Friday, July 17, 2020

Meta tqum filghodu

Tqum filghodu wara lejla pjutost ordinarja fejn tlajt naqa high mhux hazin u meta wasalt instabbat fis-sodda.  Is-soltu ottimizmu tas-sitta ta' filghodu.  Thoss il-bzonn ta espresso u tghid haqni anki pizzetta tal-isqallin biex igibni f'posti. Tpejjep dak l-ewwel sigarett. Drag. Thoss lublieba ghall-hajja. Imbghad timxi l-mixja ta' filghodu u thoss sensazzjoni stramba ta dubju f' dak li ghidt, kif ghidtu u x' m' ghidtx u ghalkemm intangibli ghal waqt tkun tixtieq l-art tibilak, imma tkompli l-mixja lejn in-normalita.   Anzi tahseb naqa fuq il-fares politici u titbissem.  Jerga jigi d-dubju li f' xi mument zlaqt f' univers parallel, ghax kultant tigrilek...u tibda tiprova tiftakar meta stajt zlaqt u ghaliex.  Ma tiftakar xejn partikolari u tkompli timxi.  U tahseb x' se tikteb meta tasal ix-xoghol. Ticcekja l-mobile u tibda tibghat il-bongijiet.  Tinjora xi messaggi u tistenna ohrajn.   Tiftakar li grawlek kocc affarijiet dan l-ahhar ukoll.  Tiprova tohloq sekwenza imma titgerfex. Thoss li iktar kemm jinbidlu affarijiet, inqas jigru affarijiet. Tixtieq.  Il-mixja tfakkrek biex ma ddurx fi crieki ghax ma tasalx. Pero fil-hajja mhux kollox linear.  Tahseb f' xi haga sabiha.  L-ewwel haga li tigi f'mohhok. Tbissima. Tohlom ftit. Wara thossok naqa inqas kuntent.  Tahseb fl-ahhar ktieb li qrajt.   Thossok bizzejjed kuntent mhux iz-zejjed.  Tibza ftit.  Thoss li gara xi haga hazina.  Ma tafx x'hini. Terga ticcekja l-mobile.  Tasal ix-xoghol.  Thoss bzonn tikteb.  Tigi hawn. Tiftakar meta kont tigi ta' spiss hawn. Thoss li m' intix l-istess bniedem.  Thoss vojt.  Tiehu kafe iehor.  Tibda l-gurnata. Thoss l-ottimizmu tad-disgha ta' filghodu. Titamma f'zelqa ohra, mhux fin-niexef. Thoss certezza li gejjin affarijiet sbieh. Tibza li terga tizloq fil-mument li jigru ghax taf li x'imkien iehor diga graw.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Freedom from choosing

Reality has a habit of setting in and anchoring us in new realities.  One may compare life with a novel full of bizarre twists but one which is to a variable degree interactive like those TV shows where the viewer is invited to make choices for the characters in the plot.  But although the novel may be writing itself-relegating some events to footnotes and elevating others to new chapters,  in doing so it creates material realities.  But even as the novel unfolds, there is always the resistance of very material characters; in their daily procrastination, detachments and inertia, with the resulting feeling of melancholy reflecting the pleasant tension between what actually exists, what cannot exist and what can potentially and easily exist but which we can postpone or even evade or let slip away.  Ultimately there are always choices but  also the freedom to refuse to choose. Cause while freedom is all about choice, it also entails not choosing between things which are already defined for us in the scripts of already written plots and novels.  In this sense one may choose to subvert the plot through inaction, procrastination and basking in lethargic futility.  The freedom not to go anywhere.  The freedom of having no goal.  The freedom to collect memories and things for the sake of it.  The freedom to be nomadic and go round in circles.  

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Hedla

My search for the Maltese word which captures the national popular mood as amplified by the summer haze had started with an exploration of the word affan which I described as a kind of intellectual lethargy and an aversion to thinking  rooted in a colonial psyche and lack of historical roots. For while history is everywhere, the connection between past and present is tenuous, resulting in a rootless culture.
This lethargy does not  evoke a relaxed late back mediterranean joy of living but is expressed in road rage, blasting petards in to the sky, appropriating and carving public spaces and in some cases a savage ethic of individual greed and a rejection of silence.
Still this is not a full picture.  Even in the self appropriated boat house shanty towns and the contested beaches one finds a slower pace of life and a surrender to the overwhelming heat. A state of mind  more conducive to a slower pace of living, which leads me to hedla, a beautiful Maltese word, which is evocative of the mental and physical abandonment after a long day at the beach, which is akin to smoking pot or the silence after a moment of passion. 
Hedla has the potential for post colonial emancipation, a rediscovery of mediterranean identities, a liberation from collective sexual guilt and a rejection of the ethic of self appropriation, a much needed slow down in a country whose soul has been corrupted by rampant neo-liberalism.  Hedla may not evoke rebellion but it does contain the seeds of a different way of living in greater harmony with nature and stronger roots in local communities.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Igsma




F' wiehed minn dawk l-argumenti dwar l-abort li hafna drabi jmissu l-qiegh f' dak li ghandu x'jaqsam ma hsieb logiku, xi hadd fuq facebook saqsieni biex nikkunsidra l-eventwalita li gejt abortit ma konx nezisti u b'konsegwenza  ma nkunx hawn biex naghmel argument favur il-legalizazzjoni tal-abort.  Ir-risposta kienet li kieku kien hekk sempliciment ma konx nezisti. L-istess kien jigri kieku sperma ohra rebhet it-tellieqa.   Ma tanx hemm x' tirrifletti fuq hekk.  Ghax l-ezistenza diga kumbinazzjoni kbira f' katina ta' kumbinazzjonijiet li tmur lura ghal miljuni ta' zmien.    Minn kollox setgha jigri biex ma nitwilidx u ma nkunx hawn u anki jekk twelidt dak li jien illum hu wkoll dovut ghal kumbinazzjonijiet ohra li graw wara li twelidt.  Kumbinazzjoni wahda li ma gratx u kont inkun James iehor speci. F'dan is-sens l-gisem mhux destin imma prodott ta' hafna kumbinazzjonijiet.  Ezempju kieku meta kont zghir kont naghmel iktar sports, probabli ghandi gisem iktar mibni u anki dik kienet tibdel min jien illum.  Ovvja li hemm ukoll fatturi biologici bhal genes u hekk imma dawn jirreagixxu ma kuntest maghmul minn igsma u materji ohra.   Imma iktar inkwetanti hi s-sens ta' offiza  ta hafna rgiel  li jopponu l-abort meta tissuggerixxi li l-argument dwar l-abort hu essenzjalment wiehed dwar il-kontroll ta' x' jigri f'gisem haddiehor.  Imma r-realta hi dik.  Xi whud iddecidew li l-mara jehdula l-kontroll fuq il-guf li hu  parti minn gisima daqs kemm hija idi u sieqi. F' Malta dan l-att ta vjolenza strutturali irnexielna nahbuh wara l-glorifikazzjoni tal-omm.  Imma fl-istess hin ftit hemm empatija ghal gisem li jrid igor fih kreatura ghal disa xhur shah irida jew ma jridiex.  Anzi l-idea prevalenti li dak destin inevitabli mhux ghazla li tista trendi ferh kbir imma li tista wkoll tnaqqas l-ansejta u l-ugiegh.  Pero l-kontroll tal-igsma mhux limitat ghal kwistjoni tal-abort. Fir-realta l-politika hi essenzjalment l-kontroll tal-igsma.  Il-kontroll ta' fejn u kif jiccaqalqu l-igsma, kemm jieklu l-igsma, kemm jahxu l-igsma, x' sustanzi jiehdu l-igsma, kemm jobdu l-igsma  u fejn joqghodu l-igsma. Ghalhekk anki is-socjalizmu irid jimxi mil-idea ta' kontrol sistematiku tal-igsma ghal wahda li tehles l-igsma billi toffri sigurta ekonomika shiha u awtonomija personali shiha.  Fl-ahhar mil ahhar l-importanti mhux ghaliex spiccajna hawn imma kif nghixu hawn.  Minghajr ghazla m'hemmx helsien.  Pero minghajr ezistenza materjali xierqa m'hemmx ghazla ta vera.  Fl-ahhar mil-ahhar il-kapitalizmu jrazzan l-igsma ghax fih hemm it-tehdida ahharija li joqtluk bil-guh.  Sfortunatament hafna nies huma iktar ossessjonati bil-hajja ta' dawk li ma jridux jghixu jew li m'humiex konxji li qed jghixu milli bil-hajja ta' dawk li jridu jghixu ahjar. Imbghad hemm dawk li jibzaw mil-igsma li jiccaqalqu wisq, li jgibu irwejjah godda. li jipprovokaw, li huma wisq prezenti, li jgibu l-mard, li jikkontaminaw, li jintnu....F'dinja mhedda mil-virus l-awtonomija personali facli tista tispicca taht tehdida mhux mis-sens ta' responsabilita u solidarjeta li urejna fil-lockdown imma minn socjeta li tpoggi certi igsma f' iktar riskju biex jibqu  jikkonsmaw u jipproducu waqt li fl-istess hin tikkontrollahom iktar biex ma jxerdux ir-riskju. F'dan il-process jinholoq surplus ta' igsma vaganti li l-ezistenza taghhom tigi meqjusa thedida fiha nfisha.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Il-blata li tghum fl-arja



