Sunday, June 25, 2006

“As long as it’s talking with you, talk of the weather will do.”

The afternoons have been filled with what’s best described as a flat warm wind. Oddly, I don’t find it refreshing, as I do for most breezes. I still find a certain type of placidity brought by the wind, though the breeze isn’t calming by any means, and I don’t want to say that it brings a sense of apathy.

So every afternoon an odd dislocation sets in, and when not so removed, maybe one day I’ll find better words to describe it. But as for now, as a subsequent line in the BTS song “The Weather” advises, “Nobody's hoping for better days/ No one knows what to do./ You're okay in your secret place,/ No one bothering you,” I’ll leave it alone.

Work, as stated many times before, chugs along. It’s providing the continuity and pace that is necessary to allow me to cocoon myself to what’s going on down south. Occasionally, something that floats across the wires (or gets emailed to me from the security staff) affects my work. Largely, I can float along, in my office/bedroom enjoying the afternoon’s dislocation.

Also, as I’ve stated many times before, we’ve continued to wind down the project. So we’ve consolidated houses and offices. I’m taking over the wrap-up of another project as one of our expats heads home. That may involve some scurrying across town, so I may not be able to cocoon myself so much in my secret place. I’m definitely going to be bothered by more people too.

To buffer that (and I’m getting a little “escape envy” as coworkers [even the Chief is taking some, well deserved, time off] are coming or going), I’m trying to get out of town for a few days in a week or two. Go to Dubai just to leave here for a while. Not much of an exchange as it will be intolerably hot there with hot winds. But it will be not here, and that should be good for a few days.

So, in the end, I’m going to say it’s the weather that I blame for me not posting links to some articles and news on Afghanistan. Also, there seems to be a lot more news that is readily available to everyone. There were two recent articles on by Fred Kaplan. He dicusses the opium conundrum and NATO's Afghan strategy. There was also this good article by Ahmed Rashid, a book review that has a great “introduction” before getting to the review. Cut the man some slack on the self-serving aspect of writing an article that is 3/4s background and exposition, and 1/4 review, because it’s really good background and exposition.

Parts of Rashid’s article, which is largely on current issues and the climate here reminded me of a recent find, Peter Lamborn Wilson’s “travelogue”/article. Wilson, otherwise known as Hakim Bey for those familiar with Bey and all that entails, visited Afghanistan many times in the 60s and 70s and returned in 2003. This piece covers all that. Something struck when contrasting what was evoked in the above Rashid article with this Wilson quote:

The fact that the Taliban succeeded in taking over Afghanistan has always seemed to me a certain sign that the Afghanistan I knew was completely smashed to hell by the Russians and civil war. I never heard any Afghan, however pious, praise "fundamentalism" or mullah-inspired bigotry. No one had ever heard of this perversion of Islam, which then existed only in Saudi Arabia. Afghan Islam was very orthopractic, but also very pro-sufi; essentially, it was old-fashioned mainstream Islam. The idea of banning kite-flying would probably have caused hoots of incredulous laughter. It must have taken 20 years of vicious neo-imperialist ideological cultural murder and oppression to make Talibanism look like the least of all available evils.

In the last post, I noted that the discontinuity of this place was a tired cliché, especially as this place is and these people are constantly on the move. There may be even too much continuity and history here. In following my own advice, I'll search for something else. So maybe through “dislocation”—physically, temporally, cognitively, every which “-ly,” can this place be better understood. In the least, dislocation is helping me understand my current state here.


Anonymous said...

It might save time if I meet you there,
but I don't care, I'd rather wait for you .
When noone's home and the weather's fine,
I'd rather wait for you
When noone's home and the weather's fine,
I'd rather wait for you.

Hilal said...

DUBAI! DoitDoitDoit.

There's actually a good amount to do:

Q. A. Shah said...

Will check out the link. Thanks for the tip.

But even if I don't find anything to do, I'll be happy just to get out of town for a few days.

NegativeMode said...

It's raining here. A lot.

Q. A. Shah said...

I heard. Building your ark? Here, it's not raining. At all.

NegativeMode said...

No, no ark. Although I have outfitted my bathtub with an outboard motor just in case. One does not mess with Mother Nature, does one?

Elizabeth said...

Reminds me of why I can't stand Ahmed Rashid and everyone quoting him. As if the Shah himself and indigenous communists didn't have anything to do with it? The Russians were there for ten years. TEN. Not twenty. The war started before them and continued for long after they left. Neo-imperialist, indeed.

Q. A. Shah said...

I still like Rashid, by in large, and at least believe he is a knowledgable and intelligent journalist. Though, yeah, for a time (and maybe still) he was the Gospel.

But are you critiquing Rashid or Wilson? I didn't take Wilson (what I block quoted) as solely critquing the Commies (indigenous or not), but also including the Saudis, Pakistanis, American's, et al, in the "neo-imperialist ideological murder." And in the Wilson piece, which is long so my quote is missing a lot of context, he does discuss a decent amount of the long long history of the region.

What I took the quote speaking to was what led the population to acquiesce to a brand of Islam and culture that wasn't native. And with Rashid's article on the contemporary situation, it seems like that largely external strand of Islam (as I understand it to be external too) is becoming internalized by larger parts of the population, not just acquiesed to.

Maybe it's gone beyond simply neo-imperialism (east or west rooted) imposition. But maybe, as I'm taking what you are to be saying, it was there long before, and Wilson is completely off base, having only seen the region during another peculiar bubble of time.

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