Why TRUTH? الحقيقه

15 March, 2021

“Sanayeh Rooftops, Burj El Murr,” oil on can­vas, 80cm x 90cm, 2019 by Tom Young (cour­tesy of the artist).

Jordan Elgrably 

Dis­cern­ing the truth is one thing for a news junkie and anoth­er for a fla­neur read­ing a nov­el. That is to say, the search for truth can be lit­er­al — imag­ine a reporter chas­ing after facts, stats, quotes and “bal­ance” — while a poet is after some­thing else alto­geth­er, some­thing more elu­sive, but nev­er­the­less pre­cious, like a pearl in an oys­ter. As con­sumers of infor­ma­tion, news, enter­tain­ment and lit­er­a­ture, we cer­tain­ly have our work cut out for us. One almost wish­es there were a mag­ic pill one could take to enhance our pow­ers of discernment.

I would ven­ture that we tend to know truth when we find it; but in these times, like adven­tur­ers in the sel­va who have to hack our way through with machetes, we’re faced with con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, thick as lianas; with fake news ped­dled by the very snake oil sales­men on TV we know to be big fat liars; and with cor­po­ra­tions and gov­ern­ments that spy on us in the name of cap­i­tal­ism or nation­al secu­ri­ty, and that have no com­punc­tion about lying to us—none. More­over, while we may enjoy our social media, and even read it to get the lat­est news, we’ve got to pro­ceed with cau­tion, hop­ing to avoid the trolls and the bots while being reward­ed with some sem­blance of the truth.

In The Markaz Review’s 7th month­ly issue, we’ve asked con­trib­u­tors to address sev­er­al of the almost end­less truth vari­eties — in fact, we might won­der whether there are more ver­sions of the truth than there are vari­eties of toma­toes (over 3,000). In any event, Amer­i­can soci­ol­o­gist Lisa Haj­jar, who has vis­it­ed Guan­tá­namo prison in Cuba no less than 13 times, turns in this mon­th’s cen­ter­piece on tor­ture and US gov­ern­ment secre­cy, while Andy Lee Roth from Project Cen­sored warns us about the new algo­rith­mic gate­keep­ers, the Big Tech vil­lains who do not have our best inter­ests at heart. There are also con­tri­bu­tions on endan­gered lit­er­a­cy (Mar­cus Gilroy-Ware), nat­ur­al-born liars (Pree­ta Sama­rasan), and the truth about Lebanon, Syr­ia, Iraq and Afghanistan, where assas­si­na­tions of jour­nal­ists are the new form of nation­al cen­sor­ship. TMR is also delight­ed to present recent poems from Ammiel Alcalay, Hala Alyan and Moh­ja Kahf, and a deeply-mov­ing per­son­al essay from artist-writer Fran­cis­co Lete­lier on the assas­si­na­tion of his father Orlan­do Lete­lier, in what was “per­haps the only clear case of state-sup­port­ed ter­ror­ism that has occurred in Wash­ing­ton DC,” accord­ing to the late sec­re­tary of state George Schultz. Round­ing out the issue are new book reviews by Rayyan Al-Shawaf, Stephen Rohde, and Farah Abdessamad, who looks at a risqué new trans­la­tion of Al-Harir­i’s Impos­tures, and a lux­u­ri­ous, often fun­ny bio­graph­i­cal essay from Mar­i­an Janssen about the “Ama­zon sex god­dess” and Pulitzer-prize win­ning poet, Car­olyn Kiz­er, in Pak­istan. Final­ly, Malu Halasa reviews the new graph­ic nov­el by Mana Neyestani, and pro­vides an audio ren­di­tion of “Chew­ing Via­gra Gum” with its send-up of con­spir­a­cy theories.

Our fea­tured artist this month is UK-Beirut painter Tom Young, with addi­tion­al art from Salma Aras­tu, Ali Ban­isadr, Paul Batou and Hayv Kahra­man, as well as Sandow Birk, Niko­lay Niko­layevich Ge and Daniel Bax­ter.

Thanks for read­ing, and as always, sup­port­ing TMR.

—Edi­tor

p.s. Next mon­th’s issue on MARSEILLE, pub­lish­ing April 15th, is guest-edit­ed by Jenine Abboushi.