Noor Abed <noor.abed3@gmail.com>

Mar 25, 9:28 AM
to Areej

My Dearest,

A friend told me yesterday: 'words hurt'. I couldn't stop feeling each word in my body since then. As now I am writing to you, I see words as islands. Are we becoming islands?

It is so quiet here. I had my coffee on the balcony this morning, and watched a lonely old man opening his grocery store, he had orange gloves on his hands. I don't know if I was fully awake, but I could only see the orange gloves floating on their own. empty streets, police cars, trees, everything disappeared. The orange gloves were whispering and dancing. I thought you would like the glove's color.

I still can't think of how to work around our school project. How to detour? How can thoughts touch a place? It is my third day in full quarantine, yet I feel things around me are moving fast. I can touch the salt in my head. 

Amman feels further than ever before.

I miss you,

Areej Al Huniti <areejhuniti@gmail.com>

Mar 26, 2020, 3:01 PM
to Noor

Noor العزيزة

I went running today and I found the orange gloves. Here see:

I learned that they originally belonged to Kapur, not the old world tree that produces a gum resembling camphor, but a human being. It seems that this person used them while developing a device that is capable of hearing our internal vocalisation and speaking back. The intention was to help us (humans) "not shift our attention from our environment - by intrusive devices - but make our communication with our devices, our tools, the apparatuses "more intimate". So we can converse silently with machine intelligence. So the idea is to speak without speaking. Kapur was trying to create an outwardly silent computer interface that can be attached to the skin, enabling humans to "communicate with voice in an environment where you normally wouldn't be able to". I mean the idea of creating a device that interacts with its environment to transmit messages is not new. Graham Bell, inventor of this telephone ↓

was interested in using light to transmit sound waves. But the technology at the time wasn't developed enough. Simply, there were not enough light sources to transmit messages nor sensitive enough receivers to pick them up. He didn't think of laser.

This laser device can whisper in your ear. It interacts with its environment, in particular moisture. So, when water absorbs light it transforms it into sound waves. So wearers of the orange gloves also want to transmit information silently into ears.

So the question is whose gloves, or what gloves do we permit to perform this calibration for us?  What is keeping us from the possibility of a direct encounter? I am thinking about two things, three things, long distance, language and my gut bacteria.

I am thinking about devices that separate us from the natural world and if maybe this time of corona will allow us to experience something outside our sensorium. I mean I don’t want to romanticise this situation or anything. I don’t want to even go there. But I was thinking a lot about our project and the idea of ‘distance’ learning and what it implies literally and physically. It makes me think about the world around me not in terms of separations but of connectedness. So, how can this exercise of me trying to make sense of something, amidst a chaos of information overload, be a good ‘learning experience? How can one inspiring piece help me find a structure that permits me to think, express and make no or some sense. (I will tell you about the process later in this thread).

I was watching a video by James Bridle, in which he talks about Lingua Franca: which is a language that sailors and traders of the Mediterranean used. It was widely spoken and always changing. He says no written fragments of it survived apart from some letters exchanged between merchants in North Africa and Italy. Another name of Lingua Franca is “sabir” which is the verb ‘to know’. So when sailors met at sea they would say: sabir? do you know? do you understand? Can we communicate? It is a moment where two strangers meet and establish a form of communication that is different to the languages they speak. This makes me think of how finding new ways of thinking about the world to rethink normalcy. It also makes me think about other forms of intelligence that live in my gut, that communicate with me and one another silently.  What tools are being held by all colours of gloves to mediate between us and the things around us. How much trust do we place in gloves? Are they doing all the work for us so we no longer have to feel and understand? or they are allowing us to see what surrounds us / lives in us?

Finally, the process I followed is here. Feel free to use it as a guide...

Think of something you learned [online/offline] that stayed with you.
Write it down. 
Find its structure. 
Inject relevant images from your search history/phone into the structure.

It's so true, places feel further than ever before.

Lots of love.

Noor Abed <noor.abed3@gmail.com>

Thu, Apr 2, 2020, 3:10 PM
to Areej

Dearest Areej,
I heard this morning that the full quarantine will be extended one more month here in Ramallah. This means until early May. I am still hoping to come see you mid/or end of May. What do you see coming? Time is becoming an alien creature.
I decided to follow your process as a guide for the last few days. Yet I am not sure about structure. 

