Satiric Spleen With a Pinch of Smiley Melancholy

Si le ciel et la mer sont noirs comme de l’encre, nos cœurs que tu connais sont remplis de rayons!

Photo by Dan V on Unsplash

Some folks seem to have this rather unique feature of being able to play surgeon on their own soul. They seem to have more awareness of their inner gears and levers, and they write about life as they know it in a very unique style, which I can only describe as Satiric Spleen with a pinch of Smiley Melancholy, if that makes any sense. Like trying to frame the absurdity of life in deadpan humor.

Yes, life can sound like tragedy met with quiet laugh. Life is absurd if you bother to think about it for a couple of minutes. We should not even be here. Life hangs to such tiny probabilities that our very existence is a challenge to the universe. But the real question is mind twisting.

Could the universe even exist if there was no life to witness it? 

Could the universe exist if it was not imagined?

So yeah, Satiric Spleen with a pinch of Smiley Melancholy, until you realize at some point, albeit with a bit of irony, that your life, this miserable and finite comedy, might still underpin the existence of a universe.

And then, standing at the doorstep of this realization, would you not long for something else? Would you not reach further and try to find some kind of hope? Hope that Life itself, with a big L, is at the inception of this universe and that we hold parts of it in us? 

Some would call it God. I know I would. It makes much more sense that way.


If you are wondering about the French subtitle, it is an excerpt of a poem by Charles Baudelaire, which I thought befits the state of ming of a satirist spleener indulging in smiley melancholy. Here is a part of it.

Ô Mort, vieux capitaine, il est temps ! levons l’ancre !
Ce pays nous ennuie, ô Mort ! Appareillons !
Si le ciel et la mer sont noirs comme de l’encre,
Nos cœurs que tu connais sont remplis de rayons !

Verse-nous ton poison pour qu’il nous réconforte !
Nous voulons, tant ce feu nous brûle le cerveau,
Plonger au fond du gouffre, Enfer ou Ciel, qu’importe ?
Au fond de l’Inconnu pour trouver du nouveau !


This essay was inspired to me by the stories of Mike Knittel, great surgeon of the human soul and inner gear specialist before the eternal. Oh and a masterful satirist spleener who takes you to introspective depths with few words, a pinch of Satire, and a tea spoon of irony.

Let the board sound

Rabih

The Broken Blonde

And her path to a warm home and a friend

Photo by Viktor Vasicsek on Unsplash

I met her on a cold winter evening. She was laying on the sidewalk, in the pouring rain, abandoned there by her last abuser. She was visibly broken by years of hardship. The old scars were still visible. The more recent ones were alarming.

I was in my car rushing somewhere when I saw her. I picked her up before the reaper did. She had many broken bones and a dislocated hip, which seemed to have been treated by less than qualified surgeons. Battle wounds really.

I took her in and cared for her. She started to open up when the fog and doziness of homelessness lifted, but more so when she realized she could stay for as long as she wanted. She was safe here.

We would share stories over a cup of coffee with an orange peel every evening for the next week or two. I would tell her the tales of a small country on the verge of oblivion, and bit by bit, she would tell me her story, or at least the parts she could speak about without putting to jeopardy whatever sanity she had left. I had to figure out the rest.

She was born in East Germany, during the cold war. Blonde, feminine, not as tall as you would expect, which suits me fine. And one could guess she once had a warm alto voice. The thing is, by the time I met her, she had not sung anything meaningful in years and her voice was only the shadow of what it used to be.

She had probably been an artist in a previous life, or longed to be one. She could have had to leave the totalitarian state where he was born, her art having become too heavy to bear behind the Iron Curtain. Or could she have been given up for adoption at birth, moving in and out of foster care until coming of age? Whatever it might have been, the life she was made to live took quite an expensive toll on her.

I tried to bring back the shine she had lost over years of sorrow and abuse, and I think I did a pretty decent job. I cleaned her up, put her back to shape, oiled her fretboard, refurbished her tuning mechanism, set her up with new strings and gradually tuned her to pitch. I left the scars though, as a tribute to her survival on a more than dodgy path, and they make her beauty stand out. She has been my go-to guitar ever since.

