I have a rough translation here:
August 4, 2020. I am at Villa Aurelia, Rome, which hosts events organized by the American Academy. All of Hemingway. In a dressing room, I am filmed for an interview and suddenly I see my phone light up in front of me. Lots of messages; photos, videos like an avalanche. At first I didn't have an application simulating an explosion on the Port of Beirut- we are so used to manipulating images. But it is real. Suddenly, while I am in a temple of glamor, childhood traumas, linked to war, to the impermanence of the comfort and stability of everyday life resonate in me. I understand then that we are shaped by the world has been there, from Getty to think so, I think it's a news our childish feelings. My reaction is very intense, very silent: immense sadness, more than fear, descends on me. The injustice of these images strikes me head-on: why this explosion, in this city which is already suffering, politically, economically, socially and where young people are being sacrificed? Instinctively, I know it's not the act of neighboring countries or a bomb. I guess this drama is linked to what is gnawing at Lebanon: corruption. Lebanon is where I was born. I have never lived there, but it has always been part of my life, like many Lebanese in the diaspora. A few weeks ago, someone knocked on my door in Montreal. It was a Lebanese lawyer who came to drop me bags full of dishes cooked by his mother! My origins are plural. My father is American. The son of a diplomat from Savannah, Georgia, who worked for the US government, he was born in Jerusalem and raised all over the place, including Beirut. My maternal grandfather comes from a large family in Damascus.
After having fought during the Arab revolt at the beginning of the twentieth century, he arrived disgusted at Ellis Island in 1919. He rebuilt his life, then rose through the ranks and set up factories in China. The day arrives when his sister wants to marry him at all costs. He goes to Lebanon where she has chosen a woman from a good family for him. During his engagement cocktail, he sees a family bathing on the beach. He falls in love with one of the girls, cancels her marriage and asks for her hand. My grandmother is 16, he is 60. She leaves Beirut for the United States, speaking only Arabic and a little French. On the other side of the Atlantic, she very quickly gives birth to my mother and four little sisters who will grow up between an uprooted woman and a man who has never forgotten that he was New York, first as Syrian cloth delivery man. Everyone speaks and cooks Arabic. specter of war, including that in Kuwait, where my father was hostage before My own childhood was marked by come back different. Recently passed away, my mother transmitted to me the warmth of the exchange, the fact of responding with emotional urgency. It is a temperament and a temperature! This may have surprised journalists during my interviews ... I grew up with very strong oriental figures the absolute icon, Oum Kalthoum; the Rahbani brothers, Fairuz, who built a bridge between the West and the Arab world. My guilty pleasure is Nancy Ajram, and I love rock band Mashrou'Leila. I like Gibran, Mahmoud Darwich, Amin Maalouf whom I read a lot, younger, Leon the African. What also binds me to my native land are these 6000-year-old olive trees that line Lebanese roads. These representatives of the resistance are to be revered as gods and goddesses. On August 4, 2016, I gave my last concert in Lebanon, in Baalbek. It was fantastic, they threw pillows everywhere! Two years ago, right here, we had to cut ourselves off three times. First, because there was prayer, broadcast very loudly. Then, because they had thrown so many cushions that the stage was covered with them. We even confiscated them but impossible to play again. So I started some music, probably remixed Fairuz, and I went back to my dressing room. Among my fondest memories of live, there is also the Place des Martyrs, in 2009, after the defeat of Hezbollah. There were a crazy crowd, young girls in veils or in brassieres. If I wrote this column in Le Monde, children are being taken hostage ", published in May 2021], it is because after the shock [" Lebanon, my country, is dying, and its visual of the explosion of August 2020 and the enthusiasm aroused by my charity concert [I Love Beirut, in September 2020], the months that followed saw the situation worsen in Lebanon without the international community. national is not really moved by it. Yes, the explosion was like an electric shock. This catastrophe vibrated very far. However, in a world as immediate as ours, attention time is quite short. The image or information is consumed as a product with a very short expiration date. As artists, we are not necessarily legitimate to express a political point of view, but that should not prevent us from externalizing our emotions beyond the 280 characters on Twitter. Sometimes I feel stupid for using only words, but they are still a precious expression nonetheless. Without falling into political rhetoric, which is not my domain because I consider myself a simple observer of my country, and from afar, it is corruption that has eaten away at Lebanon. Some speak of the coexistence of religions. Except that it has always existed! Beirut has long welcomed synagogues, mosques, Melchite, Maronite and Catholic churches, and all together made up a true cultural wealth. In recent years, the eco-political crisis has set in, social tension has increased and parties have sought to exploit this vulnerability, to sever the link that united us. It is not for nothing that Hezbollah has opened stores where, if you want to buy products imported from Iraq and Iran from sellers, you have to join the party. On the spot, my friends are trying to rebuild neighborhoods. The Lebanese architect Hala Wardé wants to give birth to places where the heritage has been destroyed, But how to manage the reconstruction and the necessary funds when the banks are no longer functioning? Salaries are divided by five, the price of toothpaste soars, like that of bread, coffee, milk or a taxi ride! There, a young man who studied like a madman to graduate has to leave if he wants to do anything with his knowledge. Is Lebanon doomed to the talent drain? In this tiny country, a fertile valley wedged between Israel and Syria, the gateway to Europe, the crucial subject of our future is being played out: living together. As our resources dwindle, we are more and more divided. Nothing of our present attitude favors a common existence. This is what Hashim Sarkis questions, the general commissioner of the Venice Biennale this year with "How will we live Lebanese lon imagined by Hala Wardé and on which also worked my brother Fortuné, A Fleischer, accompanied by a creation together?" I was overwhelmed by the pavilion- Roof for Silence. Sixteen thousand-year-old Lebanese olive trees are presented, filmed by Alain Musical from the sound artists Soundwalk Collective. Around these trees which have seen everything, there are also the poetic paintings of Etel Adnan, the “Antiformes” by Paul Virilio.
Of course, the Lebanese have always shown great pride and great resilience. But in the face of so much anger, frustration, waste, they erode. The key is undoubtedly in the youth, who want to reinvent their society. We must give it tools, invest in these minds who anticipate the plurality of their country in thirty years. A year after the explosion, I feel a lot of frustration, a painful latency. Yes, I am not angry, I am frustrated with the endemic corruption. I do not resolve myself to “there is nothing we can do about it, that's how it is”. One of the concerns of Lebanon today is that religions have started to play politics. They don't leave more room for spirituality. Like a planet in miniature, before in Lebanon, all the communities coexisted in a joyous hullabaloo, an example of living together and interreligious dialogue. But today people's beliefs are too often misused to build walls instead of breaking them down. To believe should bring us together, to believe is to aspire to universality. All generations need spirituality, whatever it may be, in order to contemplate life and death.
Tie of my mother's family transformed the adjoining house into a Roman site and, further on, the Israeli border. If I close my eyes, I imagine myself on this tiny beach in Sour, near Tire. We eat small barracudas fried in olive oil with lemon and salt. It is very good. There is a lighthouse, and a guesthouse. Behind, is a huge tree line where teens are encouraged to throw stones at night. In the basement of this house, often flooded with water when the sea is high, there are Phoenician ruins covered with sand. There is no peace, but a lot of beauty. How can the two coexist? „