Il-mument li ma giex, harab u telaq.  Qisu blata tghum fl-arja.  Naqa, hafna u ftit li xejn ... minghajr ma jistenna dik il- minuta  ta’ skiet li tghati tifsira.   Il-pajjiz, ir-rivoluzzjoni, it-tamiet, il-ferrovija li waqfet fl-istazzjon, il-waqa tar-regim li welled iehor,  il-jienijiet, it-tghaffig  li jizloq, il-covid-19 u l-iljieli inbid u smoke,  il-holm b' sensazzjoni fuggenti, il-mixjiet msahhra, is-shahar, il-memorji mcajpra.  Kollox jghaddi minghajr dik il-waqfa ta’ minuta biex inkun nista nigbor il-memorja ta mument li ghadda. Issa beda zmien l-affan.  Imma fl-ghafa hemm ukoll il-hegga ghal dak li baqa biex jigri, il-mument li jerga jizloq u jahrab.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Those things

There are particular mornings when you wake up with the awkward feeling that something is gone, perhaps washed away by the tequilas of the previous night.  A blank and neutral feeling, not particularly deep nor light.   Neither relief nor sadness.  It still feels numb while drinking a strong coffee.  This morning's feeling was that the Covid-19  period is now definitely over.  Even if the virus returns it will never be the same again.  The sensation of magic and loss is gone never to be experienced in this way again. For this period represented an opening up to life and a greater sensitivity to  beauty.  Than as the day proceeds and you walk it over, you realise that the thing is buried somewhere deep inside you. For some things are meant to fizzle out but a few others continue to define what we are and what we are becoming.  Somethings are shelved  in the comfort that they have been consumed and understood.   Others remain undefined just“things”, which are not meant to be understood ever.  But it does not really matter how consequential and real these things were for them to define us.  Even the most insignificant and ephemeral incidents, sheer footnotes in the great scheme of things, can belong to this category of 'things'.  It can be a chance encounter, an incident, a ghost (I have seen one when I was a child), a landscape, a song, a place in some distant land, a garden, a dream, a coincidence, a long or a short conversation, a kiss, a moment when you felt slipping in a parallel universe or even a look.  But there comes the moment when you realize how futile it is to keep searching for the  meaning of everything. Some things are simply outside our control.  Submission is liberation.  That moment sets you free.  Of course some of these things may take a life of their own and evolve and even flourish.  But some continue making our hearts smile, as they are shelved in the brain without having been deciphered, where they become a part of what we are. And what we are is hardly something we can ever understand.       


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

L-affan Malti

Jekk hemm xi haga li tirrispekja z-zliega kollettiva Maltija hija l-affan tas-sajf. B' xi mod din is-sensazzjoni minn xi zmien ilu bdjet nsejhila ghafa jew afa (verzjoni feminili tal-affan, inqas qtugh ta' nifs u iktar sens ta' sensazzjoni u l-arja li jkollok madwarek fis-sajf Malti). Insomma il-kliem tista toholqu wkoll specjalment f' certi mumenti. 
F'Istanbul ghandhom il- huzun, il-melankonija ta' belt li kienet ic-centru tal-imperu.  F'Malta l-affan, jew kif nghidilha jien l-ghafa,  jirraprezenta l-letargija mentali ta' kolonja mwarba li b'kumbinazzjoni storika u bl-ebda destin spiccat pajjiz indipendenti illum membru shih tal-Unjoni Ewropea. 
Pajjiz li zgicca u sab nicca ekonomika biex johloq klassi ta' sinjuruni wikkiela u faxxa ikbar li jghixu biex isiru sinjuri zghar u lkoll jghixu jhokku ma xulxin fuq blata.  Pajjiz goal oriented, biezel biex jaghmel lira imma ghazzien fil-hsieb u suspettuz ghal dak li jidher stramb u differenti.   
Pajjiz li fih difficli tkun differenti ghalkemm tant kiber fil-popolazzjoni li ghall-grazzja ta' Alla,  llum sar iktar facli tiltaqa u tghix ma min hu differenti.
Malta m'ghandiex melankonija imma ghanda nuqqas ta' kwiet; speci ta' ansjeta li hafna drabi tohrog fil-konfront tal-ohrajn.  Mhux ansejta li tigi minn wisq hsieb. Anzi.  Iktar xi haga bhal road rage permanenti li tohrog l-iktar fl-affan tas-sajf.
Imma anki f' hekk l-Maltin inkonsistenti.  L-ohrajn xi drabi nilqawhom bil qalb anki minghajr kundizzjoni.   Xi drabi nittoleraw l-ohrajn ghax  ihallu naqa boqxiex. Xi drabi specjalment jekk l-ohrajn ikunu suwed u foqra tohrog il-mibgheda Maltija.  Ghax Malta m'hix xi vittma tal-istorja. Vera kienet uzata u abbuzata bhala kolonja imma ejja nghiduha m' ghandniex xi storja glorjuza ta' rezistenza.
Probabli kieku Malta kienet il-Germanja min jaf xi hnizrijiet kienet taghmel.  Malta ghanda wkoll hafna hdura fil-qalb taghha u ftit li xejn romanticizmu.  Il-Maltin nazzjon utilitarju li ftit li xejn japprezza l-assurd u l-futilita. Ghalhekk neqsin mil-ironija u niehdu l-hakkiema bis-serjeta, sal punt li nhobbuhom. 
Bizzejjed thares lejn dawk il-patrijotti li kienu qed izebilhu gemgha ta nies jipprotestaw kontra r-razzizmu. 
Malta ma tridx tkun taf x' ghanda f'ruha. Ma ssaqsix wisq fuqa infisa.  Ghax forsi m' hemmx wisq hlief blat, bahar u xemx u l-bqija huma nies li jahsbu li huma xi haga ghax kumbinazzjoni twieldu fuq bicca blata.  Forsi wkoll ghax qatt ma kienu kunfidenti  fihom infushom.  Ixejru l-bandiera Maltija minnkejja li ma tfisser xejn hlief marka ta' distinzjoni.  U nsertat bandiera kerha bla kuntrasti ta' lwien u b'salib (li ma jfakkar lil hadd fil-glieda anti faxxista hlief xi erba bhali).  
Malta dejjem bezghat mil-gheruq taghha.  Bizejjed insemmu l-gheruq  Gharab u Musulmani li gew kancellati minn storici li mohhhom kien biss kien biex jidru sbieh mal-hakkiema.
U ghax mhux kunfidenti Malta ma tikbirx. 
Tibqa pajjiz tal-habbagozz.  Malta ghanda iktar folklore milli kultura.  It-turizmu m'ghenx ghax mhux biss hexa l-ambjent imma wkoll seddaq mentalita ta' superficjalita fejn kollox qisu dekorazzjoni fuq cake.  Ghalhekk facli timmagina l-Malta bhala kollezzjoni ta' kinnie, twistees, gabbani tal-festi.  Mill-ghana ma tohrog l-ebda sfida politika u socjali.  Ma nistghux nitkellmu fuq zfin jew muzika Maltija. 
L-istorja dejjem ghaddiet minn fuqa imma qisu n-nies dejjem kellhom kapacita jinbidlu ta' taht fuq...minn Gharab ghal Insara, minn Sqallin ghal Maltin. Stajna sirna Inglizi forsi wkoll.  Sa ftit ilu kont nahseb li minghajr religjon difficli titkellem fuq identita Maltija. 
Illum m' iniex cert ghax f' din il-bidla f' 10 snin kienet kbira u tajba, imma minkejja li sirna iktar sekulari qisna ma sibnix moralita gdida.  Anzi xi drabi nhoss li f' certa affarijiet Malta hzienet. Speci il-fatt li n-nies ma sbarazzawx Kastilja mil-imbarazz wara dak li gara f'Dicembru turi naha ohra kemm tal-letargija kif ukoll tal-qalb hadra Maltija. Ghax ma nilghabux mal-kliem; daphne (li ma kinitx qaddisa u fija kien hemm kontradizzjonijiet maltin ukoll)  kienet ukoll wahda mil-ohrajn li hafna Maltin riduha mejta.  Kien hemm min ferah meta splodewha u din ghada tebgha kerha wisq fir-ruh Maltija. Tebgha li titlob sens ta' rimors li certi Maltin qatt ma hassew ghax qalbhom hazina.  
Imma imbghad hemm sinjali ta' tama f'din l-inkonsistenza shiha. Wara kollox anki l-pjazza tal-bierah mimlija diversita hija Maltija daqs jew iktar mil-patrijotti.  Li hu zgur li dik il-pjazza isbah u forsi minnha tohrog Malta gdida iktar Maltija.  Ghax speci li jaghmlek Malti hi haga pick and choose. Identita li tista tivvanta u tifforma bhat-tafal.  U fl-ghafa tas-Sajf f'Malta tista tizfen qisek qieghed il-Jamaica (anki jekk ma nafx nizfen).  Min jaf?  Ghax Malta sabiha u tista tkun genna tal-art ukoll.    
Imma personalment ta sikwit nesperjenza l-ghafa b'mod differenti mil-bqija tal-Maltin.  L-ghafa qisha fosqa  li fija niehu gost ninfilleg, ninhall u nizzelleg.   U fl-ghafa nhoss melankonija deep, gieli light gieli tqila. Nhobb naqra ktieb fil-qilla tax-xemx Maltija.  
M'hemmx xejn iktar brutali minn bikja f'gurnata xemx hdejn il-bahar specjalment wara xi argument definittiv. Imbghad m'hemm xejn isbah minn flixkun inbid, joint jew nejka jew it-tlieta f'daqqa fl-ghafa ta' lejla sajfija.  Il-gegwigija kollettiva wkoll sservi bhala sfont ghal esperjenza individwali. Il-hsejjes u l-irwejjah tal-bbqs iqajmu memorji.   Is-sajf inhobbu ghax inhobb il-hajja u x-xemx tghati iktar hajja.  Imma is-sajf bhal haxixa, tista tinhall fih imma  jamplifika kollox.  Ghalhekk m'hemmx xejn isbah minn joint fl-ghafa, preferibilment qabel xi nejka u qatt qabel jew wara xi bikja. Jien l-affan idejjaqni ghax jifgani, imma-ghafa nhobba hafna ghax thollni. 

