Anywhere but Now
This publication derives its title from a three-day symposium held in Beirut in April 2009, which brought together scholars, writers, filmmakers and artists to explore questions around landscapes of belonging. The multidisciplinary nature of this symposium inspired novel and creative engagements; some of the attendants even called it magical. This publication seeks to capture the spirit of the event by addressing related themes through a variety of formats: reviews, essays, film dossiers, conversations, academic papers, literary excerpts, dramatic scripts for plays, and illustrated fiction.
The publication Anywhere but Now assembles diverse desires for elsewhere. It is a compilation of apart-ness, a chronicle of ruptures, violence and yearning, through time and across geographies. Contributors grapple with what seem like ordinary landscapes in the hope of unearthing the stories buried underneath them, exploring the meaning of their borders and bounds. Reflecting on the dynamics of exclusion and exile, home-making, traces of movement, trajectories of everyday life, maps of memory, and genealogies of catastrophic loss, this collection of explorations expresses a momentary sense of being and belonging – always pierced by the nervous “but” of exception and suspension. The works collected here register the wheres and whens (or nows) of violence, flight, siege, haunting echoes from the past, subtle tremors of fear and aspirations, and ultimately the now of a region in constant flux.
Reflecting the panels that came together during the symposium, this book is divided into four sections:
“A Place Like Home” dwells on the raveling and unraveling of home, on belonging, longing and the making and unmaking of place. It plumbs the paradoxes of living in the shadows or memories of an-other home, an elusive but omnipresent elsewhere. Authors explore the mystery of impossible identity, the uneasy tension between emplacement and un/belonging, the prescription of legal writ in the making of home, the bitter-sweetness of nostalgia and everyday life.
“I, Nation” exposes the barbed extremities of state and nation. Authors illuminate the forceful yet brittle performance of national pride, explore the darkness at the heart of national exclusivity and exclusion, journey through treacherous yet beloved landscapes, and gingerly tread the threshold that separates light from darkness along the nation-state’s (meta)physical borders, the limens where state and nation are at once enforced and constantly undermined.
“Poetics of Passage” traces the movement of people along the multiple tracks that constitute spatial-temporal trajectories and practices of containment. Authors examine the correspondence and discord between physical and social boundaries, and explore the realities of mobility and transgression, (in)visibility and presence. Scanning the expanse of the political realm, they also explore the ways temporality is variously articulated and illuminated by both desertion and desire. Geographies change, places are transformed, people rediscover their place in the world.