Interview with a Revolutionary
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I became obsessed with sodomizing Sheikh Arif round about the time his posters started crawling all over the streets. Today is July 20, 2012, right? A little over a year and a half after we toppled our president-for-life, Hosny Mubarak. Sheikh Arif’s posters began to show up only three, maybe four months ago—when he announced he was running in the elections held by the Army to replace said president. They seemed to self-procreate. And the more I saw of them, the more intense was the impetus to make the bovine symbol of virility they depicted a creature penetrated. Penetrated personally by me, of course, and I made a pledge to the universe that it would be.
Sleep-deprivation is like being high. I know because I was high for a long time, then I started sleeping irregularly. It’s supposed to have something to do with lack of sugar in the brain, which is also the theory of what LSD does to consciousness. Things grow fluid and dreamlike, but at the same time there is a paranoid awareness of motion and a heaviness in the heart. Color and sound become a lot sharper, and time feels totally irrelevant. Normal speed is fast but fast can pass for normal. A moment lasts for days, days can fit in a moment. Talking and laughing are far more involving, especially laughing. The grotesque animal implicit in each person comes out, sometimes messing up the conversation. And then it’s as if you have no body. As in the best music, an uncanny lightness balances the overriding melancholy. There is joy in flying when you don’t need to move. All through this, what’s more, every passing emotion turns into an epic experience.
ليس أخطر ما أنتجته ثورة يوليو (أو انقلاب يوليو) هو ما يسمى بـ”حكم العسكر”، بل في كونها مثلت أو تسببت بوضوح في إحداث شرخ واسع في الضمير المصري. لأنها أولا أول سلطة “مصرية” تحتكر الحكم بلا منازع (فلا ملك ولا إنجليز)، ومن ثم فقد كانت تمهيدا لمواجهة الشعب لذاته وإن استغرقت هذه المواجهة عقودا خصيلتها ما يحدث الآن. ولأن هذه السلطة لم تحتكر الحكم باعتبارها سلطة منتخبة بل استثنائية، وهو ما جعل فكرة “الاستثناء” تتحول إلى قاعدة سياسية بشكل متناقض تماما مع طبيعتها. وهي ثالثا احتكرت تمثيل الضمير العام (المبرر لهذه الاستثنائية) وبالتالي وضعت نفسها أمام شرط مستحيل وزائف.
استمر في القراءة
Whenever the intensity of looking reaches a certain degree, one becomes aware of an equally intense energy coming towards one through the appearance of whatever it is one is scrutinizing.
I can’t tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that art has often judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past has suffered, so that it has never been forgotten.
I know too that the powerful fear art, whatever its form, when it does this, and that amongst the people such art sometimes runs like a rumour and a legend because it makes sense of what life’s brutalities cannot, a sense that unites us, for it is inseparable from a justice at last. Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts and honour.
- John Berger