Artheism: Literacy, Without Perspective

Introduction©Karim chaibi

Writings©Karim Chaibi

Paintings©Karim Chaibi

Drawings©Karim Chaibi

Artheism©Karim Chaibi

Events©Karim Chaibi

Dedication©Karim Chaibi



 I happened once to come across myself while reaching for a lighter.  It wasn’t dark, but I was dim. I still don’t know what went wrong as I lifted the veil of smoke hovering before my eyes, but I was overcome with sweat. To tone down this worry, I threw both hands in front of my face and tried to slip past my vulgar shadow that stretched along the ground. To my surprise and sorrow, I made no progress though I pushed my body forward, all the while sensing that my motion was hindered simply by my doubt.

Yards away, a drunkard counted pebbles while emptying a bottle of wine on the ground.  The liquid poured out constantly, yet ever so slowly.  I asked if he knew the extent of his loss, and he nodded his yes, with a lopsided smile. How did I know he had suffered a loss? Perhaps I assumed that my lucidity could shed light on his darkness and yet, his presence proved that even lucidity is skin-deep.

I hastened to leave my silence and strode straight toward a scroll. I peaked inside and though hollow, my reflection on the surface posed as sharply as a letter. I felt the curves of the alphabet carving out a nest for my thoughts. The pain of being written silently pierced all that remained of me, a blot of ink in memory of an unmemorable name.

I drooled this ink. My name appeared, and so I called it out -- a word from which light casts darkness and unborn forms beg for names.  Though I was pregnant, and months and lives seemed to pass, nothing took shape; in truth, if there is any truth, the word bleeds timelessly and there will never be an end to the suffering of the quill.

Why should I worry if the wound cuts across the scroll?  It was written that I would be lowly, spoken of, and foretold, and that my footsteps would misspell my path.

What a poetic mess! A letter suffices to unearth countless questions from each word.   Let Eliot’s search for “the strength to force the moment to its crisis” be uplifted so the word itself is forced to its crisis and beyond, to its destruction. But what crisis might a word suffer that is beyond utterance? Might such a crisis be the self I came across while looking for a lighter, and the vulgar shadow?

I’ve even turned to Sufis for an answer to my untold questions and they have shared humbly with me the unfortunate innocence of their weakness. From Niffari[1] for whom “the more the vision increases, the more the expression decreases”[2] to Adonis for whom “Arab life from its inception has been an exile from language,” there stretches a great distance, the distance. Exile is to speak and then to suffer from not having said enough. But then why speak?

To force the word to its crisis is to utter it. It is painful to speak, and yet worse to stop speaking, for the word bleeds and silence does not heal it. The tragedy of the writer, then, is to talk while knowing that the fullness of the word is the trail of its end.  Yet I will continue to hold my pen high and scribble the emptiness of the word.

[1] Muhammad ibn 'Abdi 'l-Jabbar ibn al-Hasan al-Niffari1 is an obscure Iraqi figure in the history of Islamic Mysticism. He probably died in the early 10th century. The only work attributed to him is “The Book of Spiritual Stations and Addresses”

[2] Station of what are you doing with petitioning

 © Karim Chaibi 2005


Artheism: Discourse of silence

































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