February 2024: Desperately Seeking Softness
Wrap me in all the pretty things so I can hide from this ugly world
My Instagram explore page has become overrun with satin bows, cascading fabrics, and tapered candles. At first, it was showing me images of frilly cakes and ribbons because I had been looking for ideas for hosting a low-key birthday gathering at my house. But then I fell into the world of meticulously art-directed tablescapes and dinner parties and the suggested content just kept coming.
I have brief moments when I enjoy the pearly, ruffled aesthetic but I’m much more drawn to the Morticia Addams/Dark Academia palette. Either way, why was I suddenly so addicted to all these decadent visuals? Then it dawned on me: my subconscious desperately wanted beauty. It was running away from all the unfathomable cruelty and utter insanity that has been on every screen around me for the last 124(!?) days. As Israelis have commenced their ground invasion of Rafah, I’m seeking out pretty, soft, and harmless to put my brain on ice. I’m cocooning indoors, looking for warmth, color, and silky indulgences.
It’s whatdescribes as the Secret World in their piece titled, ”Kevin”:
“There are lots of ways to get to the Secret World. A poem will take you there, or music, or wind, or loving gaze from a dog–without warning, you are yanked from your regular day, and trip though into the Secret World, into tenderness, and stillness. You are suddenly and entirely in the presence of beauty itself, something true. All self-preoccupation and vanity supplanted by gentleness and precarity. The air is different; your cells transform; you soften, like you have no skin at all.”
Winter is giving me the unneeded permission to slow down and hibernate but it’s a slippery slope for those of us who enjoy solitude. This past week, I’ve been forcing myself to look for beauty off-screen and get OUTSIDE. I’m not looking for anything huge, the point is more in the looking itself. It’s like the 30-minute workout or what Catherine Price calls ”seeking delight”. Lately, the mood has felt very 2020-esque which, as someone based in Beirut, is saying something. Going on a daily mental health walk has returned as the pathetic prescription for doom/scrolling and mass death.
If only I could go to the South.
LEBANON’S NEW NARRATIVE
I’d like to think that my Eater article from 2021 had some ripple effect in how Lebanese wine has been covered in international press lately. Just read the intro paragraphs from Decanter’s November 2023 article below. I consider this a win even if I had nothing to do with this coincidental commentary.
AT LEAST 10 LITTLE LINKS
“Let us never accept anything less than a politics of shared delight” says Garrett Bucks in The White Pages.
I really enjoyed this.
”The Sommeliers of Everything” by Jason Wilson ofdeconstructs the idea that anything that requires taste “must” also require expertise.
Last month, I finally started reading Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin but the sneaky pro-Israel theme (that people are now taking note of because of the current heightened awareness of Palestine) turned me off. I dropped it and moved on the Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You? after reading this exchange she had with fellow novelist, Isabella Hammad
Last week, I watched Oraib Toukan’s film, Offing, and it was 20 minutes of soft visuals juxtaposed with harsh words of Gaza-based artist Salman Nawati. Her Via Dolorosa is now streaming on Le Cinema Club until Friday. Also watch Salt, a beautiful short on Nowness. And I’m hoping to watch Mohamed Soueid’s Tango of Yearning on Aflamuna before it expires tonight.
”The Subversive Act of Photographing Palestinian Life” by Adam Rouhana
Listen to Laufey’s Tiny Desk Concert for a jazzy Bossa Nova afternoon vibe.
Rebecca Solnit’s Slow Change Can Be Radical Change, Sarah Aziza’s The Work of the Witness, and Hala Alyan’s ‘I am not there and I am not here’: a Palestinian American poet on bearing witness to atrocity
“Why, as a Palestinian American journalist, I had to leave the news industry” by Malak Silmi and Mariam Masud’s “I Don't Want to Be Civil Anymore”
You probably saw the viral cover of Lorde's Team by Palestinian artist, Nemahsis.
She was dropped by her label because of being vocal about Palestine. She just posted this on Twitter and I've spent the day going through her YouTube.