DAY 185: Life

August 18th, 2016 § 0 comments

I’ve been spending my whole time, lately I see. writing about exotic places where I’m not, like Calais and Chios. Which is all very well, but as Heidegger said, Being is where I am; and right now that’s a small room in Islington where I carry on a more limited range of activities which I should describe.

For example, in the interest of getting myself back on the road, knee-workout_v2I’m undertaking a daily course of exercises (moi!), which involves doing things like ‘assisted squats’ and ‘leg raises’ which are punishing to the knees but might – I hope – pay off in the long run.

Secondly, of course, I’m not neglecting my political duty but this becomes more difficult as marches etc are temporarily off the menu.  Asking around, I’ve enlisted in a small group of online helpers to refugees, which sounds a completely admirable and straightforward thing to be doing. But, as Agamben (or someone) says, what is ever straightforward? I spoke a while back of the problems of being in an organization who believed that by taking tents, rice, t-shirts,12821621_530727783775569_7246660277707567474_n tins of chickpeas and such to Calais we were forwarding the progress of the revolution. I didn’t fully follow the argument, but the chickpeas went down OK. My new organization is in some ways the opposite, and more concerned with individuals – whether sick in a camp in Lebanon or in need of legal advice in Bolton – than revolution. But this has landed me (don’t ask how) in a Conradian world ruled by paranoia, false identities, multiple references and distrust. Facebook is ideal for such operations, since one can have one or even two Facebook names different from one’s so-called ‘real’ name. This is ideal for safeguarding privacy, but hopeless for the more mundane questions of finding out who did what when. It also leads to problems like having my account deleted when I revealed that I was friends with Isis, due to an understandable confusion of my Brixton Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 17.12.48Chilean friend of that name with the terror organisation which I know as Daesh.ShowImage.ashx I’m still working my way round the intricacies of living in such a world, finding lost or deleted files and communicating with people who have forgotten who I am or would rather not remember; and again it provides a welcome distraction from the daily boredom of what’s-for-dinner and what’s-on-netflix.

And then there’s the Arabic language! Truly one could spend a lifetime on that even if one stayed, as I plan to do, with the Palestinian colloquial form. A friend said it was difficult: nonsense, I replied, it’s like any other language with three tenses, two genders, three persons (singular, dual, plural), and so on; and, as everyone tells you ad nauseam, once you’ve learned one word you get thirty for free – four nouns, ten verbs, two or three adjectives, all from the same root. As anyone knows who has heard how you get from ‘katab’, write to ‘maktab’, desk to ‘maktabah’, office and so on.

What makes it even more rewarding is, as I learned from my teacher فرطون, the minefield you get into with different types of verbs. Gee whiz! I only just encountered those with doubled consonants like حبّ as in ‘حبيبتي’, my dear (f.). only to be told that they conjugate in totally weird ways, inserting a ي in odd places as حبّيت in the first person singular. It’s going to be a steep learning curve. Will it end up by my being able to discuss the occupation and the price of aubergines? Let’s hope so.

Arising from which,

Olympic News: how Team Palestine are overcoming the obstacles.

Israeli authorities have prevented the head of the Palestinian Olympic team from leaving the Gaza Strip to be with his team in Brazil, according to a senior Palestinian official.

“Israel did not give Issam Qishta a permit to leave Gaza and therefore he was not able to join the rest of the Olympic team in Brazil,” Munther Masalmeh, secretary-general of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, told the Dpa news agency on Tuesday.

Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, said his government was working on allowing Qishta to join RIOEC8605KWY5_768x432the rest of the Palestinian team.

“We do our best to let him leave as soon as possible,” he told Dpa.

Masalmeh said two others also from Gaza, a trainer and the deputy head of the committee, were given permits.

Gaza’s nearly two million residents are forced to apply for permits from Israel to travel to the West Bank in order to reach Jordan from where they can travel abroad.

The only other exit option for people in Gaza is through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, which is rarely open.

The Palestinian Olympic team comprises 22 people, including six athletes, coaches and administrators. It includes two swimmers, two track and field athletes, a judo player and one equestrian competitor.

All the athletes were camped abroad for weeks and therefore were able to reach Brazil without problems, Masalmeh said.

The 2016 Summer Olympics are due to take place in Rio de Janeiro from August 5 to August 21. The Palestinian team taking part in the Games had to buy equipment and other things in Brazil after Israel had prevented entry of their equipment into the Palestinian areas, Masalmeh said.

Products and goods destined for the West Bank are shipped through Israeli ports. The occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is landlocked and Israel controls all its borders.

The Olympic official said Israel had been holding the equipment, mostly donated to the Palestinians by foreign governments, demanding payment of taxes or entry fees and sometimes under claims of security.

“We got one shipment several months ago and we have not been able to bring it in,” he said.

“We were forced to travel without our equipment and to buy them instead in Brazil.”

And so, in the hope that these scattered reflections form part of a process of recovery, let’s think about hope in general:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops – at all -
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
Emily Dickinson

On the other hand, in a complete breakthrough, I’m going – rather than music – to offer you a masterpiece of modern silent cinema: Chantal Akerman (yes, her again!)’s 1972 10- minute ‘La Chambre‘. I hope you agree that it ties in with the themes outlined above.



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