Academic journal article Framework

This Day

Academic journal article Framework

This Day

Article excerpt

Between the age of fifteen and nineteen, and right before going to bed, I used to write personal daily reports on the military situation in the different parts of Lebanon, still plunged in the middle on a civil war then, and subject to continuous Israeli attacks led, which occupied twelve percent of it between 1978 and 2000. The daily reports, which often had a political angle, included also weather information and outlines of film I saw on local, Egyptian, and Israeli television. They always started with an opening title that said; 'this day . . .' That happened between 1982 and 1985.

I have no idea what were the reasons behind my writing, since they were not very personal notes, but rather descriptions, re-writing or summarizing what was on the radio, or in the papers that day. I didn't know neither who was I writing to. All I knew was the fact that I used to enjoy my time doing it when there was nothing else to do, nowhere to go to. Some of my writings reflected a certain joy; others reflected absolute boredom in a tight contradiction with which I tend to describe a state of war. The latest two years concentrated less on the military, for the country was going into a relative, yet misleading, calm during the Gemayel era (1982-1988), and focused on basic, though detailed, description of popular films I watched on TV or in movie theaters.

This essay is about some aspects of popular culture, precisely about the joy embedded in the daily practice of poetry, drawing, and photography; a joy, which I wanted my personal video work that is continuously in progress, to reflect. I am outlining here, three samples from this work intercut by excerpts from my notebooks, evoking continuously, the joys and boredoms of a teenager living through war.

Friday January 28th 1983

This morning, we learned the decease of French actor Louis de Funès, who devoted most of his life to French cinema. This evening, my father arrived back from Egypt and Yemen. It was a surprise since we were expecting him to arrive tomorrow.

Friday February 18th 1983

This morning, we woke up on a cloudy weather, which soon turned stormy. The windshield reached 90km/h, broke a glass window in the classroom, and held Lebanese delegation in Nattania. Continuous showers raised the water level today another 57mm. This is certainly an unprecedented storm in Lebanese history. Mahmoud brought the results of the English test. I got 403. I watched 'Serpico', by Sidney Lumet with Al Pacino and John Rudolph (1973).

Friday March 18th 1983

Controle Physique, 'did well'

Today the temperature reached 21 degrees Celsius. In the evening I watched an Egyptian TV movie entitled 'They Became Five,' with Salah Zoulfikar and Layla Fawzi.

I have recently become aware of situations that move me such as the case of Amani singing Najwa Karam. I don't know the reasons why, but got challenged to name that thing, which stimulated all those feelings in me. Amani is an eight-year old girl, who looks a bit older than other kids of her age. She lives with her parents in Ras Baalback, in rural North-East of Lebanon at some forty km North of Baalbeck. She has an admiration to singing and loves Najwa Karam. Why? 'Because all what she sings is nice' she would say. She sings in school and at home, where her father encourages her, and joins her singing while also playing the Oud that he built himself.

If I were to list things that move me to an extent of making me cry, Amani's singing would be one of them. The song, as she performed it, evoked that joy I felt writing those notes. Her joy came from the simple practice of singing. It was certainly not for the good music of the original song, not for the lyrics, and not for the still immature voice of Amani. It is a joy that has no limits. Yet it is a joy counteracted by this fear of not performing well. This is where a limitless generosity is evoked within the parent-child relationship, expressed in the father's assistance of the girl's singing, and his patience doing so four or five times repeatedly. …

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