Sat, February 5, 2011 11:30 pm at Alwan for the Arts
2:00-4:00 Al-Jazeera Live Feed
4:00-5:00 Skype and phone Conversations with Egypt and Tunisia
5:30: Live Concert by Arab Performers
Suggested Donations For the Red Crescent in Egypt and Tunisia: $25 (All Donations Accepted)
Over a pier, the first beacon inflamed --
The vanguard of other sea-rangers;
The mariner cried and bared his head;
He sailed with death beside and ahead
In seas, packed with furious dangers.
By our doors Great Victory stays ...
But how we'll glory her advent?
Let women lift higher the children! They blessed
With life mid a thousand thousands deaths --
Thus will be the dearest answered.- Anna Akhmatova
Yet poetry is mute, crushed under the blows of history. We stand in awe. Tunisians, Egyptians, and clearly the peoples of the Arab world are redrawing in theory and in political practice the global map of civil space. They usher and raise questions about human dignity, intellectual engagement and political and civil resistance that are universal in scope and challenge if not altogether overwrite standing theories of social structure and humanities scholarship. As the edifice of the state flounders, with inexplicable, actually absent, nationalist or sectarian mythologies civil society steps in with spontaneous ingenuity and unimaginable creativity.
One cannot but bow to the Tunisian women who offer food and water to demonstrators, and in an astonishing gesture of generosity, extend sustenance to army officers- a kindness that embraces what is essentially threatening. Egyptians salute and are saluted by soldiers, objectifying tanks and artilleries, instruments of power, in the service of their advance against tyranny.
It is folly to punctuate in time and space where and when this revolutionary march began. It began everywhere and stretches far back, but it took a momentous turn on the streets of Tunis and Sidi Bouzid and now is being honed in Suez, Cairo, Alexandria and the provinces of Egypt. Moreover, we know in our guts, that it will swerve, twist and turn in Yemen, Baghdad, Bahrain, Amman, Morocco, Algiers until it is perfected in Palestine.
The fight is hard and pitiless
The fight is epic, as they say.
I fell. Another takes my place -
Why single out a name?
After the firing squad - the worms.
Thus does the single logic go.
But in the storm we'll be with you,
My people, for we loved you so. - Nikola Vapcarov
What is remarkable in the second decade of the 21st century is how archaic, almost medieval, the stratagems of power, imperial rule and their colonial agents are. What happened in the Abu Ghraib of Iraq also happened as the Tunisian revolution was unfolding in the Mahdia prison, north of Sfax, where eighty people perished when their mattresses were lit on fire. Not surprising that seventy political prisoners were shot dead in cold blood in Abu Zaabal prison in Egypt as protests went on.
An odor has remained among the sugarcane:
a mixture of blood and body, a penetrating
petal that brings nausea.
Between the coconut palms the graves are full
of ruined bones, of speechless death-rattles.
The delicate dictator is talking
with top hats, gold braid, and collars.
The tiny palace gleams like a watch
and the rapid laughs with gloves on
cross the corridors at times
and join the dead voices
and the blue mouths freshly buried.
The weeping cannot be seen, like a plant
whose seeds fall endlessly on the earth,
whose large blind leaves grow even without light.
Hatred has grown scale on scale,
blow on blow, in the ghastly water of the swamp,
with a snout full of ooze and silence - Pablo Neruda
As opposed to this gruesome inhumanity, we witnessed Tunisian and Egyptian civil society creating a culture that attended to aesthetics of appearance. Men and women were collecting garbage, grooming the streets, managing traffic; people’s committees were founded to own the functions of the state, and create human shields to nurse monuments, memory and history. "You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming." Pablo Neruda
In solidarity with this spirit, Alwan opens its space for a day of communal participation, cultural artistic expression and fundraising on behalf of the families of those who have fallen. We know that they are many, and whatever we can offer cannot compensate for the loss of loved ones.
OH! pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, we who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!--Oh! times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!
When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights,
When most intent on making of herself
A prime Enchantress--to assist the work,
Which then was going forward in her name!
Not favoured spots alone, but the whole earth,
The beauty wore of promise, that which sets
(As at some moment might not be unfelt
Among the bowers of paradise itself)
The budding rose above the rose full blown.
What temper at the prospect did not wake
To happiness unthought of? The inert
Were roused, and lively natures rapt away!
They who had fed their childhood upon dreams,
The playfellows of fancy, who had made
All powers of swiftness, subtilty, and strength
Their ministers,--who in lordly wise had stirred
Among the grandest objects of the sense,
And dealt with whatsoever they found there
As if they had within some lurking right
To wield it;--they, too, who, of gentle mood,
Had watched all gentle motions, and to these
Had fitted their own thoughts, schemers more mild,
And in the region of their peaceful selves;--
Now was it that both found, the meek and lofty
Did both find, helpers to their heart's desire,
And stuff at hand, plastic as they could wish;
Were called upon to exercise their skill,
Not in Utopia, subterranean fields,
Or some secreted island, Heaven knows where!
But in the very world, which is the world
Of all of us,--the place where in the end
We find our happiness, or not at all! - William Wordsworth
Last updated: 2011-02-05 00:15:54
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