These three words from your last letter kept me haunted:
long distance, language and your gut bacteria.
long distance, language and your gut bacteria.
long distance, language and your gut bacteria.

On a parallel note, I came across these three thoughts that stayed with me, I found myself trying to link each with one of your words, try it! sometimes it works.
** The root word of education is “to educe,” to bring forth that which is already there.

** The word “critter” refers to small creatures, small playful creatures who do strange things, like provoking mutation. Critters do not exist as individuals. They spread collectively, as a process of proliferation. 
(From: “Beyond the Breakdown: Three Meditations on a Possible Aftermath” by Franco “Bifo” Berardi)

** When you haven't been in the world long, it is hard to comprehend what disasters are at the origin of a sense of disaster. Maybe you don't even feel the need to.  (From: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante)

Do you fear the idea of techno-totalitarianism?
Do you still go running? Please get me the orange gloves with you if they didn't move.


Areej Al Huniti <areejhuniti@gmail.com>

Apr 5, 2020, 5:06 PM
to Noor

Hi Noor,

How are you today?

I went running two days ago and the gloves were there. I guess they will be there next time I am out. I will bring them. I wanted to write to you last time I went running to tell you that I saw someone walking backwards, like a big man walking backwards. His head was covered with a hoodie and his head was not turned to the side to see behind. Maybe he has a condition that makes it difficult for him to walk forwards, I don’t know.

I woke up with a lot of rage today. I feel trapped and punished. I feel sad and not able to go anywhere to catch my breath before I am in front of a screen again, sharing a part of me. I read your email this morning and felt that the part of my brain that can make sense of what I read seems disrupted. I mean I can’t seem to grasp the meaning of things. I ended up venting to my mom about all sorts of things, about borrowed and postponed lives, about judgments and social flaws.
I read the email again, same thing. Nothing.
I am starting a residency with Darat Al Funun, thinking and reflecting on the current situation in relation to technology, forced isolation etc. I think I have an idea about what I want to do, still didn’t start to actually do it. But my starting point is this uninterrupted chaos and noise that we live in and how things become hollowed of their meaning. So I will try to collect fragments of things and use generative tools to assemble some things. I read about the critters you mentioned, in this context, I feel that everything is invaded by uncontrollable micro critters who want to extract everything, outside our awareness, to do something that is not necessarily of our interest.

What I am afraid of is not totalitarianism or a form of power that uses terror, violence and pain to control masses. What I am afraid of is the kind of power that uses distant connective tools to siphon off information on how I feel and how I sleep. The kind of tools that hurdle us towards what 'they' think is beneficial.
I am sorry for this charged and negative email. I hope you are in a better place.


Noor Abed <noor.abed3@gmail.com>

Apr 11, 2020, 5:10 AM
to Areej

My Dearest,

What is it that made me stand still? I can't forget his voice from behind my mother's on the phone, saying as if shouting to make me hear from the other side of the line: "my heart just skipped a beat, I am fine."
As much as I was worried, all my organs froze, yet I kept thinking of the words my father used: skipping a beat -  skipping, beat -
aren't we skipping our rhythms on a daily basis? how conscious was he of his own beat? one single beat. I touched my own heart, placing my hand on top of all the layers I was wearing. I didn't know if I was aware of my own beat, rhythm, music, movement. The whole space around me vanished, and I felt my body becoming transparent.

The time between the phone call and his arrival to the hospital was the longest. I was trapped in a loop of mazes without any capability of calling again or going there. I had to wait. and time felt like a weapon on my throat. I remembered our road trip from Los Angeles to New York a few years ago, like lovers, like intense friends, we shared hostels' rooms, food, jokes, and cigarettes. I would get annoyed at him sleeping with the TV on. He would get mad at me that I didn't like to have croissants for breakfast. For a week long, we drove across the continent with a paper map because he never trusted my phone's google map - same way as he never trusted doctors, and is resisting now to go to the hospital.

