Ignacio Villallón
© Ignacio Villallón

Editorial 1 – Gazes

In this first issue, there is a handful of texts, behind which you will find a handful of squeezed writers. Each one tried to tame these things that prevent the one who lives with great desire of writing, from taking action. Each one has his own hindrances, his drawbacks. We asked ourselves: How does one find the time to write? How does one decide to lock himself silently, sitting or lying down, for hours, maybe only to write a little, and to find nothing? Who will be there to read? How to be considerate with the words being crafted? And whom, by the way, thinks that there is only one urgency to attend to, and that it is writing?

For us to stand up, we began telling each other the story of writing, tales about ordinary compositions. We told ourselves that the time in which we write, is a time when backs are bent and limbs passive. A time of silenced heat. Where we find ourselves narcissistic, while our teeth are rattling.

We told ourselves these things, among other things that friends tell each other.

But we have also been happy, we have told the pleasure of the text, when it becomes definite, when it recognizes itself. We said: it is the joy of verses coming to life.

Then, we told ourselves it would be good to have other writer’s stories, ones that do not ask the question of rewrites. To see other friendly faces sit with us, talk about what we do when we write, narrate to ourselves that maybe we do nothing and yet that it is something we cannot abandon. We are telling you that, because there are probably among you other friendly faces to join us. And above all, we are saying this to you because these are our questions to literature, repeated over and over: Are you this important? What can you do for reality? Should we abandon you and indulge in other pressing matters? And we know these matters are pressing, because they are the reasons why we want to write.

We forgot to say that we write


Paris, among other places, but well…

From our situations in the Maghreb, in Egypt, if Egypt is even the Maghreb, if there is a reason to make a distinction

From the city between two bigger cities located on the Atlantic, West Coast

From North Africa

From that parking in Cairo,

From the terrace,

From the room where I suffocate in Hay Nahdha

From the house you are trapped in

From the never-ending afternoons of Halfaouine

From the protest, where the clammy hand of the friend in yours was saying, “let us stay” and “let us leave” at the same time.

We said: from these situations, we need to find shapes. Maybe there is a need for play. Play with the gazes we have on each other, and with those that have their eyes on us. Magical eyes, gloomy eyes, eyes impossible to be ignored. We are already playing, you see. There are at the edge of our skin, we find them within our stomachs – the eyes – we occasionally remember them, and sometimes we even see them coming.

But of these situations, should we make literature? As if it was only about who stares and how. As if we could change that, the eyes locked in their trajectories along with the non-written literature.

When we attempt to write, it is leaning on ourselves that we do so. It is something so within; not aligned on any virulence, on any abstract duty. If you want to say that you have been in love with Mohammed and that Mohammed lost his glasses and his cane in a well or in a ravine, or crushed by a driver and that it was the first time that you gave him your hand to guide him, and now your palm burns and the dark circles around your eyes grow and grow ever since you had words in your mouth, no one can tell you come around, your story is not the urgency we await.

The urgency that we wait for is you, singular writer of tales, with the taste of making them truculent, dark, like your images. And you too, who crafts poems and stories seeking other things than lamenting, and you ironic in your pamphlet where you play with the evidences we know on our Berber-Arab worlds, Coptic, Muslim, Jews, Druzes, tell-me-what-I-forgot-because-I-forgot-some.

In this first issue, we are putting things down, there is no theme. We are not unifying our voices because our wish now is not to put ourselves facing existing literature. We are far away from a desire to be avant-garde, maybe because we cannot quite tell (where is and where is it at) the literature produced from our Maghrebi, Middle Eastern, interstitial situations. We have not decided the present meaning of the literary forms concerned with these situations. Nor that of the authentic character or the one we tear holes in, nor that of the quiet language, the messy one, the one that reveals the absence of other mother tongues that even the mother abandoned, nor the vicissitudes of dialects and street slangs in the written words. We put ourselves on hold. We wish to welcome first a profusion of texts. It is how we imagine the first act of the history of Asameena.