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Harifa qabel is-sajf

Din is-sena l-ewwel kellna rebbiegha fix-xitwa imbghad kellna naqa xitwa u mhux hazin sajf fir-rebbiegha u issa  giet ftit  harifa qabel flok wara s-sajf.  Kwazi temp li jixraq ghaz-zmien ta' issa.  Il-harifa tfakkarni fit-toqol tal-qalb fiz-zmien ta' qabel l-iskola.  Id-dieqa tal-ahhar ta' Settembru u l-bidu ta' Ottubru.  Imma wkoll zmien ta' certu entuzjazmu ghat-taghlim u r-rutina  wara xhur ta' semi izolament fid-dar, hafna drabi fil-kumpanija tal-kotba li kont ingib kull nhar ta Sibt minn Belt is-Sebh. Mhux ghax fil-harifa ma konx xorta imur Belt il-Sebh imma b'iktar hin f'idi l-kotba fis-sajf kont nixrobhom b'herqa ikbar il-kotba.  Tant li wara li nispiccahom kont nispicca ndur ghal dik l-enciklopedija, dawk il-kotba hoxnin u homor mimlija dettalji fuq kollox, mix-xmux fl-univers sal-hut ikrah u bla forma li jghix fil-qiegh tal-bahar.  Il-harifa wkoll zmien ta' sensittivita ikbar. Vera l-blat l-isbah li jkun  fis-sajf meta jixrob ix-xemx u jirrifletti l-ilwien f'kuntrast skjett mac-cilesti tas-sema u l-bahar.  Sfumaturi ta' hmura f'loghba max-xemx.  Imma fis-shab il-haxix qisu isbah u l-bahar f'temp griz qisu iktar misterjuz.  Kwazi jfakkarni iktar fix-xtajtiet nordici u ghalhekk narahom xi ftit iktar romantici, forsi wkoll ghax darba kont qlajt bewsa f'Paceville f lejla tal-Harifa fi zmien il-protesti tal-istipendji tad-disghinijiet.  Qisu kien premju helu dak...anki jekk l-istorja spiccat gimghatejn wara. U dawk l-ghajnejn domt ma nsejthom ghalkemm kollox imbghad jintnessa. U wara kienet giet Rebbiegha sabiha u bidu ta' storja twila. Imbghad meta jkun imqalleb il-bahar, spettaklu shih u b'xejn. Biex ma nsemmux ir-riha tal-hamrija wara l-ewwel xita. U  fil-harifa l-griz johloq sfumaturi ta melankonija. Imma l-harifa tqarribna wkoll ghal isbah zmien tas-sena, l-ispirtu infantili tal-Milied.  Speci hemm xi haga ghalxiex tistenna . Ghax il-melankonija kerha biss meta ma jkollokx xi haga ghalxiex thares il-quddiem.  U tkun l-aghar meta thares biss lura. Imma l-istaguni Maltin ihalluk xi ftit thares lura.  Ghawma fil-harifa qisa  privilegg, qisek qed tiprova ttawwal xi haga li taf li spiccat ghax ghadda zmiena.  Qisek qed tfotti b'certu gost u innocenza, specjalment jekk thoss l-irxix waqt li qieghed fl-ilma. Meta kont zghir l-ghawm kien jispicca mal-bidu tal-iskola.  Imma m'hemmx ghalfejn kollox ikun daqshekk regimentat.  U ma ninsewx imbghad is-sajf ta san martin.  Dawk il-granet xemxin ituk spinta kbira ghax tkun bdejt tidra t-temp griz u f' daqqa wahda s-sema tiftah u terga ddewwaqna naqa sajf.   L-istaguni qishom sbieh f' posthom imma wkoll sabih iz-zmien ta' mhux nejja u mhux mahruqa, iz-zmien ta' bejn sajf u xitwa, daqqa l-granet jxaqilbu l-hawn u daqqa l-hemm. Forsi  l-Harifa giet izurna xi ftit issa biex tghina nidhlu lura fin-normalita.  Izda xorta din il-harifa f'tarf ir-Rebbiegha qed nara b'ghajnejn differenti.  Qed inhossa naqa iktar.  Xi granet xemxin u ehfef u xi granet imsahhba u itqal.  Imma  xorta isbah. Ghax dan zmien il pessimizmu tal intellett u zmien l ottimizmu tar-rieda.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Self irony and laughter




There are moments when we take ourselves too seriously.  Sometimes the best defense against absurdity both in our personal and political lives, is to laugh at it. The antidote to our zeal for truths is just to picture our place in the universe; we occupy such an infinitesimally small dot that taking life too seriously simply makes no sense at all.  Our lives are a sheer coincidence in a long series of coincidences which probably includes both sexual blunders and astronomical collisions or near misses.  In Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose, William of Baskerville in his debate with Jorge of Burgos argues that laughter helps us “to undermine the false authority of an absurd proposition that offends reason.”  For Willian, “the only truth lies in learning to free ourselves from insane passion for the truth.” Because he made room for doubt, William had the intellectual flexibility to accommodate new ideas. By contrast, Jorge's zealotry and “insane passion for the truth” left him so resistant to any challenges to his worldview that he preferred to destroy all the books he held dear rather than to allow Aristotle's subversive book on comedy to come to light.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Nixtieq




Xi drabi thossok hafna bniedem meta thoss hafna toqol. Kien hemm zmien iehor. Niftakar iljieli twal naqra u nara netflix bi hsieb ta xi vaganza jberren f' mohhi. Nippostja selfies mal-kotba qabel nitfaghhom fuq l-ixkaffa. Ritwali. Ghext hafna emozzjonijiet ta' karattri li habbejt li haduni f'  postijiet varji. Tawni bizzejjed, mhux iz-zejjed ghax facli imbghad titfahom fuq l-ixkaffa u tinsihom. U vicin tieghi kelli xemx li tahmi u ddawwal b'entuzjazmu ta min jaf jghix, u li forsi kienet tiddi wisq fiz-zmien ta' ftit bizzejjed. Norqod fil-fond bla ansjeta. Kollox ftit imma bizzejjed. Bla riskju. Bla tghaffig u tqanqil. Hsibijiet lucidi waqt il-mixja ghax-xoghol, nanalizza s-sitwazzjoni tal-pajjiz f' mohhi. Kuntent imma mhux bizzejjed. Imbghad fi zmien il pandemija qomt u ftaht. Irrakkuntajt ruhi.  Bdejt nahseb fi vjaggi mimlija riskju. Bilkemm kapaci naqra ktieb bil-herqa. Ridt inkun karattru fin-novella li qed tikteb lila nfisha. Kollox beda jidher sabih waqt il-mixjiet. Skoprejt dettalji fil-bini ta' madwari li qatt ma rajt qabel. Roqghat ta' hdura f' nofs il-gungla tal-konkrit.  Bkejt u fraht... hafna. Xrobt, pejjipt, qsamt u ktibt. Rigali. Il-holm ergajt bdejt niftakru u nhossu. U sibt muza naqa msahhra.   Imbghad il-muza telqet f hin bla waqt. Forsi ghal ftit, forsi ghal hafna u ghax hekk ghandu jkun. Vojt. Twist fin-novella assurda li bdiet tinkiteb. Kapitlu li qisu ma bediex jew forsi footnote f'kapitlu ta' hajja ohra. Imma l-hajja ma tistennix. Inrid nibqa nghix u nhoss. Nixtieq inkompli l-vjagg fuq il- ferrovija. Nixtieq il-paci ta qabel u l-ftuh ghas-sbuhija ta issa. Nixtieq leggerezza deep. Nixtieq nhobb minghajr ma nghafas. Nixtieq ix-xemx u l-qamar. Forsi wisq. Nixtieq iz-zejjed. Nixtieq kollox.

