APLH interview by Scuola Politecnica di Milano graduate Karl Mansour

1. When, how and why did you start your organization?
the APLH originally started as a facebook group in march 2010,
known as ‘stop destroying your heritage’. It was created by Pascale Ingea as a
reaction to the rapidly  changing post-war urban landscape in Beirut and the
systematic loss of traditional lebanese buildings as a result of post-war reconstruction.
the group still exists and is still run by APLH. in october 2010, APLH became
a fully registered NGO under permit number 1764. It is based
in zouk mosbeh, Lebanon.
2. Briefly describe your organization task
To re-awaken cultural responsibility through published works
(online, film and print), events and projects (lectures, workshops,
archeological tours, etc…).
3. Are you supported by the community? And what are the challenges you are facing?
Support is very limited, which is understandable in a country where
people are too busy surviving. it’s hard to stop a little and think
about abstract notions like culture, collective memory and heritage
when you have to make ends meet. our greatest challenge is to make people understand that heritage doesnt mean a bunch of old houses we need to be protecting. it’s actually more than that.
4. Why do you think it is necessary as an activist to fight for this cause (saving and preserving old houses)? Some strong arguments?
we dont save old houses. our cause is to revive a spirit we have lost around the beginning of the XXth century. we broke away with our past at roughly the 1930s, the start of modernism as a cultural movement. since then, anything we’ve built and used, has been of foreign origin and therefore not linked to us in any way. before that period, whatever cultural ideas we borrowed from abroad, were laced with our own creative cultural insight and vernacular and that was especially evident in our levantine architecture where local design fused seamlessly with venetian design into an original outcome, which is the famous triple-arched traditional lebanese house that still charms so many tourists. with modernism religiously applied, architects were told that the past is dead, that only utilitarianism (function) matters, and this transpired into buildings completely disconnected from their people. if you want to understand the current malaise of the modern world, look no further than its cubicle jobs, anonymous/generic apartments and total disconnection of architecture from natural environment. this digression was necessary because we want to clarify that it’s the builder of the house, not the house itself, who needs saving.
5. Can you provide the approximate number of old properties in Beirut (Timeline for example from 1995 to present)?
counting houses is missing the point. they can be a thousand or a few dozens. if the people have still not re-linked with their past, we/they are driftwood and our/their future is an ocean of uncertainty.
6. Are there any documents or papers that prove what you are fighting for? ( illegal papers, misconducting of properties)
we have so far conducted a large number of legal pursuits and
complaints with the legal council (known as shura council) regarding illegalities and improper proceedings in obtaining demolition permits. all of it is documented.
7. As an expert, do you think the landlords have taken any juridical measures regarding this issue?
in the 90s, the APSAD has produced a grading list to be used to
assess traditional houses. grades A, B and C were worth preserving
and restoring, while D and E were not. we have heard of many cases
of landlords purposefully degrading their houses to facilitate
the obtaining of a demolition permit. that practice has now been
outlined in a decree that has yet to be implemented (it is now
still a draft).
8. Do you think Real estate companies and developers have a big influence on this issue? How?
they do, and their influence is predictably profit-oriented: it is
more profitable to raze a single house and build a 60 apartment
building in its place, maximizing space profitability.
9. Why do real estate companies and developers target these old houses? ( could be related to the previous question)
please see previous question. also, it is not that they are targeting the old house for the sake of it, but simply because they want the plot on which the house is built, in order to have a skyscraper that would contain multiple living spaces where just one house used to stand. urbanists would use that as an excuse to tackle the problem of overpopulation, but they dont seem to want to go through the effort of actually designing a skyscraper that looks ‘lebanese’ or incorporates the needs of the people who live here. modern architecture is generic. modern buildings could just as well be in paris, hong kong, moskow or new york, you cannot tell, so much they are interchangeable. we are not anti-tall buildings and we are aware of overpopulation as a pressing problem, but we wish architects and urbanists could design spaces to look and feel and behave ‘local’,to carry an identity that is distinct. this is their challenge. a building could very well be built in 2019 and be a heritage building, because it carries the essence of the people who designed and built it. a building does not have to be 200 years old or more in order for it to be considered ‘heritage’. this is what we want the reader to understand. many falsely believe that in 500 years, the buildings we live in, will (automatically) be considered heritage. it is not so, if those buildings only had utilitarian function.
