Author, aphorist (and good friend of 2paragraphs) Yahia Lababidi has spent the majority of his waking hours–and no meager percentage of his sleeping ones–trying to figure things out (with the help of friends like Nietzsche, Sontag, Rumi, and Rilke–it’s a large party). For those of us also figuring, he graciously reports back from these inquisitive excursions in books. Among Lababidi’s winsome titles are The Artist as Mystic, Signposts to Elsewhere, Trial by Ink, and Fever Dreams, which themselves suggest his affinity (and indebtedness) to Kafka–and Confucius, too. The Artist as Mystic is essentially a record of his ongoing conversation with many of history’s great thinkers. The other books, to their credit not easily categorized, are at heart collections of musings, aphorisms, poems, and praise. Praise, that is, for the examined life.
The critic Sven Birkerts has lauded Lababidi for his “heart…acuity… and irresistible grace of expression”, while the Booker Prize-winning John Banville cites his ability to communicate with “immediacy and vividness.” Lababidi’s newest offering, Barely There, is a collection of poems reduced slowly over fire as if in a French kitchen, the chef making a kind of compote, removing the words from the heat just moments before they simmer into aphorism. Below is one of the poems in its entirety.
and fiendish challenge
of trying to be
one of Silence’s