24 August 2010

Translated Arabic expressions written in English alphabet, inaccuracy will reign today...

NB: '3' refers to an Arabic letter to which there is no equivalent in English. It is a sort of 'a' sound but from half way down the throat. If that helps.

1. Baadha mish tal3a min il bedah: She's barely out of the egg!
Meaning: She's too young to be doing...

2. Draat 3l balaat: Farts on marble.
Meaning: To dismiss something as utterly pointless. (This is a fun one to visualise).

3. Waja3 ikhla3 nee3ak: May pain rip off your (masc) jaws.
Meaning: This is self explanatory. (So is this).

4. Mitil adda'l musta3jil: Like fate in a hurry.
This one confuses me, very awkward translation.

5. Min rakab al nas maat a haman: He who watches people/compares himself, dies in worry.
Meaning: A warning...

6. Min tumak la baab al samaa: From your (masc) mouth to the gates of Heaven.
I'm still not sure how to use this one, but I think it is in instances of well wishing.

Judith Ravenscroft

'...And although she rarely sits and stares out of the window, or hesitates when asked to account for her day, since she always has a pile of books to read, letters to answer, neighbours to receive, sometimes it's as if fear catches up with her: she goes to bed with mysterious symptoms, pulls the blankets up over her face, refuses all medicines and comfort until - as suddenly as she succumbs, she recovers, jumps out of bed, throws open the windows, and runs through the house as if astonished to be alive...'

from My Life with Belle

23 August 2010

Alicia Ostriker // A Young Woman, A Tree // 1987

Edward Said

Last two paragraphs of Michael Wood's obituary, full text here.

...Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will. Edward liked to quote Gramsci’s aphorism, and with good reason. But he wasn’t a pessimist of any kind, either of the intellect or the will. He was the deepest, most devoted, most unalterable kind of optimist, the optimist who can look despair in the face and keep on hoping. I remember a long argument we had at the time of the signing of the Oslo Accords. The thing went on for about four hours, Edward pacing up and down in his apartment drinking glass after glass of orange juice. I was looking for hope but looking in the wrong place. In the end, I said: ‘But Edward, you’ve got to believe that some day, somehow, things are going to get better.’ He looked at me as if I was mad, and said: ‘Of course I believe that. If I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t be doing any of this.’

I’ve thought of this exchange often as the days have become even darker in Palestine and Israel, and I have come to understand what it means to be an optimist, and what an imperishable optimism looks like. I thought I was an optimist, but I’m just a utopian. Edward was an optimist. A few days before he died he called to talk a little – he had come back from the edge of death, and knew he had, but none of us knew how close the end was – and although rather hoarse and weak in voice, sounded very much like himself, making jokes, insatiably curious and full of spirit. I said: ‘Edward, you’re invincible.’ He said: ‘I’m not invincible, but I’m not giving up.’

Wade through blood

'As for my division of people into ordinary and extraordinary, that I agree was a little arbitrary, but I do not insist on exact figures. Only I do believe in the main principle of my idea. That consists in people being, by the law of nature, divided in general into two categories: into a lower (of ordinary people), that is, into material serving only for the reproduction of its own kind, and into people properly speaking, that is, those who have the gift or talent of saying something new in their sphere. There are endless subdivisions, of course, but the distinctive characteristics of the two categories are fairly well marked: the first group, that is the material, are, generally speaking, by nature staid and conservative, they live in obedience and like it. In my opinion they ought to obey because that is their destiny, and there is nothing at all degrading to them in it. The second group are all law-breakers and transgressors, or are inclined that way, in the measure of their capacities. The aims of these people are, of course, relative and very diverse; for the most part they require, in widely different contexts, the destruction of what exists in the name of better things. But if it is necessary for one of them, for the fulfilment of his ideas, to march over corpses, or wade through blood, then in my opinion he may in all conscience authorize himself to wade through blood - in proportion, however, to his idea and the degree of its importance - mark that.'

from Crime and Punishment
- Dostoevsky

9 August 2010

A collection

My father recently confessed to me that both his father and his father-in-law returned letters he had written to them a long time ago with the spelling and grammar corrected in red pen.

My aunt once threw a pear at one of her sisters in pure rage.

Almost everyone I know has been in a class who has driven a teacher to insanity.

I overheard someone say they knew a man who - finding no toilet paper in the bathroom - wiped his arse with cake instead.

I have a friend who hula hoops exceedingly well. She said, 'I should think so too, my mother was her school's hula hooping champion'.

One of my friends, after having worried her parents and teachers by not speaking in her early years, surprised her mother one day with these first words whilst looking at a plane in the sky, 'shiny like a marble'.

I once taught a little boy who would only write the letter 'x' and the number '0'. His nihilism was astounding.

Women in my family use Andre Agassi stickers on their sliding doors to communicate their being closed after my mother once ran through one of these glass doors thinking it was open.

I recently found out some nicknames of men I love.

I won't share them here.