Bling-bling Beirut on a Goblin’s Palm.

I observe with regret that the youngsters of my age, and the younger generation as well, have no acquaintance with the name of Kamal Youssef el-Hage–an important Lebanese philosopher abjectly assassinated for his ideas at the beginning of the war. I was thinking of devoting a blog post to his life and works. I hope to do so in the near future.

I remembered a quote Kamal el-Hage used to say often, before the war broke out: “Lebnen deyman 3ala kaff 3ifrît.” The expression “3ala kaff 3ifrît” literally translates as “on a goblin’s (or genie’s) palm,” and means “threatened by instability,” “predisposed to collapse,” “liable to fall apart,” etc. The meaning is not unrelated to the expression “under a sword of Damocles.”

Lebanon is forever doomed to remain vulnerable to outside interferences, and apt to looming instability.

You were so right, Kamal. Death was the reward for the rightness of your judgment. I thought of you while I was coming back from my Sunday jogging, going through bling-bling Beirut downtown and the fancy fashion shops. Billboards praising Beirut, panel walls vaunting the shopping capital to be… “Beirut is back, and it’s beautiful,” “Beyrouth se reconstruit à une vitesse formidable,” etc. A Brioni boutique on the right (best suits on earth, Zegna is for beggars compared to it).

… What if the Special Tribunal for Lebanon delivers its indictment tomorrow and riots suddenly erupt? I mean not just “mere” turmoil (we’re used to that), but armed clashes?

What if reprisals “occur” on the southern borders and another blitzkrieg starts?

What if all that we’ve rebuilt goes down again?

How happy are we allowed to be while getting down in posh nightclubs, squandering our money on alcohol, and counting our pennies for charity?

Our “happiness” rests on a goblin’s palm. Memento.


Kamal Youssef El-Hage (1917-1976)

In memory of Kamal Youssef El-Hage (1917-1976)

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3 Responses to Bling-bling Beirut on a Goblin’s Palm.

  1. cher monsieur
    lire votre blog où vous mentionnez si gentiment mon père m’a beaucoup ému , merci à votre jeune et libre plume.
    bien à vous

    • a.s. says:

      Cher Monsieur El Hage, je suis à mon tour honoré du fait que vous ayez apprécié ce petit billet. Je pensais justement, ce 2 avril 2011, rendre hommage à votre père en lui dédiant un petit article suivi d’une biographie intellectuelle… Malheureusement le manque de temps en a voulu autrement.
      Mais Kamal reste à l’esprit. Je fais partie de ceux qui n’ont pu le connaitre qu’à travers ses livres, et aussi les parents. Ma mère, ayant été son élève, me parlait–et me parle toujours–énormément de lui. Je ressens ainsi une sorte d’affinité intellectuelle, voire personnelle, à son égard.
      Bien à vous,

  2. Encore merci et mes meilleures salutations à votre famille, je me suis permis de partager votre billet sur ma page FB pour mes amis.
    à bientôt

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