Archive for September, 2017

the changes

18 September 2017



National Express waiting room, Heathrow, August 2017

Over the last several years, I’ve found it harder to read in the evenings. The cause is partly biological (and helped by reading glasses) but partly or even mainly social. The lights are actually going out. In hostels and hotels, in buses and coaches, in waiting rooms and interstitial spaces of all kinds, bright incandescent lights have been replaced by dim LEDs with greyish spectrums. In some places the light is tinted to inhibit intravenous drug shootups, creating the illumination equivalent of the spiked park bench. Pub or subpub lighting is becoming a norm.

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12 September 2017

“The 19th century was a strange century because the interior empires were beginning to decline, slowly but surely, while the exterior empires, the colonial empires, were still being constructed by the French, the British, the Dutch, the Belgians, throughout Africa and in large parts of Asia, if not all of it. On one hand there were liberation movements and on the other hand, at the same time, other peoples saw themselves brutally subjugated.”

*

“Years passed. In the summer of 1972 I went to Beirut for what I thought would be a brief visit, and stayed about three years. It was there that I met up with my old friend S and found a job: I became the culture section editor for a French newspaper in Beirut. I talked to S about the valise, but I continued to put off the day when I would come to collect it and bring it home. The Lebanese civil war broke out and S and I left for California … Around 1980 we made a visit to Beirut. When we got there I promised myself that this time I would visit the Xs and retrieve my belongings. I had made the decision. It was, let us say, a Monday, and I said, “This Friday, for sure, I will go. We will go.” Two days later, on Wednesday, we were on Bab El Driss, a street I knew well. We were walking down the sidewalk when all of a sudden the three X sisters appeared …”

– Excerpts from À propos de la fin de l’empire Ottoman, Etel Adnan (Galerie Lelong 2015), back translation mine since the volume is a translation of a leporello written in English and no English text has been published.