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Georg Diez
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Georg recently sent me a text message with two links. One leading to a 1994 muscle BMW 740 in this strange and seldom purple, the other link showed a brownish (bordo metallic) Lancia Thesis from 2003. The BMW is sporty, pimped too bully, the Thesis got the best name a car ever had (where is the Volkswagen Kant or the Peugeot Latour?) and is too retro. But it is Italian. German attack vs. Italian melancholic elegance. Impossible to decide which car Georg should drive. Both. These are the two complementary poles Georg thinks and writes between. He already owns a Volkswagen Beetle from the 1980s, a Range Rover without an engine, the American Gigolo’s Mercedes SL convertible and a black Vespa. And he loves car sharing. It is all there and it is all good. There is no dissent.
Georg and I started off playing tennis. No serves, after each player hits the ball twice we start counting. In New-Tennis volleys count double. We went to North Dakota to ask the British psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas why we had come all the way, we met the philosopher Michel Serres on a sunny Berlin day, and we went to Slavoj Zizek’s apartment in Ljubljana and spoke about nightmares. We sat in Françoise BarréSinoussi’s tiny office in the Pasteur Institute in Paris and talked about the worst diseases of all time. We published eleven books together always trying to find out What Happened in 1980/1981. We went to India to get rid of the monsters we had called. In the near future we celebrated the centennial of 80*81 and found the contemporary, this turned into the opera What Happened 2081? Neo-Yogaism, No More Men, and Algorithm. We organized walks and congresses in Berlin, in Johannesburg and in New Delhi. We buy a tower in Lichtenberg. We will get goates on a hill. We try #60.

Our Friends at Mada Masr

Georg Diez about the Egyptian crackdown against free media
08.06.17
3 min
Post

Sometimes I wonder: Does anybody care? And: Was it always like this? Only now I realize it?
Or, on the other hand, is the world just okay with authoritarian regimes all over taking away the basic freedoms that make humans human?
Like: Freedom of speech and opinion, freedom of press, freedom to assemble. It seems total control all over, and it does not help that there is an authoritarian crack-pot in the White House.
Still, among all the bad bad news we heard in the last year or two, the news from Cairo about our friends at Mada Masr was as unsurprising as it was shocking.
We, Murat and I for 60pages, had been in Cairo in 2015 for an extraordinary workshop about longform non-fiction writing with some of the brightest and bravest of the journalistic profession that I have ever met.
I am grateful for everything they talked about and shared, among them Alia Mossallam and her friend Lina Attalah, the editor-in-chief of Mada Masr, the independent online-medium which was one of our partners at the time.
The closing and finally the tearing down of the gallery space where we met was the first step that we witnessed; our friends in Cairo of course had lived through far worse, Alia Mossallam talks in her soon-to-be published text about some of the despair.
There were constant reports of threats and harassments by the military regime which is tolerated or openly supported by to my knowledge all of the Western governments; it is better to have stability than human rights, that’s the rationale.
But now, it seems there is another level of systematic purging of dissenting opinions: On May 24, Mada Masr – together with Al Jazeera and HuffPost’s Arabic website and others – was blocked by Egyptian authorities.
Then the government of Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi effectively banned foreign NGOs – a move described as a “catastrophic blow” by Amnesty International, a “death sentence” for human rights groups in the country.
Nancy Okail recently detailed what it is like to have to leave your country because you believe in and work for democracy: “We have no choice but to work for a better Egypt. We did not give up under Mubarak when the entire world was backing his oppressive regime, and we will not give up to the current one. We hope that the world won’t give up on us either.”
These are hard times, in a lot of places, for our friends in Egypt and in Turkey where we went for another workshop in March of 2017. Our friend, the German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel is still in prison there.
Again, really, how did we get here? In a way, I feel, all we can do is publish texts that matter.

Learning from Cairo

Georg Diez about about our first 60pages writers workshop
17.05.17
4 min
Voyage | Cairo

This was an experiment. We were going to Cairo for a workshop on the art of longform writing, with the generous support of MiCT and at a time of new tensions between the government and the press. The workshop was hosted by Townhouse Gallery, not far from Tahrir Square. Sep 1–3, 2015, morning, afternoon, dinner, tea and talk in between. 25 writers, activists, journalists. We wanted to talk about what stories need to be told and commission five to eight of them and publish them.

