La Furia Umana
  • I’m not like evereybody else
    The Kinks
  • E che, sono forse al mondo per realizzare delle idee?
    Max Stirner
  • (No ideas but in things)
    W.C. Williams


*This text is a chapter taken from:

Irmgard Emmelhainz, The Sky Is Incomplete. Travel Chronicles in Palestine,

Vanderbilt University Press, 2023

For him whose name sounds like sa-l-t

Coinciding swift appearance,

When and why

A murmur passes through a falling horse

Whose scars he is making me bleed

And to his brother who is a warrior,

Translated to crystal blue light—

words bleeding me


Ramallah [Warm] Spleen

Holding back the rain to come

Suddenly chose not to move toward me as a man or as a poet,

Amiss to name me Ophelia,

Instead you took me for a scape-ghost.




Guest + host = ghost

Windows and doors wide open,

I wish to break out from your silting triple equations,

Exile myself from the spell of the red earth, from the endless shaven hills.

Walking away from your mixed signals of capitulation and resistance,

From the confusion between movement with action

At best translated as impassibility, mon poète maudit.

You forgot

That these lips know how other lips have cut after,

Our hushed eco-graphia

On the skin: “Dans le véritable amour c’est l’âme qui enveloppe le corps.”

And how songs of other times sailed back into our ears

Unannounced, out of joint, in eternal recurrence.

Knowing from the beginning that the odds were against me

I spoke words that can only be written, hid beneath.

Below, the memory that is now forgotten,

Once I could laugh my own tears.

From now on,

Make sure that window is tightly shut,

My soul might become the wind in the dark,

Come in and brush your skin with my breath until you fall asleep,

Sneak inside your chest so you breathe me,

Or having stumbled upon you in one of your Oliveiran walks,

My soul will be the moon embracing you with my rays.


Nah ist und schwer zu fassen der Gott.

Wo aber Gefahr ist, wächst

Das Rettende auch.

Friedrich Hölderlin11



[AU: I think it would be worth adding citations of some sort for the various thinkers cited in the left margin of this chapter and the next few.]

Now, I know, settling accounts from a past life, I found myself living on this side, walled-
For Godotin, Waiting. It was so dark and uncertain that I couldn’t breathe. I stopped reading signs. Instead, I addressed you sketching out a theory of love, trying to resist the invisible forces making me move oscillating, hesitating, making me fidgety and wonder: Will I be able to multiply three months by three, by four? Will we be granted more precious nights? As an attempt to breathe, I folded myself into Orpheus-Eurydice, transforming doubt into its opposite, which is faith. Getting away from waiting, the first time I walked, I went too fast and got bitten by a snake whose nest I accidentally stepped on during my hesitant and hurried escape. The poison made me spiral down toward the underworld, deeper into the murky realm of incertitude. I then unfolded into Orpheus and was granted by the gods a chance to go down to look for Eurydice. On our way back from the underworld, as Orpheus, knowing that if I turn around to face Eurydice because I doubt whether I will encounter her loving gaze I will lose her forever. Thus, as Orpheus, I placed myself in a perpetual present, postponing indefinitely the moment in which I will turn around to confirm Eurydice is walking behind me. The perpetual present I seek to exist in thus postpones indefinitely the face-to-face between Orpheus and Eurydice—as a leap of faith. The face-to-face encounter is ethics and responsibility and it implies
Levinasresponding to the call of the other, turning one’s gaze toward his/her face. Yet, the face-to-face encounter is traumatic because I can never know how the other sees me, opening a
Lacanrift between how I see myself and what I project onto the other, and that gives me anxiety. Also, in the face-to-face my scope of vision narrows because it is focused on the other’s face. Postponing the face-to-face and walking facing forward are acts of faith—a leap out of incertitude and the eschewal of hope. The eschewal of hope in favor of the leap of faith I am trying to describe here is not a suspension of ethics, but its degree zero. It is not that I cease to address or to answer the other, but that I give my faith to the
Zizekwholly other. Here faith is absolute difference, an absolute break, pure potentiality and possibility. Faith gives me the certitude of the other’s love in its potential. I turn you into the subject of my faith, accepting that my desire is not enough to invite you to respond to my faith. What I believe is wholly independent of your will. The suspension
Saint Exuperyof the face-to-face is not: “Aimer, ce n’est pas se regarder l’un l’autre, c’est regarder ensemble dans la même direction,” as such love cannot be possible at the time of
Arendtrampant individualism, when the future is still a bomb that we hear ticking in the present.Facing the tyranny of incertitude, all that can be afforded here is faith, neither hope (a luxury), nor doubt (doom). I have faith that Orpheus knows that I’m walking behind him,
For GodotI have faith that Eurydice is walking behind me. Walking away from Waiting—but where to? There are no safe passages, as the roads I see are plagued with three-dimensional unbreachable obstacles, breaches of promises.


