Dust to Fire

Yesterday I started the process of letting go of Dust, I will still be waiting for comments, and will be thinking of other things I need to write about/with dust, but I have finally started thinking of other things as well. I have been thinking of dust, playing with it, avoiding it, and the writing about it for a year now. This year – has so far- been the most enjoyable year-in-academia. Besides the piece I wrote in no time in 2011 on Tahrir square (mostly because of reasons of hyper-euphoria at he time), this is the work I have enjoyed writing the most. Which is cathartic.

It is true that my friend cautions me that I lay too many stakes on my academia-like practices to heal all sorts of other non academia-like issues. But I really have nothing else, and if the stakes weren’t high, I would be so invested in it. The fact is, that the year in dust has helped me in so many ways; to reconcile with sentiments of fatigue, to rediscover breathing, and definitely to make amends with writing. So many people in Warwick genuinely helped in that- perhaps more than they know.

To celebrate the approaching moving away from dust, I went to a reading group “On Refusal” here in Cairo, moderated by the really inspiring Dina Makram Ebeid. I do not know her in person; but I do sense she moves around academia with the questions not so different than the ones that haunt me sometimes. Anyways the reading group looked into refusal in anthropology, the reading framed the topic a little around refusal and resistance; but somehow the discussion managed to look into refusal  as methodology. Nada El kouny- spoke about her ruins of research, Dina brought in issues of refusal to write, and withholding ethnographic data. I was thinking all the time about how being refused structures our very existence in academia (think of all the time we spend waiting for one acceptance letter or the other).

We did not however speak of abjection, waste, left-overs, excess, shit, dirt, and dust – which was my secret motive of going, which is fine really (though see the picture the organizers had for the event, how come we never spoke of shit and all its friends?)


We spoke however about gifts, lacks, voids, spaces, and self immolation..a perfect sign that I should start moving on. Next project should be angrier, more passionate, and who knows I might get to learn to be more reckless, as dust has tamed a little my insatiable anxieties around control.  Next is Fire.

Michael Marder – Introduction to the Politics of Fire: A Talk on Carl Schmitt from FastBodies on Vimeo.