Atlantic, adan.

Publié par 28 janvier 2024Non classé

Essaouira, January 24, 2024


The wind is on my back as i’m writing to you. Black eyes into the Pacific blue. You look at me, I can see you. I have nothing to fear. I am on the rooftop, the sun caressing my back. Somewhere the adan1the call to prayer and the sound of waves. I am writing from a language in exile. Back home, we hear no waves and blue is the colour the policeman’s uniform that became millionaire after he shot a kid. The eternal black boot steps can be heard. I can’t live with such indifferent peoples. Take care of those we love.


Cannons on the medina walls face the ocean, but no threat to this coastal town. It’s unchanging. I look at it and see 500 years of history – donkey riders, dyers in wool turbans, argan trade, and magic stones warding off the evil eye. Streets marked in Arabic and Berber. Portuguese named it Mogador but bounced when locals resisted. To them, it’s Aṣ-​Ṣawîrah, the well-designed.

No matter how much I try to escape, reality’s relentless. I open my phone. There is this controversy2 i refer to a controversy regarding the appointment of an author close to the far right as a sponsor for the 2024 Poetry Festival. Poets, editors, and authors have signed a statement to protest this appointment. Their commitment has stirred media, the French Minister of Culture, and various individuals to take a stance. I could look at it from distance… unfortunately. I sign a paper ; they sign a counter-​paper, talking about censorship, freedom of opinion. These people live in 2014, in a period of relative carefreeness. I myself am a reader of Saint-​Loup3Saint-​Loup is an author and mountaineer who collaborated with the Nazis during the 1939 – 45 war. His novel « La nuit commence au Cap-​Horn » would have won the Goncourt if he hadn’t been arrested at the Liberation.. I am well aware that this week, 1.4 million Germans protested against a party inheriting the last Reich. I don’t know about them, but i come from Pasolini, Nina Simone and Simone Weil, Angela Davis… So if Saint-​Loup leads a cultural event supposed to represent me, of course shall i rise.

I visit cities who got a unique relationship with color. Marrakech is ochre – buildings and ramparts, shifting between pink and orange. Essaouira is blue – doors, shutters, and especially the blue of boats and the Atlantic. I observe battlements, balconies, arches, facades. What higher principles do these adornments reflect ? What symbols do they carry ? And the color – what inner landscapes does it summon us towards ?

Art is not the imitation of life, but life is the imitation of a transcendent principle with which art puts us back in communication. 

Antonin Artaud, Œuvres complètes, Paris, Gallimard, t. IV, 1956 – 57, p. 310.

Writing from language with no truth. I think of Solzhenitsyn : « When one has embraced the world, there is no escape. A writer is not the indifferent judge of compatriots and contemporaries ; a writer is the complice to the crimes committed by it’s compatriots and contemporaries ». No matter what i do, the language i speak lacks a words for the death of 5,350 children. There are languages without words to say « I love you », mine has no words to say : the army murdered 5,350 children. 

Can such a fact have no impact on the sense of reality ? How can my writing aim for any transcendance if it lacks a word for « truth » ? Back then, every time i left my langage, i traveled to write. It’s the way i exist. I work, I save, i leave, i write. I can’t do this anymore. Langage is the promise to reconcile words and the object they signify. This contract is my working tool : truth. I can’t no longer write « I visit cities who got a unique relationship with color » and leave behind an army of Sisyphus writing from a headless language.

« We will be told : what can literature do against the wild rush of violence ? Let’s not forget that violence doesn’t live alone ; it’s incapable of living alone. It is intimately linked, by the closest of natural ties, to falsehood. Violence finds its only refuge in lies, and lies finds their only support in violence. Any person who has chosen violence as a means must inexorably choose falsehood as a rule. In the beginning, violence acts openly, even proudly. But as it strengthens, firmly establishes itself, it feels the air thinning around it and cannot survive without entering a fog of lies, disguising them with sweet words. It doesn’t always, not necessarily, cut throats ; most often, it merely demands an act of allegiance to lies : complicity. And the simple act of courage from a simple person is to refuse these lies. Let the world embrace in it, even make it a law — but not with me. »

Alexandre Soljenitsyne (1918 – 2008), discours du prix Nobel 1970.

This one’s for the artists privileged to be untouched by triumphant fascism. Won’t cost you a thing to be on the right side of history. What’s history ? It unfolded on January 11, 2024, right outside the International Court of Justice. Whether you were a writer, actor, poet, DJ, painter, dancer – all the tools of expression you could have used and yet you decided to remain silent. But your silence wasn’t elegant, deep or gracefully indifferent ; it was just plain cowardly. The contemporary world you pretend to be part of has sprinted past you – watch it’s back, it fades into the distance. It shall never turn it’s back. 

Essaouira, January 25, 2024


Back then, I used to keep travel journals. I wrote from Athens and Corinth, the bright city, Lake Kivu, and Mont Blanc. Tomorrow, Chefchaouen. After you left, I woke up in complete darkness. I realized that more than the sun, I’ve been seeking for other ways to be part of the world. I cleansed my tongue against the waves of the Atlantic. I can write the word « truth. » The adan taught me how to spell it. The adan and the sound of waves, shaping my relationship to the world.


On the other hand, it would be naive to think that we are engaged in politics when we faithfully represent the evil that runs our lives. Evil should not be represented ; it should be healed. And it is not its monumental representation that shall heal us. In fact, art is political only when it (re)constructs the polis, the space, the city, or the countryside in which we live. Art is political only when it confuses its flesh with the world, when it becomes the very form of life on the planet. It does not become political because it discusses or represents certain events rather than others ; it becomes political when it takes the shape of our relationship to the world. ( Rancière ) 

Text and image from Nathaniel Molamba.