Literary Misunderstandings

DeleuzeWe are made out of pure pasts. The other (autrui) is the expression of a possible world—that is, the other presents himself or herself as a world to me, opening up in my past blisters that contain and envelop a multiplicity of possible worlds. When I encounter the world that the autrui presents to me, I inscribe in that one a possibility from an “I was” that can either be frightening or reassuring. Unknowingly, the encounter with the autrui actualizes a past that does not coincide with the subject I desire, the object of the possible world. When the possible world embedded in the autrui becomes frighteningly unbearable, the degree zero of ethics is endangered because such fear may cause the obliteration of intrasubjectivity, creating transparent machines. Insofar as narcissism is the realm of transparency, seeing through each other, we ceased to own our own appearances and became each other’s
Zizekmasturbatory phantasms of our own, vulnerable narcissistic subjectivities. In making each other transparent, we became foreign to one another, uncanny, embodying hidden secrets.
DerridaOperating under hostile-pitality we added up guests and hosts, summ(on)ing ghosts. We will never know how and which traces were actualized in the stories we told each other. In front of and behind the invisible, the inscription of our stories onto each other’s skin threatened to return as a haunting. Seeing through, we leashed out memories before death, deception, the memorial sentiment of futile surrender and sacrifice. I fought in the name of opacity, tried to unveil secrets, to slice open spaces in between transparent images by speaking out, touchée . . . it was too late. You wouldn’t hear about double souls, just about twins—and we already have twins elsewhere. Then, you’d become insensible
Schillereven to your own affects and sufferings, poète maudit, absorbed with your impassible search for the gold that you believe can disentangle your loom, unfasten your freedom. Today I point a finger back at you. I carried the burden of both of our desires, forced to disown my appearance and my knowledge, you bearing my gaze, silently, desperately gazing at the unseen. Your transparent silence said: memory is the prison of
MAHdesire, I am, we are trapped. We were hardly able to separate the bad past from the potentially redemptive one, fearing that we would compromise memory. Yesterday a cat died inside Endgame and one of my lives—the one flayed bleeding the other’s wounds—left accompanying him. Today I realize that I am rewriting the autrui from the site of my own forgotten memories.


Unearthing the Clay Pots

“They are butchers when it comes to hospitality”

From “Trip in the Ruins of Al-Walaja, Rihla Fi Atlal Al-Walaja,” by Mustafa Khalil al-Sayfi2

The radically, unassimilable different needed to be sacrificed for the sake of the status quo. It was a sacrifice with no ritual, a killing with loving tenderness for the sake of self-
MAHredemption, obliterating the excess proper to the appearance that could not be factored into your life. In my despondency and certitude, what is there to do with the strict refusal of contradictions embedded in the possible world that I actualized from your
Nietzschepast? We have known for a long time that, like in war, what is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil, and that is why no end can ever correspond to the destructive potential of the weapon of choice: It was a deadly mortar. I am affected, not because I cannot believe in you any longer, but because you deceived us. That is why I am astonished, with Darwish—how can a ghost bleed? Tuning out his cynicism, which is barely masking our bitterness, I started laughing. Glacial reason besieged him with her tentacles disguised as the last trench he could hold onto under the tyranny of incertitude, fighting the rule of temporariness with what seems to point toward normalization. What is a social legal pact for if not for the sake of preservation and permanence? Depositing his faith in his responsibility, amalgamating self-interest with common interests, he chose to be faithful to his responsibility, demanding what he believes he is entitled to receive from his community—if it comes, unearthed from hidden clay pots.