We always believed that part of today’s problems, both politically and journalistically, was a limitation of scope and perspective. What Indian essayist and novelist Pankaj Mishra called “the West and the rest” turns into a true liability if it comes to describing this world and how it changes. The West looks at Egypt and sees first an uprising, violence, a revolution; then change, the end of the old, the beginning of something; democracy? The election turns out differently. The Muslim Brotherhood is not what the West bargained for. So when the new president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took over, there was a very loud silence from the part of Western governments.

It has been a rollercoaster ride and we came to listen and learn. Probably the most fascinating thing somebody told me in the last two days here in Cairo, the thing with the most far reaching implications, spanning the private and the political, the family and the state, regression and aggression and an overall unease with the way men are, was Egyptian writer, performer and director Nora Amin who said that Egyptian men are so spoiled by their mothers, so doted upon, so smothered with love that they go through life expecting this to never end.

Would the Middle East be a different place without these men? Probably. Is there a chance of that happening? Probably not. Do they care? No. Do they know? I guess not. Nora’s text was the first one that we published, it was a strong, moving, vulnerable text about rape and Tahrir and the everyday sexism of the Egyptian society. It was also about survival.

“Migrating the Feminine”, Nora Amin’s text, was published just after there were attacks by supposedly refugees on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve of 2015/2016. Her text was like a commentary to everything that went wrong in the German debate after the events, the blame, the prejudice, the xenophobia and islamophobia that was growing more and more at the time. We were proud to publish this text, and the German newspaper “taz” picked it up as well.

The next text was Youssef Rhaka’s very daring essay on “Arab Porn”, a provocative and mindful examination of the fundamental changes the Egyptian society is living through as seen through the prism of sexuality and home-made porn — it is also a questioning of the self-understanding of protest and activism about producing change versus the change that is happening anyway, away from the streets, apart from the news.

We will publish two more from the Cairo workshop in the coming weeks. One is by Alia Mossallam who tells the story of loosing friends in the Arab Spring, of torture and fear of oppression and the deeper story of migration across the Mediterranean — all channeled through her very difficult and painful childbirth; only this pain, it seems, allowed her to access the other pain.

The final text by Amr Ezzat will be the most genre-bending, an account of a double-life, to say the least, the life of a member of the Muslim Brotherhood turned activist in the Arab Spring movement — without telling his father about it. It is a story about the basic contradictions that run through every society, but those in particular where religious fanaticism is ruling; the basic contradictions that run through every family, but those in particular where the fear of the open and the other is cultivated to a degree that encourages lying.

What can we take away from all of this? There is so much we don’t know. It is best if we just come to learn and listen.

What's a Mistake?

Georg Diez about seeing a country sink
12.09.16
3 min
Post

I called my friend Aman Sethi the other day, he was in New Delhi, I was in Cambridge, he had just gotten up, I was about to go to bed, we said hello on skype and recorded what we talked about for 60hz – and it felt good to be so far away and think about this mad mad year that has passed. Just that day I had read another of the many many articles about why Merkel has to go and how the mood in the country has changed and why it was a mistake a year ago to let the refugees in.
In this text, like in the others I read, I tend to skip them, actually, because they all sound alike, there was no argument why it was a mistake. There was no explanation of the alternatives at that time, there was no discussion about the fundamentals or principals of what Merkel did or what the alternatives might have been. She acted to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe. But this is something that does not count for much these days it seems.
What was important, it seems, and what is important, is politics. To turn a problem into politics, you have to forget the problem and just talk about what other people in the political sphere say about the reasons, the consequences, but preferably the failures and mistakes of others. Some call this spin, but that was a while ago. Today it is reality which is replaced by rhetoric.
The problem with that kind of approach – or journalism, for that matter – is the profound inabilty to formulate any guiding principle for how things should be. Actually, this is the whole purpose of the endeavour. Talk about who said what in order not to talk about guilt and responsability.
The role of the press in this context strikes me as reckless. What is this obsession of parts of the Berlin establishment to get rid of that woman that they listened to like schoolboys for such a long time? They chose to ignore that the country is doing fine one year into the brave decision to let the refugees in. There is no crisis, but they need one, so they talk about it without touching reality.
It seems that the campaign against Angela Merkel is a primarily destructive journalism not based on reality but resentment. Merkel’s mistake is not a mistake in an objective sense, it cannot be, it does not have to be. The mistake is not even a mistake. It just needs to be called one. The mistake serves its purpose like a discursive poison.
A country like Germany with so little balance and confidence, a country so insecure about who it is and what it wants to be, a country with such a long tradition in obedience will have problems to adjust to this new situation if it only relies on the capacities of the people they consider Germans – if the large part of the population with different background, stories, perspectives are shut out, this would the most catastrophic consequence, the beginning of really fundamental change in the way this country works.
Aman was helpful. It was good to talk to him. Listen to what he had to say, Monday, 7 pm Berlin time, on Berlin Community Radio.

