A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

this too too solid flesh

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 14, 2007

When there is a crisis in Lebanon, I do laundry.

I’m not particularly domestic – in fact, I’ve been seriously contemplating paying my concierge to come to my apartment each morning to make my bed. And as numerous friends have noted, my refrigerator contains more nail polish than it does food.

I don’t remember doing any laundry five years ago in New York – but perhaps my coping mechanisms have changed since then.

Last summer, when the war started, I did laundry.

When we became a trio of refugees in Damascus, I did laundry.

Yesterday evening, when G left, I put in a load of whites.

And today, while marooned in that sea of inefficiency known as “working from home”, K came over to do laundry as well.

As I mentioned yesterday, K & Charles Malik were quite near the bomb site. Today K mentioned that the waiter at the cafe had warned them of the body parts that the explosion’s force had scattered: le7meh, le7meh.

Meat, meat.

I had never considered this before, that in Arabic ‘meat’ and ‘flesh’ are the same. He wasn’t saying “meat”, of course – he was saying “pieces of flesh”.

In fact, we English speakers are the ones who make the curious distinction, defining meat as “the flesh of animals (including fishes and birds and snails) used as food“. Flesh is the general term; meat the qualifier. 

Years ago I was assigned a reading of Hamlet that included an extensive discussion of whether he rails against his “too too solid flesh” or his “too too sullied flesh”; apparently different folios use different terms.

My heart tears for those whose flesh proved not solid enough to withstand yesterday’s bomb. No laundering can put back together those bodies, or the hearts of the families from whom they have been taken.

One Response to “this too too solid flesh”

  1. You did a LOT of laundry in Damascus. You offered to do everyone else’s laundry. A’s machine got a true workout that week.

    In German, I believe there are even more distinctions between “flesh” and “meat.” One of Kant’s major concepts in the Critique of Pure Reason is “flesh.” Flesh is a unique attribute of human interaction with the world because, while feeling something that is not itself, flesh perceives itself. One cannot feel something else without becoming aware of one’s own existence. To touch is to perceive oneself; the flesh is the medium between self-perception and the world.

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