Friday, November 14, 2008

moving through

after listening to Renee Gladman talk about narrative and writing fiction

nearness and the difficulty of arriving

She intended to follow the lines on pavement
broken, faded, yet leading, or potential,
marking first the potential--and then
later realized--journey.

the space of the city bears the weight

Around one corner, and then another, the simple
whiteness of the line, like a shadow, not determined,
constructed and fading, nearly transparent, directive yet
diminishing toward total possibility.

a state of mind
something is not the way it might be

One block, a building so tall, blocking the sky.
One block, the smell of fried beef.
Each block making it difficult to remember having once
eaten. Another corner, wind whipping round like an
urban hurricane, covering her skin with layers
of grit, particles scratch out her eyes.

who are you, aren't you?
white space

Having wandered off the line, what cannot always be
followed, what can no longer direct, orientate, circulate, each
corner marks the affect associated with each experience,
a coffee, cut of the wind, she sees them through the window,
imagines their mouths saying words in Portuguese, she
responds, the wind blowing away every language that she tries.

intention (unintentional)

Try this word in German. Listen in French. In Arabic the
subtitles linger for much longer than one expects--a short,
concise translation for so much language. The lines change,
move into the streets, no longer painted but built into the
structure, graph of bricks meeting curved lines in concrete.
The traffic ceasing to determine the pedestrian nature
of this city (scape).

conceptual, material, exercise

This, she decides, may be a continuous journey. Not of a day,
but of many days. Not of a language, but of the mingling of
words, vocabularies swirled like hot milk with caramel. Not of
a lined path but of paths textured with flavors, sweet for summer,
rich for understanding, acquaintance, the rewriting of history.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

from Lipstick Jihad: a memoir of growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran

by Azadeh Moaveni

"What I wanted to explain...was that we had a moral obligation to care when awful things happened to people around us. That by treating beatings, lashings, or checkpoint arrests as common place--ordinary, like going to the ATM--we were becoming dehumanized to the sickness around us. A heightened threshold of suffering was necessary for getting through the day, but mentally, we had to retain some sort of perspective. Of how a functional government should behave. Of what was unacceptable. Otherwise, we would become like those blase reformists, who would look you in the eye, and say: "Look at how much progress we've made... See! I'm wearing short-sleeves...Could I have work short-sleeves ten years ago?...No!...What are you whining about human rights for? ...Aren't we better than the Taliban? Than the Saudis?" Yes, there would always be some junked, lost country we would be superior to, but that wasn't a proper ambition, was it?" (217)

"I had taken the first steps assured in myself, intent on discovering Iran, and I had eventually found that Iran, like the Simorgh, was elusive, that it defied being known. Its moods changed mercurially by the day, and even its past was a contested battle. Though with each day there I accumulated as many questions as answers, like those steadfast birds, something kept me honed on course, a belief in the obscured value of the destination. The knowledge had been unfurling in me slowly since the day Agha Joon's funeral--that the search for home, for Iran, had taken me not to a place but back to myself" (245).