Protected: On the obscure idea of self

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On pseudo-intellectuals,

December 19, 2016 § Leave a comment

I haven’t written something that is in article-form (for recreational purposes) in a while. I often write short anecdotes on life, or spaced sentences (poetry) or just attempts of personal reflection. Yet, I find it in me now to write something that is beyond a tweet or three, or even just a paragraph. Therefore, the following paragraphs or thoughts may not go about in an organised manner, and will have no sources.

I am in my last year of studying English Literature and Translation (at the bachelor’s level) and my appreciation for written words has decreased, quite ironically and even surprisingly. That is, of course, not to say that I appreciate celebrated international, and even timeless, works any less than before – I appreciate them a lot more – but simply saying things, or writing things in a proper manner no longer excites me or leaves me impressed. Instead, it leaves me feeling sometimes sorry for the person writing.

Anyone with proper training or just experience can write a good sentence. The degree to the fluency of the sentence differs from one writer to the other, and of course that ‘difference’ is what distinguishes a good writer from the rest. What I have been observing over the years, and I am in no position to generalise this (because my readings are limited and I do not find myself to be in such authority) is that many people often think that writing full sentences coins them as intelligent or of high intellectual status. For example, if someone were to write Facebook statuses in formal English – by not using slang terms or emojis, or even missing any full stops – then they are someone that is ‘intelligent’. Similarly, because someone simply writes a long post then they must be right. But that is another topic for another day.

Many of the general Arab community view speech that is bombarded with complex words an intellectual one, although the very purpose of language is to communicate, and if one were to aimlessly throw around complex words, then they are defying the very purpose of language. If one were to write an academic paper, or to speak to someone from their field, then they are free to use as many technical words as they wish. But using the same words to the public is useless; they would not be understood. Ironically, some of the people who agree with me on this, would also quote famous intellectuals – be it Machiavelli, Tolstoy, or Sartre – going as far as idolizing them, and presenting their views on to you as though they are divine. This, again, goes against (my view on) intellectualism. Anyone can read Tolstoy and quote him. Anyone can read a few pages of Sartre’s essays and act like a professional in the field of existentialism – going for sometimes hours – and passionately defending what they believe to be their view, despite it being Sartre’s views.

The great thing about ‘intellectual’ conversations – compared to others – is that they jump the further step into questioning and sharing the information at hand. To say, “I have read about this enough to speak of it” or “I have a degree” and even “I interviewed the best” is hypocritical. It is all well and good to say this – of course a degree offers one with a lot of authority on the matter – yet denouncing the second party’s opinion or ideas – given that the topic is not scientific (although science is based on questioning everything) – defies the very purpose of the conversation, given that the party’s intention is to learn and share valuable information rather than debate out of the ‘intellectual’ conversation. The hypocritical stance taken here by the pseudo-intellectual is speaking of values (that are actually others’) that they do not act upon.

Any student who speaks well, or writes in proper English, or memorises a few words from the dictionary and reads a book about Plato can win a debating competition. However, to have a genuine conversation that goes two-ways (a student to student rather than a teacher to student) must be one where both parties remain humble. Simply put, acting ‘civilised’ by speaking formally does not mean one is actually more civilised than the other. An easy example, which is common amongst Arabs, is that speaking English in a ‘local’ American or British accent often classifies this person as more educated than the one who speaks in an Egyptian or Jordanian accent –or even no English at all– although this is not the case.

The pseudo-intellectual say they speak for the people whilst covering themselves with a coat of fancy words to sound authentic. Yet, ‘actual’ leaders use simple and emotional speech to reach out to the masses. One of the situations that made me feel ‘sorry’ for someone is when Umm Kulthoum and Abdel Halim were mentioned – celebrated Egyptian singers as well as two of the “Great Four” – and the person looked at me and condescendingly said, “Oh, you probably don’t listen to them.” For some unspoken reason, it is a shared view amongst Egyptians that those who listen to dead artists have ‘high’ taste in music, and are therefore considered ‘classy’. Don’t take me wrong, my father and I discuss and rejoice in Abdel Wahab’s music at least once a week. But simply because I enjoy listening to an already celebrated artist, or in some cases an underground artist, does not mean that I am more ‘classy’ or even smarter than someone else. To enjoy going to galleries and to appreciate art and paintings does not mean that I am more deserving of respect than someone else. To enjoy certain mediums of entertainment does not mean I am better; it is simply a preference.

