A rattle of candy folding disturbed me from the noise coming from the street. She ate a Kellogg’s Special K bar, the aroma of cherry replaced that of the smoke in the room.
There is no need for names. I am me and she is you.
Let’s burn ourselves to see. We need a vision, even if surreal. Call it a fire or the delusional feel of divinity up our anus. Salmon-flow of the body. Shit up the stream. An ego’s love for control.
Let’s burn ourselves to see. Let’s sing in units of vocal range. Let’s fight in units of weight. We will overcome the purposeful myopia with our burning skin…it’ll be easy…it’s all downhill from here towards the bottom. Let us be like Van Gogh’s sun(flowers).
I turned off my cigarette in the face of Marilyn Monroe, an ashtray of plastic. The red light made the room look like a whore house, a Hamra brothel for lonely leftists. Adorned orphan of Palestine; the wrinkle-free map of meek Lebanon engulfed by Syria. She passed by. Slender. Cleopatra’s snake. Poisonous release, ancient medicine. The echo of pharmakon…and the agony of separating one from another.
Only a few days are left before I leave. There will be no electricity. Beirut will be blacked-out as the plane ascends. Even if in daylight. Beirut will be blacked-out without memory or secrets.
I follow her past the orphan of Palestine and the map of Lebanon. My shadow borders off the red light on the wall.
Vicious city. Sitt Al Dunya. Old mother with varicose veins, immobile. Old mother smoking nargileh, watching same-old plots on the newest smart, HD, 3D LED TVs. Old mother resting comfortably inside the empty graves of sons and daughters, sucking the flaccid dick of an impotent father, with or without a beard, sagging bull testicles, sweating – the closest thing we’ll ever see to his tearing eye. Old mother…
The sun shines in its full blaze and the flowers bend down, the rightful surrender to summer – the use of a season comes with no metaphors – summer comes after spring; summer comes before autumn; summer dries us up. Beirut I am leaving you and leaving a lot behind, and this too is my rightful surrender.
Six months ago, in Amsterdam, I got the word. Sub-zero temperatures and lots of tea and herbs – organic natural stuff, as they say. Five friends toasted to New York all night long while laughing uncontrollably at the flickering lights and music videos playing overhead. All the while I kept on thinking, with magnificent detail – it was the only way, to keep on thinking.
Caramel and Chocolate syrup melt over a vanilla sundae. Plastic spoon-full of sugar and a smile sparks on her face and mine. This is not gratitude, but love.
…and I’ll leave – I like to think there is a plan, but…
I’ll leave nothing behind – If I could, I would. And if I could, she would. There should be a plan, but it’s a step into the darkness.
Beirut, you’re uncovered. Everyone can see you naked, without the excitement of adventure. You offer me nothing. Your Zionist Caterpillars have spent all your secrets to rubble, and you opened the gates gladly. This step is one I take into a darkness which asks for proof of life every passing second. Every moment necessitates a pulse. There shall be life away from home.
New York! Another toast in Amsterdam. My arms were heavy, my body was tired, and I was laughing; yet I was thinking – for the first time I was as young as I felt. I read the acceptance letter out loud on an iPhone, the people around me cheering and laughing. I kept on thinking, and I felt. For most, this would have been a retreat; for most, this would be a pseudo-religious calling. Yet the news rang like the final period of immersion in life. There was no retreat in this for me. I laughed, I thought and I felt my body soaking in the tawny colour of this new sun, rising on this new horizon.
I will bring life back with me, but not for you Beirut; but for this new stage of time, new sands in the hourglass and chocolate and caramel syrup on top of a vanilla sundae; for new-old mattresses and books, beautiful writing and morning smiles, coffee and cornflakes, music genealogy and storytelling; for the people I love who have showed me how to live fully, and for whom I’d be Prometheus, Van Gogh, stealing the fire from the sun and handing it in a sunflower.
I lied next to her on the bed. The AC blew cold air on our feet, locked together, gray-blue pants over a white dress. Together, we imagined how my new life would be. Imagination’s stage leaned towards the comic, conjuring up a You’ve Got Mail city life: an affection to the past of books while running along the freight train lights of high speed internet, social networks and cloud systems. And a dog. It is not complicated. Simple, straightforward and made in Hollywood – together we ideated a condition for a peaceful return and a happy ending.
We can’t shut the hour glass. Beirut, time is not a highway. Your burning tires will not light you up, and it is not enough for us to tell you that we love you; it is not enough to be disappointed; it is not enough to be observant. The burden is upon us as much as it is upon you.
She left me in the room and sat alone, hiding in the swoon of red light. Perhaps she does this to tend to my heart, preparing it for the days to come. I followed her and we watched a film in our swoon.
This is definitely not a retreat in which I hide to retrieve what I think I had lost, but a new way of gaining from a profound yet mandatory loss. This is a new path forward in which I experience judgement, heaven and hell without dying. This is not a path paved by a kinetic emotion, such as desire – the need to possess – or loathing – the need to abandon; this is a path paved by despair, and for this I am assured, for I go with no desire – thus I cannot be satisfied – and with no loathing – thus I cannot abandon. My only worry is the consummation of my despair.
…And Beirut, you’ll still have her and many others. They are youthful and many and diverse. They can teach you as they have taught me. They can love you as they have loved me. And they will cry for you, Sit Al Dunya, when you bow down on your knees, close your eyes and surrender. Love them well and correctly. Make of them your secrets, upon which you will shine explosively like a star light-years away; a marvelous glow on the Mediterranean. Love what I’m losing and you’ll be on my mind. Love what I’m losing and I’ll return as Prometheus, a Van Gogh sun, a perverted dance of sunflowers in the stillness of life; and beautiful Nero, a stirrer of culture and fire.
Before the credits rolled, I headed home, and on that ride, separately, we knew how my new life will be. Imagination’s stage leaned towards the existential-dramatic, conjuring up a No Exit hell of grim gridded-streets and Egyptian hot dog vendors, hearts held in hands and thumbs that forget to grasp; The fog covers the limewater in which she had baptized me. And the heart sinks invisibly into secrecy.
And that will be my secret. My secret held from New York and Beirut, from the living and the dead. Between the poison and the medicine, between two echoes, it sleeps comfortably impossibly.
Beirut, Now is the winter of [y]our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of [New] York
[Opening lines of Richard III, obviously modified]
‘My reason to write is to reach B./
‘That which would consummate despair [Le plus désespérant]: that B. loses in the end the thread of Ariadne which is—in the maze of her life—my love for her’ [Bataille Oeuvres Completes III 13-14]
Despair cannot be defined as a claim, hesitation, denial, or uncertainty. It is an abandonment, and a plea without conceivable destination; a desertification resulting from the catastrophic disappearance of the value of being. Despair is not humble, but hubristic, and it is not pious in the least, but tragic. [Nick Land. The Thirst for Annihilation.58]
وداعًا، وداعًا اخوتي الصغار
أنا راحلٌ وقلبي راجع مع دخان القطار [محمد الماغوط – “القتل”]