Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Anthologies are the best way to travel

I entered Jerusalem at about the age of thirty, my body and soul exhausted by travel on earth and the heavens and by roaming through the pages of books.
The concept of exhaustion from roaming the pages of books resonates with recent wise comments from David Nice and Billoo about how, as David put it, "finally settling for longer in one place allows you to see what's close to hand in depth rather than what's further off in breadth", a sentiment that in turn resonates with the Sufi goal of inner wisdom. The quote comes from the highly recommended Azazeel by the Egyptian author, academic and Sufi scholar Youssef Ziedan. This novel chronicles the journey of a 5th century Coptic monk from Aswan in Upper Egypt to Syria, and delivers the powerful sub-text that fundamentalist doctrines are, in reality, shaped by the beliefs they claim to replace. The monk's journey through a pre-Islamic world is set against a background of sectarian strife that continues 1500 years later, albeit between different factions. I captured the exquisitely peaceful sunset scene on the Nile at Luxor last week, but, tragically, four Coptic Christians were murdered in the area by Salafist mobs just days after I took the photo.

Roaming recorded anthologies, such as ECM's recently featured Selected Signs III -VIII, is the musical equivalent of roaming the pages of books. Accords Croisés' anthology Le Nil, seen below with cover art resonating serendipitously with my header photo, has provided me with many productive hours of roaming, and my discoveries already shared with readers include the music of Hussein El Masry. Exhaustion from roaming, either physical or cerebral, is synonomous with neuroplasticity. As Eamonn Gearon wrote "the act of travelling, a forward movement or progress, stops men becoming complacent or too comfortable with their surroundings". In our digital age, where search engines have rendered roaming redundant and the average time spent on a web page is less than a minute, will these rich and multi-layered cultural anthologies become extinct?



Also on Facebook and Twitter. Header photo is (c) On An Overgrown Path 2013. Selected Signs III -VIII was a requested review sample, no other freebies were used in the preparation of this post. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

1 comment:

Pliable said...

Jonatahan Wright's masterly translation of Youssef Ziedan's novel should be acknowledged - http://www.icfj.org/our-work/jonathan-wright