Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Thank You

Dear ChaösGnösis,

I’m moved by your plea to open up to comments and debate. I understand that it’s motivated by concern and appreciation, and that humbles me. Thank you for caring enough to read my thoughts and to write this eloquent missive. Ashkurak ‘ala husn al-qira’a.

Blogging for 3 months has been exhilarating, exhausting, time-consuming, but above all enlightening. I started it to clarify my thoughts, in line with one of my favourite quotes, said by someone famous whose name I don’t remember now: “I write to discover what I think.” But in the process of figuring out what I think, I’ve also learned about what other Egyptians and Egypt-watchers think, and that has been extremely edifying for me.

Having one’s ideas resonate with others is the most gratifying feeling for a writer, and I want to take this opportunity to send a heartfelt thanks to each and every person who takes the time to read this blog, and/or to e-mail me, and/or to link to me. A special word of thanks to the generous Abu Aardvark (and no, he’s not my agent and I don’t pay him to link to me). I especially thank everyone who’s e-mailed to say how and why they couldn’t agree less with me. I’ve received many such thoughtful e-mails, and I do my best to reply to each one. Thank you all, very much.

ChaösGnösis, I understand the impulse behind your plea to include comments, and I cannot disagree with it. But I’ve thought plenty about it, egged on by the prodding of friends and relatives and your own letter, and at bottom I can’t really explain my resistance to comments. The reason I shared with you is definitely true: the blog takes up too much of my life already, and opening up to comments would only increase the time I spend in front of the damned monitor, and my eyes and real job just can’t handle that. But I admit that my resistance has a non-rational basis as well. I’m old-fashioned and see this blog not as an interactive forum but my little ‘zine, and those who are so moved are welcome to e-mail me comments. Following my own rules, I also don’t comment on others’ blogs.

I’m truly sorry if this disappoints you, but at the same time I know you’ll understand. Let a thousand different styles bloom.

I don’t want to fall prey to the conceit that bloggers can change Egypt; I don’t even think that’s the right question. But I do feel less isolated by being a part of this new community of online diarists. I love Beyond Normal’s humour and insight, and Wa7damasrya’s commitment and eloquence, and FromCairo’s integrity, and Digressing’s sagacity, and Hamuksha’s creativity, and Samia’s whimsy, and Wandering Arab’s dark humour, and Perplexed’s measured outrage, and Cinematographe’s graphic outrage, and Rehab’s individuality, and The Arabist’s multivocality, and Orientalism’s painstaking photo narratives, and ChaösGnösis’s Rumi-love, and Socrates' perspicacious poetry. You’ve all delighted and unsettled me, and I hope I’ve done the same for you.

The above are just a smattering of my favorite blogs, the entire list is here, thanks to mindbleed, and the wonderful Manal and Alaa maintain the feed. At the very least, we all prove Egypt’s diversity and decency, against the naysayers and prevaricators and ignoramuses and pimps, who would have us believe that we’re a nation of ingrates, political adolescents and worse, such is the debased quality of their public rhetoric. I started blogging because they make me angry, and I continue blogging because they want to erase and falsify Egyptian history and deny Egyptian democracy.

The Egyptian deity Theuth argued that the written word “will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories,” but Plato derided writing in favor of dialogic discussion and interaction. I respect and agree with the Platonists, but for now remain wedded to Theuth’s words.

Here's to an independent, just, and democratic Egypt,