I do not know who played her before me or what was her repertoire back in the days. She never told me and probably never will. I just hope that she finds my music interesting enough, and I think she does. Otherwise, she would not bless me with this warm alto voice of hers when I play her.

Here she is, as if waiting for me to fix her a drink. Enough with coffee, even with an orange peel. She likes Bourbon. Fair enough. So do I.

The Broken Blonde — Photo belongs to the author

Let the board sound

Rabih

Five Euros to Disney

This is all it takes to make a difference

Photo by Capricorn song on Unsplash

This is all it takes to get to Disneyland Paris by public transportation, from the center of Paris. Five euros.

The price of five baguettes, the local bread around here, enough to shelter a family from hunger for another day or two.

The price of 3 liters of gas at the current market price, or that of a regional train ticket, enough to go check on your grandpa. Enough to rush a neighbor to emergency on a dark winter night.

That’s a fair enough amount you could donate to charity, and get back 3.3 euros in tax credit if you happen to live in France.

A rose to your better half will set you back five euros, a well spent amount in my humble opinion, for it is through the small gestures and signs of love that relationships last.

Dear friend, on your way to Disneyland, remember that happiness is easy to spread, and that happy people are contagious. So do enjoy your day as much as you can. It will refuel you enough to make the world a little happier, and this is worth at least the five euros you would have spent to get there.

And still, beyond that, make sure to keep five euros worth of warmth on you. Five euros of compassion. Who knows, they might come in handy.

They may save someone’s life. They may make someone’s day.

It does not take much to make a difference.

Let the board sound

Rabih

Is It Faith

Moving mountains

Photo by Matt Sclarandis on Unsplash

Unescapable fate we wrap so willingly
Around our shoulders and desperately call it hope
Or is it the other way, like a horoscope
As it becomes our destiny so seamlessly?

“Let us hope for the best”, “We must accept our fate”
Hope, convenient vessel cementing forfeitures
Fate, auspicious disguise to cowardly postures
Hollow intentions served cold on a silver plate 

Illusions of power, white sheets hiding the shame
Of lives which control we forfeit to atony
Of lives carried over the winds of destiny
Hope? Fate? Immutable destiny be thy name?

Unless we call thy “Faith”, and quite so suddenly 
Find ourselves moving mountains instead, fatally

Let the board sound

Rabih

The Fourth Day of August

And why October 6th is as good a day as any to write about August 4th

Photo by Charbel Karam on Unsplash

April 4th saw the coming of age of Senegal from its infancy as a French colony.
May 4th saw the rebirth of Latvia after a (rather long) stint as a Soviet puppet.
June 4th is Tonga’s Emancipation date.
July 4th saw the birth of the United States of America.

August 4th though, was a sentencing hearing for the citizens of a small country on the verge of oblivion. 218 people were found guilty of belonging to this poor country and obliterated immediately. 7000 others were found guilty of being ordinary citizens minding their own business, and were put to the Question. Some lost a limb or two. Or three. Some lost their minds.

Some lost a child.

The remaining 300,000 suspects were found guilty of various offences and misdemeanors, and were stripped of their homes and possessions. Many were stripped of loved ones. A daughter. A sister. An uncle. Alexandra. Christelle. Tony.

And we, the Lebanese diaspora, stood and watched helpless, as the sixth largest artificial non-nuclear explosion destroyed the capital of our home country and whatever illusions of hope we still had by then.

Justice was not served, in case you are wondering.

I should have written this post on August 4th. Obviously, I did not. August 4th sounds to me like a perfect date to put candles as a profile picture on your social media, and write something like “On est tous Beyrouth” or “Never forget, never forgive” to feel good about yourself for a day and then move on, until the next year.

Some will stand by the motto they wrote on their facebook profiles. Many others, who will never forget and never forgive on August 4th, will have forgotten and forgiven by May 15th, right on time to elect the same scum we had been served over and over for the past decades, give or take.

If you’ve been reading me for a while, you have probably guessed the setting. It is past midnight and I am sipping an espresso with an orange peel, as usual, when I am invoking this small country on the verge of oblivion.

October 6th is as good a day as any to write about August 4th. October 6th is as good a day as any to remember.

Is it a good day to forgive though? Is there a day to forgive? Nothing is less sure.

Let the board sound

Rabih