P.S. Calm down... you need a good laugh and some self irony.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Schrödinger's cat turns Behemoth



Sometimes I really feel that life is like the schrödinger's cat, especially in those moments where life itself is pregnant with change and I feel that whiff that anything is possible. I often tell myself that all I have to do is to focus on my happiness and when the box is opened the cat will still be there. But the thought that the cat will die drives me nuts with anxiety, and I end up obsessively checking the box, only to realise that my state of mind will inevitably lead to the most undesired outcomes. Than I am reminded that whatever happens to the cat has little to do with my mind but with very material events which are random and unpredictable yet interconnected. So yes in a way my state of mind influences the course of events just as so many other things. So deep inside I know it is better let go of the cat and the experiment and just live. I don’t have to check the box to know the cat is alive. There is even a strong possibility that I won’t even capture the moment and the cat would have simply left the box on its own, perhaps having evolved in to a highly evolved super intelligent cat bent on turning the whole town in to catland, a cat which pranks the powerful and the corrupt. I would have unleashed a cat like Behemoth. And perhaps I won’t even be able to figure out whether its the same cat or not. For even if it survives, it won’t be the same cat after such an experiment. Cats have a habit of coming along the way, by some sheer random coincidence when least expected. They can’t stay long enough. Still betting on the law of probablity. One thing I bet on; receiving a hand written letter written in cat language which I have to spend the rest of my life deciphering. Or even better a knock on the door from Behemoth with an invitation to join a merry team of pranksters in a voyage from one station to the next along the Trans Siberian railway. P.S. I checked the box and the cat died.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Trains, roots and witches

One risk of this blog is that it occupies a dangerous space between the personal, the political and the public spheres. It is obviously spurred by everyday happenings, political anger and personal anxieties. It gives James the chance to stray away from the analytical impersonal style of a newspaper article. It also gives him the chance to write about his introspective thoughts, which are lurking beneath the surface. In many ways the past weeks of semi isolation have been an ideal context for a journey dominated by three images; roots, trains and witches. Roots because these represent what anchors us to reality and connect the future to the past, creeping incrementally and seeking new sources of nourishment without breaking the chain.  Trains because these represent the opportunity of a journey towards the next stations, a chance of a mapped out flight which may lack an ultimate destination.  Witches cause they represent magical realism, the small extraordinary happenings in very ordinary lives, the ephemeral joy of threading dangerously and the thought that it is better to be awake and exposed to risk than asleep and numb.  Yet these all live in contradiction with each other  in a world where as Heraclitus warned us you cannot step in the same river twice.  This may be why I changed my mind on stopping this blog upon the realization that the restoration of normality will not mean the end of this journey. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Farewell

As a post covid sense of  'normality' sets in, this blog randomly resurrected by an ephemeral spark of imagination a few weeks before the health crisis erupted will probably go in to  another long period of hibernation. For while the health crisis is not over and may return back with even greater vengeance, the dreamy sensation of awe and fear which characterized the  past weeks is drawing towards an end.  Writing here had become part of the daily rituals and cocoons which gave solace and even bliss during isolation but which now sadly only serve to amplify a sense of dissonance between the imagination and  the real.   It is now also the time to let go of imagination and let reality set in.  Life should after all be celebrated in the material world, warts and all.  This was a dark period but one which created a space for reflection as well as an appreciation for beauty and imagination.  For this reason some things shall be missed. But all that can be possibly albeit improbably lived in a more fulfilling way outside.  It was a time when letting go was an acceptable way of coping with an unforeseen event.   This gave some of us a sense of freedom in the face of risk.  As expected the return to normality will be long drawn and bitter  process, which can be unfortunately  measured by the increase in the number of cars in the streets. There will be no grand finale.  No great liberation party awaits us. But  some of the utopian yearnings,possibilities, silences and moments evoked in this space will hopefully materialize in the experience of a life which perhaps can now be seen in a different perspective.  And it all goes back to the start of this journey; the roots which anchor us to a happiness grounded in every day struggles, deep heartfelt smiles, silences, emotions and realities.  

P.S. The author had a change of heart and the blog will not go in to hibernation. He was suffering from Monday morning/afternoon blues. This also forms part of the journey. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Random incidents



Life can be perceived as a string of random incidents which collide at you.   So in the end the narrative of the self i.e. the way we define 'I' is simply the drawing of lines connecting these random dots.  The clearer the line, the clearer we can recognize ourselves in this pattern.  In a way we are turning meaningless random incident which just happen in to meaningful and sometimes defining moments leading to other significant moments.  But the way we draw our lines is not disconnected from the society in which we live.  For the words we use to make sense of these patterns are also socially determined.  In  many ways our understanding of our own selves is conditioned by our relationship to power.  For ideology is something which speaks through us.  We also build our idea of ourselves by attributing meaning to some of the random things which strike us while ignoring others which do not.  Therefore although there is an element of autonomy and choice, this is conditioned by the limits of our language.  Yet what we consider  meaningful and  what we ignore also has to do with beliefs and social expectations. In this way we lose a lot from what comes in our way. For when we draw a line between the dots we tend to skip a number of things which we deem irrelevant or which we more often than not fail to comprehend.
In many ways constructing a narrative of the 'self' is very much akin to decorating a house in in a random manner which accumulates over time in to something we can recognise as our own. You may be stuffing it with stuff from artisan markets from all around the world.  Most of these things you buy were clearly not meant to be in the same room as the others.  Yet you make them come together for the sheer purpose of making your place an extension of you.  That is our way of feeling rooted in a place by making it look more like ourselves.  Some people may even be lucky enough to share the same experience with others who share the same sensibilities.  In this way they can even establish a home together and give it a plural imprint rather than a singular one.  In the same way our own narrative of life can intersect with other narratives of others, and sometimes these intersections result in footnotes,  sentences, paragraphs, chapters and rarely whole books.  We may also find ourselves in footnotes, sentences, paragraphs, chapters and rarely whole books of other people.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Ftit u hafna bahar



Sabih il-bahar kalm jew ftit immewweg ghax go fih qisek dejjem thoss li minnu ghandek bizzejjed.  Kemm jekk ghal  ftit f xi qabza ta’ malajr kemm jekk hafna, f' xi nofs ta nhar tiela u niezel miflug bix-xemx imma bic-certezza li se ssibu hemm biex jiffriskak.  U l-bahar fil-bajjiet kommunist u ararkist.  Jghati lil kulhadd u ma jiehu xejn lil hadd. Jistiedenk imma tmur meta trid int.  Il-bahar ghandu riha, hoss u jmissek kullumkien, ruh u gisem.  Materjalist u spiritwali fl-istess hin.  Il-bahar ta’ kulhadd ghalinqas sakemm ma jbieghawhx ukoll.  U minkejja li ghandu r-ritmu tieghu f' dik  iz-zifna eternal tieghu mar-rih, fih issib is-silenzju.  Ghax fih facli ma tixtieqx iktar.  Go fih ftit jew hafna dejjem bizzejjed.    Ghalinqas sakemm qieghed hdejh jew go fih.  U anki jekk il-boghod taf li qieghed hemm dejjem u  kwazi kullumkien.       
 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Paradox



Shelter in words. It is either here or elsewhere.   Words are alive.  Words are a paradox. Light is a paradox. It  can be a particle.  But it can be a wave.  Light gives perspective. But it is ambiguous.  Perspective destroys dreams.  Light makes dreams.  Twinkle twinkle little star.  The Stary Night gives me the creeps.  Dreams take you elsewhere. I know where I want to be right now.  Blown away by a smile. One moment.  
But I can also be drinking raki in a remote village on the border.  Borders are bloody.  Crossings are dangerous.  Borders kill hope and people who push their dreams an inch too far. Some borders can be crossed.  Others should not be crossed.   Choice.  We can dare.  But we can submit. Submission is sometimes freedom.  Letting go.  But submission is a paradox.  One can submit to elsewhere or to here.  I choose elsewhere. But i change elsewhere in to here.      

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Food glorious Food



There can be no feast without an abundance of food, preferably accompanied by wine, raki, beer or herbal brews and teas. For since the invention of fire, food has become a collective experience which has to be shared. The way we have evolved has a lot to do with the way we started preparing and consuming our food. Our own bodies are the biological products of cooking. But food is not just material sustenance but a cultural depository of tastes accumulated through history, layer over layer. Food is also the finest example of international exchange; can you imagine Italian food without tomatoes or the Maghreb without harissa? Yet there where no chillies, chocolate, potatoes and tomatoes in the old world before the brutal conquest of the new world. These ingredients may well be the only positive legacy left from a genocidal conquest. Yet even the conquestadors could not resist being seduced by the spices and flavors concocted by the Mayas, the Aztecs and the Incas. Food is a cultural exchange. Ingredients from different cultures can blend in a way which enhances diversity. Nobody can resist the smell of a pot cooking, irrespective of cultural boundaries and religious divides. Through this exchange often encouraged by the seductive appeal of taste and smell, home grown foods evolve and change but still retain a distinct texture. Immigrants often bring with them new tempting smells but unlike Mc Donalds and coco cola, they tend to enrich what is already established. But the cultural exchange is only part of the story. The other fascinating story is that related to the act of cooking. For cooking is akin to witchcraft. The flavors and herbs we put in the pot can actually change the mood and humors of those who enjoy them, both in the act of preparation and in the act of consumption. And it all comes round through the magic of science: the sheer action of heat, air and earth on base ingredients which are elevated to new levels. The transformation and blending of ingredients is nothing short of an alchemy which often transforms the frugal in to the sublime. There is also magic in the chemistry taking place when food hits the taste buds. Smell also triggers our personal memories especially those related to childhood. But even the most delicious food would lack flavor and taste if consumed in a solitary environment. For it is the feast which turns food in to a sensual experience. It draws us closer to our loved ones. Sure over the past century food has fallen victim to mass production, factory farming, the fast food industry and big retail chains, which have undermined diversity and imposed a sterile uniformity. It has also fallen victim to vanity and the domestification of private life in the nuclear family and taken away from the neighborhood. It has broken apart by rigid seating and cutlery arrangements, which undermine the whole concept of feasting. Eating on cushions on the floor is more conducive to sharing and feasting than sitting on a high chair. A feast has to be messy, joyful and excessive. It has to include numerous plates and flavors. It is no wonder that feasting and food are so intertwined. So in a time of social distancing, it is imperative not to forget the joys of feasting, something which should fill us with revolutionary hope. For reclaiming the joys of sharing, slow cooking, celebrating locally grown ingredients and opening up to an exchange of diversity is an integral part of building a new world in the here and now. It is another reason why we should resist the return to normality. One benefits of the slow down is that we have more time to cook. Just imagine if we can do this in the absence of social distances. After corona; lets have more of these feasts.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Conjuring utopia in post covid times



