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Cortona for the seventeenth time, probably.

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Re-reading Said

...because when your dissertation adviser (or one of them anyway, this stuff is confusing yo) suggests you read something, you read it.

Still.  It makes me remember this long-time itch I have had, to read more of Said, all of Said.  From those long-ago days of NYU's Morse Academic Plan (cough) and World Culures with Professor Annie Cohen-Solal (she-who-brought-her-cousin-Jacques-Derrida-to-talk-to-your-freshman-class-when-you-didn't-even-know-enough-to-think-WTF), and Ethel-the-awesomest-Teaching-Assistant-Ever (and then you think of Professor Roelofs with his first-day-of-class joke about having Parkinsons and what that means in a crowded elevator in Main Building and you are all-of-a-sudden so charmed and nostalgic you would kill for those awful nachos from Caliente Cab Company and for that blueness that you can find nowhere else in the world but in that wide, cool, blueberry daiquiri.).

Susan Sontag is another long-time itch of this sort.  (What is it with recently-dead-NYC-intellectuals-with-salt-and-pepper-hair and me?)  Maybe this summer.

Then again (she says as she looks at the list of books on the Amazon wishlist, and the list of journal articles on the JSTOR wishlist [JSTOR, you need to have a wishlist]).  Maybe not.

Anyway.  Even if Said doesn't have much to do with your writing (this day, this year, this piece), he gives you good things.  Like this story about a poet in exile:

To see a poet in exile — as opposed to reading the poetry of exile — is to see exile's antimonies embodied and endured with a unique intensity.  Several years ago I spent some time with Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the greatest of contemporary Urdu poets.  He was exiled from his native Pakistan by Zia's miltary regime, and found a welcome of sorts in strife-torn Beirut.  Naturally his closest friends were Palestinian, but I sensed that, although there was an affinity of spirit between them, nothing quite matched — language, poetic convention, or life history.  Only once, when Eqbal Ahmed, a Pakistani friend and fellow-exile, came to Beirut, did Faiz seem to overcome his sense of constant estrangement.  The three of us sat in a dingy Beirut restaurant late one night, while Faiz recited poems.  After a time, he and Eqbal stopped translating his verses for my benefit, but as the night wore on it did not matter.  What I watched required no translation: it was an enactment of a homecoming expressed through defiance and loss, as if to say “Zia, we are here.”  Of course Zia was the one who was really at home and who could not hear their exultant voices.

Like this necklace of lines — from a poet whose “work amounts to an epic effort to transform the lyrics of loss into the indefinitely postponed drama of return” — a garland of “unfinished and incomplete” things:

But I am the exile.
Seal me with your eyes.
Take me wherever you are —
Take me whatever you are.
Restore to me the color of face
And the warmth of body,
The light of heart and eye,
The salt of bread and rhythm,
The taste of earth...  the Motherland.
Shield me with your eyes.
Take me as a relic from the mansion of sorrow;
Take me as a verse from my tragedy;
Take me as a toy, a brick from the house
So that our children will remember to return.


And like this:

Regard experiences as if they were about to disappear.  What is it that anchors them in reality?  What would you save of them?  What would you give up?

What could you give up?  More than you think.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giulio Cesare, Santa Marinella]
[luned́ 12 maggio 2014 ore 11:04:24] []