Consolation

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[A quickie]

Consolation comes in many forms, but you must never get caught. Randa opened the newly-purchased novel, one about scissors that talk as they cut through the vital and inanimate. Next to her was a bottle of wine that would last her as long as the first four chapters, one glass for every chapter. The night was still young and she shared a relationship of indifference with the world outside her apartment. She considered herself sagacious and her isolation a sign of prudence – an elderly spirit if ever there was one. She did what she needed to do and never bothered with wants and desires; besides her daily work in the university library, time was available to be organized neatly and precisely into separate and repetitive past-times: a promenade along the coast line, a recipe from a cookbook of joy as she followed the fast hands of a chef on a cooking channel, or a visit to her mother, who, tip-toeing her way to senility, still treated Randa as a young girl, following her every step and remarking with sharp, old eyes the darkness beneath her eyes. She did all that, however, in the solitary confinement of a life trod with careful precision and all the right choices, mistaking freedom for conformity, comfort and safety. So as she gulped down the second glass of wine and closed the second chapter of the sadistic scissors, she felt secure in the empty calmness of her home. She was not in a hurry, but  it would be her mother that would wash her corpse and bury her.

The story of Randa’s death is in part my fault. Yet in the eyes of the law, partly at fault does not give you half an indictment or half an acquittal, and from where I’m writing these words, I feel closer to Randa than ever before; I feel her absence striking me and my hide hardens at this irrational proximity, and over all things tenderness spreads. I face the silence and calmness that she sought from a life trod with fatal inaccuracy and all the wrong choices, mistaking flouting for freedom, rebellion and independence. This apposite description of my life in contrast to hers may be the intentional wit of its author, yet our parallel lives makes it more the work of an undecidable nature sought to be conquered separately by Randa’s self-determining organization and the detrimental die in my fist.

“Now perforce in tears and sadness
Learn a mournful strain to raise.” The Consolation of Philosophy. Boethius 

“The proximity of things is poetry.” Levinas

[To be Continued]

Once Again…For Hatred

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No. 9 Ola Hejazi
In the idle situation of smoking a cigarette in the summer sun, memories surface like scenes seen from a scratched and scarred wooden windowpane. The heat radiates from the cement buildings, and from the windowpane the memory of the mountain breeze amplifies my fiery stillness on the flared sidewalk. An army convoy creeps its way across the street, its wheels are steady, a soldier mounts the gun on top of the truck, his eyes scan the panorama in front of the convoy, people indifferent to his presence, beggars following fast maneuvering shoes, cars honking at them from all sides, and in front of him a secret line he knows the convoy must follow stringently even though the gun he rides offers neither solace nor threat.

…But to go back to the mountain where my aunt would take me for indefinite weeks away from the blaze of Beirut; I take another drag from the cigarette and through the mind’s windowpane I see a cloud of dust in the distance approaching me, the pebbled road beneath me shaking. I am strange on this road, my aunt’s house is still unfamiliar to me and it’s just across the street, yet the cloud of dust entraps me within it from far away, and soon it is as if I am the one who is approaching it, even though its inevitable danger, this ominous taupe billow, freezes me in place. In the moment of immanent peril my legs respond again, but it’s too late, already midway on the road, I’m cloaked in a rough taupe mist…

They call me inside to the sound check. It’s midday, the chairs are still neatly arranged, ashtrays are clean and the smell of the detergent still fills the air with its thin sharpness. I pick up my violin as Hazem starts playing, waiting for my queue to start. Hazem’s oud picking syncopates between western rock and eastern melodies, my violin keeps to the eastern, alternating between different maqams depending on Hazem’s use of scale.

I started my violin playing as a child with a private teacher, a friend of my mother. She was a hoarder who lived alone; her house smelled like mold, and dust particles would mushroom after every step. My mother thought of it as a perfect arrangement: I’d learn the violin, and her friend would have someone to talk to, but I came to hate her after I joined the conservatoire. Her left hand had a nervous disorder forcing her to perch up the wrist  of her fretting hand more than usual, a condition I needlessly emulated because it was the only way I was taught to play. As long as my left hand fretted awkwardly, the teachers at the conservatoire separated me from the rest of the students.

“The person who looks at you playing will think this is a circus show,” Hazem says sternly, still giving me shit about my perched up left hand.

“If you were born after me and I before you, it would be you on the violin now”

“Me, unlike you, would have adapted.”

“What can I say, see what only one year of learning can do? Less, eight months. But no matter, I play as if I can’t wave my hand to saw hello in real life, I play for myself. You’d play with your hand extended, for others.”

“So existentially deep, as always. Next thing you’ll tell me is that some people pray with their hands on their sides, other with the right hand over the left.”

“Well, yes, they do. And they play the same game equally as good. The difference is I don’t play God and judge who is better. You do.”

Hazem, my older brother; he is playing football behind the house in the mountains. A stampede of bicycles, young kids, thinking whatever lay in their way on the road is a necessary victim; an unmerciful army sparing no reserves seeing no defeat in site marches to a steady rhythm. They ride together and form the taupe cloud; metal bodies collide with mine, one after the other they trip over me, scrubbing my body on the mountainous pebbles. But I feel nothing, floating, as if this moment is eternity, painless. I’m motionless on the ground, lying like a lie waiting to be found out, the blue sky slowly recovering from the taupe invasion. Then the discovery, hands over me, carrying me frantically, my body almost slipping from their hands, my blood spilling on the ground, and the bolts of pain…I think, the only way out of this is death.

I go back home after a long night of noise, music and smoke. I open the door of the garden full of mint roots that spread as other roots died of neglect. Brown and yellow roots rest wilted on the ground, begging for a modicum of water to remain motionless, but I decide to uproot them all. Mint roots spread crazily wherever you plant them, and uprooting them is as hard as forcibly forgetting what binds you. What’s left of them reforms them, as embers are promises of fire.

I dig in with my hands, insects crawl on me and I feel the tingle of necessary human transgression. Every root is a memory that I pluck for a momentary period of clarity.

rhizome

My aunt sits me on the porch, my elbows patched and a faint red slowly seeping through the most elemental form of a patch. She tells me to show the bikers what they have done to me, as if my lacerations are to be a source of my pride and a wellspring of their shame. I tell her to bring my violin, but my request is refused. This is not a time to flaunt my talent, but my soon-to-be scars. Don’t read. Don’t play. Simply be as if in the hoped-for state of perfect. A charade that I’ve been adopting ever since, even when in play.

One of the basest feelings you can ever feel is hatred for someone or something unknown to you. But to hate them exactly because you don’t know them, because you want to know them, that is to love them, these phantom foes and their phantasmal plans.