Le Petit Cambodge

Georg Diez about about José Lira and the Paris Attacks
18.11.15
7 min
Post

I was in Paris, again, like ten months ago. Then it was Charlie Hebdo, now it was Bataclan, the Carillon, La Belle Equipe, Le Petit Cambodge. It was places people go to when they want to have fun, when they want to meet people, when they want to live.
One person who really impressed me in these days that I was there was the Brazilian architect Jose Lira. I met him through Patrice Maniglier who edited a very good issue of Les Temps Modernes about Islam and the State. Jose was at Le Petit Cambodge when the shooting began, he was sitting at a table outside.
Here is what he wrote: 
“These are the times when we are at a loss. We don’t know what to do, what to think, I don’t know what to say, but many friends have written to me, concerned, all the terrible news coming from Paris are amplified through the distance, also thanks to the awful tone of news media, resounding with a public that likes tragedy, blood, fear. There was even someone who made up that a Brazilian architect had died in the attacks… I write to tell you that I am well, and to share a little bit of what I am feeling. Perhaps this might help you and me think some more, perhaps feel more closely what happened. I still have not been able to read much about what happened, and I confess that I am shocked by the way the news are treated, in a way that is sometimes too abstract, sometimes too sensationalist. The fact is that I cannot forget the fragile but serene gaze of the victims by my side yesterday evening.
I had spent a blissful Friday afternoon in the company of two former students from the School of Architecture at the University of São Paulo; soon other friends, almost all of them Brazilian and architects, joined us. We decided to have dinner at the Petit Cambodge, a delicious restaurant, in a vibrant, youthful part of the 10ème. At around 9:30, when we were almost done eating, the shots began. We were eating at a sidewalk table, the sound of the machine-gun was very close to us, I saw sparks on the other side of the sidewalk. I swear I first thought those were fireworks, perhaps part of a performance in this neighborhood so full of artists and irreverent people, and I thought it was odd that everyone got up and started running. How extreme! But the shots wouldn’t stop and began to hit all the dishes and bottles all around, and impulsively I joined the flow of people who were running from the restaurant to a grocery store next door. Once in there, I realized that only two of my friends were there; we didn’t know where the other five were. Back inside, there were about twenty of us, and no one had any idea about what had just happened. One of my friends was bleeding, perhaps from glass shards on his forehead.
Ten minutes later, the firemen arrived and we left; then came the police, as always truculent and insensitive. The scene was indescribable. A Holocaust at the level of those back in the day in Cambodia. I didn’t know where to look, there people on the ground, groups of friends comforting the wounded, people crying, some people already dead lying alone, others almost dying. We were looking for our friends. I saw one of them on the ground, assisted by her French friend, also covered in blood. I approached her. A beautiful young woman, her body so small, her skin so fine, very wounded, who spoke to me serenely in Portuguese: “I need to get out of here, I need to get to a hospital.” We tried to comfort her, to embrace her, to stay by her side while waiting for the medical help that had not arrived yet. The firemen helped her with oxygen and a blanket, but they did not know who needed the most help, they did not know what to do.
Two other friends appeared, in good shape, and took us to one of my former students, an amazing young man, a person from the most precious kind, who was splayed inside the restaurant. He was very hurt, but conscious, my friends surrounding him, helping him as we could, while he kept repeating with us that he would stay strong. Once in a while I trembled, I begged for medical help, I glanced to one side and the other and was met by the serene gaze of the other victims, perhaps the only people who, partly in shock, partly in the humble or resilient manner of vulnerable people, observed all that movement like angels, waiting, processing, looking at the world from up high, perhaps, more than us, stunned by this world which each day becomes more terrible, more intolerant, more filled with hate, with ressentiment, with fear, with despair. I could not move to help the others, the men, the women, their bodies so fragile, more or less wounded, with their eyes attentive to everything that was happening. We were magnetized by the single goal of saving our friends, and the firemen and the police still not knowing whom to rescue first, who was in worst shape, telling us all the time: “There are 10 dead, there are 20 dead, there are 40 wounded, patientez!”
I will not get into this issue now, but it is very strange to see so much security, so many military and police on the streets of Paris, and so little preparedness to deal with the eventual victims of what they most fear. I will not get into this, because I just want to tell you that what really concerns me, and increasingly so in life, is the feeling in the singular, the pain in the singular, people in the singular. Something so hard to convey, to share, as we know; and also (and not only) for this reason so ignored by the analyses, the news, the leaders, their technicians and technologies, by the aggressors, by people and groups, accustomed to speaking of tens, of hundreds, of thousands. I don’t speak of their personalities, of whether they are intelligent or not, cool or square, happy or not so much, successful or frustrated. But I speak of their bodies, their pain, the look in their eyes, their frailty, their smallness, our skin that tears so easily, our bones that break, really, our organs that sometimes fail, our breathing, labored sometimes. Our voice that murmurs, whispers, whines, talks, asks for help if needed, when possible, our bodies which collide, can’t move, can support other bodies, comfort them, protect others at risk, run when threatened, our kind of automatic reactions that proclaim all the time: “I want life,” I want to preserve life, this potency of feeling, acting, thinking. So brutalized today.
But what I wanted to say is that five Brazilians, among them myself, did not have their bodies hit by shots. Our two friends underwent surgery and are recovering. We are all together. Their fragility and their strength, their serene and vulnerable gaze, their delicate way of saying “I feel pain, I don’t, here, please help me,” all of this will make a difference. Because life does not wait. We will go back to Brazil soon. And well. To this Brazil that has given us so many signs of intolerance—religious, ideologic, ethnic, politic, moral, gender intolerance. But, after all, our home. Thank you for your concern!”