Would it not be great if we do not return back to normal after COVID-19? Would it not be great if we slow down life to enjoy it to the full? Imagine the slow down without the social distancing rules. A world with less cars, less consumerism, less work and more time for ourselves. A world where we can hear birds chirping in the morning and where one can walk at a slower pace without engaging in a dumb rat race. A world where the state fulfills the obligation to insure us from risk and where poverty becomes history. A world where capitalism loses its ability to reproduce itself. Would that not be utopia?
So what would I keep from corona times? On an emotional level its been a pleasant knock out, a puzzle which i am in no rush to entangle, with corona serving as as a delaying tactic. Surely isolation has confined me to a mental and less physical state. Giving flesh to the dreams conjured in the past weeks will be the task ahead. The metaphorical (or real) train will have to depart from this station.
On a work level it simply confirmed that you tend to work more if you work less time. It should be the next great social demand; a reduction of the working time. We need to reclaim time. Our life is too short.
On a political level am less angry, somewhat more lucid and more interested in the aesthetics of rebellion than in letting off steam. In a time dominated by Thanatos (the death instinct), eros (the life instinct) is always bound to rebel. My whole experience has been that of letting go more, not think too much and stop defining things. But old rational me has not gone on holiday. It has given its tacit approval but still watches and observes with interest, and healthy skepticism. It will remain my essential guide, especially in the brave new world after this ends. Otherwise I would lose myself.
But the question remains; is life to be found here or elsewhere? Is the train just a metaphor or is it an indispensable physical bridge to a new life. Is the new life to found in a series of stops in a journey from station to station? And can here and elsewhere meet and merge? Should one travel far away to discover or is that elsewhere found in communities of nomads struggling for change in the here and now? Still that is where aesthetics of rebellion come in to play. For how can eros prevail without rebelling against Thanatos? Isn't elsewhere found in that moment of refusal? The reality is that we live in a state of uncertainty and there is no escape from that, except the certainty of rebellion and saying no.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Why I love Malta but not its flag



The display of Maltese flags on homes, particularly in the poorer and less affluent neighborhoods, during Covid 19 times leaves me cold. Not just because this display of patriotism was contaminated by xenophobia and anti immigrant sentiment stemming from Robert Abela's attempt to project himself as a strongman during a medical emergency, but also because it reminds of the emptiness of this signifier.
Sure enough I feel human more than Maltese or European, but I love Malta, its landscapes, the way the sun illuminates the contours of its rocks, the noise and clutter of its people, the beauty of the Maltese language, the townscapes and the mixture of Mediterranean and other influences. My love for Malta has little to do with it being a nation state, something which was mostly a historical coincidence and far from some manifest destiny. But am proud of some aspects of our history. For example I am proud of our heroic role in resisting fascism in the second world war. I am also proud of the national awakening after the second world war, which saw women and workers winning the right to vote and the election of a Labour government. I am also proud of our robust national health service whose effectiveness spared Malta from the worst ravages of Covid experienced by richer countries. I am also proud of my country's late transformation from a laggard in LGBTIQ issues to a global trailblazer.
So I do not belong to that segment of the population which denigrates Malta, its language and its working classes.
For identity is Malta is intimately connected to class and segregation in education. The segregation of Maltese elites in private schools curtails the evolution of vibrant national culture. Even the media landscape is one where Maltese newspapers are mostly partisan, while the independent media is associated with English.
But surely I can't be proud of many other aspects of manufactured Maltese identity. Sure I can't stand Maltese exceptionalism, so evident in the rhetoric of the anti abortion brigade, who celebrate Malta's uniqueness where motherhood is not a choice but an imposition. I can't stand the eight pointed cross cherished by the far right as a substitute for the swastika. Neither do I stand the way nationalism has replaced class consciousness especially among Labour party supporters. In this new dominant ideology workers are not expected to struggle for their rights but are expected to fulfill their duties to state and party, both of which subservient to capitalism.
Neither am impressed by those who identify themselves as Europeans in order to deny their Maltese roots. In many cases their attitudes are reminiscent of the Maltese elite's identification first with Italianita than with British imperialism, in a bid to be treated as equals by colonial masters. And while I am a firm believer in European integration, the idea of a fortress Europe worries me as much as right wing nationalism.
In many ways the idea of Maltese identity frustrates me because it lacks the confidence and vitality to evolve, absorb and change. I love the rhythm of Maltese ghana but it lacks political and social relevance and failed to blend with other genres like hip hop, punk or reggae. Even our flea markets are lacking in character. We even managed to turn a food market in to a food court serviced by a few local chains. I love the language but there is a general reluctance to coin new words and popularise their use. We are even reluctant to name our children in Maltese. Our TV no longer features high quality drama as was the case in the 1970s and 1980s. Our lack of confidence in our culture probably is one factor contributing to our fear of the others. We are not sufficiently rooted in our culture to believe in our ability to absorb from others while also transmitting aspects of our culture to them.
So while rejecting nationalism as an ideology, I do see a great need for a celebration of Maltese and Mediterranean identities. My starting point is not the nation state but the regional influences which shaped our cultures for the past hundreds of years. Unlike nationalism regionalism can be progressive and inclusive. It offers food, music, beauty, poetry and feasts to all those willing to engage and participate. Rather than erecting fences, regionalism seeks to seduce by appealing to the senses. Unfortunately the drab Maltese flag hanging from balconies lacks sensuality. It is just a symbol representing the state and not the history and lives of its peoples. Ironically the only positive reinforcement in our flag is evoked by the George Cross, granted by the British King to acknowledge our bravery in fighting Nazi Fascism. But still we do not have our own equivalent of Bella Ciao to celebrate that heroic and popular struggle.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

The cat out of the box




One of the most fascinating experiments in science is that involving the Schrödinger's cat.
The experiment requires a cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source all placed in a sealed box. If a Geiger counter detects radioactivity caused by the decay of one single atom, the flask is shattered, releasing the poison, which kills the cat.
Although while in the box the cat can be simultaneously alive and dead when one looks in the box, one sees the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead. This poses the question of when exactly quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other.
One interesting theory, is that both the alive and dead states of the cat persist after the box is opened, but are split from each other. When the box is opened, the observer and the possibly-dead cat split into an observer looking at a box with a dead cat, and an observer looking at a box with a live cat.
The experiment is a reminder of how uncertainty underlies not just our existence but that of the whole universe.
The excitement of living derives from making choices and weighing risks in the face of uncertainties. That is why any static utopia becomes dystopian the very moment when people are deprived of the freedom to make mistakes.
But that is only one side of the coin. Uncertainty creates anxiety which can be debilitating. COVID 19 is just an example of the collective risks we face as a species, foremost of which is global warming. Added to this is an economic system which renders the lives of entire populations and communities superfluous. Choice entails a sense of being in control of events. But neo liberalism tends to put us at the mercy of forces which are outside our control.
Managing uncertainty is probably one of the secrets to a happy life. It should also be the goal of social policy and health promotion.
Freedom is all about being in a position to choose. But there is no real choice if the option is between survival and destitution. That is why a universal basic income is a pre-condition for freedom. Moreover to equip us all to deal with uncertainty a national mental health policy is imperative. Why should not mental therapy be part of the national health scheme? Freedom is also restricted by ownership of time. If we do not own most of our time, how can we even exercise our freedom? And how much time would we have left to weigh choices and take responsible decisions?
Awareness of the consequences of our actions and their butterfly effect, is also key to increasing the sum of happiness in the world. Freedom comes with responsibilities. And freedom becomes cruelty when exercised without empathy. The world is not our playground. In this sense freedom without equality simply results in the oppression of the many by the few (or in some cases the few by the many).
For even the most inconsequential action can unleash a chain of unpredictable events not just on fellow humans but also the planet in which we live. Still it is thanks to these chains of unpredictable events that we probably owe our own existence in this particular spot in time and space. It is also thanks to decisions taken on the spur of a moment that we owe some of the happiest moments in our lives. Yet we should never forget that we are also like the cat in the box and that there is always another side of the coin, perhaps even different versions of our selves experiencing different trajectories unleashed by choices sometimes made by us or made for us by others. In this way the universe is playful and has its own sense of humor, bestowing fortune randomly. Yet that is no excuse for not taking care of ourselves and others, to ensure a safety net for all.

