Sunday, February 28, 2021

Welcome to Arthur Rimbaud's "Lebanons of dream"

Artwork by Fadi Chahin, Vladimir Kurumilian and Tarek Chemaly

"C'est un peuple pour qui se sont montés ces Alleghanys et ces Libans de rêve !"

Arthur Rimbaud - Ville I, Les Illuminations.

"It is the people for whom the Alleghanys were built and those Lebanons of dream!"

And this is what I retained from the Patriarch's speech yesterday, or from the Hezbollah leader a few days past. Several definitions of one entity, or several entities in quest of one definition.

Granted, I am trying to believe they are all starting from good intentions, but - hell is paved with good intentions as the French proverb goes. And truth be told, all these are rhetoric we have heard prior - some as far back as the the early 80s (All right, I am trying to remain vague, but there is a link between the Patriarch's speeches and the speeches of a certain slain president elect in Lebanon - namely, their writer!). But again, as the French proverb goes, banish the natural state and it comes back quickly.

So, as Alan Parson's Project so pertinently asked: "Where do we go from here?" - aptly from the song entitled "Games People Play". Well, it does not need much to understand whatever is being proposed is indeed a version of "Lebanons" - plural. Perhaps under one name but certainly with different "allegiances" - which is funny because supposedly the whole issue is lack of allegiance.

And, oddly, all components of the Christian faction are now claiming the patriarch's speech is echoing their own. In some sort of a strange deja-vu where someone is reloading the matrix to make the past look like the present (Hello George Orwell! - his 1984 main protagonist had the job of changing the old newspapers to make them look as if they mirror the current political alliances).

But really, if this is supposed to be a precision-guided missile (har har!) from the patriarch, then somehow it sort of missed, because I ended up being confused. Not that the previous speech from Hassan Nasrallah was clear either. Both had their own logic, which was a little queasy on the ground. Which brings us back to intentions and how said intentions translate on the ground.

Oddly, in both speeches the idea of "Halat 7atman" seems a possibility. In case you don't know, for a large chunk of the 80s the Lebanese Forces were pushing to establish an airport at the Halat section of what was then the Christian fief (near Byblos). 

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly

Well, funnily not long ago the head of the Druze faction Walid Jumblat tweeted a photo of the "airport" at Baazaran. Because you know, the Chouf area deserves its own airport as well. Don't you think this is a fitting definition of a plural Lebanon, or Lebanons as Rimbaud put it? But to end all this with a positive spin, I cannot but recall the Lebanese Army poster from the war days which says "Bigger than to be swallowed, smaller than to be dismantled".