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  1. I'm so sorry, can't read French... Could anyone post the transcript this article ? Thank you. Vanity Fair Août 2021 PDF file ( 4 pages / 798 KB ) Vanity_Fair_France_08-2021_compressed.pdf Page 12 Page 70 + 71 Page 72 Page 73 edit: English version by Mika on Instagram: August 4, 2020 I am at Villa Aurelia in Rome, which hosts events organized by the American Academy. Everyone has been there, from Getty to Hemingway. In a dressing room, I am being filmed for an interview and suddenly I see my phone lighting up. Many messages, photos and videos pop up like an avalanche. At first, I can’t believe it. I think it’s a new app simulating an explosion in the port of Beirut - we are so used to images being manipulated - but it’s real. All of a sudden, while I am in a temple of glamour, childhood traumas related to war, to the impermanence of comfort and stability of everyday life, resound in me. I understand then that we are shaped by our childhood perceptions. My reaction is very intense, very mute: an incredible sadness, more than fear, crashes over me. The injustice of these images is hitting me hard: why this explosion, in this city which is already suffering, politically, economically and socially, and where the youth is being sacrificed? I instinctively know that it is not from neighboring countries or a bomb. I guess that this drama is linked to what is eating away at Lebanon: corruption. Lebanon is where I was born. I have never lived there, but it has always been a part of my life, as it is for many in the Lebanese diaspora. A few weeks ago, there was even a knock on my door in Montreal. It was a Lebanese lawyer who came to drop off bags of food 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 grew up all over the place, including in Beirut. My maternal grandfather came from a large family in Damascus. After fighting in the Arab Revolt in the early 20th century, he arrived disgusted on Ellis Island in 1919. He started his life over in New York, first as a delivery man of fabric, then he moved up the ladder and set up factories in China. The day came when his sister decided to marry him off at all costs. He went to Lebanon where she had chosen a woman for him from a good family. During the cocktail party organized for their engagement, he saw a family swimming on the beach. He fell in love with one of the girls, canceled his wedding and asked for her hand in marriage. My grandmother was 16. He was 60. She left Beirut for the United States, speaking only Arabic and a little bit of French. On the other side of the Atlantic, she soon gave birth to my mother and four little sisters who grew up between an uprooted woman and a man who never forgot that he was Syrian. Everyone spoke Arabic and cooked Arab food. My own childhood was shaped by the specter of war, including the one in Kuwait, where my father was held hostage and returned a different man. My mother, who recently passed away, passed on to me the warmth of communicating, the art of responding with emotional urgency. It is a temperament and a temperature! This may have surprised some journalists who have interviewed me over the years... I grew up with very strong Middle Eastern 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 the rock band Mashrou’Leila. I like Gibran, Mahmoud Darwich, Amin Maalouf, whom I read a lot of when I was younger. Leo Africanus. What also connects me to my native land are the 6,000-year-old olive trees that line the roads of Lebanon. These representatives of the resistance should be revered as gods and goddesses. On August 4, 2016, I gave my last concert in Lebanon, in Baalbek. It was fantastic, the audience threw pillows everywhere! Two years before, we had had to stop playing there three times. The first time was for the prayer that was broadcast very loudly. The second time was because they had thrown so many cushions that the stage was covered in them. They were even confiscated but it was impossible to start playing again. So, I put on some music, probably some remixed Fairuz songs, and went back to my dressing room. Among my fondest memories of live performances, there is also Martyrs’ Square, in 2009, after the defeat of Hezbollah. There was a huge crowd. Young girls in veils and others in bras. If I wrote this column in Le Monde [“Lebanon, my country, is dying, and its children are held hostage”, published in May 2021], it is because after the visual shock of the August 2020 explosion and the excitement of my charity concert [I Love Beirut, in September 2020], the following months saw the situation in Lebanon worsen without the international community really caring. Yes. The explosion was like an electrical shock. This disaster vibrated far and wide. However, in a world as immediate as ours, the attention span is quite short. We consume the image or information like a product with a very short expiry date. As artists, we are not necessarily entitled to express a political point of view, but that should not prevent us from expressing our emotions beyond the 280-character limit on Twitter. Sometimes I feel stupid for using only words, but they are still a valuable form of expression. Without getting into political rhetoric, which is not my field as I consider myself a simple observer of my country, from afar, it is corruption that has eaten away at Lebanon. Some talk about the coexistence of religions. Except that it has always existed. Beirut has long been home to synagogues, mosques, Melchite, Maronite and Catholic churches, and together, they used to form 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 break the bond that unites us. It is not for nothing that Hezbollah has opened shops where, to buy products imported from Iraq and Iran at reasonable prices, one must join the party. Locally, my friends are trying to rebuild neighborhoods. Lebanese architect Hala Wardé wants to give new life to places where heritage has been destroyed. But how can reconstruction be managed and the necessary funds found when banks are no longer operating? Wages are divided by five, the price of toothpaste is soaring, as is the price of bread, coffee, milk or a taxi ride! There, a young person who has studied like crazy to graduate has to leave if he wants to do something with his knowledge. Is Lebanon doomed to the flight of its talents? In this tiny country, a fertile valley wedged between Israel and Syria, gateway to Europe, the crucial issue of our future is at stake: how to live together. As our resources dwindle, we are increasingly divided. Nothing about our current attitude favors a collective existence. This is what Hashim Sarkis, the curator of this year’s Venice Biennale, is asking with “How will we live together?” I was overwhelmed by the Lebanese Pavilion designed by Hala Wardé on which my brother Fortuné also worked. A Roof for Silence. Sixteen Lebanese olive trees that are a thousand years old are presented, filmed by Alain Fleischer, accompanied by a musical creation by the sound artists Soundwalk Collective. Around these trees that have seen it all, there are also the poetic paintings of Etel Adnan, Paul Virilio’s “Antiforms”... The Lebanese have certainly always shown great pride and resilience. But in the face of so much anger, frustration and waste, this pride and resilience are eroding. The key is undoubtedly with the youth, who want to reinvent their society. We need to give them tools, to invest in those minds that are thinking about the plurality of their country in thirty years. A year after the explosion, I feel a lot of frustration, a painful latency. Yes. I’m not angry, I’m frustrated with the rampant corruption. I can’t resign myself to accept the “there’s nothing we can do about it, it’s just the way it is”. One of the problems in Lebanon today is that religions have started to engage in politics. The religions no longer leave room for spirituality. Like a miniature planet, before in Lebanon, all communities used to live together in a joyful hullabaloo. Lebanon was an example of living together and of inter-religious dialogue. But now, people’s beliefs are too often misused to build walls instead of breaking them down. Believing should bring us together. Believing is aspiring to universality. All generations need spirituality, whatever it is, in order to consider life and death. If I close my eyes, I can see myself on this tiny beach in Sour, near Tyre. We are eating small barracudas fried in olive oil with lemon and salt. They taste very good. There is a lighthouse, and some of my mother’s family have turned the house next to it into a guest house. Behind, there is a huge Roman site and, further away, the Israeli border where teenagers are encouraged to throw stones at night. In the basement of this house, which is often flooded when the sea is high, there are Phoenician ruins covered in sand. There is no peace, but there is a lot of beauty. How can the two co-exist? ” Vanity Fair France, August 2021 French transcript:
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