I do want to do something.

Diplomatic meditations
March 18, 2008, 12:31 pm
Filed under: Beirut notes


(During the last French presidential election,I asked him why he didn’t vote. I don’t remember his answer but he meant to say it was pointless and asked me why he should do it. I answered him that he should do it as a romantic act).

My dad is a man of principles. That’s what they say. He served his country during 25 years, representing as well as he could. People would have talked about him as a refined, well-informed discrete and generous person. My father also stood for what he believed in.one of these things was his country Lebanon. Through the civil war, and whatever shaky regime was in place, through tribal violence and exacerbated confessionalism, my father tried to stand by the state. 20 years later, this   ridiculously ghostly word hasn’t become more tangible; I don’t think it will ever be, never was.

On the national day, the flag was on, no matter what. The first song he taught me was the Lebanese national anthem (to his great joy, I would sing in his office, next to his flag, my hand next to my front in a military posture, dressed in these lovely embroided dresses my mother would buy me). I now see my father’s attachment, his own religion, with a lot of tenderness; his adherence to the belief in a state, romantic (that’s maybe just a way of rationalizing what is not rational). Representing his country the way he did, high social exposure, linking with the super bourgeoisie and their life style, being always dedicated and respectful of the law, fulfilling a function because he had to. What remains are the friends he always had and country in protracted civil war.

So how do you represent a nation-state that does not exist? Again, one can question how does a nation state exist? Can the representation of a non existing state make visible  the ghostly nature of every form of nation state, can it provide a way to rethink the nation, its representation, constitution,  etc  etc, or is it just fuck up, because at the end of the day, you do need a nation state in order to “exist” for the country’s population as well as in the international arena

Again, here it becomes a delicate balance of power (I still think that diplomatic representation is however interesting because you represent an abstraction through your person, body, smile, suits and cocktail parties).

She said that Beirut should be on the map and that she didn’t sleep because of that. She wanted to make a point by carrying out this event. I follow this point. I follow that one should keep on doing whatever one is doing, until it gets impossible. I not only understand carrying this through, I find it necessary. Again I find myself in a liminal space, an almost stupid place where the carrying through can either be seen as a heroic act, or a blind act. For whom are you doing it? And for what? How would these reasons take shape and circulate? If there is love involved, what kind of love are we talking about and how does this love gets represented? (my father’s love for Lebanon, her love for Beirut, his love for a lost one).

(He said that he was fed up with his fancy furniture and that he wanted a comfortable place with a built in heater).



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