A wreath of paranoia adorned my mother’s head ever since, one that translated itself into a mortal hatred of my absence. She’d threaten and curse whenever I gave myself to the umbra of her sight. “Be late once again, and I’m never letting you back in,” she’d say, “I’ll never speak to you again,” she’d say, “I’ll close the door on you and forget you,” she’d say. But she’d never uphold them. Late and negligent, I always found the door open. Her threats functioned more as promises of endless acceptance and forgiveness. And I adopted them. I can no longer uphold a threat, neither as a promise to myself nor as a method of negotiation.

I pluck as much mint roots as I can in a performance of forgetting, even if only momentarily in the drunken rage of soiled fingers and bonds. But any act of uprooting is also a commemoration of a tragic event, so that one can always sense the last gasp approaching again and again…

…I know, something must happen now, someone must appear, or at least recognized, so that I can cease to hate and continue again in the state of play…

Some Thoughts on Remembering the Lebanese Civil War, Literature, and History

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  • The Civil War 

Fifteen years ravaged Lebanon under the unwitting clouds of a mindless civil war fueled by sectarian violence and geopolitical struggles which found their perfect battleground in the small patch of land on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean. From 1975 to 1990, “144,000 killed; 184,000 injured; 130,000 kidnapped; and at least 17,000 missing…175 towns were partially or completely destroyed” (Ghosen & Khoury 382). Fifteen years and it ended in a hasty reconciliatory settlement named after the Saudi city in which it was agreed upon: the Ta’if accord. The consequences, however, of the Ta’if accord would include an amnesty law forgiving all (war) crimes committed before its date; and consequently, all the war lords, with large powers and larger egos now in their grip—they did not “lose” the war after all— constituted the political spectrum after the war, controlling the tripartite division of power. All will be well, it was thought. In other words, all shall be forgotten. This aim to forget shall not be read in any way other than an attempt to erase debt in an economy of guilt. If Nietzsche taught us anything, it is precisely that the interplay between debt and guilt are preserved through a strict mnemonic strategy for remembering.

The attempt to wipe out the restricted economy of debt failed. Residues—waste matter—were discarded and only came to sting back in the inevitable recoil of a general economy that subsumes exactly that which we wish to exclude. The assassinations and killings have since come back sporadically, like spasms of a revisiting trauma; simultaneously, a waste-garbage problem grew in the city in the form of large mountains of garbage along its seacoasts; if the nation could be read psychoanalytically, then calling-cards would’ve been an apt description of this phenomenon. In all cases, something was owed; something was forgotten, or better yet, repressed. (Is this not also the excessive charge which returns with Nada Sehnaoui‘s 2008 installation: “Haven’t 15 Years of Hiding in the Toilets Been Enough?)

Nada Sahnaoui

However, while politicians favored the suppression of the civil war, a budding civil society including artists and writers were challenging the forceful impression of collective amnesia supported by the unchanging political landscape. Experimental media and writing have emerged to challenge the status quo and present the subject of the civil war in strategic ways so as recuperate and fill the gap in Lebanon’s recent history: “This body of experimental media provides a critical historiography of Lebanon’s recent past, particularly in regards to the country’s fifteen-year civil war” (Westmoreland 176). These new ways battle the general status quo of Lebanon’s history as a land based on erasure and reconstruction:

Beirut-based journalist Robert Fisk notes, the mythology of Lebanon’s history is premised on a recurrent destiny of destruction and revival. North of Beirut at Nahr al-Kelb (“Dog River”), “inscriptions, steles, cuniform reliefs and plaques” commemorate 2500 years of conquesting armies, from Nebuchadnezzar II to the British army in 1941 (53). The Lebanese spirit of rejuvenation that is quick to say “Beirut will rise again” fails to mention that by the same premise it will likely fall again, too. (Westmoreland 177)

This new trend of art readjusts the switchboard so as to disable an erasure and enable a re-memberance of the events of the civil war, a remembrance which disallows another famous dictum in Lebanon from happening: “history repeats itself.”

  • Architecture, Writing and Memory

“Both the novelist and the architect,” says Khoury in “The Memory of the City”, “sculpt the relationship between a space and its living memory” (142). This relationship is based on the Arabic literary tradition which etymologically links the word bayt—Arabic for house—with the verse of a poem. Accordingly, the rebuilding of the city is linked directly to writing. In other words, writing after the war in itself becomes a bildungsroman. However, the direction of architecture and that of the writer do not necessarily parallel each other, for as Khoury remarks, the reconstruction of Beirut involved an erasure of the past and a look to the future which forsake the present. Consequently, architecture effects a kind of cultural amnesia. On the other hand, writing emerges after the war as the only viable way of survival during as well as after the war. Therefore, even though there’s a relationship between architecture and writing in Arabic literary tradition, this relationship is an antagonistic one:

Where an architect works to establish differences, organize relationships, and define limits, a writer works to tear down these limits, to transcend definitions, to open spaces onto one another. As literature tries to carve doorways between the declared and the undeclared, architecture seeks to hang the doors which come between them. (Khoury, “The Memory” 139).

If architecture needs to destroy the ruins of the past in order to rebuild a future and/or a simulacrum of the past, writing, in a mythic sense, becomes the harbor for the memory of the past: “In this city systematically ravaged by civil war, the only space left for memory is literature” (Khoury, “The Memory” 139). In this distinction between architecture as the space for the future-to-be or the past-that-never-was and literature as the space for memory, Khoury is presenting his own critique of the reconstruction project of the post-war years: Given the polemics of reconstruction and deconstruction that the city’s architects and urban designers have introduced, Beirut may return, not as a city, but as a jail” (Khoury, “The Memory” 140). Architectural re-building becomes associated with a prison system to which writing stands in opposition. His argument is pivoted on this difference which subtly argues that the re-building of the city regenerates a myth which disregards the present and the recent past, namely the civil war and its remembrance. Faced with such an effacement of a traumatic period, the writer emerges as a survivor of and for memory. In other words, whereas architecture re-builds, literature re-members.  The very act of writing, however, should be done in a mythic discourse in order to allow the “civil war and its remembrance” to play a “role in the regenerated myth” (Khoury, “The Memory” 142).

