Thursday, July 2, 2020


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.

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