Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Lebanon: 2020-21 like living in Juliana Seraphim painting

Untitled - Juliana Seraphim 1980 (source)

There, this is the best metaphor I can give: In Lebanon, 2020 and 2021 were like living in a Juliana Seraphim painting. To be living the surreal as if it was a day to day occurrence, some Gabriel Garcia Marquez magical realism. Honestly how can one explain that Covid is not even in your top 5 of problems? The banks, the money or lack of it, the fuel or lack it, the meds or lack of it, the Dollar or lack it, and the list goes on. Did anyone notice I still did not go to the covid situation? I am twice vaccinated but missed the last marathon to get my booster - living outside of Beirut, I need to organize myself well before stepping out of the house (a small calculation led me and my cousin to average 500,000 Lebanese Liras as a budget for any out of home excursion!). I said it before, despite all this, I was one of the privileged one that managed to have a Christmas of some sort (nephews got a gift), the table was not exorbitant but at least present. 

But truth be told, it is difficult to live by comparison. I think in all of 2020 I clocked like 5 nights of sleep. Insomnia was a daily thing, and no sleep would come before daylight for a meager couple of hours. The stress level was off the chart, and the only thing that stopped my mind from going off the rails was working on my "Simulacra and simulation" video about the Lebanese collective memory. Was 2021 any better? Well, to begin with, sleep came back at some point. No, work was not much better (I left university lecturing at end of 2019 due to inflation because I was keeping a lousy sum of money in my pocket at the end of a teaching day!), and projects have been too far and in-between. 

Weirdly enough I have not been pursuing work in full force. Maybe I am still traumatized for having worked for fiercely for several years and lost all the money I put aside in the current financial crisis. So to start anew with the same vein at my age (note, I was born in 1974) is not really palatable. My current plan is simple: Salvage what can be salvageable, play a long game, and not plan much - the last time I planned is precisely what got me into the place I am in right now. 

So here we are, little or no logic, all shapes are distorted, "objects in mirror are closer than they appear" as the side-mirror engraved words so philosophically say. I suppose like everyone else, these two years seem both very fresh, haunting but also in the rearview mirror all at once. I did say that during lockdown, time is elastic. I guess for 2020-21, outside of lockdown too.