Deconstruction

[Instructions: Read … or cut in little pieces and put back together as you wish … or don’t read at all.]

The old man
reading the telephone book
at the beach.
Deconstructing the population,
re-ordering it in alphabetical order.
Page three onwards,
it gets as boring as reading Derrida.
But telephone books don’t exist anymore!
Which reminds me that
you can’t make prank calls anymore either!
Remember them?

But now you can voice an opinion
even if you know nothing
five thousand kilometers
away from the blasphemous dictator
… it helps and shields
and allows you to say
whatever you want.
Just like a prank call.
And yet…
Have you thought
of the consequences
for the ones trapped
five thousand kilometers away?
If drones visit them,
well you know…
it’s complicated!
Certainly more complicated
than laughing at the butcher
after he told you he had pigs’ feet.

Oh and that zit on the nose
and the wrinkles
and the sad face
all of them erased
by computer magic.
Is that de-construction
or re-construction?

[I always get them mixed up.]

Now everyone shows up
so so happy!
Hiding the tears – what tears?
Hiding the loneliness – I’m not lonely!
Speak for yourself!

Oh and we still have that capacity
you know
of blowing up the earth
forty times over!
Just like that!
Without even moving our toes.

Tell that to the old man
reading the phonebook
attached to a web of tubes
sustaining his breathing.
But his life?
Oh who cares!
He gets to live long so
do not complain!

Everyone wants that
you know …
a loooong life
and to be young
and to stay young.
What happened to that
growing old gracefully?
Remember the ad?
Now no one wants that.
They want a loooong life.
Don’t they realize how empty it will become?

[Additional instructions: there are four “o” in long. That’s Shi in Japanese. Do you know what else it means? No? Here is a hint: ]

Oh but science my friends!
Science!

A table is basically made
of a gazillion particles
where 99.99999% of each particle
is made of emptiness space.
Yes!
But when you tell them
that we are all larger
than the sum of our parts,
they all chant in unison
and out of tune:
“Nonsense! Irrational! Preposterous!”

Ok then.
I have no idea why I am writing all this.
Oh well just… You know…
Tangents….
I have always loved mathematics
almost as much as language
Wait hold on…
Language!

They also messed with that!
Didn’t you know?
Now he and she and it
and me and you
must all be used
ap-pro-pri-a-te-ly
and if possible all at the same time
so as to offend no one.
Hum…
So if I understand correctly,
it is back to the phonebook method.
De Saussure

[Ha! “de chaussure!”]

and Derrida must be pleased;
but not Plato, the master of ideas,
nor Russell, the one of logic.

[Even more instructions: if you have no clue what I am talking about, cut in little pieces, mix well and make a puzzle.]

So I decided:
he is all of you,
and she is just me!

And the plays and the operas!
Now they take away
the plots and replace them
with stupidity…

[It is the first time I use this word, kindly note my restraint.]

A gentle lady Macbeth,
an Ophelia that remains alive,
a Sisyphus that makes it up the mountain,
an Oedipus without love tangles,
and Carmen Oh! Carmen!
No longer selling cigarettes
nor her body…
“L’amour est un oiseau rebelle
que nul ne peut apprivoiser…”
No more…
They placed it in a cage
with a label
and a responsible attitude.
So adjust your tie please.

As for me well…
This year I will turn an absolute number!
I love it and it gets
rarer with age.

[I told you I liked mathematics.]

I will take full advantage of it
since it can only be divided by one and itself.
So I will be renewed
just as I am.
My heart will not be fractioned
and no one will be able
to deconstruct me!
Ha!

Kenza.


Music: Julia Migenes-Johnson sings “L’amour est un oiseau rebel” from the Opera Carmen. 

The Tao: three treasures

If I may, I share here one passage from the “Tao Te Ching,” a book I actually read every morning. I read this passage to my nine year old son today, after we had a discussion on patience and reaching compromises with people who may not want to do so. I thought it offered three pieces of advice, which applicability is apt for most situations in life. Thank you.

“Some say my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I just have three things to teach:
simplicity, patience and compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both your friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings of the world.”

– Poem 67 of the “Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu (VIth. c. BCE), translated by Stephen Mitchell (1999).

The carpet

I sit on the carpet, my fingers slowly tracing its intricate patterns. I wonder what the carpet weaver was thinking. He has left me few clues. I follow lines that go nowhere, jump to what seems like a flower or maybe a star, and get lost amidst its radiance.

Hafez tells us that the soul knows one hundred sighs.

Maybe the carpet weaver weaved his sighs into the carpet. Maybe the colourful patterns are calls to his beloved to come and sit next to him.

I am not a carpet weaver and you are far away. All I can do is let my sighs scatter light across the night sky, tracing the road you must take to come into my arms.

All I can do is wait – wait with the carpet weaver’s same infinite patience as he tied each knot thinking about his beloved.

I am tired now so I will slowly place my head on the carpet, and in the comfort of its softness, let my thoughts blend with its colours.

My eyes are closing. The faint aroma of Mohammedi rose water enrobes me, the same roses I once admired in Kashan, the same ones I use to flower apricot jam so that others may taste poetry.

I think I will sleep now. So looking east, I orient my last thoughts on your face hoping it may look up and see the road my sighs lit up for you in the sky.

Kenza.

Sadness

Sadness is an immense meadow.
A misty meadow filled with elegant trees,
branches laden with silent love.

Live your sadness thoroughly
like a rainy day that seems to never end.
Shed tears. Shed them all.

