fruit. It was a persistent pull, living in the cells of my body, calling me to myself. Then it would slouch back into latency. (Abulhawa, Mornings in Jenin, p. 175)
From Suheir Hammad, “argela remebrance” (Born Palestinian, Born Black, 2010, UpSet): we read futures in search of our past in coffee grinds and tea leaves in upturned hands grasping for prayer
we are a people name our sons after prophets daughters after midwifes eat with upturned hands plant plastic potted plants in suffocating apartments tiny brooklyn style in memory of the soil once laid under our nails. (Hammad, “argela remembrance”, p. 37)
From Laila Lalami, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits: After leaving Café La Liberté, Murad headed back toward the beach. He found a spot near the Casbah where he could get a view of the Mediterranean. It was getting dark. In the distance, car lights from the Spanish side looked like so many tiny lighthouses, beacons that warned visitors to keep out. He thought about the work visas he’d asked for. For the last several years, the quotas had filled quickly and he’d been turned down.
He knew, in his heart, that if only he could get a job, he would make it, he would be successful, like his sister was today, like his younger brothers would be someday. His mother wouldn’t dream of discounting his opinion the way she did. And Spain was so close, just across the Straits. (Lalami, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, p. 108)
From Sarat Maharaj, “Perfidious Fidelity” (1994): In everyday terms, we see translation as the business of imperceptibly passing through from one language to another, not unlike stacking panes of glass one on top of another, a matter of sheer transparency. But is it no less about taking the measure of the untranslatable, about groping along and clawing at dividing walls, about floundering in an opaque stickiness? (p. 28)