Refugees in Reality

Georg Diez about the 60showcase
11.10.15
4 min
Salon | 60showcase

It had happened in the middle of the evening or maybe already towards the end of the event, the people who had come with their children in the afternoon and had swam in the pool after the rain had subsided had left and the people who had had other places to go to on this last day of the art crazy in Berlin had also left to attend another boring dinner and talk about another boring artist, and we had had a fire burning in the court-yard, sort of, the place where everybody gathered who was not listening to one of the readings or eating some of Gordon’s fish tacos or looking at this strange and beautiful area, a mix of the Palm Springs of the 1960s and the East Berlin of the late 1980s. 
It belongs to Jonas Burgert, a painter with the force and gesture of a Renaissance man transposed into a post-apocalyptic playground of hedonism and war. He had liked the idea to host this first ever 60showcase, a sort of salon without salon, a bit like the internet turned off, this was the idea, the feeling of surfing between texts, stories, memories, thoughts, drifting, floating, getting lost and finding common ground again, there would be music and food and films, Christopher Roth and Alexa Karolinksi and the still magical soccer game between Germany and Brazil that ended after 30 minutes because Germany was already five goals ahead; the rest was not defeat, it was the mutual attempt to avoid total humiliation, in a way one of the greatest achievements in international soccer because they pulled it off, and pleasant to watch, again and again.
It was cold that day, September 20th 2015, it had rained the whole day, it had felt at times like Manila was a suburb of Berlin, a Manila where somebody had taken away the sun and replaced it with a four Watt lightbulb and the whole tropical chaos was turned into a constant wondering if this was how it was going to be like for the foreseeable future, the weather in amok modus and people pretending that nothing really was going on that would necessitate commenting upon. Was it? Or wasn’t it? Would we all be prepared for it? Or was it just a lack of imagination?
And when it happened, late in the evening, as I have said, or maybe almost towards the end, it was like a kiss from reality, it was the epic energy which was stored away in single letters that formed a text, it was a moment of truth which was as unexpected as any moment of truth these days. Sam was standing there, in his camel hair coat he looked like a metaphysical warrior without a battle to wage and without an army to follow, a lonely, handsome man stuck in his own dream, in his own reality, who is to say, there is a difference, he knows that, we all know that, the people watching that evening knew it, and still, it was confusing to tell one from the other. Why seperate? Why decide? And who is to tell?
What had really happened was hard to say. It had been Christopher’s idea and he and Helene Hegemann and Jasna Fritzi Bauer and Anne Philippi and Armen Avanessian and Andrea Hanna Hünniger and Mavie Hörbiger also known as the 60pages All Stars had read a text that Sam had written, a part of his take on sharing, his philosophy of the politics of pleasure, and as …
Later, when Igor Levit was playing the last movements of Beethoven’s last Sonata and everybody was gathered around the grand piano which had been placed in the middle of a large room with parts of the ceiling hanging down in a very fashionable way,  

