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Your Lebanon and Mine
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Joined: 09 Mar 2007
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Location: Jbeil Byblos

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You don’t have to be a poet or an artist, or at least not much of one, to see that there is one Lebanon, a Lebanon of conflict, of Islamic State, of vacancy of the Presidential seat, of crime and of disintegration, and also another Lebanon, my Lebanon. This one is a Lebanon of light, of art, of much creativity, and also one of great mingling of peoples and cultures. Lebanese mix with Syrians and Palestinians and in Beirut Singapore, Berlin and other great capitals never seem far away.

While the media every morning make us listen to outdated politicians insulting each other and tell us tales of endless killings, knife attacks and dark deeds, there are on the other hand men and women who show us another side of life in Beirut that draws our attention.

For “...there are cities that are like women, cities that become eternal because men have dreamed for them dreams of greatness,” as Venus Khoury-Ghata once said when she was guest of honor at the 21st Montauban Autumn Festival of Letters. Even if here we are not talking exactly of the dreams of greatness of any one man, at least we are talking of dreams of destiny, dreams of life, and celebration of those who can still dream, imagine and look around them – artists, poets, entrepreneurial businessmen, and men who make the world move forward.

The departure from the scene in a single month of great artists such as Said Akl and Sabah reminds us that we are the custodians of a heritage of which we have every reason to be proud even if those public personalities had somewhat faded from our memory for the simple reason that they made less noise than guns and bombs and violent speeches. They have reminded us that we are capable of another vision of the world, a kind world of genius and brotherhood.

But it is not only the departures from life and the commemorations of the past that should remind us of this. Even now there are people of talent and we daily see the initiatives of persons who show creativity in every field. For example, the event Accelerate 2014 of the Bank of Beirut has shed light on vibrant Lebanese entrepreneurship and creativity. The photographer Roger Moukarzel has marked the opening of the Singapore Art Fair with a giant screen combining fifty thousand pictures taken all over the world. The film-maker Philippe Aractingi goes around the globe screening his production Heritage precisely to ensure that nothing is lost of the heritage. Salah Stetieh puts Lebanon before the eyes of the public, with his book Extravagance adorning the shelves of the leading Paris bookshops. In this same Paris of dialogue of cultures, Venus Khoury-Ghata, recipient of the Goncourt poetry prize, weaves magic words around the canvases of the Syrian Ziad Dalloul on show in the famous Claude Bernard Gallery.
At the same time, a site of the Mémoire créative de la Révolution, in part financed by the Institut français, honors and conserves the amazing prolific output of talented Syrians revealed by this same revolution, witness to the conscience of a generation which continues to seek some sort of participation in the history of the literature of its time.

This art, which reflects a duty to preserve and protect its heritage, gives credit to the history of a people and to maintain its creative impulse despite the geo-strategic forces that would push it out of the international scene. For art helps break down the barriers that maintain a solitude that borders on fear; art means communion and drives away fear. Putting an end to the culture of fear may well contribute towards a creative civil society, so often virtual, excluded or scattered, to become a reality. It can allow these men and women who roam between two worlds, between a dozen peoples and between a thousand tales, like the characters of So Far, So Close of Roger Moukarzel, to become true ambassadors of the other Lebanon and the other Syria. “Somewhere between Arabia and Asia, between Far East and Near East is the story of a man who goes forward. We do not see his face, though he has a thousand faces. This journey seems to belong to a dreamland but at the same time it leaves its imprint in the world of reality,” says Roger Moukarzel about his video shown at Singapore. We see a man who steps forward. “Take up your bed and walk!” said Jesus to the paralytic. One cannot help thinking about it this Christmas Eve as one tries to think about a region in the world which bows under the weight of blows that have become part of its being, so heavily do they rain upon it. Perhaps this region will give birth to a new dialogue of cultures and to a new generation of world citizens such as André Breton once dreamed of, and also the pacifist Gerry Davis who at Cohors in 1950 on the morrow of World War II inaugurated the First World Road to Peace with a view to abolishing frontiers. “Imagine” sang John Lennon.

Nicole V. Hamouche (Agenda Culturel)
Translation from the French : Kenneth Mortimer
http://www.onefineart.com

Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:14 pm View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
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