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Today's quote:

Monday, June 8, 2020

Another of those desert-loving people


I think you are another of these desert-loving English. No Arab loves the desert. We love water and green trees. There is nothing in the desert and no man needs nothing." [Faisal to Lawrence of Arabia]

"Lawrence of Arabia" is definitely not one to watch on your smartphone. The desert shots are mind-blowing: glimmering mirages, whirling clouds of sand, teeny-weeny people and camels inching across massive, spectacular landscapes (notably Wadi Rum in Jordan, where the real Lawrence and Faisal were based for a while).

I am hoping for the same sumptuous cinematography in the just ordered "Isabelle Eberhardt", a 1991 Australian-French biographical drama film which follows the adult life of Isabelle Eberhardt filmed in Algiers, Paris and Geneva.

Isabelle Eberhardt's life was far more tragic and far shorter than T.E. Lawrence's but they had one thing in common: the desert. Enough for this desert-loving person, who's spent years living on the edge of both the Namib Desert and the Arabian desert, to devour Isabelle Eberhardt's "In the Shadow of Islam" about her few short years in the Sahara (not the Sahara desert, which is a tautology as 'Sahara' means 'desert').

When she died in the Algerian Sahara in 1904, she was physically ravaged. She was only twenty-seven, but heavy smoking, drinking, and drug use had taken their toll, as had poor nourishment. On her travels she’d carried a gun, but not a toothbrush, and so she had lost her teeth.

She suffered from malaria and possibly syphilis, and just before her death had spent weeks hospitalized with fever. An assassination attempt a few years earlier, when a religious enemy attacked Eberhardt with a sword, had nearly severed her arm and left her in constant pain.

Despite her youth, her body could no longer carry on. Her strange and brilliant mind, though, was immortalized by the travelogues, journalism, and fiction she left behind. "No one ever lived more from day to day than I, or was more dependent upon chance," Eberhardt wrote shortly before her death. What a great epitaph!

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