The (lost) intimacy of everyday life

Under ‘normal’ circumstances, “intimacy” designates a closeness, a proximity, an alignment, a fusion even. Such intimacy is then attributed to two souls, minds, hearts, or bodies.
But there is an other sense of intimacy that I have never noticed this vividly before. It is more profound, yet very subtle. It is only the pandemic + alienation experience that led me to see it like this.
Typically, people politely criticise this online-everything life as being “not the same”. Of course it is not the same when your work, your social life, your love life, your entertainment, travel, and… being are all done behind a screen. But what is actually missing?

📃 “The (lost) intimacy of everyday life”

Spiraling

It’s been two months since I arrived in Utrecht after an abrupt lockdown in Jeddah for 7 months. It was (/is) so surreal to be back here. Suddenly, I was (mentally) sent back in time – the places, the memories, the scents, the scenes… Thoughts I thought I had ‘gotten over’ simply resurrected themselves out of things. Automatic behaviors that I forgot, suddenly were reflexive out of nothing.

📃 “Spiraling”

عبث غير عبثي

أول ما نفعل مذ ولدنا العبث.
نعبث بأقدامنا أول ما لحظنا وجودها؛ نستكشف أطرافنا.
نعبث بأصواتنا حتى قوّمها أهلنا لغة.
عبثًا زحفنا ثم حبونا نعبث بكل ما تطاله يدانا؛ ترانا نضع حشرة بأفواهنا، عبثًا واستكشافًا.
عبثنا بأقلام فرسمنا بيوتًا ووجوهًا وقصصًا لا يراها غيرنا.
عبثنا بأخشاب فبنينا زوارق ولعب نخلّقها بعقولنا.

فمتى استعصى علينا أن حياتنا عبث بعبث؟
علام يثقل قلوبنا أن نعبث حتى نموت خالقين قصصا وملاحم تخصنا؟
أنى لنا استبدال هبة الإنسان الخالدة، الخلق من عبث، بأساطير غيرنا وقصصهم؟

📃 “عبث غير عبثي”

‘ It’s Corona Time ‘

Agency

I find it interesting to consider the question of agency when we think of the Coronavirus. To begin with, humans tend to assign a certain degree of ‘free-will’ to things, even inanimate objects. Chemists specifically love to do that all the time! We talk about the needs and wants of molecules, as if they are willingly choosing to behave the way they do.
For simple phenomena, it‘s easy to bring to mind the forces which actually result in the observed behavior – things fall due to gravity, not because they have an innate desire to be closer to earth. Now, with something complex enough like a virus (which on the scale of life may be argued to be the simplest life-form), it’s much easier to think of it as an independent agent that is self-interested in annihilating us so it reproduces.
But it’s just a bit of floating genetic code that fools the body of a host so it assembles more of that code. And unlike bacteria, the virus doesn’t even attack, eat, or reproduce. It just hits a cell in the right way, and the cell mindlessly starts making copies of it. In a sense, it’s a coding error that just happens to be self-replicating.

📃 “‘ It’s Corona Time ‘”

Mediations: the first night

“I knew this was bound to happen at some point, so I guess it’s okay!”
I missed the last bus, and I am a long way from home. After all these years, I still refuse to realize that cleaning up after running experiments is actually a consuming and demanding task!
It is a conflict though, it’s as if the absolute priority is discovering something ASAP and if I don’t then I’m not doing well. The reality is, (like life) it is a process. Which also often involves failed experiments followed by spending 2 hours of careful separation of waste, washing glassware several times with different solvents, and trying not to break overly expensive (and fragile) equipment while hastily trying to clean carefully!
After walking in the cold for a while to another bus stop, I see I have more than an hour before the night bus comes. I wouldn’t want to stand in this cold night a full hour, and that nearby hotel (with its warm lights, luxurious exterior, and the distant noise of chatter and laughter) looks like a promising shelter.

📃 “Mediations: the first night”