Arthouse Pop

Georg Diez about the smart beauty of Malakoff Kowalski
30.09.15
4 min
Post

It was a hotel on the edge of Tiergarten. Till Harter had invited me and as he had not shown up for the 60showcase event at Weissensee I decided I would go to his event instead. It would be about Jazz, this is what I had understood. The hotel was grand, imposing, expensive, a lot of heavy stone, the way the old Berlin was and the new Berlin wants to be like, but imitation is a boring game.

I went there also because Aram was going to perform a few of his songs. He had had very positive reviews in major newspapers in recent days, he was at the event in Weissensee and stayed until Igor Levit had played Beethoven and everybody was crying inside. He does not perform very often. And I like him. A lot of reasons to go there.

Aram calls himself Malakoff Kowalski when performing. I have forgotten why, and my Iphone refuses to remember that name, it is always Aram, there is a stubborn side to technology. At the hotel, there were maybe fifty people standing on the balcony overlooking Tiergarten, Aram said “Georg” and Till said “Georg” and then I had white wine and Aram and his girlriend had Schorle or Spritz for which they kind of apologized. Then Aram, as always dressed in a white shirt and tight black pants and his imperial black cap, had a glass of water and showed me the bag he had traded the other night with Helene Hegemann who in the last couple of weeks has been shooting her film “Axolotl Roadkill” at all the places everyone goes to all the time and with all the people involved who go to these places. It is the bubble of the bubble, chamapgne bubbles.

Aram is part of this bubble and is not. He is always polite and respectful and surrounds himself with a playful distance, almost detachment. He seems like a character from a movie that looks like it was an arthouse hit in the seventies but really is from 2013. There is a very contemporary feeling of timelessness about him which implies time having passed.

What is so special about Aram’s music is that it seems like a thought prolonged into sound. It works on a musical level and on a literary or maybe even visual level. About the musical side I cannot say a lot, I am pretty illiterate when it comes to that. But as for the images he evokes, the moods he imitates, the streets he draws and the women he paints, there is a lot to be said. As he puts it himself, he wanted to make an album that is like a kiss, like a long embrace, a tenderness, a warmth that may or may not have to anything to do with the digital world, just because everything by definition is related to the Internet today as we live in the digital age.

Suffice to say, I am not convinced that it tells you anything about the beauty, the sadness, the longing of Aram’s music if you relate it to 1 and 0. When he played at the Stue hotel that night, he had an accoustic guitar with a lot of echo which brought to my mind the dark and winding roads on a typical night in the hills above Los Angeles, headlights searching, cars cruising, people on the move, no direction home, a metaphysical loss that is being clouded by the way things always appear smaller when you look in the rear mirror. The memories that Aram plays with might or might not be real, the night sky above Los Angeles is real. The smell of the trees, the touch of a dress, the sound of a car driving by. This is as real as it gets.

But where does that leave love? Aram does not pretend to be an expert, to the contrary, the appeal of his approach is that he talks about loving like an amateur would; and this is not just a nod to this very concept of unplugged emotions, of make-shift relationships, of moment to moment immediacy. Aram reflects in his words, in his music the way that love is constructed without tearing apart the secret that surrounds it. He leaves intact the mystery, he even creates a new form of mystery by referencing the accoustic version of life. His guitar as much as his voice lead us astray, they turn us on, they make us long to be someone else and ourselves at the same time, because they dream up a life that never was – which is maybe the closest one comes to fulfillment.

