On Excremental Beauty with Rawi Hage

#82 Shit

In Cockroach, the noirish prose of Lebanese-born writer Rawi Hage is rich with effusive imagery that wildly laments subjects’ at hand in tangential, but befitting paradoxes. Witness here how the narrator’s mind sculpts beauty in the face of excrement, namely urine. “All night I followed Shohreh; I stalked her like a wolf. When she entered the bathroom, I glued my ear to its door hoping to hear her eleven-percent-alcohol urine plunging free-fall from between secretive, tender thighs. Oh, how I sighed at the cascading sound of liquid against the porcelain-clear pool of the city waters. Oh, how I marvelled, and imagined all the precious flows that would swirl through warm and vaporous tunnels under this glaciered city. It is the fluid generosity of creatures like Shohreh that keep the ground beneath us warm. I imagined the beauty of the line making its way through the shades of the underground, golden, revealing all that a body had once invited, kept, transformed, and released, like a child’s kite with a string, like a baby’s umbilical cord. Ah! That day I saw salvation, rebirth, and golden threads of celebration everywhere.” Never has urination been rendered with such magnificence—perhaps rivaling the golden showers of Klimt’s Danaë—and childlike innocence than what Hage delivered here. A whimsical tête-à-tête with Hage about what inspired this passage would explore this idea of excremental beauty and at the same time add a perverse sense of embellishment to Colors 82.