Beirut is a score unfolding, and when I step into it, it’s in mid-symphonic burst as it arc through the micro-space between past and present.  Blink, and what has been passed on the street changes.  Whole staircases torn up to plant terraces.  Buildings knocked down to raise condominiums.  Gutted storefronts transformed into pop-ups—or Hawaiian poke joints.  Kandinsky said that meaning was created through the interaction of, and space between, text and image, sound and meaning, mark and blank space.  I feel ill-equipped to understand Beirut, but the meaning of life dramatically at peace seems evidenced everywhere, emerging from the interstice of modern ruins of war and a building boom.  Time feels frozen and rushed simultaneously.  People regularly tell me, There is no future here.  Except developers, contractors.  A man philosophizes: Lebanon is not a country.  It is a message.  If Iran wants to say something to the world, it uses Lebanon.  If the United States wants to send a message, it uses Lebanon.  The same for Israel, the PLO, Syria and Europe.   Herodotus, I am told over dinner my first night in Beirut, located the already ancient divide between East and West here, millenium ago, in Tyre, the Levant, in Lebanon, because of a love story gone vendetta, the Phoenician Princess Europa abducted because Aegean Princess Io  had the poor taste to fall in love with a Phoenician.  Tit for tat.  Don’t cross the divide, or else…a message in blood, in war, in the necessity to rebuild whole temples, whole cities, whole cultures.  This mythic re-emergence goes on in our own time, if obscured behind veils of political vendettas and media obfuscations—aka, myths of another kind, a-la Barthes—Beirut but one example.  I cast my eye and camera about, striving for frank representation unframed by what I’ve been told back home.  Meni, Phoenician god of luck, both good and bad, wags a finger against painting pictures overly black and white.  Between the time of my first seeing it and my leaving it, parts are reconfigured, parts remain in stasis; the city surface at once utterly normal and a descent through a simulacrum looking glass.
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