"In this landmark book, Biba Sheikh writes of Americans galvanized by the specter of COVID-19 to fear for and grieve for the planet and express their feelings about the sudden and new era that has emerged. She likewise celebrates the upheavals with the feeling that we have been suddenly released from the captivity of a system...broken by the pandemic. Akashic Diaries: Detroit Degree Zero and Other Crisis Writings is a description of sudden overtake of viruses. It cites beginning signs of desertification—and in certain areas, the irrevocable flooding and fire that environmental activists and scientists say will cause one-third of the population in America to be displaced in the coming decades. With an objective to present the risk of social collapse, Detroit Degree Zero is situated at a street manifestation frequented by hundreds. Descriptively it paints a picture of mothers with babies, and the laughter and happiness surrounding it, is of the art that heals all around. This text presents a situation where people who want to be... or are willing to be arrested...fight peacefully for the survival of Life on Earth and for future generations. They are taken to prison for their peaceful demonstrations and their public pleas, in the face of criminal in-activity and non-handling of impending catastrophic climate change. The author situates this fiction on the Michigan-Canadian border, where immigrants are contained, from where the poetic narrative unfolds.
Scientific analysts deem through math that we are facing the sixth mass extinction of life on the planet —of which four were caused by excessive C02 in the atmosphere. We have less than twelve years to fix this— otherwise, it’s over. If people do not mobilize to do something RIGHT NOW, social collapse of great suffering, hunger, and thirst will ensue. There is denial about the extent of climate breakdown, and there is denial about the need for mass civil disobedience in order to respond to it. Biba Sheikh sees into a future where these denials are overcome. Only when we do this will we be able to salvage some of our legacy of desecration." (Roger Hallam)
About the Author
Habibah Sheikh began studying mime with Marcel Marceau in Paris and later with members of the Polish Laboratory Theater of Jerzy Grotowski. She developed vocal work in relation to voice anthropologist, Jorge Lopez, who researched singing methods from indigenous tribes of South America. She has a nomadic existence and has gathered inspiration for her storytelling & performance art from a number of different cultures: USA, Paris, Sevilla (with the Gypsy/Roma population), Berlin, Amsterdam, Beirut, and Greece. Habibah lovingly says that Greece is her place of catharsis. There she set up a platform with 13 artists from the Mediterranean, who make visual works based on her stories and theater pieces, which she began writing during her journey with vulnerable populations with the “abandoned children” of Lebanon. After the war left these young people alone, Habibah felt a strong responsibility in order to help them find their voices through storytelling platforms.
P.S. The album "Akashic Diaries" (on the Transonic label) featuring texts from this book read by Biba Sheikh and soundscapes by Paradise Now can be downloaded freely via a QR code at the end of the book. Listen here: https://transonic-records.bandcamp.com/album/akashic-diaries