This is the Editorial for the No Frontiers Gazette – Fall 2012. For more articles in the Gazette, follow the link above.
I joined AUB almost four years ago, Obama was getting elected and Lebanon was witnessing sporadic acts of civil unrest. Yet, my first three years at AUB unfolded with no bumps or fuss, they were okay, normal, unexceptional. And for this I think they had an exemplary error embedded in them: the lack of political action, in and out of campus. I was part of a system and glad to be just that, a bystander—as they say— hesitant, and perhaps unwilling to perform a role which now comes naturally to me. In the fourth year, a process of interpellation occurred for which I could not remain passive. I could not allow my identity as an AUB student and as a Lebanese citizen be mimetically associated with the social, cultural and political status quo (and I stress from now that everything is political). Aside from the impersonal history that I know, aside from the impersonal tales I hear, when the presumed-protective law becomes not only tangential, but overlapped with and an extension of corruption over all its circumference, the need arises to cast yourself under the limelight of political action and away from the darkness of abjection. The fourth year at AUB proved vital if for the mere fact of joining No Frontiers, an active AUB-student group whose name will be one of the names of history.
Now I come from a relatively active family, both on the left and on the right. Yet above and beyond that blurry dichotomy, this familial activism rendered me a conscious subject early on, conscious of class, of hypocrisy, of genocide, of discrimination. For a long time, this consciousness drew out a pessimistic notion which convinced me that between dust and dust and ash and ash, only the above mentioned terms exist. Time will not heal a wounded heart, and it will not mend the rift caused by class-difference, rend the human legion of hypocrisy, nor wend humanity’s course away from genocide and discrimination. For a long time, being deaf to the stomping of negative terror, kept their harm at bay. But with age comes the wilderness, and in the wilderness dwell the scarring dust of history. The landscape of dust equates silence with violence, and in the wilderness emerges an ethic to terror, a wild materialism.
No Frontiers is wild materialism in-the-making in a world of terror, you should not only fight fire with fire, but also create concepts which will lead you forward. We fight fire with fire and ice, we fight terror with an ethic of terror and radical democracy – we are diverse and our views are only mimetic of the active members; we heed no outside calls blindly; as a collective, we vote and decide together on what is spoken in our name and written with our signature. I realized through them that everything ought to be a process of becoming (praxis in this case was more influential than philosophical speculation). The sun is getting larger, the moon is drifting further away into outer space and the continents are constantly floating across the globe, yet in the microcosm of Lebanon, we are anchored, immobile, cosmo-illogicaly, fatally, fanatically in place. Your critical insight might sense a utopic element, but in my defense, at least it’s not nostalgia. I realize the no-place of a promised land utopia, yet as Mathew Arnold writes in “The Function of Criticism in the Present Time”: “That promised land it will not be ours to enter, and we shall die in the wilderness: but to have saluted it from afar, is already, perhaps, the best distinction among contemporaries; it will certainly be the best title to esteem with posterity.” I ask of you to consider this chance to salute this ‘promised land’, the prospect of a growing and progressive Lebanon.