The following post was posted by Rita Nehme as a status a few moments after yesterday’s explosion and re-posted here with her permission.
Is it tomorrow yet? Have we gotten over it? Over the shock, the fumes, the debris? Have we buried the bodies? Have we called them martyrs yet, a title stuck onto the bodies still burning as if it’s any consolation to their families? Have we completely erased their memory, their children, mothers, fathers? Have we moved on?
We’ve completely numbed ourselves. We took our ability to persevere through hard times, whatever that means. The reality is we are barely making it through. We don’t own our fate, we don’t own our country, and we sure don’t own our lives. We’ve lost control and, somehow, that’s celebrated. The chaos, how glamorous! – I live in Beirut and we go out drinking amidst explosions, amidst the lingering smell of burned skin.
No, we’ve chosen to be indifferent, completely apathetic. We’ve lost it.
I’m sorry Beirut. I’m so sorry for how they treat you, a mailbox for neighboring countries. You’re nothing to them. Even worse, your own people have given up on you and on each other. We are a people chloroformed by sectarianism. We don’t feel for the dead and we sure don’t feel for Beirut.
Mohammed Nasser Mansour
Rita’s status reminded me of a poem by Harold Pinter called “Death”. Pinter wrote it to force us to face death, something I believe we Lebanese have become, for better or worse, numb to.
He said: ‘Do the structures of language and the structures of reality (by which I mean what actually happens) move along parallel lines? Does reality essentially remain outside language, separate, obdurate, alien, vital correspondence between what is-to distort what happens-because we fear it? We can’t face the dead. But we must face the dead, because they die in our name. We must pay attention to what is being done in our name. I believe it’s because of the way we use language that we have got ourselves into this terrible trap’.
I don’t know how to view our attitude towards bombs. A part of me feels it’s healthier than panicking, another feels like Rita that we’ve gotten a bit too comfortable. I’ll reserve my thoughts for a longer post when I find the time.
Here’s the great late Howard Pinter reading his poem followed by the text.
Where was the body found?
Who found the dead body?
Was the dead body dead when found?
How was the dead body found?
Who was the dead body?
Who was the father or daughter or brother
Or uncle or sister or mother or son
Of the dead and abandoned body?
Was the body dead when abandoned?
Was the body abandoned?
By whom had it been abandoned?
Was the dead body naked or dressed for a journey?
What made you declare the dead body dead?
Did you declare the dead body dead?
How well did you know the dead body?
How did you know the body was dead?
Did you wash the dead body
Did you close both its eyes
Did you bury the body
Did you leave it abandoned
Did you kiss the dead body
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