  • Survival and Memory

In Politics of Friendship, Derrida posits: “Surviving – that is the other name of mourning whose possibility is never to be awaited. Nor does one survive without mourning” (Derrida 13). Perhaps, one can better understand this sentence if we refer to another book of Derrida, Demeure, in which he explains that “Death is not impossible but necessary, nor is death impossible and necessary, no, the impossible and the necessary are neither connected by an ‘and’ nor disconnected by a “but.” Death is, in a single stroke, the ‘impossible necessary’” (Derrida 47). Speaking on Blanchot, Derrida goes on to connect this impossible necessary death to Blanchot’s “unexperienced experience”. Connecting these two passages from Derrida, surviving, as living on after the possibility of death (and in its triggering of the possibility of mourning) becomes implicated in a temporal order which fuses past and future. Surviving, then, becomes exactly the living-on after the unexperienced experience in both cases: the survival of the experience of the unexperienced as well as the survival of the unexperienced in the experience. In other words, survival emerges as a co-lapsing of the immediate experienced past with the possibility of the unexperienced future: the co-lapsing of mourning with the possibility of your own death. As such, survival is distancing and keeping away from death while at the same time keeping it in sight. Freud writes on this relationship between survival and death in “Thoughts For Times On War and Death”:

“Man could no longer keep death at a distance, for he had tasted it in his pain about the dead; but he was nevertheless unwilling to acknowledge it, for he could not conceive of himself as dead. So he devised a compromise: he conceded the fact of his own death as well, but denied it the significance of annihilation…His persisting memory of the dead became the basis for assuming other forms of existence and gave him the conception of a life continuing after apparent death.” (Freud)

Through this Freudian intervention, we notice that death and its survival (or mourning) traverse both directions of the temporal arrow: the dead and the re-membering of the dead forces a future projection of one’s own survival after one’s inevitable unpexerienced experience of death. In Blanchotian terms, it can be said that this unexperienced experience occurs in the space between the living and the dead. The witnesses of the war, the fighters and the citizens don’t merely become post-war survivors, but wanderers between the living and the dead: undead people with broken subjectivities.

  • The Subjective Break and Fictional Histories

The subject is dialectically fluctuating between the symbolic that forces him to repress—not accept—and the Real—the events of History which the subject cannot grasp. However, the dialectical produces the subjective break that Deleuze and Guattari describe: “Like all other breaks, the subjective break is not at all an indication of a lack or need (manque), but on the contrary a share that falls to the subject as a part of the whole, income that comes its way as something left over…That is because breaks or interruptions are not the result of an analysis; rather, in and of themselves, they are syntheses. Syntheses produce divisions” (Deleuze and Guattari 44).  The syntheses of the dialectical relationship which constitute the subject, produces a disjointed subject, an inevitable multiplicity. Moreover, this multiplicity is indicative of a residue, of “something left over”; in other words, the unaccounted for waste of memory, history—the waste of the city. However, if “In this city systematically ravaged by civil war,” as Elias Khoury claims, “the only space left for memory is literature” (Khoury, “The Memory 139), then this literature is a schizophrenic one (in which syntheses are Deleuzian divisions) and traumatic (in which the memories are those of a Blanchotian unexperienced experience). A literature as a result of the dialectic between the Real and the Symbolic—History and the Law. The only way to historicize becomes through the writing of fiction. A history that is no longer straightly referential also requires a novel which is not straightforwardly referential—the historical novel becomes replaced by the traumatic novels such as Yalo. The only way to historicize and re-member is to do so immanently: in a time of lost referentiality, it is the return of the unexperienced, the repressed which indexes history, however fictional this representation of history may be.

Lebanese criminals order Dan Mcullun to leave or die when he saw the body of a young Palestinian Girl.

  • Sources:
  1. Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 1st ed. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1987. Print.
  2. Derrida, Jacques, and Elizabeth Rottenberg. Demeure: Fiction and Testimony. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2000. Print.
  3. ————. The Politics of Friendship. 1st ed. London: Verso, 2005. Print.
  4. Freud, Sigmund, and James Strachey. The Standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud . 1st ed. 14. London: Hogarth Press, 1966. Print.
  5. Ghosn, Faten, and Amal Khoury. “Lebanon after the Civil War: Peace or the Illusion of Peace?” Middle East Journal. 65.3 (2011): 381-397. Print.
  6. Khoury, Elias. “The Memory of the City.” Grand Street. 54.Autumn (1995): 137-142. Web. 25 Dec. 2012. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/25007930&gt;.
  7. Westmoreland, Mark. “Catastrophic Subjectivity: Representing Lebanon’s Undead.” Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics. 30 (2010): 176-2010. Print.

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From The Crack

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If Hegel contends that only that which is simple constitutes a beginning, then I’m already doomed to be starting with a conditional followed by the proper noun: Hegel.

Hegel has never made it simple to face anything; but  he’s made death simpler.

It has been seven years since I immersed myself in the sea. And now, for lack of a suitable animal, I kill time beneath the storm, swimming.

Mammoth waves wash over me before hitting the shore sucking in and displacing smack needles. “A year’s end”; a phrase marks the self-reflexiveness of a text as it consciously probes its temporal mortal immortal letters. Hang me up as you hung up poems on the black stone, immortalize me with the spoken violence of lacerating lips.

It has been seven years since I swam. And tonight amidst the storm, I couldn’t have wished for a better moment to reunite with the Mediterranean.

From a distance, the vast shoreline appears like a spectrum of edifying monuments, a lit up architectonic system organizing all the movement under and within it. But even from a distance, a vile hue strikes—club lightning or an explosion—cracking the sky and shattering the architectural structures which give this country in front of me an illusion of cohesion.

I feel like a stranger in my boyfriend’s parent’s bedroom, sneaking through a crack in their closet door, coolly observing their secrets, trying to avoid their eyes. I’m not ready for the guilt. They watch a warm coloured Lebanese film, shot like a long video clip.

Religious allusion is spewed like mercury as the film starts, and constantly throughout, the mercurial allusion jumps around, leaps, resisting fixity and stasis, until the final scenes, in which the allusion is aborted. A group of women trod the arid earth clad in black; they are mourning and do so with charming, choreographed movement, almost distancing the sorrow from the event through an aesthetic appeal, and confirming Nietzsche, “As aesthetic phenomenon existence is still bearable for us.”

The theatre-of-a-room is silent. My boyfriend sneaks a hand across my crotch and I almost let out a sigh ending my dissatisfaction, but then someone dies.

I longed to swim tonight because it had been becoming more and more apparent to me that I am immanently part of a world, and what is a better way of celebration than to be like water among water.

I am a monkey eating a banana while looking you in the face and laughing.

The film is set in a village trying to be isolated from the world. If isolation eclipses the socio-historical and political “real” of the war, it nevertheless allows for a greater representation of the social (and gendered) dynamics of the society depicted. On the forefront of this village-society is the league of women; the village is comprised of wives/mothers, men, and teenage boys. Ergo, the women’s alliance is an imperative if they are to successfully guard against the dangers of the war.