Perhaps this is the point of this ‘article’ or these paragraphs: it is that simply doing things that are viewed as intellectual does not make one an intellectual. I obviously, as aforementioned, do not have the authority to say who and who is not an intellectual, yet the purpose of this writing is not to define what an intellectual is, rather what an intellectual is not. It is noble to read, and speak well, yet the purpose of these readings and speech must be genuine (if even to defeat an enemy) rather than to simply ‘show off’, or act as an entrance ticket to a certain ‘type’ of group that is scarce in the community. I’d even go as far as terming the pseudo-intellectuals as the nouveau riche of the intellectual community. Simply put, it must be quite tough to abstain from ‘bad’ art because it does not fit into someone’s perception of how an intellectual must act and be.

Protected: The Meeting

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Seashells: To Fling Or Not To Fling

October 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

Hum of Sihinaya

Memories are sneaky little things. They creep up on you when you’re not noticing, then WHAM!You suddenly find yourself drowning in waves of painful, bitter, beautiful, melancholic nostalgia. It’s not like as if you always intentionally recall these memories anyways. Well, at least I don’t. Sometimes, I’d just go about with my day-to-day business, with say, my earphones plugged in. My playlist on shuffle. One jam ends. Another comes on. Or so I think it does. But actually, it doesn’t. Instead, what is randomly selected next isn’t just some song. It’s a trigger. And before I can press pause, the trigger is pulled and a bullet from the past hits me right in the heart. At times, it’d hurt. This is where memories cheekily come into play, in the midst of this pain. They’d sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks. They, no, I… I can’t…

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a short welcome

August 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

It’s finally quiet enough for me to flood paper with ink. The weather is clear and above me flows a sky that resembles sea water flowing through a filtration tube. The people walking during the current stillness of the day appear relatively large, as though actors glaring from a billboard. The air is damp, though not more than my nose. I think I’m going to get sick. I see the reflection of a toy on the ground as though its surface were a new mirror. It fascinates me how such shine and cleanliness translates to gratitude from surfaces.

Writers like to write at ease, sometimes stress, often in a mode of a complete overflow of emotions. Yet I, not a writer, am writing whilst not having slept until the sun’s rise – supposedly exhausted after a long day and night, then day, though as of this moment I am all else simply lost in this so called act of ‘writing’. It soothes me to attempt to write about writing because one is often, more than not, compelled to speak or discuss or even participate in that which they are familiar with. I have taken a deep familiarity with writing. These feelings aren’t deemed mutual, however. Writing has abandoned me. Or perhaps I have abandoned him. Writing, if it were to take the form of a sex, is male to me. Because I am in some ways in love with writing.

This is the first time I write in months – this way, in such a format – during such a place and time. It was unaccounted for and untied by deadlines or obligations. It knocked, and I responded. I can see the sun. It looks like the inside of an egg – and I needn’t mention the standard name because if anyone were to read this, they’d know what I’m talking about. You know. I like it when I don’t feel obliged to explain things. Like this.

I am simply glad this happened. After a long wait, you’ve been missed, fellow voice.

