note_09 “It may require courage (but) take these marvelous essays to heart” Mezzaterra, Ahdaf Soueif

Mezzaterra US Cover GMA Quote Independent

Take these essays at difficult things inside you, let them pulse through your body and mind. And to your heart, yes. It may require more courage – in Britain, in English- than even I conceived in the last months of 2004. Courage and none at all, because these are a range of essays -as the short review below makes very clear.

I’ve been trying to develop a measure of truth in the context of the Persian Gulf and the regime in Abu Dhabi in as universal way as possible from an inventorised location in London and in English. I settled on a millennium-old measure from an Arabic treatise on taste. More on that in links to publications to come, but it reminds me of the increasing difficulty of being able to recognise a Palestinian right to exist in Britain or in English. Continue reading “note_09 “It may require courage (but) take these marvelous essays to heart” Mezzaterra, Ahdaf Soueif”

note_06 On Edward Said Oct 2000 – At last, a genuine Palestinian authority

Screenshot 2018-03-27 17.54.06

This is just a short review of Said’s The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After published by Granta, and circuitously critiqued and celebrated by me in The Independent, 3 October 2000. This paragraph struck me forcefully when I stumbled upon it; such rare qualities are getting rarer just about everywhere… However, rareness breeds rareness, right? When we lament the loss of Said’s voice, we also attest to it (mind/ rareness/ qualities) and renewed possibilities in the ruins. I am a radical optimist. You?

 

notes from a meeting – on the small matter of everything [day one pt 1]

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SAF March Meeting 2012 Photo G Mannes-Abbott

CLICK image to link to SAF & more images or read on below…

Salah Hassan, venerable Cornell Professor, followed the UAE’s Minister of Culture in delivering a keynote speech. He began with an apology in Arabic; “as an African Arab” who has been “living in the Frank’s territories for a long time” and familiar with a certain “morphology of fear … please allow me to speak in English.”

I like a barb like that and it makes a point, excepting that we are in Sharjah where the simultaneous translation is excellent and I’d anticipated relying on it myself in 2012. A cusp, especially on a global scale, is always hard to identify [!] but I would suggest this might be an anxiety from before the cusp that, it seems to me, we all occupy. Not easily, not fully, not formally but actually… Continue reading “notes from a meeting – on the small matter of everything [day one pt 1]”

on surface and underscoring, parastou forouhar @ leighton house review in bidoun

I have a short review of Parastou Forouhar’s recent exhibition at the Leighton House Museum, London in the new issue of Bidoun #23, Squares, whose contents are here. As ever; rush out and do yourself a favour! Or subscribe; you know you want to!

I haven’t seen the issue yet [19.01.11 Have now; looks good!], am curious to see how it’s been illustrated [see exhibition link above] and still finding my way with these short art reviews; the kind of exploration I remember from writing critically about books and with which I felt I made a break through in writing about a John Barth novel with similarly few words in late 1991 [and that evening/night helped a friend complete -well, did- a piece of work that quite quickly became art historical. Busy day! -and a small part of my next big writing project].

There is an art to writing short as well as writing to context that I’ve not mastered with visual art [much happier with essay length!] but I learnt something valuable from this attempt. I believe in doing it, most definitely, and was very gratified to be invited to write on PF or at all. I’ll try to explain myself. Continue reading “on surface and underscoring, parastou forouhar @ leighton house review in bidoun”

the model hip! hip! ben sonnenberg

Edward Said and Ben Sonnenberg mid-80s [Photo Alexander Cockburn]

I liked and admired Ben Sonnenberg [though can’t claim to be one of his many close friends, nor did I ever meet him]; a man whose mind encompassed [and published] Anne Carson, James Salter and Edward Said, who understood what money was for, someone who left his beautiful and brilliant Grand Street magazine as the model of a good mind at work.

This [here] is a link to a very warm remembrance of BS [1938-2010] following his memorial service, by his friend Alexander Cockburn which I recommend to you. You might also dig up Salter’s account of BS in Burning the Days; his much-admired aplomb in general and in the face of MS. AC quotes BS taking an elegant lance to The New Republic mag in 1989; oh for “puckish” courage of that kind today.

Continue reading “the model hip! hip! ben sonnenberg”

on not meeting edward said, who was right then and is right now

I enjoy unlikeliness and it seemed unlikely to me that Candia McWilliam would find herself in Edward Said’s memoir of his early life; Out of Place: A Memoir [Granta 1999]. That she does so in her own memoir [What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness Cape 2010/Vintage 2011] is one of many endearing things about it and its author. Also a high recommendation for Said and his own memoir.

I spent a number of mornings in June this year running past one end of Edward Sa’id Street in Ramallah, actualising the way he and his work feature near the beginning of my adult life and have been returned to repeatedly ever since. I’m posting an old review I did for The Independent of his collection of pieces The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and after [Granta 1999 -out of print/PenguinRandomHouseUS 2001 -linked] [BELOW]. Read almost anything of Said’s [especially on the question of Palestine] and the absence of a voice like his today makes you weep.

Continue reading “on not meeting edward said, who was right then and is right now”