Strict academic writing bores me. I have no patience for convoluted arguments. Why race away from the abyss? From vertigo? The vertiginous abyss is the finish line.

I think back on the dry ambivalence which tints me. This ambivalence made me tacitly answer antithetically to the same question, without synthesis.

Something nibbles at my feet. I’m being swayed by these moments under heavy rain and the joy of being stung and eaten.

My boyfriend has his hands inside my pants; he is watching the film with his parents through the crack in the closet. At the same time, I’m looking at the city, at the village, at the whole country. It doesn’t matter. There is no beauty in the dissonance of the metropolis or in the arid rural landscape. And to our surprise, chaos and disorder are furthered by Maldoror making “a pact with prostitution in order to sow disorder among families”. Even the world’s mythical oldest profession, however, fails to disorient. His parents laugh but then gasp in horror.

The ambivalence of love between sexuality and neurotic behaviour; between the desire for terror and the desire to defile beauty. What speechless wonderment washes away the ambivalence as I release myself in the closeted sea, amongst dirty clothes and waste, my boyfriend rubbing himself on my back, passion serving as a prelude to physical union; or who knows, physical fusion serving as a prelude to passion, the fervour of love, the violence of a storm, of lips moving apart and closing in, tightening in on each other to prevent the slaughtering laughter which would expose us—pause—silence—contemplation—and so what if we’re exposed? Beware of the (s)laughter.

Mahmoud Darwish starts a poem by saying, “I want from love only the beginning.” I never could understand his masochistic desire. As I stepped in the water after taking my clothes off, rekindling my love for the sea, the yellow road lights reflected on my legs, the hairs like those of a cat in alerting fright. Although the road to love is a path to blissful happiness, before I can enjoy happiness, I walk towards the water, my toes touching its chilled surface, and I suffer from its frigid agitation.

My boyfriend’s mother vocalizes sounds of disapproval at the film’s abrupt change from comedy to tragedy. The world’s oldest profession fails to distract, and the terror of War pays a nonchalant visit in the form of a bullet in the back of a mother’s son. She decides to hide her son’s death like an abortion long in the making. The mother becomes the reciprocal of the Virgin Mary. The aborted body is invisibly put in a room, protected from the world, as if in a womb. The room, however, is empty, cloistered from the world; the windows are shut, the door is locked: The room is an empty womb, figuring abortion. And I reach climax.

The sky becomes calm. I swim now below a huge, pure sky and I laugh, water enters my mouth and chokes me with saline reality. Something stings me next to the knee and I feel frail. We stumble out of the wooden doors of the closet, welcomed by shock and gaping dry mouths. My boyfriend’s parents are so startled by my (s)laughter, they disregard my gaiety and look straight at their poor helpless son, his hand covered with my semen.

And is it worth an abortion? To come out of the closet? To swim back to the shore? Nothing is more religious than abortion: the wastage of ultimate excess in a formless formation. Freedom from form, from the prison-tomb of architectonic systems, from the police function of sperm management, from the cosmo-illogical shoddy bunk-hole of binary patriarchy.

The metropolis will crumble if we feel a gist of freedom. It is no wonder that parks are few: “The workers must stay away from these too clean groves…they could easily become seriously angry and question why they earn so little when these rascals steal so much”. The words of Emilé Zola ring true.

I am not in the tradition of giving out answers, not even to the questions that I ask. But there is a force which propels me to be without ambivalence, compels me to utter a scant revelation: given the space of a shoreline and the sea, I see nothing stopping us from aborting on behalf of mothers the progenies of phallic architectonic monuments. The crack can be seen from a distance, widened through the (s)laughter of beautiful, violent Medusa.

“Learn to swim…” [Ænema.Tool]

“Every animal is in the world like water in water.” [Georges Bataille]

“And why don’t you write? Write! Writing is for you, you are for you; your body is yours, take it. I know why you haven’t written…Because writing is at once too high, too great for you, it’s reserved for the great –that is for ‘great men’; and it’s ‘silly’. Besides, you’ve written a little, but in secret. And it wasn’t good, because it was in secret, and because you punished yourself for writing, because you didn’t go all the way, or because you wrote, irresistibly, as when we would masturbate in secret, not to go further, but to attenuate the tension a bit, just enough to take the edge off. And then as soon as we come, we go and make ourselves feel guilty –so as to be forgiven; or to forget, to bury it until the next time….” [Hélène Cixous.The Laugh of the Medusa]

“Humanism (capitalist patriarchy) is the same thing as our imprisonment. Trapped in the maze, treading the same weary round. Round and round in the garbage. Round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round (God is a scratched record), even when we think we are progressing, knowing more. Round and round, missing the sacred, until it drives you completely into your mind. But at least we die. Personalism is a trap because to believe that some of what one was holding onto will be taken care of by another being is irreligion. It is not our devotion that matters, but surrender. There is no end to the loss that lies down river. If only we can give up. ‘Life will dissolve itself in death, rivers in the sea, and the known in the unknown’ [V 119].” [Nick Land]

[P.S. A subtle interpretation of Where Do We Go Now is passed on here. My own.But you can share it.]

A Dance of Names

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Youssef woke up frightened. Sporadic explosions echoed far off, and momentarily, red-blazed bullets shot off into the sky, sometimes rapidly, other times, as singles. He looked at his watch and saw its glass broken, the minute hand ticking in place, fidgeting as if frightened to continue its around-the-hour revolution.

“What’s wrong Zoos?” his friend Naji, who was watching the road that lay clad in the rubble of war, asked him, startled by his friend’s sudden movement.

“Mashi,” Youssef shrugged it off. “For how long have the bombs been going off?”

“Ever since you fell asleep. Weird how you just woke up, one of them must have been closer. Failed to notice that though.”

“I didn’t wake up from a bomb explosion. Just a nightmare. I was reading a book, and then someone had told me that I’d stop at a certain sentence. I saw the words in front of me so clearly, and I reached that sentence, and I couldn’t go on anymore no matter how much I tried.”

“What was the sentence?”

“I read, ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy’, and then the sentence was, ‘By a name I know not how to tell thee who I am.’ Romeo and Juliette.”

Naji’s laughter invited Youssef’s own. A cacophony of laughter, bombs and inaudible death cries merged in the night as bullets decorated the sky like satellites symbolizing progress and the conquering of an ever-widening space. But the bullets travelled down again like postcards from space, crumbling the progress of latitude with an Icarian meltdown.

“Sleep, you need the energy for tomorrow.”

The black sun rose from behind Mount Lebanon, drenching the populace with a virulent passion to waste itself: a passion for mutual annihilation. The cats, dogs and vermin hid beneath scattered broken rocks, destroyed cars and in the sewage system which had flooded on the streets.