What Remains

I am beginning to understand that it was not that revolutions failed but that the revolutionaries were poisoned with an illusory victory. Fake, because it disguised itself as such at a time in which other battles needed to be fought. And the revolutionaries couldn’t see them. Slowly, I glimpse traces of safe passages, underneath. As you know, most of the time the road is lonely and we walk it under the tortuous illusion of desolation. This trip took me to a road inhabited by other loners, poet-warriors, waving
Arendtfrom afar and unveiling the illusion of the desolation of solitude to each other. We get together every now and then to confabulate new genealogies, seeking those lineages that
KFbind us together as the blue men tribe. We are measuring the magnitude and the effect of misaffect and carelessness. It is the immeasurable mourning of the friend and the lover that had wings too heavy to accompany us. Desperate, he left to join Bartleby’s army without warning while I
State of siegewas reading the baskets of purple flowers in Darwish’s poem. Stinging scorpion blue, I am writing at dawn, haunted by the ghosts that begin to tell me their names, speaking their letters, intoxicated with the red of the earth. At night, I write intoxicated with nebulous arak shimmering nana. In the afternoons, I seek refuge in the fog, intoxicated by the crystal-clear light leaving bedlam with its dis-equation between the inside and the outside. The crystalline light is hard to bear here, and I am writing as a guest from the prophet’s cave, inside Beckett’s Endgame, a place beyond Sittlichkeit, which was blown away by the state of exception. Here the analogue of love is war, its opposite is pain instead of hate. We are sitting on the bare conditions of possibility for unconditional care, trying to assess the incommensurable consequences of disinterest and carelessness, figuring out how to practice radical ethics and hospitality, wondering where to aim our faith. The prophet is already pointing toward ethics without morality, suddenly lending me an eye to cry.

The first time I read “Casa tomada,” the short story by Julio Cortázar, I was puzzled because the takeover takes place in a “simple manner and without perfunctory circumstances.” Cortázar wrote the story back in 1946; when I told it to the prophet he just smiled, as there are many parallels with his story, except for the simplicity of the takeover and how little resistance its inhabitants displayed as they were gradually expelled. The house in Cortázar’s story is old and spacious, inhabited by a sort of marriage of siblings who receive money from their fincas and who are devoted to keeping up their home. The takeover begins one day, suddenly, at eight o’clock at night, with a deafening and imprecise sound. The first area to be occupied was one end of the hallway, so the siblings had to stay on the other side. The problem was that they had left many things that they were attached to in the occupied section. They started to live without thinking about their possessions or about the occupation, remaining silent in the kitchen and never raising their voices. Another day, at eleven o’clock at night, also unexpectedly, the house was completely taken over. The siblings had no choice but to lock up and leave. They felt sorry, the narrator tells us, when they threw the key down a nearby sewer to keep strangers from entering the now-abandoned house. The siblings’ mix of resignation and silence reminds me of the impossibility of speaking out loud about the banal but real aspects of the occupation. Every day, Palestinians lose a bit of their territory, and it is impossible to measure the loss, speak about it, or imagine the invaders aside from their executors: the IDF.

Irmgard Emmelhainz

1 Friedrich Hölderlin, Patmos: Das scheidende Erscheinen des Gedichts (München: W.Fink Verlag, 1999) [Near is and difficult to grasp, the God. But where danger threatens, that which saves from it also grows].

2 Mustafa Khalil al-Sayfi, “Trip in the Ruins of Al-Walaja, Rihla Fi Atlal Al-Walaja,” Nakba, 1948 and the Claims of Memory, Ahmad H. Saadi, Lila Abu Lughod (eds), (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007).