Monday, April 27, 2020

When silence is golden



Silence is not just the absence of noise. In fact we often associate it with the multitude of voices found in nature. Covid 19 may have made these voices more audible (ex birds chirping) than usual while silencing more fastidious ones (ex traffic noise and the hum).
It can be found even in the clutter of the life around us. Silence is material not spiritual. Neither is it necessarily a solitary experience. One does not have to be a hermit to experience it. Silence can even be shared. But each person's experience of silence is different.
Silence becomes a form of communication. It happens when savoring a moment together. Silence changes our perspective of time . In silence time becomes a moment. Silence is a capsule.
Silence has to be found to be listened to. But that requires detachment from daily life. But that does not make daily life an illusion. Without it silence cannot even exist. In fact the quality of our silence depends on the quality of our life. The happier we are, the more we can appreciate silence. So wrong to expect people with mental health issues to appreciate silence.
Silence does not have anything to say to anyone. It does not exist except as an experience of living bodies surrounded by other material beings and objects.
Silence does not necessarily make us wiser. One can still make take bad decisions while silent. Silence can be delusional. Silence may help us transcend the meaning of words to feel connections which we fail to see when we are too busy or attached. It may also make us see connections which do not exist. Silence can make us lucid and receptive. But it is no substitute for rational judgement.
Silence can hurt. It can numb us. Cause silence cannot give us anything except that sense of comfort of being enveloped in an invisible chrysalis. Silence can make us anxious, itchy and fidgety.
Silence can be golden in that moment when we sigh in satisfaction. The moment after sex. The moment after writing an article or a story. That moment after an exhilarating conversation. The moment after hearing something uplifting. The moment after a first date on the way back home. The moment after a long walk. Even a pause in pause between things. Silence is always an in between. The moment after savoring beauty while closing your eyes to prolong the sensation. Silence is ephemeral. If prolonged it loses its magic. It cannot last long. It cannot be conjured out of thin air. It has to happen. It has to be found again and again. It can be lost. Silence is evasive.

Friday, April 24, 2020

The novel

This is not a political blog. Neither a philosophical one. It is an experiment in (semi) fiction.
Because tonight am feeling enclosed in the warmth of an invisible air chrysalis woven by smiling pixies inhaling pot (not be little people as in 1Q84). So back to the experiment. First things which come to mind sort of stuff. Stream of consciousness? That may be a dangerous slippery territory to visit.
But recently i had been thinking of writing a novel or a short story. That will make an ideal starting point for this exercise.
Who shall live in the story? What shall i call them? How far will they resemble the characters of this novel (the one in which we are living right now), which is behaving more like fiction than reality. For we do live in an extra ordinary time.
Actually this may be the short story i should be writing or is it writing me? Good question. But for a start i have to detach and become an author.
Is life already writing the author's novel? Well some of the ingredients are there; I mean a pandemic makes a good plot, one in which the characters have to react to it in the most unlikely ways. But a lock-down? It makes the whole thing confined and enclosed. No open horizons. But not as comforting as the chrysalis, somewhat colder. But we could get some pixies or witches in the story who can open horizons and travel across time and space.
And should he even feature in this novel? Any way he is a sort of average quasi middle aged journalist with a past militancy in left wing groups-of which he remains nostalgic, living a not so remarkable life, reading one or two novels a month, takes three family holidays a year, drinks heavily with friends once a week and spends quite a lot of time watching netflix and listening to spotify. He first saw the pandemic as a disruption. Now he views it as an opportunity for some internal voyage of self discovery and to drink more wine. He is enjoying the suspension of time and for some reason seems happier than usual (not that he was sad). He sometimes fears the return to normality but is yearning for an after covid party. He may actually make an interesting character.
But he should be busy doing other things like actually writing this novel. In fact he should not be in the story at all. He can't be in it and outside of it at the same time.
So let us leave him out of this for now. He may well burden the whole thing by his over bearing presence and he may get too absorbed in some of the characters. That may complicate the plot. So what will be the novel about? Should it be political? Perhaps. Power does not hibernate during a pandemic. And there are always people busy thriving on fears. But there cannot be a revolution during a pandemic. Even protests are restricted to the internet.
Should it be about love? Neither it is the ideal time for falling in love. This would also complicate life for the author, especially in a total lock-down where characters are home bound (he may delve on the impact of social media but that risks turning in to a sociological inquiry). Neither can the lockdown be partial in the novel. Otherwise if every one starts going out for walks and parties, the novel would lose punch.
Should it be about sex? Well according to some reports many are having more sex now than ever but in the novel that will depend on the characters, and he still has to create them. And where is he to pick them up from? Probably he could invent and mix. Mixing people like colors or the images in dream. It often happens in dreams that one face turns in to another. That can be freaky but the association between faces can be very revealing. He has experienced this a couple of times lately. But nothing beats the life of real people. For the novel is happening in the world around us. All it needs is a twist of magical realism; extraordinary things in ordinary lives. Or is that already happening?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Sisyphus in the multiverse




One of the most fascinating scientific theories is that there exists an infinity of universes in which our lives are played out in an infinity of different ways. So there is an infinity of us doing the same things but slightly or significantly differently. Or perhaps not even doing the same things. This begs the question can you slip from one universe to another?
Can it happen willfully or does it happen randomly? Probably it simply can't happen as parallel lines can never meet. That is one thought which often took me somewhere else during maths lessons in secondary school.
What if one were to follow two parallel lines for eternity? Would some twist or incident change their inevitable destiny of not meeting? But just imagine the frustration of spending eternity waiting for the impossible to happen. It is a sensation which I sometimes encounter in my dreams. For although more often than not I tend to forget my dreams, apart from a few recollection of faces, that overwhelming sensation of hope being dashed by the realm of possibility is familiar. Yet it does come with recollections of defiance. Sure enough choosing between defiance and submission to fate, is one of the greatest dilemmas. For both are essential ingredients of our humanity.
That may be why the myth of Sisyphus has always struck me as the one best representing the human condition. Sisyphus submitted to his fate by rolling the boulder up the mountain for an infinity of times. But he remained defiant by never losing hope that one day he would manage to reach the mountain peak and complete the task which would set him free. In this way he fulfilled the will of the Gods but still defied them by remaining hopeful. And is there not a greater chance if the number of universes is infinite that in at least one universe Sisyphus has triumphed?
Moreover although one may safely conclude that there is no means to slip from this reality to another,there are significant moments when it really does feel as if our reality is being pulled by an invisible force which can thwart but also create possibilities and sometimes doing both with a twist of cosmic irony. But probably this sounds more like some metaphysical justification for entirely personal choices. In the end the randomness of it all, simply confirms my hunch that it is all about coincidence. Life is chaotic. Nothing happens for a reason. Our only freedom is to defy, rebel and create even if we can at any time be blown away by forces which we cannot control. We are after all insignificant beings living in a small fraction of the known universe, possibly one of an infinity of universes. Yet the desire to take control and bring some order to chaos is also a part of our humanity. That is why we still have a duty to resist injustice and create beauty despite the futility of it all.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The words which make us



Naturally enough we strive to define the world around us through words which have fixed meanings. But our lives and the world we live in are in constant flux. Even in these times when we are secluded in our homes, we are more than ever marching towards uncharted waters. In some ways this gives us the luxury to contemplate change, possibly a dramatic collapse of aspects of the neo-liberal order, but we are inevitably faced by the limits of our vocabulary. So there is an inevitable conflict between the stationary state of the dictionary and change both in personal and historical narratives. We have a limited number of words for such a wide variety of hues and experiences. Not surprisingly the Inuit are said to have 50 different words for snow. Perhaps the more we live in a confined space, we also start observing hues of which we were largely not aware. Even while walking everyday in my hometown i started noting small architectural details which had escaped my field of vision. Also in the stationary state we are confined we are likely to reflect more in the different hues in our relationships with each other. For example the word friendship-something so valuable in corona times, comes in so many different hues and intensities, the kind where you can talk about the meaning of existence until the sun came up, the kind where you laugh yourself to bits and the kind which anchor you to different aspects of reality.

The same applies to domestic life where fixed definitions disguise so many different ways of living this experience. What is awkward in these times is that in a moment of enforced segregation, we have also more likely to virtually bring in work and friends in to the domestic sphere, in what is reminiscent of older times when work was also carried in the home and when the home was part of the neighbourhood. So is the return of the balcony as a sphere of interaction, a space from where the outside world can be seen and from where we seek to establish a connection.

Yet more often than not we have only one word for very complex human interactions. Moreover the meaning of words is socially determined, often reflecting not just what is generally expected by society but also deeply ingrained power relations. Some cultures do not have a word for property. Others like the Na in China do not have words for fathers or husbands because these roles do not even exist. But while the economic and social infrastructure is reflected in language, in other ways we are ruled by and through words. Therefore at best language provides us with a map to navigate one particular aspect of a multi layered reality. Somethings are in fact best experienced through silence. But it also shapes the way we perceive that reality. Words can sometimes help us articulate thoughts and emotions but they can also act as a prison. Probably we are living in a productive time when new words will be created. This may be the best indication that the times are changing.

Coining new words to reflect the many different hues in this sense becomes a revolutionary task. In this there is a lot to learn from the LGBTQI movement which has managed to re-define human sexuality by giving the plurality of identities and experiences a name. It is something which the new left and counter culture of the 1960s started by questioning not just capitalism and patriarchy but also their ramification in every day life and choices. Some are suspicious of so-called identity politics, fearing an erosion of collective struggles as if these universal causes depend on rendering the "others" who live in our midst invisible. Even worse is the assertion that giving recognition and standing up for the others by they immigrants or other minorities, weakens the movement. In fact this is one case where 'silence' becomes an accomplice of oppression. Unforunately in times of contagion, there is also a risk of increased invisibility for those whose existence remains a token, something we can only afford to be concerned with when the good times return.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Il-kliem iftitx kumpanija hazina...u joqtol



B' tifkira tal- qtil barbaru ta' Lassane Cisse sena ilu.

