04 September 2013

Thoughts for September

From the Independent's witty article on Algiers:
  • It is reminiscent of a 100-metre banana skin crossed with Oscar Niemeyer’s Cathedral of Brasilia.
  • Any initiative which alleviates the gloom of nocturnal Algiers is welcome.
  • The reputation of Algiers as one of the greatest beauties of the Mediterranean, a reputation that will require  Herculean renovation to regain. 
  • The whole ensemble is as seething, dirty and authentic as a historic Mediterranean port should be.
Ironically, the article neglected to mention that Niemeyer actually did erect several buildings in Algiers, including the dome on the Hydra stadium.
From Sonatallah Ibrahim, 1962:

"Here is the artist’s role in Egypt today. Not to write something enjoyable merely for its aesthetic value. Not simply to lose oneself in philosophical and intellectual issues. Not to live captive to one’s individual experience, which could lead to loneliness or to feelings of alienation and absurdity. Not to be content with recording—impressionistically, neutrally, superficially—what happens in society. Instead, the Egyptian artist must work actively and with others. He must dive into the depths of the people and the depths of the individual. He must reveal the way forward, he must choose the direction and change the direction. He must lead and play a role in everyday life, armed with his technique, personal experience, self-awareness, persistence, and the readiness to sacrifice."

 I just finished reading Ibrahim's exacting roman a clef "That Smell," which was accompanied by this text, so apt for today. The work is a great quick read for anyone interested in Egyptian literature and is newly translated into English. More on Sonatallah Ibrahim in the New Yorker and Guernica.
Also check out David Leibovitz's article on za'atar. And NPR's piece on Dead Sea salt!

Photos from Tipaza, Algeria. Back soon with a recipe!

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