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The Puppet

It chronicled the rise and demise of a Saharan oasis community. Contributor ANGELA GALA reacts to Ibrahim Al-Koni’s masterpiece on the inevitable disruptions to normal life.

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Ibrahahim al Koni


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Dear Reader,

My desert is the metaphorical desert. A synonym for the entirety of human existence: which in every particular is a desert as long as it remains a meaningless talisman.
Ibrahim Al-Koni

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Dear Ibrahim,

Is it the desert’s responsibility to reveal its Truth, or the Talisman’s reverie? I take in your word’s meaningless talisman, truth, and especially desert. For all three mean the same to me. Maybe existing in the desert is a choice, not a predicament. Maybe it’s not just a physical place, but instead a metaphysical space governed by natural systems and law?

Countless others have crossed these deserts. We see it in Bernini’s nun who spent a contemplative life in constant prayer. We see it in Buddha’s Enlightenment, and feel it the everyday politics and republic of Voltaire. So, so many have spoken about Truth throughout the ages. Did you see them in your desert?

The deserts and oceans are realms of desolation on the surface. Our cities and towns are, too. All worlds are deceptive, dangerous. They seethe with hidden life. A veil stands between our perception of what lies beneath the desolate surface.

What if defiling the world was the greatest sin? Is it possible to choose compassion and greed? Sift love from gold, lies from truths? I'm not sure that you’ve said anything new, but I know your desert is beautiful, grotesque, mystical and real.

Sometimes, when one is moving silently through such an utterly desolate landscape, an overwhelming hallucination can make one feel that oneself, as an individual human being, is slowly being unraveled. The surrounding space is so vast that it becomes increasingly difficult to keep a balanced grip on one's own being. The mind swells out to fill the entire landscape, becoming so diffuse in the process that one loses the ability to keep it fastened to the physical self.

Perhaps we've forgotten how to be good guests; to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do?
Angela Gala

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