Tel Aviv Diary February 22-26, 2016 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - February 22-26, 2016 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

February 22, 2016

Really didn't want to go out today. The return of rain is sad, and with streets flooding in the south it seemed like a good idea. and for part of the day i could do it. I recorded a radio interview about Harper Lee for Galei Zahal that will be presented on Friday afternoon in the book program, I cleaned out the drawers next to my bed, and I tried not to think of the people whose houses are flooded or whose ceilings are collapsing. This is my escape from the state of citizens of this country.

but one must go out sometimes. so there was a "gallery talk" about an exhibit called "Iran Iran" - 16 women showing their reactions to the topic. Women and Iran - the exhibit is in Beersheva but the women explained their installations with slides. A Persian carpet made of persian rice, a series of photos of Iranian women in the Olympics before the revolution, before sport was outlawed for women, a series of tiny women in hijabs... What do we really know of women in Iran?

February 23, 2016

This reminds me. I couldn't get through "Reading Lolita in Teheran" - it seemed so jejeune. On the other hand, anything I read by Naguib Mahfuz seems so incredibly sophisticated. I wish I could talk to Sasson Somekh about the books I'm reading.

I'm avoiding politics. because we have none. i wonder how our politicians sleep at night. Not only no one but Bibi and Abu Mazen know what's going on, but when they go there is no one to hold the reins. it is incredibly irresponsible. Even I worked hard to prepare the next generation in my profession, people who will take over for me. and I didn't have to worry about a country and millions of people.

February 24, 2016

a book club day - Mahfouz. i happen to love even the least known of his books. This one was "In the Time of Love" that uses all the stereotypes of love to discuss the values of a society. In a world in which self love and pleasure are the greatest values we would do well to learn of a book in which the only love that works is the love of others, of society. The concept of responsibility in love is also a major factor.

February 25, 2016

And the responsibility TO love is important as well. We have a new neighbor in our building who seems to be causing a great deal of displeasure among an otherwise well-knit group. He wants the improvements beneficial to him and he wants them now. I have seen him maybe twice and been very friendly, and I notice that he has no respect for my friendliness. He sees it as a silliness and a sign of weakness. my knee-jerk reaction is to join with the other neighbors in dismissing him as arrogant and aggressive, but i think it is my responsibility in society to persist, whether i succeed in bringing him into the fold or not, because it is such a pleasure to live with cooperative people, and seems to do us all good.

This was a political statement

two days ago there was a poem in the paper of Nazzim Hikmet. I didn't even have time to look at it, and the paper is being recycled as we speak. Yesterday there was a poem by Nazir Khabbani. In my head I translated it because it was so wonderful, but only today did I write it down.

Nizar Kabbani

Legal Investigation

No man can investigate a poem,
Can ask it: Where were you?
Who were you with?
Precisely at what time did you return home?
The poem is the one that asks,
That investigates the investigators.

Kabbani was Syrian. I remember the day Samekh Zuabi came into my office and said, Nizzar Kabbani is dead! and I had no idea who he was. So we looked him up on the web and I saw I had really missed something by not knowing his work. At that time there was another Syrian poet I was working on trying to figure out Arabic, Mohammed Al-Maghut.

February 26, 2016

I was - hiatus -

Last night my ear stopped up - i gave my attention to that and not to this journal. Haven't seen a doctor yet, but went to the pharmacist and asked for something to unplug my ears. When she first came to the pharmacy I don't recall her wearing a hijab but now she is wearing a heavy pink woolen scarf as a hijab that looks bigger than the rest of her body. I think she is making a statement. Anyway she brought me the medication and began reading the instructions, pointing them out to me as she read. "Don't waste your time," I said, "Not only can't I hear but without my glasses I can't see." This cracked her up.

I think we both made a statement

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