Image for post
Image for post

“Hi Rayyan,

Sorry for the mammoth delay in getting back to you about this one. I’ve had a proper read through now and started to edit it… but — and this might sound a bit silly — I think it’s a bit too clever for us.

What I mean by that is that you’d need a proper understanding of Antigone for starters to be able to truly understand what you’re getting at here, let alone a deeper knowledge of Greek tragedies, Judith Butler, James Baldwin, Sophocles, Socrates and Hannah Arendt.

Do you see what I mean?

My main concern is that it could be read — at one point — as a defence of “All Lives Matter” when in fact you’re saying the exact opposite. But to make that bit clear — and to explain all the other references — would mean unpicking the whole piece.


Image for post
Image for post

Around the globe, sexual minorities participate in a tragi-romantic-comedy. It has been 40 years since Judith Butler first conceived gender as a performance… and yet the struggle for gay rights, its political theatres in Moscow or Washington, its costumed rivals in Warsaw or Mecca, has followed a dangerous script about love.

Surrounded with hashtags such as #LoveWins or #LoveIsLove, LGBT rights may be as doomed as Greek tragedies. Antigone, for example, could be read as a cautionary tale about the lethal combination between love and rights. No one believes the tragic heroine’s appeal for the right of her brother to be buried. Why? Because she cannot be objective. …


Rainbow-striped caps. Football v. Homophobia sweatshirts. A team made up exclusively of queer men. Despite efforts to foster a friendlier environment for closeted soccer players, today’s inclusive discourse has yet to tackle the elephant in the (locker) room: commercial viability.

In a time when Cristiano Ronaldo amasses a whopping 47 million dollars in product endorsements yearly, soccer stars now sweat over finals and followers, goals and galas. …


Image for post
Image for post

It is 2020, and our school systems are picking up on the signs of the times. We are teaching our children to embrace our hyper-connected world: by adopting a second language, or learning how to code. Under the rug of modernity lies, surely, older traditions, older disciplines such as philosophy, which is taught at a distance from the world, not in its absorption. To better understand the condition of teaching philosophy in high schools today, I interviewed Sana El-Khalil, a veteran humanities teacher who today celebrates her 36th year of teaching. …


Much has been discussed about Hannah Arendt’s political theories. Her views on political affairs, however, are relatively more obscure and usually buried within her correspondences with friends and family or in her writings prior to her acclaimed Origins of Totalitarianism. I propose to briefly look into this literature and assess Hannah Arendt’s knowledge of postwar German politics. As a German-Jewish exile from Nazi Germany and a naturalized American by 1951, how has her knowledge of her homeland been produced by her forced transatlantic viewpoint? Was she able to predict Germany’s political future?

What is fascinating about Hannah Arendt’s views is how thin the line is between success and failure, prophecy and naivety, sensible opinions and missed guesses. As far as her poor predictions are concerned, Hannah Arendt’s correspondences in the wake of World War II reveal an obliviousness toward the economic miracle that laid ahead and show how she underestimated the easiness with which a morally-damaged German society could, and eventually would, reconstruct without first addressing the horrors of the war. …


Image for post
Image for post

In Studies on Hysteria, Freud chronicles a hypnosis session with a female patient whose neurosis causes temporary muteness, sometimes for several hours. A detailing of her teenage years eventually unfolds: at fifteen, her cousin is sent to an insane asylum; her mother goes there too; on more than one occasion. Even her former maid-servant has shared a similar fate; she would relay to her, somewhat obsessively, horror stories of life in deprivation. The breakthrough of the session is triggered with Freud’s question about whether the patient herself has ever feared falling insane as well. Thankfully, the hitherto tight-lipped patient acknowledges this fact. …


Image for post
Image for post

Humanity has done Van Gogh no justice. If today his name is at the tip of our tongues almost daily, if we have decorated our homes with his flowers and flowered his auto-portraits in classrooms and exhibitions around the world, we would think that we’ve honored the artist justly; that surely his repertoire of songs for his successors have all been sung; his cautionary tales well told and that now honoring his memory is enough.

Of course, a crash course on Van Gogh, or a few jokes about his ear on shows or sitcoms, would nuance our understanding of an artist who never tasted the glory we so often embellish his name with; a man who died poor and alone. …

About

Rayyan Dabbous

Rayyan Dabbous is a Lebanese author. His recent books include DIY Creative Activism: A Handbook (2019) and Psychoanalysis of a Teenage Novelist (2020).

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store