“Yalla, wake up, yalla,” Naji pushed and shoved Youssef, “You should move. There’s no time.”

Youssef woke up again with a headache. The sun’s rays tore through his eye lids, into his crania and hit his frontal lobe with searing energy.

“Is everything ready?” Youssef sighed.

“Yes. Of course. Here you go,” Naji gave Youssef car keys and a package. “Stay off the main roads, but you’ll have to pass through two checkpoints.” He gave him two IDs, one with the name Joseph Harb on it, and the other with the name Youssef Harb. “Don’t worry, though. Everything should be fine.”

“Yeah I’ll try not to worry. Any news from the other side?” His teeth felt rough and raw.

“None. Which is why you need to go and come back quickly.”

Youssef wore a brown shirt, tainted by the diesel oil fuel stains of two days earlier.

“May God be with you,” Naji said.

Youssef looked cynically at his friend as he entered the worn out yellow Beatle, “which God would that be?” The engine started and he rode with Lady Luck. Naji saw him drive off, taking a right turn and escaping his view.

The engine rotated in a frenzy rumbling. Youssef drove cautiously and wearily. His hands gripped the steering wheel tightly; his right foot trembled as it stepped on the gas and brakes pedals. He passed by bullet-riddled buildings knowing that in them and beneath them, people were hiding, smothered by the ruins of the city as orphans mothered by strangers’ hands, promising imminent respite, but in front of him loomed the first checkpoint. Men in civilian clothing stood by the road; Kalashnikovs strapped like instruments, bullet-belts ornamented their waist. He slowed down, and easily stopped, facing a gunman outside the window on his left, two on his right, and another in front of him.

“ID”, the gunman on his left voiced his illocution.

Youssef reached to one of the IDs to his right, beneath the handbrake and gave it to him. The metal of the Kalashnikov clanked against the bullet-belt. The gunman scanned the ID, intermittently looking back at Youssef. The gunmen to his right raked the inside of the Beatle with their eyes.

“What are you going there to do?” One of the gunmen to his right asked.

“I’m visiting the family. There’s a birthday.”

He was given the ID back and the gunman in front of him moved out of the way.

He stepped on the gas and continued as if the name he revealed had cast him into exile, but even worse, his name lasted for a duration, a duration of great anxiety, making the name cling to his being until the next checkpoint. Beyond borders, people die without names, but they also die because of their name, because they cannot separate themselves from their name. The war was in part a war of names, and not of people themselves. It was a war of a symbolic order, dictating laws of what should be and what cannot be.

He saw the next checkpoint and changed the ID beneath the handbrake. The same arrangement of gunmen stood in front of him, dressed slightly differently.

Inside borders, names were learned by heart and written in blood. Names were a constant separation from the others as well as from selves.

He eased down again at the border, the gunmen on his left saw his face and cringed.

“Get out,” he ordered. His voice was stern.

Two gunmen opened the side door of the yellow Beatle and started rummaging through it. Their hands went beneath and through seats. They opened the trunk, grabbed everything they could grip and threw it on the soiled ground, examining what lay on the ground as they laughed like drunken madmen.

“Where are you going?” one of the gunmen asked Youssef.

Youssef became flustered, and with a shivering voiced uttered “birthday.”

“Your ID. Give it to me.” The gunman ordered his left hang gripping his Kalashnikov, a finger on the trigger.

“Beneath the handbrake,” Youssef’s eyes remained static on the ground.

“Why are you looking on the ground? Do you like the ground? Do you want to kiss the ground? Yalla, kiss it. Do it.” The gunman pressed Youssef’s head with the sole of his boot.

It wasn’t long before the two gunmen searching the Beatle found the package, a white box.

“What’s this? Are you trying to kill us? Kill our brothers you scum?” shouted one of them.

“No no, it’s a birthday cake.” Youssef pleaded.

“Get on the ground.” They shouted together, gathering around him.

Youssef’s body went down where his eyes were gazing. He felt bodies search him, hands entering his pockets, fingers pressing on his skin. A hand grasped his wallet, after which his body was left on the ground, as if already a corpse.

“What’s this?” A gunman found his other ID. “Joseph. Youssef. Which one is it?” He looked at each of the IDs with a cringe. A kick caused Youssef to groan in pain.

Youssef knew it was too late. He was now displaced and no amount of words could save him. His existence was wavering between two names, discrediting him from any truth. Credence was lost.

The dance of names was an inevitable rendezvous with death. The two IDs were thrown on the ground like a palimpsest from a stolen library, perhaps surviving, perhaps forever lost; but nonetheless, with one name, one script too many. Youssef’s body was dragged towards the unknown from where snails emerge with cryptic and enigmatic shells, sliding on the dew of rain as moving mausoleums of bodies hidden and beings undone.

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Regarder

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Rogier_van_der_Weyden-_Braque_Family_Triptych_-_closed

REGARDE, toi qui est si fier et avare, mon corps était jadis beau et maintenant il n’est que nourriture pour les vers.” (“See, you who are so proud and avaricious, my body was once beautiful, but now is food for worms.”) [The Triptych of the Braque Family, Rogier van der Weyden.]

I thought of death, which I imagined to be similar to that walk without an object (but the walk, in death, takes this path without reason—‘forever’)” [Georges Bataille Oeuvres Completes, III 286].

He stumbled out of the elevator, the proximity-sensitive light lit after he opened the door. The bright light disturbed him. His keys shook as he took them out of his pocket, his tight jeans becoming tighter as spilt champagne made it shrivel with sparkling wetness. The key shackled through the keyhole, almost majestically, at the first attempt. He opened the door and managed to close it without the slightest noise, only the ordinary rub of metal upon metal, and the latch bolt resting in place.

A bright blue light came from the television screen in the living room, some sounds of inarticulate dialogue greeted him, and unusually, his father’s snoring fled him. He approached the living room and saw his father resting upright on the velvet red couch wearing his boxers and his undershirt. He made his way to the kitchen and drank water which seemed to cleanse his throat after a long night of mixed cocktails and sweet shots. He had to drink the glass of water in sporadic sips, his breath failing him every other second.

He sighed at the site of a bed topped with a mountain of things, clothes, and books and marvelled at the prospect of not having to live throughout work-filled days when people aimed to live with no will to hate nor to love nor to laugh, but to understand the random crash of particles around them. He always yearned for the sacred nature of night when people in dark alleys are faceless and nameless, having no past and no future, their outer covering no longer serving as a pathetic sheath hiding death in macabre irony, but simply to contain a flux of energy; a naked dance of death welcoming the process of a being-corpse.