Let sadness devastate you,
crush your heart
until slowing it to the limits of life.

Then let the intense force of love,
the very root and fruit of sadness,
awake it all.

Let love open your eyes
and pull you up so that you may stand
in the vast meadow of sadness.

Let love reveal to you
that state of grace that only beauty confers.
Let it enrobe you with its immeasurable tenderness.

Yes, the world is often rough and cunning,
shattering our most intimate thoughts
and forcing us to doubt the simple beauty in our lives.

So open your eyes and take in the beauty.
Let all your sadness become a piece of cloud,
then place it inside your heart so that love may find a place to rest.

Kenza.

The village of my heart went up in flames

All that is left around me is an empty field covered with dust. The village of my heart went up in flames. It burned all my emotions and all my longings. One by one, they were destroyed in the fire. The flames never burned me, yet turned all that I was into ashes.

That was then.

This is now.

I walk on the grey soil, soft like a Kashmiri carpet. I see the desolation and I see the joy. All is gone and I am left utterly empty, empty of all that weighted me down. My steps are so light, I leave no marks nor lift any dust. There is silence, a vast silent emptiness.

A smile dries my tears and then I see a touch of green amidts the grey, bright like an emerald emitting its own light. I can smell the aroma of rebirth, that mix of grass and soil and water. Life is coming back to the burned village of my heart. Gently I caress the grass blades that do not cut. Gently I get up and continue walking out of the burnt down village and onto the open road.

The sky above me, that divine cup turned upside down with no end and no angle, is now my only guide.

Kenza.

On my way to the boulangerie

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Mama! What did you see on the way to the boulangerie?

When I went out of the house early this morning to go to the Boulangerie, the mist was so thick I could not even see the end of my toes! But let me tell you what I could see as I walked really fast to avoid my ear tips from freezing.

As I walked by the vegetable and fruit market, I saw birds gathering around our friend. You know, the giant man with the large belly who always wears those bright green sweaters. He was giving them bread. The birds looked so hungry. Some were eating right out of his generous hand!

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As I rounded the corner towards the Boulangerie, I saw a lady with a large hat full of multi-coloured feathers being pulled by a rather funny looking dog. He was in a good mood and as I approached them, he wrapped himself around my legs. “I am so sorry!” the lady with the multi-coloured feathered hat told me with a smile. “It is my son’s dog. His name is “gato” as in “gâteau” cake in French.” “It is fine,” I said as I tried to unentangle myself from the dog’s happy embrace. “It is a bit confusing for Mexicans,” she added as the dog pulled her forcefully away. Well, confusing for the dog as well, I thought.

At the boulangerie, I saw our friend Claude, the Chef Boulanger. He said “Bonjour! Comment va le petit?” Claude is always so nice!

But the cashier was grumpy. I wanted to make her smile by telling her about the big man feeding the birds and the lady with the multi-coloured feathered hat and the dog named “gato,” but I hesitated. So I just gave her an immense smile. That made me look rather silly, but I did not mind. Yet, grumpy she remained. Maybe I should have told her about the man and the feathered lady and the confused happy dog. I should have known better.

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As I headed back home with my bag filled with fresh from the oven petits pains au chocolat, croissants and a baguette, I saw the morning mist gently rise above the tall pink church tower. It looked magnificent and I must say that San Miguel, perched high with his wings and staff, looked absolutely dashing! A pigeon was eying him though, and I am afraid he was about to fly and land on his head, taking away some of his aplomb.

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More pigeons greeted me as I made my way back home. Two of them were busy gossiping while warming up in the early morning sun on their balcony. You know the one near the yellow and red church, right above the rendez-vous place of young secret lovers. I am certain they were exchanging stories about the latest ones to have promised to love each other for eternity, as it always happens right there, under their balcony away from the pry of onlookers, and parents.

And finally, as I turned into our little street, I looked ahead hoping to see you at the window and I did! I was so happy! That was the best thing I saw on my way to the boulangerie.

A heavy burden

“Accomplish but do not boast,
accomplish without show,
accomplish without arrogance.”
Lao Tzu

A long time ago in China, two monks were traveling in a carriage returning to their monastery. One was an old master with a gentle smile and sparkling eyes. While his hands looked like old pine trees twisted by age, his back was straight and his mind most sharp. The other one was a young monk and his student. While he was in the prime of his youth, unlike his master, he retained a rather stern demeanour and small lines had already started to form between his thin eyebrows.

After many days of travel, they finally reached the village at the foot of the mountain where their monastery was located. It was raining steadily. A large puddle greeted the travelers as they stepped out of the carriage.

A lady dressed in long robes and wearing silk slippers looked upon the puddle. “How can I come down? This is terrible! I will get my clothes and my slippers all dirty!”

Upon seeing her distress, the old monk gently lifted her in his arms and carried her across the puddle to a dry place under a large tree. His legs were all muddied and his sandals and robe soaked. He bowed and smiled at her, both gestures left unrequited.

Still smiling, the old master called upon his student so they may start their long walk up the mountain to the monastery.

They walked in silence. The old monk humming some mantras, listening to the birds and caressing the high grass with his palms.

After some time, the young monk turned to his master, and with deeper than usual lines between his thin eyebrows, told him:

“This is just terrible! You carried the lady across the puddle, got all muddied and wet, and she never thanked you! How ungrateful of her!”

The old monk replied with a gentle smile: “I stopped carrying the lady hours ago, while it seems you are still carrying her!”

Kenza.