Death in the Theater

Georg Diez about the meaning of Maxim Biller and his play "Kühltransport"
24.09.15
3 min
Salon | 60showcase

German theater, like a lot of things in Germany, is supposed to be the best in the world, this is at least what Germans like to think. I am not so sure. I was a theater critic for a while, and just the other day, in the drunken hours after the 60showcase, Mavie Hörbiger again tried to convince me that I was any good. Whatever. These times are over, the theater lost me, or I lost the theater, we grew disenchanted, this much I can say. 
But back in the day when the theater was still young for me, my friend Maxim Biller had the idea of writing a play. He had never been particularily interested in this art form, as far as I know. He might have been inspired by Thomas Ostermeier who had just been named director of the once famous Berliner Schaubühne at a very young age. There was a certain cultural pull in this direction for a while. This has turned out to be an illusion in a couple of ways.

But Maxim wrote this play, “Kühltransport”, he dedicated it to Thomas Ostermeier, in 2002 there was a really good reading at the restaurant of the Schaubühne with its Bauhaus influenced large glass windows – and then the play somehow disappeared. It was performed once or twice in smaller theaters, but it has never had the influence or relevance it could have had.

It is true, this play and the others he wrote after that are different from almost all other plays that are written in produced in Germany, they try to find a way to talk about the world we live in in a language people might actually use. They are political, they are straight forward, they apply art as a means of understanding, not of showing off. And, so it happens, they are rarely performed, if at all.

Which is strange. Really strange, considering how few good plays are out there. But what is the meaning of this? The theaters and the theater directors seem a bit shy to tackle his plays that deal with jewish life in Germany – and, in the case of “Kühltransport”, his first play, the tragedy of the 58 Chinese who in 2000 died in a container, suffocated to death. Biller reconstructs the last hours of these people, he goes back to China and moves across to London and Rotterdam to understand how this could happen and what the reasons, motivs, consequences are.
15 years later it is not any longer Chinese who are coming, who are dying, it is Syrians. The play is still not performed. This is why 60pages published it, in German. This is why we had a reading of parts of it, at the 60showcase on September 20 in Berlin Weißensee. Thank you Pedro Martins Beja, Sergej Lubic, Tom Radisch, Aram Tafreshian, Max Urlacher!

Freud without Freud

Georg Diez about the secret of Middle Eastern men
07.09.15
2 min
Voyage | Cairo

Probably the most fascinating thing somebody told me in the last two days here in Cairo, the thing with the most far reaching implications, spanning the private and the political, the family and the state, regression and aggression and an overall unease with the way men are, was Nora who said that Egyptian men are so spoiled by their mothers, so doted upon, so smothered with love that they go through life expecting this to never end. They have wives whom they expect to behave like their mothers, they think of themselves as strong men but are still the little sons they were thirty, fourty years ago. I don`t know if this explains everything, I don`t even know if it is true. But it totally makes sense, in the way that Freud without Freud always makes sense. Would the Middle East be a different place without these men? Probably. Is there a chance of that happening? Probably not. Do they care? No. Do they know? I guess not. But I trust Nora somehow on this as she is as smart and sharp as an Amazon Warrior has to be. This is what someone at the workshop called her. At least this is what I thought. It turned out that I did not hear correctly. But there still is some truth to this name, Nora said, and laughed.

The Strange Curve of History

Georg Diez about the second birthday of 60pages in Cairo
05.09.15
3 min
Voyage | Cairo