He undressed, and looking like a miniature image of his father, he went to wake him up and lead him to bed. He stepped heavily on his ankle, so heavily every step made a low beat on the ground. The TV light was still flickering as he walked to the living room; a recycled game show was being broadcasted, with commercials interrupting every six or eight minutes. His father was still in the same position, sitting upright on a velvet red couch, his neck tilted towards the left, loose; a bag of raisins placed between his palm and his thigh. His old man’s leg, white as new A4 paper and unhairy; his old man’s chest shown from his undershirt, bumpy like ridges of sand on the seafloor.

“Baba,” he said feeling self-conscious about smelling of an array of alcohol; smelling of intoxication and, to his father, of utter and outright blasphemy. He had passed by three pubs before settling on a fourth, alcoholic indulgence reaching its apogee. And on that ride which connected bodies with a halo of joy, the will of chance took him to high plenitudes of ecstasy and unearthly plateaus, a taste of real pleasure which overrides the quotidian delights of everyday life, reaching a state where no beyond is asked for, where no beyond is imagined, becoming part of the torrent of nature, happily losing conscious self and expending uselessly like sultans, kings and caliphs. In shameless and painful expenditure, he hopped from pub to pub, and on the fourth, his eyes steadied on a person he knew who flaunted thin black dreadlocks, dark Mediterranean skin; eyes weighed heavy by dark circles, mascara and burgundy eyeliner, collar and cheek bones protruding in waifish manner from gaunt skin. Braidy was her given name and she brought him back to ground zero after an intoxicated flight to the ether.

“Baba,” he said again, poking him on his right shoulder, but his father did not move, the truth was emerging like a snail out of its shell. He had approached Braidy holding two coronas, a lemon slice trapped in each long neck.

“Here you go,” he had told her. She took the bottle from him in memory of their history and a return to the past.

“Regaghdé,” she’d said in a phony, sarcastic French accent. He smiled and, vaguely, drunkenly remembered a night in bed with Braidy, sex and her habit of having an intellectual conversation after it.

“Baba,” his tone became alert, as if it was going to wake his father up. He touched his chin, but his neck just limped to the other direction like the head of a broken stick-figure. He backed up, frightened, grappled by a moment of forced ignorance and denial; the grapes on the table fell on the ground, joined by the raisins on his father’s thigh. In that forced attempt to disconnect from the stone figure of his father in front of him, he closed his eyes and could only remembered himself and Braidy in bed together, her telling him about the irony of regaghdé.

“Regaghdé, it’s a really cool French word, a word which is a metaphor of our mortal coil. There’s a lesson in that word, regaghdé,” she stressed the ending of the word, the slanted de, as if it were an imperative order. “See, in French, if we break regarder,” she broke off the sarcasm, “we are forced to break it into re-garder, which gives us the prefix re­ and the base word garder, meaning keep. But, garder may also mean to guard, to watch over, a warning. So we have re,” she pauses, raising her eyebrows as if she’d been walking along a treasure path and is about to finally expose a treasure, “garder: the prefix re is followed by the base word garde which means guard, as if it’s a warning. And herein lies the paradox which regarder exposes in language. The prefix re which temporally signals to the past in its indication of anteriority, while also insinuating to a future in the sense of a warning. The past and the future in one word, just as we are trying to wrestle our past with our future in every present moment. Amazing isn’t it.”

And the treasure she revealed, as all treasures are, was hidden in a manifest hostile environment, violent to the whimsical currents which steer one’s life with random precision. He had marvelled at her intricate loosening of words and logic just as he cerebrated in front of his father’s corpse. He uttered the same words he had told her that night, “Yes, it is awful. But what about death? Death puts an end to the paradox, don’t you think?”

For a few seconds, he contemplated his faceless and nameless father having no future, his outer covering no longer serving as a pathetic sheath hiding death in macabre irony; a naked death welcoming the event of a being a corpse, and he waited for the worms.

Applied to death, regarder would not contain a paradox, for looking at a dead person, a body in a coffin, is never exactly looking at something that exists in the present, but…at a present in the past.” [Francois-Xavier Gleyzon. Shakespeare’s Spiral. P,14]

Ideas inspired by the Shakespeare’s Spiral by Francois-Xavier Gleyzon.

Immanent Reflection and Thirsty Meditation

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“…any possible self—or relative isolation—is only ever precipitated as a precarious digression within a general economy, perpetually renegotiated across the scale of energy flows. The relative autonomy of the organism is not an ontological given but a material achievement which—even at its apex—remains quite incommensurable with the notion of an individual soul or personality.” (Nick Land The Thirst For Annihalation, p. 45)

The formless. [Bataille] argues, is not to be found in a sense deriving from “a non-form” or “nothing at all” but in a certain painful and yet fertile effort that we could describe as giving birth, a death rattle-tearing and a cruel suffering…” (Francois-Xavier Gleyzon “Lynch, Bacon and The Formless”)

I cracked the sky with an involuntary yet necessary shudder, and slowly, like water staining paper, the crack expanded. But its presence did not emanate from a centre, but from the ever-expanding boundaries. It is from boundaries that presence begins, not from a centre.

I sat on my chair and I knew that the androgynous creature behind me was staring at the keyhole of my skull, enraged.

“I am androgynous,” it said, “I do not and will not perform part in your reality. You will only perform one in mine. This is the only way, or there will inevitably be a fissure.”

So I nodded and looked away. There is no point in seeing an androgynous. A salient noise is all that is needed to mistake it for the voice of a friend.

A friend?

When I turned, I didn’t find it behind me, it had disappeared. And still, the cracking sky was still expanding, opening up the void into which everything was going to be sucked in; a vertical anti-gravity drainage system. Annihilating, aborting, obtrusively abolishing. De-centred by explosive boundaries. And soon, including everything, spreading from wall to wall, end to end; Ouroboros. Cannibalism without reserve.

I craved without seeking. I closed my eyes to shut down the most distant of senses. I did not want to seek truth anymore, for all that has seemed true turned out to be contingent, at best. I renamed transcendence as discontinuity, and immanence as continuity, but with no revolutionary vigour. This simple inversion I crave with an aversion as intense as God’s longing for Easter or the phoenix’s longing for its own pyre. So I close my eyes, and crave without seeking, simple dreaming, becoming larval again, and even more minute, smaller than an atom, formless energy.

I flowed like a constantly repeated mantra, no end, no beginning; Infinite and out of the labyrinth of vision without and outside of Being. No mediation, the open wound of unconscious primitiveness spilling forth unintelligibly, gushing through like the slit throat of an eleven year old male who was willing to blossom, and yet prematurely violated, ended, opened, cut, annihilated by the sacred monster known as Gilles de Rais. I am him at his utmost moment of ecstasy. The apex of aversion. And it’s joyously horrible.

