On Stage


Commedia dell’arte, 18th Century engraving

by Yahia Lababidi

A fraction of a poem’s power resides in words, the remainder belongs to the spirit that moves through them.

Poetry: the native tongue of hysterics – adolescents and mystics, alike.

Bow so low and you kiss the sky.

There are many degrees of madness. Philosophy, Psychology, and Literature are to name but a few.

Infatuation, as any hothouse flower, will only flourish in a climate-controlled environment. A degree more, or less, and it withers.

We make daily negotiations with others just to keep alive -whether having sex, or crossing the street.

In their wake, weak men leave behind a trail of wreaked women. Yet, the same cannot be said of weak women. Does this argue that women love better or are less capable of inflicting damage?

Papercuts:  battle scars of the office clerk.

Our wants tend to scare things off so that the more desperately we want a thing, the less likely we are to get it.

Burdened by an unendurable present, and faced with an unforeseeable future the Modernist mind wanders to the incomprehensible bliss of an idyllic past: innocence lost.

Distortion in art is the artist’s representation of the lack of proportion in life.

Impulses, as with inspiration, cannot be summoned or dismissed. Depending on our hospitality, they may feel more, or less, welcome to return.

We are all victims of our temperaments, yet we are not treated equally on account of it.

Substance-induced drunkenness is milder than that other drunkenness – of the senses.

Complete honesty is the luxury of the utterly good, or the utterly shameless.

Our morality is determined by the level of immorality that we can afford to live with.

Those for whom the natural is extraordinary, tend to find the extraordinary natural.

“Paradise,” as a symbol, represents what we are denied in our earthly existence. To the thinker, this means the certainty of answers.

The philosopher in the classroom is like the fabled goose that laid golden eggs – slit open and barren.

Philosopher as outsider: how else to evaluate the play – onstage, alongside other actors?

Existentialist: court jester in the kingdom of Philosophy.

Existentialism: restless sleep born of the uneasy sensation that, at bottom, all is not well.

The instincts are a reminder of our animal nature, the ability to resist them a reminder of our godly nature, and the restless tension in between a reminder of our human nature.

About the Author:

Yahia Lababidi is a Pushcart-nominated poet, aphorist and essayist with work appearing in such publications as AGNI, Harper’s, Rain Taxi, New Internationalist and Philosophy Now. His work has also appeared in several anthologies, such as Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists, where he is the only contemporary Arab poet featured, and the best-selling US college textbook, Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. To date, Lababidi’s writing has been translated into Arabic, Slovak, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, and Turkish.  He was recently chosen as a juror for the 2012 Neustadt International Prize.

Lababidi’s first book Signposts to Elsewhere (Jane Street Press) was selected as a 2008 Book of the Year by The Independent, UK.  His latest book is a critically-acclaimed collection of twenty-one literary and cultural essays, Trial by Ink: From Nietzsche to Belly-dancing (Common Ground Publishing). ‘Cairo’ appears in Lababidi’s newest book of poetry, Fever Dreams