Friday, December 30, 2011


reviewed by Karim Sultan for Kalimat Magazine

It was the writer Italo Calvino that suggested a writing that—rather than pointing at or recreating an object or character—envelops, surrounds like a fine mist. This
suggests their existence rather than attempts to simply recre- ate them, allowing the reader a measure of engagement and creation with the text. The writing in Fetish Systems, a new written work by multi-talented Lebanese author Raafat Majzoub, warrants this comparison. His bio alone which adorns this slim volume is merely suggestive: “he is trained as an architect, yet refuses the title – he is currently working on several construction projects, a few books, something that might be a painting, a table and would like this bio to end with an et cetera.”

“To live in Beirut, is to know that one must accept circumstance. We have become numb—all of us—numb—in a state of trance, where ‘elastic’ would describe our functional execution of our everyday...”

The work begins with curious jump-starts into a loosely shaped narrative that can be described as extremely subjective. There is no clear and formal introduction of characters or plot, but rather the text quickly makes it clear to the reader that this is more akin to the highly personal literary experiments of the past century than anything else. The language resembles somewhat the erotic poetic sketches of Georges Bataille, although more cohesive, more drawn out, but similar enough in near- destructive exploratory eroticism to draw the comparison. The fragmented flow of the narrative often times resembles poetry, with alliterative flurries of words provide rough outlines of occurrences that bring to mind a defective photography which only hints at shapes, colours and movement, with the Majzoub’s Beirut always vaguely in the background.

“It has become instinct to absorb, shock, absorb, trau- ma, react, trauma, shock, absorb shock. It is something, a trait that we contain—for so—we all are nothing...We claim that we have lost our identity, we claim the right to construct a holistic monotone remedy to unite us—to homogenize us.”

This work is certainly not for the casual reader; there is no quick drawing-up and resolution of characters and plot. Rather, this work has something intensely therapeutic, describ- ing personal relationships with mysterious “others” and places in intimate detail in a way that is, once again, acutely subjec- tive. One gets the impression that even the most innocent of exchanges between the narrator and a lover will show up on the page as darkly dissatisfied, anxious graspings for understanding and rejection of understanding, spiralling outward and inward simultaneously. Majzoub’s language, word choice, and cadence is curiously playful, vacillating within single sentences between the vulgar and the academic, sometimes with seeming deliberate focus on the rhythm and the sound of the passage rather than the written meaning, making it somehow visceral and physical and something that attempts to refuses rational deliberation.

“We are only afraid of our naked bodies in the mirror. We define our curves from our audience’s point of view, from their eyes, from between their eyelashes—so we struggle to title us, to make it easier for them to comprehend, easier for us to make them believe—for our actions and words—not the same.”

The success of Majzoub’s experiment is difficult to gauge. Yet as a text, the sustained formal and subjective effort makes this author one to keep an eye on in the coming years.



tomorrow, the phone lines will be out when i would have liked to use them. i probably won't call. ..i won't wish you things, but i'd like us to co-hope, that if 2012 is the last year we're having here - may the end be as dramatic, as cinematic, the sounds so furious and smells more glorious than they can ever possibly be. and if it's not the apocalypse..i would like us to co-hope for the same.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


My old man is a bad man but I can't deny the way he holds my hand
And he grabs me he has me by my heart
He doesn't mind I have a Las Vegas past. He doesn't mind I have a LA crass way about me
He loves me with every beat of his cocaine heart

Swimming pool glimmering darling white bikini off with my red nail polish
Watch me in the swimming pool bright blue ripples. You sipping, sipping on your black Cristal, yeah

Light of my life, fire of my loins
Be a good baby do what I want
Light of my life, fire of my loins.
Gimme them gold coins. Gimme them coins.

And I'm off to the races. Cases of Bacardi chasers. Chasing me all over town.
Cuz he knows I'm wasted, facing time again in Rikers Island and I won't get out.
Because I'm crazy baby.
I need you to come here and save me.
I'm your little scarlet starlet singing in the garden. Kiss me on my open mouth.
Ready for you.

My old man is a tough man, but he got a soul as sweet as blood red jam.
And he shows me he knows me, every inch of my tar black soul.
He doesn't mind I have a flat, brokedown life.
In fact, he says he thinks it's why he might like about me, admires me,
The way I roll like a rolling stone.

Likes to watch me in the glass-room, bathroom, trapdoor mama, slippin' on my red dress, putting on my makeup.
Glass-room perfume, cognac lilac fumes. Says it feel like heaven to him.

Light of his life, fire of his loins.
Keep me forever, tell me you want me
Light of your life, fire of your loins.
Tell me you want me, gimme them coins.

And I'm off to the races, cases of Bacardi chasers.
Chasing me all over town.
Cuz he knows I'm wasted, facing time again in Rikers Island and I won't get out.
Because I'm crazy baby.
I need you to come here and save me.
I'm your little scarlet starlet singing in the garden
Kiss me on my open mouth.

Now I'm off to the races, laces, leather on my waist is tight and I am falling down
I can see your faces, shameless, Chiffioni's basement.
Love you but I'm going down.
God I'm so crazy, baby, I'm sorry that I'm misbehaving.
I'm your little harlot, starlet, Queen of Coney Island. Raising hell all over town.
Sorry 'bout it.

My old man is a thief and I'm going to stay and pray with him til' the end,
But I trust him, the decision of the Lord to watch over us.
Take him when he may if he may. I'm not afraid to say that I'd die without him.
Who else is going to put up with me this way? I need you I breathe you I'd never leave you.
They would rue the day I was alone without you
You're lying with your gold chain on, cigar hanging from your lips.
I said, Hun, you never looked so beautiful as you do now my man.

And we're off to the races, places. Ready, set, the gate is down and then we're going in
To Las Vegas, chaos, casino oasis. Honey it is time to spit.
Boy you're so crazy, baby
I love you forever, Not maybe
You are my one true love (x3)