Il-kliem ma jmutx u kapaci joqtol. Il-kliem li nghidu ghandu habta jibqa jidwi u jhuf. Wara li nlissnuh jevapora u jingemgha fis-shab. Il-kliem ta' mibgheda ghandu habta jsib kumpanija hazina. U kull kelma hazina iggib ohra aghar minnha...u bil-qatra l-qatra tintelgha l-garra. L-imbarazz li nitfghu fuq facebook, il-kliem krudili li nghidu lil uliedna, ir-rabja kerha li bija nisfugaw il-frustrazzjoni taghna kontra dawk iktar dghajfa minnha flok kontra il-hallelin bil-glekk...dawn il-kliem ghandhom vizzju ikrah jiltaqghu, jghammru u jwelldu il-mostri. Mostri koroh dawgha bla kompassjoni u umanita. Mostri boloh li tul l-istorja inqdew bihom dittaturi kiefra li juzaw il-biza bhala arma biex joholqu iktar biza. Mostri kiefra li jsibu triq miftuha berah minnhabba l- indifferenza kollettiva ghas-sofferenza ta' haddiehor. Mostri li jniggsu l-qlub ta'dawk li joqtlu. Il-mostri li hakmu r-ruh ta' dawk li qatlu lil Lassane Cisse Souleymane qiesu xejn m'hu xejn, f' ezercizzju ta' sports, speci ta' stagun miftuh tal-kacca fuq l-immigrant miexi fid-dlam. Mostri taghna lkoll, li tmajna b'kull kelma razzista, xenofoba u giddieba li ghedna hafna drabi bl-addocc u bla hsieb biex forsi nimpressjonaw, ghax facli tidher b'sahhtek quddiem min hu iktar dghajef.

Izda meta nlissnuh anki l-kliem gentili ma jisparixxix. Il-kliem ta' rabja kontra l-ingustizzja, l-inugwaljanzi u l-poter li ma jaghmilx gustizza. Il-kliem li nuzaw biex niggieldu lill- mostri. Il-kliem li jghatu farag u tama flok joholqu biza u ansjeta. Il-kliem li bihom nuru solidarjeta ma kull min hu qieghed isoffri. Dak il-kliem iftix il-kumpanija tajba, jithabbeb u jwelled dinja sabiha. U m' hemmx xejn isbah mil-anti faxxizmu, il-glieda kontra l-mostri u dawk li juzawhom biex jibnu dinja kerha, ostili u bla qalb.



Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Hibernating, sprinting or walking



When one approaches or surpasses a certain age, the sensation that the world is moving faster and sometimes away from you, can become over bearing. So does the temptation to start running in a rush to catch up or make up for lost opportunities. But there is also the temptation to hibernate and vegetate. This sensation is amplified in the strange times we are living in, characterized by economic insecurities and fear of the unknown. The fact that the world itself is hibernating may encourage you to withdrew even further in obscurity. But one may also be tempted to defy time in a bid to suck at the nectar of life. But there is an alternative to all this. Retain composure, seek authenticity and keep walking at your own steady pace, which respects time but defies entropy, which seeks beauty without ravaging it. A sense of mellowing melancholy which accepts limits and perhaps a pride in legacy, of seeing things you have created take a life of their own...a pace of life which in the words of Bob Dylan "knows there's no success like failure. And that failure's no success at all." For ultimately the human condition is what it is and we are likely to sway from hibernation to sprinting, finding composure while recovering from the latest fall. That is one reason I find walking so liberating. For while walking one can observe, meditate and wander aimlessly without being attached to one place for too long but always free to walk back to the preferred destination.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

chocolate moments



In times like these, our concepts of 'time' and 'space' are bound to change. It increasingly feels that space has imploded while time has slowed down but passes with a greater intensity especially in moments of anxiety but also in moments of awe. The confined space and the slower pace of time, are also bound to intensify all kinds of emotions we feel.

In some ways the submission to forces over which we have little control, can be liberating as we are less bound by the rules governing life in a capitalist economy. Sure enough many who have lost their jobs or are at risk of losing them, can't even savor this freedom. This is why in times like these the socialization of risks for all and not just the few, becomes imperative. Still in some ways we are now excused from partaking in the rat race and for giving more importance to more basic things. Still there is also the negative aspect of living in a state of suspended animation, where we are even denied of experiencing the contrasts between daily routine and our private spaces, because these have been forcibly intertwined. For example working from home may have advantages like having more control over the pace of work but it also results in the annexation of the domestic realm to the work world. Sure it feels a bit like a return to pre-modern times when certain jobs were subcontracted to households. The problem here is that the change for some of us has happened suddenly and abruptly. I even find it difficult to read a book: because I mostly enjoy carrying out a book with me in my bag, to read it in the those precious intervals interspersed in different moments along the day. Now that life has itself become one long interval, I am less interested in reading. Writing also becomes an act of chronicling this particular moment in time perhaps in attempt to tame it.

What's sure is that this is a time for seeking solace in beauty and savoring sweet good things like chocolate. It is only natural in times like this to look for those things and interactions which soothe us. That may even explain the popularity of Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci whose soothing voice not only gives us collective reassurance but whose daily bulletins have established a new collective routine and demarcation of time.

But the most rewarding experience is the joy of simple acts like watching the rain from the window sill while eating nutella and daydreaming. So let's enjoy these small 'deep' moments before the monsters are unleashed on us again. For life after corona may well end up a race to catch up to where we have left. Sure enough there is a lot to catch up in the realm of human relations interrupted by COVID-19. The problem is that capitalism may well press on the accelerator to get us back on track to yet another disaster. Alternatively we may dare demand a prolonged time out, to be enjoyed outside the confined spaces imposed on us by the virus.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Disconnecting after COVID-19



When all this ends, after weeks of isolation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the disconnection felt between the online and the offline worlds will probably become one of the major psychological problems people are faced with. Probably this period will go in history as the one during which people spent the longest portion of their life living online. Returning back to the offline world will not be easy for many.

In times of imposed isolation the internet and social media have become the last refuge of social life. This helps in making life bearable by keeping us in contact with friends, loved ones and family. It can also be an outlet for creative expression and the continuation of cultural life and for many a time a time during which they also cultivated friendships and more meaningful relationships.

Online art exhibitions, poetry recitals and jamming sessions and concerts are also filling a big void and people are also showing their best in inventing virtual spaces to live through this crisis in good company. The creativity going in this is amazing.

But with the prospect of isolation persisting for weeks if not months it becomes crucial to recognize the risks of the online world characterized by the ease of connections and disconnections and the dissonance between an online world where you congregate with like minded people of your choice and a much more complex real world.

The social media is also the home of echo chambers where people can convince themselves and those around them that the earth is flat. As sociologist Zygmunt Baumann warned the social media can be a trap, a place where "unlike the offline world, you can avoid everything which creates your anxiety in the offline world" where "you can just bypass it" and a place where human bonds are frail, interchangeable and disposable and based on the premise that the virtual is not necessarily real. The ambiguity of this distinction may well return to haunt us when things get back to 'normal' irrespective of our definition of what normality is.

All this underlies the importance of understanding the way the social media has changed us anthropologically. For we increasingly live in a risk prone world where random change can alter our lives from one day to the next. In some ways the social media satisfies a yearning for stability and tranquility by creating a space we think we can control. But at the same the ease of disconnection also threatens this illusion. Building meaningful human relations in this chaos where everything is open to chance is important. Ultimately the focus of critical thought should be to address the question of happiness; how to create a new art of caring for the self which makes us strong, happy and considerate towards others in a risky environment. The social media can be one of several tools helping us to achieve this aim. So lets use the time in isolation to nourish our souls by finding more time to discover ourselves through introspection, meditation and creativity. Sharing our creative reflections and accomplishments on the social media could also be a joyful experience and a solace for others. In many ways the social media contributes to the creation of the commons. But let us never forget that the world is greater than our iphones and PCs.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Imagination in the times of corona



In times of collective anxiety, we still have the freedom to imagine. I would even add that the grim atmosphere around us may well free our imagination from the restraints of routine, perhaps at the risk of becoming delusional but possibly more whimsical. Let's not forget that the most evocative images of gluttony: of rivers of wine, fences of sausages, roofs of bacon and plump geese rotating by themselves to roast in the streets, were invoked in times of hunger when feeling satiated was an uncommon luxury. Restrained conviviality may well offer us the opportunity to imagine utopia, a new imaginary of living together.

For in the realm of the imaginary everything is possible and plausible. This is the best antidote to anxiety about things we cannot control in the unpredictable world around us. In the realm of imagination even the grim and the macabre and the bizarre may take enchanting and playful forms.

Unfortunately in a time of fear it is natural for many of us to obsess about something which escapes our control. It is the kind of loss of control which renders us powerless in the face of an unpredictable phenomenon which we are still struggling to understand.

Added to this is real concern about the future, especially among those who have lost their jobs, those who were treated like disposable objects after being used in the times of plenty and who are now faced with paying exorbitant rents or being kicked out of the country.

We should also pause and think of how the sick and elderly feel when some of us casually repeat the offensive mantra that "only the vulnerable" will die. These people have every reason to worry. For the irresponsibility of others can kill them.

But even for the sake of the surplus populations living in our midst, imagining a world where everyone has the same protection against the vagaries of 'disaster capitalism', is a duty. We need to imagine a society where collective risk is socialised, rather than one which insures those who have made enough profits to live for another day.