There is an eventful connection, a mode of communication which no Enochian or lesser language can enunciate. A renunciation of life, this is a bridging which dissolves me and everything else.

But the fangs of time clawed at the drum of my ear; the sands of the hourglass rumbled against each other in ultimate fury. A negligible snap forced me to take an all-too-human form again. I am Saint Theresa with eyes closed at the advent of orgasm, then suddenly coming back to life, dismally.

I beheld the distance of vision like a labourer beholds his tool as a source of discontinuity and recalled Blake: If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.

The androgynous, an Andy Warhol look-alike, appeared in front of me, thin, flat, disgusting.

“I am your friend,” it said with a vile high-noted voice.

“And I am your corpse,” I replied knowing fully well that this is a culminating existential disaster. I have been through this before. The hourglass of time has been flipped.

“This is the way it should be,” it smiled at me with sadistic eyes.

That’s the only way it works.

“In a sense, the world is still, in a fundamental manner, immanence without clear limit (indistinct flowing of being into being, I dream of the unstable presence of waters interior to water)” (Georges Bataille).

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Kanz

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“Is not hospitality an interruption of the self?” Jacques Derrida, Adieu, p. 51.

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April 5, 2009 – Beirut

The dreamy eyes had widened with ferocious excitement at the news of being accepted as a future student in the École Normale Supérieure de Paris. The family enjoyed a frenzy of jubilation. The daughter of a handicapped father and struggling mother had carved her way to one of the most prestigious universities in Europe.

“Derrida; Balibar; Foucault; Sartre; Bourdieu; Weil.” Kanz, the star daughter, screamed, her family around her in a wobbly circle, the unity of a promise fulfilled and a new promise being made bringing them together. Her mother cried; the news too strong for her to process with the same re-stricted attitude of her normal days.

“You’ll go there, you’ll be free. You be who you want to be and make us proud.”

There was no mention of what she wanted to major in. Nothing mattered except the departure with a promise; the commitment to a decision of being greater than her predecessors, of being as great as her potential allowed her to be.

April 11, 2011 – Beirut.

Kanz’s brother woke up and immediately called his sister in France. But no one answered. He woke his mother, who grudgingly told him to leave her alone. But he insisted that she should wake, so he bellowed.

“Mama! You have to wake up. It’s April 11! Mama. Kanz is in France and today is April 11.”

His mother’s eyes widened as if an ocular nerve had been pricked. Panicking, she got out of bed, at a loss and tried to call Kanz. But to no avail. No one answered.

“What do you want me to do now? Just worry? What do you want me to do?” she screamed at her young son who responded with a blank face and a shrug.

She turned on the television. There was no mention of anything happening in France, but a hysterical maternal hunch was laid heavy on her heart; Kanz is going to be in trouble. Kanz needs her. Kanz wants to be held tight.

April 11, 2011 – Paris

Dusk. Kanz, twenty-two, locked herself in the bathroom and sat in the water-full bathtub. She sat there, on her naked bottom, her feet close to her chest and hugging her knees with her thin white arms. The water submerged half her body, her breasts half floating atop the still water. This stillness permeated throughout the whole apartment. She made herself an enactment of a still-born foetus because she knew that the day would mark her as a stranger, born anew, demanding her, forcing her to obtain a new identity.

Three years ago, she had left Beirut with a baggage full of promises. The promise of a glorious and strong return.

She opened her legs and let her hair sink in the shallow depth of the bathtub. It started spreading, hair by hair, widening, opening up like a mushroom explosion under slow motion. She passed her fingers through it to see if it’s still strong, still thick, still solid enough to hide her if she needed it to do so.

The sun rose and the smell of bread emanated from the many bakeries surrounding her apartment. She gazed haplessly on the covers of the bed. The French sound of civilization slowly entered the room. The passing cars, the rapid French ranting, the high heels, the clatter of shopping carts, the music from street performers; and then the phone rang. She stared at the red light going on and off rapidly as the ringing echoed throughout the still room: another French sound which she did not want to respond to. She stared at the ceiling and imagined the course of her day: people staring at her, people thinking that she’s a criminal by birth, by indoctrination, by force, by root and stem. On the arm-chair next to the phone, she saw how the world outside finally found its way to the core of her private life.

The phone rang. Again, she did not answer.

The hour of departure had neared and she knew that she had to get dressed. Facing it will only make it go away, that monster of reality. She saw pictures which contained her now lost object of safety. A flux of memories rushed confusingly in her head, mixing with each other, all of them containing this object which she thought would be with her until the end.

The first days in university; the night-time walking and stares; the fear of losing it all. And fear made flesh. She lost her source of confidence.

April 5, 2009 – Beirut

After a lengthy time of celebration, cake eaten and pastries served, the father called his daughter from his room. He lay in bed like an old sage. Kanz sat on the tip of his bed, still smiling, and he looked at her, her big black eyes glaring at him.

“I’ve raised you the best way I could,” he began talking, his voice struggling to articulate his thoughts. “And I’ve never forced you to do anything.”

She nodded.

“And I do not want to start forcing you to do anything now. But I want you to know that if the time comes when you have to part with what you think constitutes you, you feel free to do it.”

She nodded.

“Open up and experience everything. Never hold back. The phoenix burns itself so that it’s born anew. And we should do the same. You’re going there to shine. And no doubt you’ll say a lot of goodbyes along the way, to people with lovely faces and strangers with curious gazes.”

She nodded again. He coughed.

“But the seasonal road ahead is only lit by our sight, and even though at some moments we might be blind, there’s always insight to find. The best thing I can tell you to do is to never look back. Be young and willing. Burn every bridge and don’t write back. Freedom is having nothing to lose. Don’t get attached to something that can be easily taken away from you.”

She got up and went outside.

Four months later, she packed her bags and travelled to Paris with everything to lose, the burden of a promise and the weight of a decision pushing her down to earth in a humility felt only by a slave in front of a master. But her father’s words echoed in the back of her head. Somehow, she felt safe.

And she could not, would not fail them.

April 11, 2011 – Paris

The phone rang for a third time, and this time she got up. Her dry body trotted heavily to the phone.

“Hello.”

“Hi Kanz. Are you alright?” Her mom breathed heavily.

“Yes. I’m alright. I haven’t went outside anymore.”

“How does it feel?”

“It feels like freedom.”

“Freedom?” a strong tone of confusion with a spice of betrayal marked her mother’s surprised question. “You feel free?”

“I have nothing to lose anymore.”

