Ramadan Diaries, Day Twenty-Seven

Incantation bowl, Mesopotamia (ca. 5th-9th c.). NYPL Digital Collections.


I dream that I'm playing capoeira and stop to drink five glasses of water. But the sunup hour arrives quickly, and mid-sip, I realize I have to stop drinking immediately. I shake myself awake, literally shaking my head right and left to snap out of it.

This morning I have a delightful studio visit with a person who defies typical occupational categories. They are part-artist, part-technologist, but since they use algorithmic expression seemingly against itself I like to call them an anti-technologist. We make mutual appointments, one at my studio and one at theirs, and talk for at least an hour over our allotted time. When the conversation is so fervent with ideas, beaming with mutually co-created thought, I start to feel a low-rise buzzing in the part of my brain just above my ears. It's like I can feel certain synapses or membranes working faster and better, like a hard drive warming up to its heavier task load, and the excitement of it lasts for a remarkable number of hours afterward. It's like getting stoned on psychosocial exchange. The live intellectual incubation makes me feel good, and very wakeful in perceptions, impressions, and thoughts and the ability to make quick connections between them.

After an unspeaking pause, when the room itself seems to craft itself into a breathing space and take in the silence, my interlocutor checks their watch and announces, "This was so good, I lost track of my next thing. See you in three weeks." We put the date in our calendars, I walk them to the door, and clean up their used glasses of alternating hot and cool drinks.

By afternoon the high hits a subtle but noticeable end, like a pair of raised shoulders softly lowered, when I stare down the cyclone path of my inbox†.

†...and its grinning handmaid, several reams of open browser windows.
This is exactly the opposite of what feeling good feels like. I can only think about this space in alliterative hyperbole: tornadotunnel, tomb.

William James: "My experience is what I agree to attend to." Did I—did we—explicitly agree to this mode of communication? Or implicitly got caught in it? I don't know. The battle over email is one over which I hold a false sense of equilibrium, confusing whose side is over-equipped and tireless (it is not me).

There are a few days left of the month, pockets of opportunity for redress and control over attention, psychic addictions, reactive cycles.

And so then here we are.

We hold an outdoor roda and for several hours play capoeira in the bursting June sun. The parched lips and throat don't bother me as much as the effect of scalding hot concrete blistering into my palms. The skin on the inner pads of my right hand burns off in circular chunks, the epidermal layers now caked in the black gold of asphalt. It hurts. I'm bleeding. We keep playing, though, and the chi chi ding dong sound of the berimbau worms its way into my insides and dissipates the pain like an aural analgesic. Music and dance: free Tylenol.