But there is also a personal dimension to life in the time of corona.

For being isolated in our homes is an opportunity to transform and appreciate our small islands in all their complexities, while doing small acts of kindness. Unfortunately some will also be locked up with their oppressors and abusers, a stark reminder on the need of support structures in our communities, especially in testing times.

Isolation also gives us the chance to measure the distance between our own imaginary and the real, possibly encouraging us to make a resolution to reduce that distance. It is also an opportunity for longing for elsewhere, a process which in itself can be futile but rewarding at the same time, at least if it triggers our imagination or helps us becoming better people.

Fear also offers the opportunity for embracing the dark side which we tend to relegate or exorcise instead of conjuring it for play, homor and enchantment. Edgar Allan Poe's stories for children come to mind.

In the meantime hope needs to be nourished with imagination and books. For after the plague it will be the time to feast; hopefully not a feast of consumerism but one of renewed conviviality.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Celebrating society in testing times

The coronavirus is testing our social bonds. While panic is unjustified and there are far more serious threats to humanity, we also have a duty to avoid the spread of this virus for two major reasons namely protecting the most vulnerable and preventing an overload on our health system which would further endanger the most vulnerable.

Taking precautions and temporarily limiting our precious conviviality is an act of solidarity towards the most vulnerable especially our elderly. There is no reason to panic. The risk of dying is very low but the risk of killing someone through carelessness exists and must be avoided at all costs.

We should also rediscover some sense of humility and follow the advice of experts and medical authorities. Decisions on whether to close schools or not should be left in the hands of experts.

It is a time to celebrate our sociability by acting like a society of caring individuals.

What i found detestable in recent times was the attitude of some in the business sector who expect risks to be socialised in a way that their profit making is not effected by the virus. While they had no qualms in raking profits in the times of plenty they are always the first to expect the state and workers to foot their bill when the country is faced by a crisis.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

unstable possibilities

“Menshiki nodded. “It is. Instead of a stable truth, I choose unstable possibilities. I choose to surrender myself to that instability. Do you think that’s unnatural?”

Haruki Murakami; Killing Commendatore

Well it is very hard to give a definitive answer to that question. Like when lighting a cigarette; the best moment is when you take a drag while still craving the nicotine. The moment the crave is gone, smoking becomes pointless and joyless. But there is an ephemeral and fleeting moment where the crave and the act of smoking intersect. So the best thing to do is to prolong and savor the first drag after a long crave. That is what makes the first cigarette of the morning special. Even on a historical level, the initial days of revolutions are the best part; it is during these days that new possibilities open before normality (and betrayal) sets in. This makes the proposition of permanent revolution so enticing even if impractical and often a recipe for permanent terror. But in contrast there is the enduring image of static utopias, a sort of eternal present, which reminds me of the pictures of people in gardens as depicted on some pamphlet distributed by the Jehovah witnesses, not to mention the mushroom village of the smurfs. So damn reassuring but distant. But still all this could well be within reach in our small imperfect islands. For when one sees beauty in imperfections, on can also find enduring happiness. Than there is fear of being thrown off course. It is a fear evoked in the hellish visions found in the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, a sensation of hopelessness which offers no possibility of redemption but which still regales us with a bestiary of torment. And yes torment can become a way of prolonging an instability which is no longer pregnant with possibility. This recalls the feeling of when you wake up from a dream which you can't remember but which you know left you stranded, away from the island of the day before, which you can never reach despite all the efforts made. Than there is the joy of hibernation. The possibilities remain shelved and acknowledged, but you can keep afloat in blissful detachment. It is like keeping possibilities frozen in a time capsule. Yet spring always lurks at a corner and with global warming, spring sometimes does come prematurely.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

On submission

“Some people make the mistake of confusing "submission" with "weakness", whereas it is anything but. Submission is a form of peaceful acceptance of the terms of the universe including the things we are currently unable to change or comprehend.”

― Elif Shafak, The Forty Rules of Love

For some time I have been fascinated by the concept of submission as interpreted in mystical strains of Islam. In western culture we are used to think in terms of progress, constant self improvements and utilitarian choices. Sure we have a duty to change the world around us, fight injustices and avoid harm to all those around us. But there is also an existential dimension in a chaotic world, where things happen by coincidence. Many including myself spend too much time getting entangled in thoughts simply to better understand things from a detached point of view. Sure that can be a very healthy exercise. The more one understands the world, the greater the ability to change it for the better. But this also has to co-exist with an acceptance of unpredictability, futility and silence. Many associate the idea of submission with fate. But fate itself is misunderstood as a preordained future rather than as blurring of distinctions between past and future in to an eternal present. Ultimately life happens for no reason at all but that makes it even more worth living. And realizing that is ultimately the greatest act of submission.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Il-mutur tal-ekonomija

Ihhaffer, jordom u jfarrak.
Igawdi l-aqwa zmien
Dan zmien il-hsad qalulu
U hadem kemm felah biex tikber l-ekonomija
Kull bitha, gnien u gallinar li fadal bena
It-toroq tieghu, ihuf fil-madwar qisu il-boss
Idejjaq lix-xjuh b’xi offerta specjali biex darhom jiehu
U jekk isib xi qanzha, jaf li jaf lin-nies ta stoffa ikbar
Biex jibqa ghaddej bhal gaffa
Ghax qalulu li hu l-mutur tal-ekonomija
Minghajru jkun hemm l-ghaks u l-faqar
Ghalhekk irrabja hafna meta sema b’ dak il-cowboy li radam omm taht dara
Mal-hazin se jehel it-tajjeb
Dan zmien l-ghaqda u r-riflessjoni
L-ebda cuc tal-Graffitti m’hu se jnawwar lill- kotra kontrina
Ghax ahna tal-affari taghna, ahna l-mutur tal-ekonomija

Community centred politics

Every now and then, we hear about the need of a new political party to provide a much needed opposition from the left. I have myself often entertained this thought.
Still there is a living legacy which is often overlooked; that of community based struggles in which people from movements like Graffitti have inserted themselves to support, sustain and sometimes lead such struggles without imposing themselves as a vanguard. To succeed any such strategy depends on how local communities perceive activists. Building trust in such circumstances is far from an easy task and also depends on personal charisma.
One reason why people trust these activists is that unlike politicians these are not after their vote. Neither are they perceived as a threat to their entrenched political and cultural identities. Not being tied to any of the dominant political parties is also an asset.
Sure one may ask whether this goes far enough in addressing the structural roots of social and environmental problems. But probably such a strategy is far more rewarding than celebrating a 2% score in an election.
In environmental struggles these community based alliances have yielded big results.
Moreover such movements are also communities in their own right, offering sense of belonging and a common safe space for activists. They also provide an important cultural space where people can also have fun and experience togetherness. One should never underestimate this aspect of tranformative politics. It is vital in nurturing an ecosystem where plural identities can thrive.
Rather than re-proposing the small party paradigm by summing up the pieces, we should be thinking more about building on these experiences. We may be thinking too much in terms of a tried and tested paradigm, which has largely failed in the context of the two party system. Sure such a perspective does not exclude a more direct political commitment, on a similar model to that which pushed socialist candidates like Ocasio Cortez in the US congress.
So my humble suggestion is to think more on building communities than parties, communities which can grow beside, within and against political parties and relying on creativity, revolutionary passion, commitment and joyful expression.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Glimpses from the train


“Like you're riding a train at night across some vast plain, and you
catch a glimpse of a tiny light in a window of a farmhouse. In an
instant it's sucked back into the darkness behind and vanishes. But
if you close your eyes, that point of light stays with you, just
barely for a few moments.”


― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

Reality is what it is but its full of glimpses. The train still keeps moving ahead to its intended destinations (which is ultimately non existence) but there is a duty towards life to collect as many sparkles which on their own can take you on so many other voyages on so many other planes. Moreover the train itself may be the problem; its speed can also be slowed. That is where the personal and the political merge. More time.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Reclaiming time

As someone interested in history, i am obsessed with the nexus between time, space and culture, as it is within these three dimensions that our lives actually take place. There was a time when fruit was seasonal, time passed according to the rhythms of church bells and even the night was pitch black and often lived as a distinct time zone, often haunted by its own spirits. Moreover people had much shorter lives which could easily fit in to a more rigid pattern. But the increase in life expectancy raises new questions on ageing which often becomes a process people seek to defy. Even ecological threats are often reduced to a 'doomsday clock', which may be reminiscent of millenarian movements in the middle ages but is based on an entirely different understanding of time, something unstoppable but which can be defied, not something divinely set according the rhythm of an enchanted world. We live in an epoch when time, no longer seasonal or dictated by the sacred, is unstoppable. Life becomes a race against time which constantly keeps running out. Space becomes the container for the aspiration to amass as much experiences (often reduced to consumable ones) as possible. Space is also shaped and carved in a way to ensure maximum accumulation for those who live within it, often to the detriment of others who are associated with risk, danger and a threat to our individualized time-line. That is why people are obsessed with borders to ward off disease and instability, while at the same time seeking global experiences which render the world in to a playground for tourist hordes. Still reclaiming time may well be one of the next greatest transformations. Giving everyone a basic income would enable the masses to set up their own pace of time. So would reducing the working week. People would have more time to spend with family and friends. But I suspect that any transformation depends also on redefining time, for other wise even free time will recolonised by capitalist accumulation. It also depends on redefining space, for the risk would be that change will only take place in privileged enclaves to the detriment of the excluded others.