A little manifesto. A tribute to displaced words. The words in power give up on power. Slandered words suddenly praised in public squares.
We desire a free language, one that does not parade for anyone, one in which there are only people standing, each person speaking for itself.
For in this meagre burnt land words are not ours. They were lost to some well-fed men in return for a few breadcrumbs. As we sold our words, we wallow in silence, somehow satisfied with our plumped bellies. Yet no one warned us we would lose our dreams along.
Whips postponing, ousting our dreams. Stolen words and bent voices, divergent voices, confiscated voices. A flesh devoured by violence, that only heals and ponders in dreamt lands elsewhere. A culture that only fiddles in remote tongues, playing with torpedoes that drowns its dialects, always against the tide, often breathless.
Is it not, at last, the time to seize these words back? To refuse to gaze at them covered in blood. For it is the time to heal on our own, facing a mirror that does not reflect fantasies and essences. To watch and examine before naming things instead of clogging ourselves with words from the very beginning. To grant candor and lightness to words and allow, if only, a partial truth. Take words to write others, taste the formal tongue they call ours, and infuse it with our broken accents and mad anguish.
And above all, ponder without the shields and chains locking and poisoning thought: orientalism, western essentialism and all these towering prison walls.
Orientalism erases our intricacies and rewrites us in a few words. But the Arab World is not hummus nor couscous. It is not the desert. It is not a meaning in itself, an essence. An Arab is not lazy, welcoming or futile. Arabs are. We are fissured realities but also moving fates. Like all the others. These are the multiple ‘beings’ we want to say, freely, without taking a path of expectations and mystifications, be it from here or there. The various and fused existences are the ones that ought to be written down, so that the word “Arab” ceases to be yet another cage. Realities that drift, drown and vanish are the ones that have to be scribbled down.
The West portrays us and we either depict ourselves against or with it. Let us go and simply forget about it. Could we only be Others fumbling between territories, fully Others, richly Others and not negatively Others ? Not Others gravitating around the sun, doomed in the quest of catching up.
Just completely Others, claiming the divergence on the tip of every tongue that waits to spring: Say ! Read ! Iqra ! How these words sound familiar.
Let us say, read, write ourselves with time rather than against it. Let us evoke space or spaces of the sheltering exiles and the narrow streets of our cities.
Let us discover our wrinkles and scars without shuddering. Without trying to shred pages of our histories, our societies or ourselves. Accept the pathways the past drew and pave with them tomorrows. Speak our elated and melancholic hybridity. The imprecise substance, which takes every detour. A sense of motion, of history and politics – bodily and restless – a certain way of being lost and recognizing this confusion as a state in itself. A state that must be told. That must be written.
Asameena, our names
Our names, because they are multiple, infinite, always fruit of our existences. Our moving names, that freeze and set on fire. Our names, fixed on the edge of our lips, children of our senses, of our lives. Our names because we are plural, each with a history to scatter, so that all the voices resonate. Because it amounts to us all to tell them, to make resonate in the fixed silence of images. Bitter names, burning names, tenderly ours.