Skip to main content

Two minutes: Enemy of the tribe

There was, once upon a time, a small tribe that lived in a deep jungle. They were migrant farmers, traveling from cultivation spot to cultivation spot, depending on the season and their fancy. In their absence, these spots were often used by other tribes, with the understanding that they would set aside small amount of their harvest. This symbiosis benefited all involved, keeping the soil fresh and turned, providing sustenance for the inhabitants of the jungle 

Their traditions compelled them to hospitality and friendliness toward visitors- their words for strangers and visitors translated into "friends-who-are-not-yet-friends" and "visitors-and-we-are-their-friend". If they didn't like someone, they would become "Friend-that-is-not-talked-to", usually adding "until we talk again", implying that ire was temporary and a return to friendship imminent. 

One day, they were visited by a random anthropologist. Fascinated by the vocabulary their worldview had assigned to the many possibilities and iterations of friendship, having lived with them a number of months, asked "But what do you call those that you fight with? Those who have robbed you? Wronged you? Stolen from you?" 

And on this evening, they were re-introduced, in broken fragments of language to the concept of "those-who-are-not-our friends", and that these might include people who shared their land, the visitors they hosted, and even the anthropologist. The anthropologist believed that this introduction to the concept of competition could only enrich what he had described in his journals as a "[…] charmingly naîve and primitive worldview, based on cooperation and cohabitation, absent of the concept of competition for limited resources". 

After he had returned to his tent, the tribe discussed these concepts. They thought back to the times before they had adopted their current role as peacekeepers in their region, in which they had maintained many soldiers to subdue rival tribes and fought bloody wars to expand their supremacy. They thought back to the realisation that though powerful, they had been more preoccupied with maintaining that power than with the cost they were paying- they had no farms, and so had to tax, or ransack weaker tribes lands and could not care for themselves without conquest. Their happiness was based on proving their influence, power and wealth to each other- whatever the cost, or harm. They used different words for the world then- words that no longer described the world they had chosen. 

In the morning, they informed the anthropologist that they called those who had been their enemies "mostly dead", using not the descriptor "friends-that-we-remember", now equally applied to tribespeople and their many friends, choosing instead to edify him with the old term "foes-that-we-slaughtered", which he understood much too easily- these were words he would soon return to, in a world in which anthropology was a word. In that moment, he felt foolish for his assumptions of simplicity and naïvite, even more so when he learned that the night had also borne him a name with the tribe- "Friend-who-wanted-us-to-have-enemies". 


Popular posts from this blog

HNS Diary 3: The Man Who Stole Nothing / الرجل الذي سرق المفيش

When Heba told me she had the prints, my first instinct was to burn them.
It had been a week since our first call concerning a series of golden silkscreen prints. She, Don and the manager of the gallery representing Heba had discovered them by accident at the Berlin Art Fair. The prints are rather unremarkable- a series of nine, subdued silkscreens of pictures taken off the internet, printed with a shimmering, golden hue. They reminded me of my grandmothers' furniture in Cairo. What they depicted, however, was very familiar to us- we had made it, and these were blatant copies of our documentation of the work on the Homeland set.
Set picture: Bottom left, next to the flag: This series does not represent the view of the artists.

What they had come across was a series by David Krippendorff entitled “This Show does not Represent the View of the Artist”, a tiny play on one of the slogans we used. I was somewhat flattered, at first, at this attempt at an homage, until I read the artists st…

Two minutes: Addiction is Life is Yellow.

Addiction is a much-maligned, muddy word. Until (ca.) the 18th century, it connoted tendency and drive, rather than (self-) affliction. Opium changed that- reportedly. 
Lives described as addiction: to the approval and company of peers, to power and its accumulation, to enjoyment and personal satisfaction (to some people, this may be suffering) and to basics such as air, food, water… and possibly even living. When framed this way, and defined in reference to this word, life suddenly becomes a selfish pursuit in which the living will do anything to get their fix, devoted addicts all. 
On that note: Marylin Manson - I Don't Like the Drugs, But the Drugs Like Me. 
Also: Addiction is apparently yellow. 

COG II: Whose story is this anyway (2)

Caram on Games (COG) is an occasional ramble in which I discuss computer gaming, gaming culture and how I perceive them, in an attempt to talk about a medium that I've always been passionate about, or at least enjoyed. Every part is an exploration of thoughts, meaning that it comes together as it is written- so while they may meander for a while, a point will eventually be reached. Maybe. After a lot of words, and sometimes numbers. You have been warned- there will be a lot of waffle and fewer pictures than befits a visual medium. Now you've been warned twice. Enjoy!

There is a problem with writing about video games. Every time I do, I can't help but feel that this segment should be called "letters from the Matrix", that I might as well be discussing the systems and gameplay that underpin what we still agree to be our "real" lives. Is there a point to discussing the flat economy of traveling through Tamriel, when there are trade wars and very real econo…