“Those nine sounds ‘spoke’ to me – not yet in Arabic – but in the language of natural reality. They said: ‘Beyond your language, there is another language. Beyond your nation (beyond the bestial, sacrilegious fury masquerading as an alibi for pride) there are other nations. Beyond your spirituality, your morality… beyond the range of emotions you’ve learned to express, there are other spiritualities, other moralities, other emotions. And, as you should have known all along, beyond your class, there are other classes.’”
This handmade, single-sheet folding book combines an essay by the poet, Gregory Carlock, with photographs and writing by Stefan Maneval. It reflects the authors’ mutual interest in the Arabic language; an interest which has led them – from New York and Berlin, respectively – to Cairo, Damascus, Sanaa, and Beirut.
In “Squirming, Sovereignty, and that Old, Beautiful Idea of Poetry as a Container for Everything,” Carlock relates his first encounters with Arabic, in the aftermath of 9/11. Proceeding autobiographically, he considers the fraught terrain between writing and power – not only as he has lived it, but as he saw it expressed in the life of a Syrian poet, with whom he worked in Damascus, in the weeks leading up to the Syrian Civil War.
Maneval’s “Notes on a Garden in Beirut” is an appreciation of the forgetful gardener, above whom the author lived in 2018, while on a research stay in Lebanon. The old man’s follies – and Maneval’s ability to see his own frailty in them – prompt a meditation on the uses (and abuses) of “difference,” and on the ever-shifting boundary between “self” and “other.”
Structured around a series of Maneval’s recent, black and white, photographs of Lebanon, the book’s typesetting, layout, and unique folding-design were conceived by Ayman Hassan of the Beirut-based Studio Zumra.
Size: 30 x 11 cm
Whatever’s Left of Our Differences18,00 €
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