I managed to get to the hospital after a couple of hours trying to find a ride. Taxis and all usual transportation systems are out of operation because of the quarantine. I had a ride with someone that I don't know - Through a friend of a friend, I managed to get a ride with a stranger in his private car. On the checkpoints to the hospital, we lied saying that he is my neighbour.
I arrived five minutes late, my father was sent to the Intensive Care Unit and visits are not allowed. My mother told me that he begged the doctor to wait a few minutes when he knew that I was on my way. The doctor refused.

I tried to hide my wet eyes, and heard my breath so clear from behind the mask. I thought of an imaginable moment of seeing him, how would it be? A second moment of loss hit me, I don't know if I was angry, sad, scared, or all together. I couldn't exchange a conversation with my mother and my sisters who were there before me. I touched my heart again, and this time the layers were doubled as I was wearing a thick blue jacket. I thought of the beat again, as I couldn't hear my own.

The ICU section was blocked with a big metal wall, filled with no entry signs. I tried to open the door but it was heavily locked. It took me a moment to see the intercom device on the right side of the door. I pressed once, twice, I can't remember how many times. I couldn't recognise the energy that was flooding within and moving me. I thought of the critters that we've talked about - what is it that lives inside my father's body that led to this huge metal door to stand between us?

After a while, a tiny gap in the door opened, half of the doctor's face appeared asking what I wanted. I said I want to see my father. He said he can't let me in. I insisted. He said he can't. I insisted again. At the end he said: "let me see what I can do."
I thanked him and sat on a black chair waiting. Again, time was alien to me, yet I counted every minute. After 53 minutes the door opened again, this time the doctor held the door open, and I saw my father laying on bed from distance with three nurses around him. He was on his way to the operation room. I smiled looking at my father, he smiled back. He said he wants to be out soon. I told him that I will be waiting.

Areej, everything was hollowed of its meaning for me that day, except that moment. Maybe we don't need to grasp the meaning of things, do we? Maybe your rage was one of search, of a rusty present, of roads to the imaginable. It feels that the man you saw walking backwards has got it all.
I do understand now that we are skipping a beat.

I can't wait to see your new project at Darat Al-funun.


Areej Al Huniti <areejhuniti@gmail.com>

Apr 15, 2020, 8:52 AM
to Noor

Noor... sorry you had to go all through this! The journey of finding a ride and finally meeting your dad feels soooo long. I hope he is better now. How is he? how are you doing?

You reminded me of a time when my mom was in the hospital. She has irregular heart beats and very low blood pressure. A few years back she got really stressed which resulted in intense heart palpitations and then losing consciousness. We rushed into the hospital to save her life basically and I remember driving with her in the car as she slips in and out of consciousness. She kept saying I am ok don't worry. she was more worried about us than herself. They had to do something to reset the heart and I was watching the monitor. I saw the lines flattening. I just couldn't stand there to witness it, I left the room. In that moment I remember I was trying not to store that memory in my head. I didn't want to see her in that condition. I didn't want to register it. But obviously you remember every detail. I feel you. It is not easy. I am glad your dad got the help he needed at the right time. I hope he recovers soon.

I feel I am getting a cold. Sometimes I feel that when you sit in the sun after a long time of cold your body releases some things that make you get sick. Maybe not though.

I will go take a nap.


Areej Al Huniti <areejhuniti@gmail.com>

Apr 22, 2020, 12:11 PM
to Noor

Saw the guy who walks backwards again...

*VIDEO of the man walking backwards*

Noor Abed <noor.abed3@gmail.com>

Apr 24, 2020, 1:33 PM
to Areej


I watched the video many times. Do you feel the ground beneath you?

I don't know why, but I went to my notes on my phone directly after watching the man walking backwards.
I always liked this notes app on the phone - writing immediate thoughts, comments, short feelings, - do you use it?

Here are some of mine:

* 'When it is all over, nothing is the same. Violence leaves a deep scar' 

* We found little stone soldiers inhibiting words.

*How to get past the meaningless of life? of the everyday? My throat shrinks. I am losing my tools.

* هي دوائر صغيرة وكثيرة غير ملونة تأتيني من مسافات مباهتة، صحراوية مبتورة. كيف كانت الأشياء أنقى و أيني و أينك من الماء وحقول خضراء خلف عيني جفت و ورد المؤنس كالقوافل الضائعة لا قبل ولا بعد

*The invention of tradition

* The way silence speaks is a powerful device. Silent, empty spaces. No one taught us how to see.

