‘the piecing together of dissociated knowledge’

Two young men with a tripod and a luminous rod taking photographs in a dark, residential courtyard; a lone smoker sitting on the stone street furniture circumscribing the parking lot on The Mound; a plastic bag blowing uphill, along the designated pedestrian walkway beside the torn up sidewalk; a bathroom light left on. Facebook status, March 6, 2012

Earth Week: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 17

Part 1: Lebanon I’ve noticed a pattern on Instagram in the last few weeks; every time I flick through your stories, I see one or two or three or four of you posting images of plant life—wild flowers, potted plants, tree bark, even grass. These little odes to botany come from different countries & diverse people, but they usually share a similar aesthetic: close up, almost reverential, with an air of rediscovered naïveté like “have you ever really seen a leaf, like really really seen a leaf?” It seems that social distancing has brought us closer to our non-human neighbors. … Continue reading “Earth Week: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 17”

#StayHome: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 13

Part 1: Livestreamed Concert This week had been planned for months to be a special one at work, with the official launch of a pet project of mine on the occasion of The Feast of the Annunciation. Circumstances have complicated all plans, and yet, have also made this particular one even more relevant than I could have imagined. To express this strange transvaluation of all things in these self-isolating times, I want to share some of my favorite creative responses to COVID-19. I’ll say more about how that connects to what I’d been planning later. First up: Dubioza Kolektiv, an … Continue reading “#StayHome: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 13”

Creed & Culture: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 11

Part 1: Grandpa’s Hymn This is a hymn written by my grandpa, a poet and gentle soul who always spoke like he was from another dimension, and now, is struggling to cling to the last tendrils of connection to this world. He’s been hospitalized after a bad fall and his mental state is deteriorating rapidly—my mother says that he’s not recognizing anyone in the room, though he’s talking about me by name. At first, I was stunned by that particular detail; I’ve been a terrible grandson, rarely around or in touch. But then I stopped to think about why he’d … Continue reading “Creed & Culture: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 11”

Creative Clusters: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 8

Part 1: Artpop, Inc. I’ve been listening to a lot of Lady Gaga since she popped up on my playlist on Valentine’s Day. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to anything as infectiously positive and carefree; I’m especially aware of this because, two days prior, I attended an art-based workshop where they asked us to share a song that we turned to when we wanted to lift our spirits; I couldn’t think of any. There was a time when it was strangely meaningful to think that Lady Gaga and I are the same age. Looking back, I now feel … Continue reading “Creative Clusters: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 8”

The Music Scene: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 4

Part 1: El Hal Romancy Let’s talk about a concert in Byblos. Yeah, that concert; the one where Lebanon’s biggest indie band, Mashrou’ Leila, was banned from performing for a meme—for basically nothing. That episode seems almost comical now, with all that’s happened in Lebanon since. Here they are playing at the original T-Marbouta in 2008. Is it too hipster to say that I remember them when they were nervous boys playing their butts off for free? With every album drop & NPR Tiny Desk performance, it’s easy to forget how unlikely this band’s success was; how prophetic they sounded; … Continue reading “The Music Scene: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 4”

Edinburgh: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 2

Part 1: Nemo me impune lacessit On Christmas Eve, someone asked if I miss living in Edinburgh, & my response reflected the ambivalence of my experience there. I certainly missed my favorite haunts in Scotland’s ghostly capital—Dagda Bar, The Mash Tun, Snax Café, Yococo, Turquaz, Balkanarama. I miss the feel of my different neighborhoods—The Royal Mile, Easter Road, Buccleuch Street. I even miss Drummond. I miss our student union building & the special serendipitous place that its Library Bar will always have in my life—indeed, I miss those irreproducible moments the most—celebrating the actual end of the world in 2012, … Continue reading “Edinburgh: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 2”