You finally discover that all you wanted to do in life was to be a writer. The first thing you do is to jump on the internet, buy a web domain and start writing. Your friends from the media industry start getting interested. They advise you to turn your writings into a commercial platform with a bulk of reviews, of restaurants and malls, places and things you can do in Dubai, right where you live. They remind you that Dubai is a lucrative advertising space, that companies will be generously rewarding you if they get onto your publication; and they care alot about your local traffic. You think to yourself that you have benefited over and over from the noble cause of reviews, you have dumped every restaurant where an unknown online friend found a hair in their food. You remember how bottom up ratings have changed the world of advertising and sympathised with you as a customer. You are now petrified from your friend’s advice; he is right, and you are going down the wrong alley. You’re frightened because you told him you want something analytical, a good afternoon read; a commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, and cartoons; poetry, and a guide to a more insightful life. You are frightened of his idiotic smile when he told you that your idealism is not taking you anywhere.
You suddenly remember that you’re Arab, and get even more scared. You get a vision of the bleeding silent thinkers, arab philosophers, who have long been stigmatised for their philosophical approach to life. You can’t forget how many times you have heard those confident voices in salons, dinners and gatherings, going wholeheartedly on a friend debating an idea for longer than 30 seconds: ‘enough philosophy’. They have always done it, and they will do it again.
You are afraid because you know well that the meaning of a ‘philosopher’ in the Arab world has a negative connotation. A word thrown at someone who can’t do but talk, a complicated mind who thinks it sees the world differently. Their world goes with the flow, it is neat, reliable, risk-less. It is anything but how the Oxford dictionary defines philosophy, ‘the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence’.
Who needs that, who does when you can live in the grime of a safer ancestors’ thinking, who needs philosophers who alter every little detail of what life should be, who analyse the color of your shirt, the reasons of your smiles, the origin of your fears. Who needs more people in the Arab world who can explain a failing marriage, child molesting fathers, and the reasons why people still die of heartaches.
Heartaches will be, they will always happen. Your words and meta-thoughts will not help it, my philosopher friend.
Your inquisitiveness, keep it for yourself. Bury it. Technology changed our lives, let’s just talk about that. Outfits and cars; what do you need more for a blooming life? Let’s talk about movies, bars, and spaces. All the entertainment details that fill our lives; and fill our void. A god-damn void that never fails to leave us, despite bars and movies and spaces. A void that a philosopher does not accept to live with, because a philosopher refuses but to see beauty in resilient pink flowers down the block, sense the sadness in your smiling voice, and tantalize over the power of imperfection and scars. A philosopher who is skeptical as much as believer, and never fails to stop and question the difference between living and being alive, because they understood that questioning means, being alive. One who has a message to the world and wants to infuse it with their eternally unique blend.
So yes my Arab friend, keep your philosophy away. Take it and start writing some reviews out of it, take it because your philosophy brings me headache and jeopardizes everything they slowly taught me about who I am. Take it because it painfully reminds me as a plain-liver how lifeless I am.