* كان لي رغبة عارمة في البكاء، كاصطياد أشباح غير مرئيين،
  اركض وتجتاحني لهفة غريبة تعيدني إلى الداخل
   اسمع نَفَسي لأول مرة منذ أعوام
   كأني غيري والطريق
   هو غيري وأنا عابر سبيل

    أو هو يشبهني وأنا ظلاله
    يتقد الخريف أمامي
    لا أشعر بشيء
    أذكر مقولة لأحد الفلاسفة القلائل الذين أصدقهم،
    يقول: اُرقص أولا، ومن ثم فكّر
    تدور المقولة في رأسي، وأدور حول نفسي
    الطقس بارد جدا
    وكفوف يدي أكبر من أصابعي حجما
    اُرقض اولا.. اُرقص أولا

* Beirut, as much as I've missed you, as much as I am tired, sad and full of anger.

* Landscape and memory - check book

* An exercise in representation, to deal with the politics of the image. Every representation requires a new language.
Invent a new language that is close to the subject matter? It is an impossible exercise!

* Maybe I am not good


Noor Abed <noor.abed3@gmail.com>

Nov 14, 2020, 3:17 PM
to Areej

Dearest Areej,

It has been a while since we wrote to each other through email. I miss sharing with you and collapsing our close yet distant realities together.

I arrived in Athens about 2 weeks ago, a few days after my mandatory quarantine, the country entered its second lockdown. I can't grasp yet my feelings around it, as the residency I am doing here is still going on through extra safety measurements. But, it is definitely not the same feeling I had with the first lockdown back in Palestine. How are things in Amman? and how are you feeling?

A few days ago, I saw a man walking backwards near the Acropolis. My body froze thinking of the man you saw backwards in Amman. He passed me and I kept thinking of ‘synchrony’ as a live social act.  As much as it felt like a film scene to me, I couldn't take out the background of the Acropolis from my head. Epic! It made me go back to what we have been discussing around sites-bodies-movement. How can movement perform an eruption in the present? What is the movement that is suggested by the site itself? and how can these two negotiate meaning?

Today, I joined an artist for a walk through a month-long project she is doing in Athens. She practices the action of walking everyday on the new pedestrian line in the city that is called 'The great walk of Athens'. It is a new pedestrian sidewalk built by the government last June, where they claim to provide more public space for pedestrians in the city and promote the historic center. Implementing this plan last June (after the first wave of the pandemic) was questionable to me, where health, culture, education are in a more urgent need. The artist walks everyday on this sidewalk. She told me her action is a subtle act of resistance, and she calls her project ' The Great Walk'. I left her thinking of how the body can accumulate and restore knowledge through a repetitive act. Do you think our bodies differentiate between actions of resistance and those of survival? For me the two merged into one today.

I came across this book recently: ' Ideas, Arrangements, Effects'. I am attaching a copy here for you. It suggests tools for sensing, understanding, and imagining arrangements in space. I skimmed through it, but I feel it is like a study on space choreography and what kind of knowledge is embedded in arrangements around us, and which in turn produces effects. I will go through it the next few days and would love to discuss it with you soon!

Areej Al Huniti <areejhuniti@gmail.com>

Apr 20, 2020, 4:44 PM
to Noor

It's funny he has reached Athens. I saw him walking forwards in Shmeisani a few weeks back. It was late at night and he was carrying a bag. This makes me wonder what he does all day? What feelings does he struggle to understand/make tangible?

I wanted to ask you... When a group of people come together to try to engage with the topic of learning, what are they supposed to come more aware of? Could the starting point be accepting that they are good exactly where they are? Or is it about having some sort of unusual encounters? Could they engage with different kinds of matter? Or is it about recalibration? a stimulation of senses?

I don't know about repetition. I mean it is good for muscle memory, for getting things done, for transcending into a new level and for embodying intentions and desires. But when it becomes very mechanical, one's capacity for feeling, reasoning and relating could turn more passive. No?

It's nice to hear from you and to know that exciting things are happening. I am curious to hear about the workshop and the notations you mentioned on the phone. Tell me about them.

I hope you are managing to cope with the second wave somehow.

Miss you!