Filth, glorious filth

Exactly one year ago this week I navigated an ancient and nasty alleyway in the heart of the medieval medina of Fez in the country of Morocco in the spring of 2010, and I celebrated filth.The worn cobblestones were smeared with donkey dung and olive oil, dirty rain splashed down into puddles of smelly, viscous mud, and the wares in a hundred tiny storefronts ‚Äì gentian eggplants, berber carpets, and plastic packages of chocolate chip cookies ‚Äì all were smeared with a layer of ash and dust and grime. The faces of the people were dirty: a woman in a gray chador, only her eyes appearing, an old man in a long, brown jellaba, a toddler with his face smeared with polluted snot. Even the air was smoggy and brown with the burned and oily discharge from rotten, rusting mopeds and scooters. And there it was, amid the filth, that I celebrated the fact that the incredible richness of an ancient culture depended in some sense on the quality and diversity of its muck. From filth erupts beauty.