We were walking along July 26th Street, Murat and me, carefully avoiding the sun, trying to stay in the shade, when it dawned upon me that yes, today was the second birthday of this very site, 60pages. We were on our way to the Townhouse Gallery which Murat had a little trouble finding. We had both arrived in Cairo the evening before, and Murat had been at the Townhouse for a few hours, preparing everything for the workshop, but somehow the impression of this city which so much reminded him of the Istanbul he remembered from the months he spent there as a child confused him a little bit and he was taken back all those years while forgetting on the way the path, the indeed tricky path to Townhouse. You turn right a little past the very good pastry bakery, it is a street full of little stores selling car parts, something, Murat said, the Armenians used to do in his childhood memory of Istanbul. Then you turn left, try not to fall over the plastic chairs that substitute for a cafe, turn left again, and there you are. Sarah was already there, it turns out it was also her birthday, the 25th. Happy birthday, Sarah! And thank you for putting together this fabulous group of people, writers, journalists, activists, all there to discuss the beauty and necessity of longform writing. It was hot, it was long, but what a great conversation we had. Among the many beautiful and memorable things being said was Wael`s statement, the big bearded Wael, the poet who said that journalism should be considered as a form of art and not as the 4th estate of a democracy that is bound to a nationstate that Wael believes is about to fall. Not today, not tomorrow, not in Egypt specifically, but more generally, a brief and bloody episode in human history which is going to end soon. Wael looked not mad as he said this, rather benign. So what could this journalism be that is more than another accessory of the nationstate? Maybe just the same, only better? Lina of Mada Masr made her argument for longer and better writing, something we here want too, and she mentioned Walter Benjamin as a storyteller, going back from the early 21st to the early 20th century while still going forward. A very inspiring exercise in time travel. Alia also of Mada Masr was also for time travel, she proposed to talk about migration at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, among the migrants Italians coming to Egypt to build the Suez canal. History is strangely curved, it turns out. And that time is not linear is something we had always suspected, no? July 26th, by the way, was the day that Farouq, the son of Kind Fuad, was forced to abdicate in 1952. In 2013, General Sisi called on the population to demonstrate against the Muslim Brotherhood. This is what our new friends at Mada Masr wrote back in 2013. They are lovely people. As are most of the Egyptians we talked to today. What a very nice birthday. Happy 60pages.

The West and the Rest

Georg Diez about the 60pages workshop in Cairo
01.09.15
2 min
Voyage | Cairo

This is an experiment. We are going to Cairo for a workshop on the art of longform writing, with the generous support of MiCT and at a time of new tensions between the government and the press. The workshop will be hosted by Townhouse Gallery, not far from Tahrir Square. Sep 1 till 3, morning, afternoon, dinner, tea and talk in between. We expect 20 to 25 people, writers, activists, journalists. We want to talk about what stories need to be told and commission five to eight of them and publish them here, at 60pages. We also want to expand our network of people trying to figure out the present.

We always believed that part of today’s problems, both politically and journalistically, was a limitation of scope and perspective. What Pankaj Mishra called “the West and the rest” turns into a true liability if it comes to describing this world and how it changes. The West looks at Egypt and sees – what: first an uprising, violence, a revolution; then change, the end of the old, the beginning of something; democracy? The election turns out differently. The Muslim Brotherhood is not what the West bargained for. So when Sisi took over, there was a very loud silence from the part of Western governments.

It has been a rollercoaster ride. We don’t pretend to understand it. This is why we come. To listen and learn. We plan more of these – what should we call them: workshops, pop-up editorial sessions, voyages? Let`s call them voyages, because the goal in a voyage is exactly that, learn, listen, change. This we want to share with you, here and now. So join us.

Our Friends at Mada Masr

Georg Diez about the Egyptian crackdown against free media
08.06.17
3 min

Learning from Cairo

Georg Diez about about our first 60pages writers workshop
17.05.17
4 min

What's a Mistake?

Georg Diez about seeing a country sink
12.09.16
3 min

Le Petit Cambodge

Georg Diez about about José Lira and the Paris Attacks
18.11.15
7 min

Refugees in Reality

Georg Diez about the 60showcase
11.10.15
4 min

Arthouse Pop

Georg Diez about the smart beauty of Malakoff Kowalski
30.09.15
4 min

Death in the Theater

Georg Diez about the meaning of Maxim Biller and his play "Kühltransport"
24.09.15
3 min

Freud without Freud

Georg Diez about the secret of Middle Eastern men
07.09.15
2 min

The Strange Curve of History

Georg Diez about the second birthday of 60pages in Cairo
05.09.15
3 min

The West and the Rest

Georg Diez about the 60pages workshop in Cairo
01.09.15
2 min