“What? Don’t say that. You still have everything to live for. Don’t forget what you want to do.”

“But. I can’t do it anymore.”

“It’s not the end of the world. You can do it. You can cope it.”

“I have no one here, not anymore. As of today I’m alone.” A pause, a silence fuelling an ominous feeling of suspension. “I have to go.”

“Just do what you have to do Kanz. Remain calm.”

“Ok. Bye.”

She hung up. Three years ago, it was an easy decision to go out, full of the confidence to be what she wanted to be. Now, the life outside made it impossible to do so. It has been explained to her as the price of independence.

And she looked at her burqa and found all the independence she wanted ghostly written on it.

It had been explained to her as the price of equality.

And she looked at her burqa and found all the equality she wanted emanating from it.

It had been explained to her as the price of freedom.

And she looked deep inside and knew that the freedom the world outside promised her is one that conditions her to be unaware of her origins. And she rejected freedom if it asked to be unaware of her origins, like being born from an egg thrown in the woods.

So she got up, wore the burqa and stepped out of the house. She walked down the street knowing that rapid French words are going to target her; that police whistles are going to sound at her sight. And she walked until that which was meant to happen occurred, the noose of French hospitality tightened on her neck, suffocating the spirit that had promised a family that she’ll do well; that she’ll do her best.

French words, and police whistles. Eyes glaring. She didn’t like the noose that she was hanging from. She went back to her apartment with a fine for wearing what she wanted to wear. She could not, would not accept the way she was accepted. She called her mother and told her that she’s coming back home.

Sergei Bizyaev defects

Schism

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Drunk. Whisky scorches, steam descending
heavily, I’m handled by gravity.
And of energy wasted, I think of the caged bird and
read Maya Angelou for an explanation.

Justice is not done, and action is misplaced like
the absence of thunder. An explosion sucks
amnesty from the grave of guilt.
I come undone and my mind twists as
it climbs the wall cursing the evening tide.

I saw the lighthouse topple over and ships crash on the rocks.
I saw the airstrip lights go off and planes collide with asphalt.
I saw the ground open up and swallow little kids on tricycles.

Death wants more death, and inside I felt it knocking.
The curtain was curtailed and it showed a face
forlorn, a face I’ve known.

But away with split tongues. She’s young
and so am I. Hearts will be broken in the
days of youth. Romantic, we’re wet together,
compassionate like hot wax which never cools.
Lo! we’re going to split away. Cool
the wax or else we’ll divide and be free.

She grabs and indents me.
We’re splitting at the moment when I read
why the caged bird sings.

And I let go. I break apart suffering a dent
An incision which reads,
“She was here.”

Vanitas

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I am going to die. It is a fact. Sooner than I had expected. Sooner than twenty-seven.

Tonight I took my last shower. Before heading to the bathroom I was shivering like a person diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. All my muscles were largely out of my control. I was, as I also was a day earlier, a pebble upon a winter shore, similar to an ice cube except for the frost.

I am going to die and it’s not a shame.

I entered the bathroom, undressed and performed my last private pre-shower routine: air drumming. I flap my hands and wave them in the air, with facial expressions to suit the imagined song. I see my ribs being outlined on the mirror as my hands are above my head. I do this with the shivering, and I breath heavily and think, if only my cheekbones, if only my cheekbones. My lungs hurt.

After a mere two minutes of air drumming, an ensuing exhaustion invites itself, uncalled for, unwanted, but necessary. I step into the bathtub, making sure the water is hot, lethally hot. And memories sprout like water from the shower head, sort of a “your life flashes before your eyes,” but also not quite like that. It’s a feature of showers, they’re better than Freud’s couch, and I bet that would’ve been a novel discovery if I were living in the early 20th century.

But first memory, truly. Preschool and I’m imagining events. I’m predicting the liar that I am to be, so soon; the great fabricator, sitting in recess, thinking of all the possible happenings that are not happening, then going home, our old home, and relaying them to my mother.

Hot water strikes my not-so-European skin. I’m a beast. Je suis une bête. Une (la) béte. Feminine. I bite like Juno the dog, without reserve, hating everything. I’m an animal.

I’ve always been a follower of my eldest brother. Not a follower in the sense of a disciple. A follower in the sense of him being a role model, at least for the beginning part of my life, pre-puberty that is. Everything changes with puberty. Metallica (Segway to metal); LAU (Segway to pussy); TIm Burton (Segway to normal strangeness). In that respect I was a rather normal child. I cried when he hit me. I cried when I got hit in general, by father, by brother, by strangers. I cried when I was doing the hitting. What a pussy thing, but I guess it gave me intensity (a comforting lie).

Cry baby. But I’m not crying now when blood spurts out when I cough, when my ears and cheeks are blotched with such sanguinity worse than that of Andrei Sergeyevich Arshavin and Rafael Benítiz combined.

It has been stated earlier that everything starts with a promise. Being born starts with the promise of eventually dying. Meeting someone, starting a friendship seals the promise of future mourning. All acquaintances have a trace of a farewell. One must always go before the other. Surviving is the other name of mourning. But don’t be too excessive as to miss me in my absence; that would be unreasonable. Miss me in this moment, but not later on. Sadly the former does not happen, the latter always happens, and my death, all deaths become a falsely justified loss.

I never wanted voices and absences. I always wanted bodies and presence. Nothing satisfies me more than the people I love being here, not there, not far away, being elusive in their distance, feigning presence with an e-mail, a phone call, a message, feigning friendship.

And I used to run away.

I remember in fifth grade, 9 years old, telling girls that they are the juice (the triangular-shaped carton, a seminal part in every Lebanese’s childhood) and we (boys) are the straw. I remember it well, being threatened with expulsion for being knowledgeable and metaphoric.

And I remember everything past 2006 with the vivid clarity of nostalgic fucks. I remember how the joy ride ended on March 14, 2008. On that note, I remember last year’s tarnishing of what could have been the most beautiful, exciting, mesmerizing, perfect birthday ever (which eventually killed a large part of the summer among other parts of living beings). And on the night of June 14, I was in the wrong place, to say the least, in hindsight.

I don’t cry when I hallucinate, when the balance of the world disappears and things start closing in on me, or appear to be doing so. I don’t panic when the back of my head feels like it’s in a blender. I don’t cry when I suffer from severe air hunger because inhalation pinches my lungs like bullets.

I am dying and sometimes I hear a voice solemnly saying, “You’re going to die motherfucker. You’re going to die motherfucker.”

I’m thinking of a nice lollipop, the ones that have medicine in them, which at the same time is yummy and nothing else matters, not the failed promises, not the disappointments, not the insurmountable grief. A lollipop would make so happy right now.