Tim Morton’s book will open your mind to a new way of being

Updated 14 May 2018

Tim Morton’s book will open your mind to a new way of being

BEIRUT: “Being Ecological” will interest anyone passionate about ecology, but this is not the readership Tim Morton is targeting. Being Ecological is primarily meant for anyone who doesn’t care about ecology. “Don’t read ecology books? This book is for you,” says  Morton, acknowledging that ecology books are either clogged with information already out of date by the time they are published or filled with shocking news to make us feel bad.

“This book has none of that” and “it also contains no ecological facts, no shocking revelations about our world, no ethical or political advice, and no grand tour of ecological thinking. This is a pretty useless ecology book, in fact,” says Morton. His wry humor and playful tone run throughout this collection of essays which show us how to live ecological knowledge through the lense of philosophy, literature and popular culture.

“I have a lot of sympathy for the ‘What are we going to do?’ sort of question. And this is precisely why I refuse to give it a straight answer,” writes Morton. 

In a powerful and dazzling display of intellectual calisthenics, Morton opens our minds to new ways of thinking. 

The narrative is clever, challenging and hardly coherent.  He writes like he thinks: Unrestrained and unbridled. He re-molds the language, invents words and brings a new dimension to the art of writing so you can feel the texture of an idea, the taste of a thought and express the color of a feeling.

Tim Morton has devised an exhilarating approach to creating a liveable future. All forms of life are connected. Each one of us is a symbiotic being entwined with other symbiotic beings. 

This interconnectedness encompasses all dimensions of life. In other words, being ecological is not an option because we are ecological.

Book review: ‘Where the Bird Disappeared’ is a tale as old as time

Updated 22 September 2018

Book review: ‘Where the Bird Disappeared’ is a tale as old as time

CHICAGO: Taking a leaf from the real-life stories of Prophet Zakariyya and his son Yahya, Palestinian poet and writer Ghassan Zaqtan’s “Where the Bird Disappeared” is a beautiful yet haunting novel set in the village of Zakariyya, in modern-day Palestine.
Inspired by Qur’anic stories and political history, the novel talks about the relationship between Zakariyya and his best friend Yahya who not only share their names with the two prophets but bear a distant resemblance to their personalities and fates as well.
Zaqtan’s narrative is lyrical, heartbreaking and profound. Rooted in Palestine — a land that stood the test of time and would go on to become the hub of early and modern civilizations — the story is captivating enough to transport us to the hideaway monastery in Nuba Karam or the vineyards of Beit Jalla, the new homes for several villagers forced into exile.
Recalling the devastation and violence faced by those migrating from their homes and country, Zaqtan’s ability to take his readers through the same mountain paths and into the soul of his characters is a cause for applause. As Zaqtan writes of his central character, Zakariyya, “he felt he was walking inside a book, stumbling inside stories that had circulated in these hills since his birth. Journeys and names repeating themselves in succession without end.” And while the novel succeeds in digging deep into the annals of history, it also makes the reader realize how much impact the land of Palestine has had on the two characters and the various stories generating from the region.
Zaqtan’s tale is gentle enough to etch out images of each village, street or ancient structure that make the story and yet devastating enough that these get lost in the bigger picture. His brilliance lies in how conscious he is about the words used, while never losing sight of the historical context of his narrative or the love of the central characters for their beloved land.
Ghassan Zaqtan is an award-winning Palestinian poet, novelist, and playwright. He first published “Where the Bird Disappeared” in Arabic in 2015. It was then translated into English by Samuel Wilder and published by Seagull Books in 2018.