رفات الذاكرة

January 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

أرجوك، متعيطشِ
خليك واعي و متستكبرشِ
الدمعة من عنيك متستهلش صدقني
أنا هنا، تحت التراب واعي
أصل كلامي لسه فديواني
مش همشي
في كلماتك و صورك و ذكرياتك هتلقيني
أرجوك، بتوسل إليك متعيطش
دمعة واحدة لو وصلت للأرض تنبت زلزال
سيول، إعصار – فاهمني؟
بلاش يا حج مش ناقصني
أنا هنا بمشي
زي زمان شُربِنا للببسي
قبل ما كبرنا و قلنا مش صحي
بس فالمكان ده مش تاعبني
خليك فرحان، أرجوك متعيطشِ
ده عادي
كلنا بنموت – طبيعي
بس أنا الي كنت بدري
منتا دايماً سابقني قلت ﻷ مينفعشِ
المرة دي أنا الي كسبتْ
و أنا الي متْ، بَقُلك عادي منتا هتلحقني
بس خليك شويّة
عوزك تجيلي بتقارير عن المستقبل الي هيفتني
خليك و متعيطشِ
أنا هنا مستنيك
هروح فين يعني؟

I’m the weak one this time, Love.

December 23, 2014 § 2 Comments

This is a letter to you, Love. I don’t know if you’re an emotion or a trait or a feeling or a disorder, but I write to you despite the ambiguity of your form. You’re not very liked, for a name so powerful. Isn’t that weird, Love?

I wonder how you feel sometimes. I wonder if you’re sadistic in the way that you untangle palms which once embodied locks or if you cry out of misery when lovers separate. I wonder if you throw arrows in the form of a flying fairy called Cupid. I wonder if someone saw you one day, and decided to call you that. Maybe you do have a form; one other than that which crawls and thaws in the midst of ourselves while we try to rest asleep, other than that which creeps when the sun sets and even during the earliest of times. A form that’s as physical as any tangible object can be; maybe even a person.

I wonder if you’ve ever met someone, Love. I heard that angels could mould themselves into humans, as homunculi would. Have you, Love? Did you ever need to embody yourself onto an observable form for someone or some… thing?

You appear in levels, and then all at once, which I also find weird, Love. So much about you is eerie, in a sense. You’re… uncomfortable. I hope this isn’t taken as an offense by you, I only find it fair that I write as honestly as I could when it’s a letter directed to you, out of everything else – or everyone else, we haven’t agreed on what you are yet.

Will you ever write to me? I wish you could speak to me, Love, instead of poking receptors in my brain. I thought I didn’t need you, you know. As uncanny as it is to admit, I can release dopamine without you, but your dopamine is different. Maybe its colour is pink. Maybe that’s why they associate you with pink and red shades, or perhaps it’s due to the colour of our blood and how they associate you with the heart. What do you have against our hearts, Love?

You both fight all the time. My stomach too, you seem to have unresolved issues with it. Is that how you flirt? You release ticklish butterflies to peep around as cameras and throw bombs at safes we thought were protected. You’re weird, Love, and not very romantic, you know. It’s a little unaccounted for, and actually palpably rude, how you’re almost never invited but attend anyway. I suggest you attend one of those posh morality classes; you’re probably rich from all of the lives you’ve broken. If money in your world were measured by oceans of tears, you must be more than a billionaire. What do they call who’s richer than a billionaire? You’d know.

I’m not as cruel as you, but you’ve taught me some horrid techniques, Love. I’m quite ashamed to admit it, but here we are. You’ve taught me to be the strong one. That’s how I’ve passed all your tests so far; that’s why happiness is as bright as it could be in my life. But I think I’m starting to fail, Love. It’s worrying me. Maybe this is why I’m writing to you. I think I need your help – wait, no, what if you ask me to sell another part of myself as you did the last time? I can’t afford to lose too many pieces of myself, I only have one self, you know. I can’t mould myself into as many forms as you do. I’m still human, need I remind you that. I’m handed this one body, and soul. I don’t know if you know, maybe that’s why you’re a little harsh on us humans. Do you do that to animals too? Are you more than one? Are you a nation of Loves? Are you types?

I have so many questions to ask you, Love, but if you’re busy as I’m sure you always are, I can reduce my inquisitiveness into one.

When will you leave me alone?

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