10. This is a cultural matter: Have any of the ministers of culture taken any actions regarding saving the properties from demolition?
the actions taken are usually never taken all the way to the end because the developer is usually linked to the political sphere, the same sphere who appoints the culture minister and who can force his hand at will or just tell him to look the other way. there is no political will to save lebanese heritage at the moment, and the awareness is still at the material level, i.e, the ‘protectors’ of our heritage think like most people, that protecting heritage is about preserving a bunch of houses/stones from demolition and/or degradation.
11. As some quoted: cutting off “some” of these houses could bring benefit to the city? Do you agree? If yes, in what ways?
it is sad to hear such cynicism on display- because what do they mean when they refer to ‘the city’? is it the mass of concrete they are pushing for? or is it the people whom they are building housing for? and shall we remind them that no lebanese citizen can afford the current housing being built in beirut? so whom or who are the cynics benefiting? could they tell us in what way will ‘the city’ benefit by cramming more generically designed ‘housing’ that outprices almost every economic stratum in lebanon? architects learn of the importance of preserving the environment while building, but never seem to apply their theories upon entering the market. anyone looking at beirut from afar would agree: here is an urban tumor, and removing further traditional houses will not cure nor ease that tumor.
12. Does the Municipality of Beirut play any role on this behalf?
yes, an irresponsible, ignorant and counterproductive one. the last green area left in beirut (around the beirut hippodrome) is the target of relentless efforts by the municipality to ‘urbanize and rentabilize’ that space.
13. Few years ago, the interior ministry has agreed to give the culture ministry power of first veto over any applications to destroy old buildings before the file is handed to the Beirut Municipality. Such regulation exists in practice? If yes how? state an example
We have not heard of such a regulation. the only regulation in existence is a law for the protection of archeological sites which dates from the french mandate (1933). there is a draft of a decree to protect lebanese heritage, which has yet to be voted into law. ex-culture minister ghattas khoury presented it but it has not been promulgated into law yet.
14. What areas in Beirut are being subject to demolition? The highest rate and why in your opinion?
all of beirut is being actively disfigured. the trend has slowed
a little as of recently, due to the slump in the real estate market
and of course the worldwide economic recession that has not yet abated since 2008.
15. As a local, living/ From Beirut, what can be done to bring these houses back to life?
enact and enforce the law to protect built heritage, and most importantly, relink the people to their origins, and for this to happen, all modernist dogmas must be fought off from schools and universities. in the current times we are in, such speech is heresy, but decades of ugliness in art, architecture and thought, are proof enough that we went in the wrong direction and that it is necessary to reconnect with our past (i.e: identity) so that we better navigate the future. modernism and identity cannot coexist. when modernism thrives, identity is suppressed (and people are aimless and frustrated without knowing why).
16. How many properties did you save so far?
only a few. and some of these properties ended up illegally
destroyed later, which is why we came to the realization that
it’s really not about the houses but rather the mentality of people
(cynical and profit-oriented) which needs to change.
we have nothing against profit, but it shouldnt come at the
expense of collective identity and culture.
17. In what ways could we save them? (Preservation, restoration, etc…) and do you think turning them into cultural spots (museums, art galleries, etc…) example Sursock Palaces could be a way to preserve them?
repurposing these houses is definitely a valid solution but securing
funds to do so, is the impossible mission (because it involves the purchase of the actual building first). it’s made even more impossible with the absence of the heritage protection law. once this law exists, the government (as well as NGOs) could under that law, raise funds and campaign for crowdfunding towards the restoration/repurposing projects.
18. Is this topic “Saving Beirut Heritage” been discussed in universities of fine arts?
yes, the APLH has conducted several academic projects in that theme
at the lebanese university. we also conducted a workshop with students of the lycee verdun, beirut.
19. Are students in schools and universities aware of the impact of changing Beirut’s image?
They are aware, but the challenge is to make them interested.
A good suggestion would be to coordinate with schools and universities and include heritage-themed projects into the curriculi. This is already being done at the lebanese university fine arts faculty in the chouf/deir el qamar area. for additional reach, the APLH needs more members.
20. Have you collaborated with other local organizations or activists? State them. If yes, what project/s did you work on? And what was the outcome?
we did collaborate with the following entities:
Nahnoo (beirut-based civil action NGO)
beirut madinati (beirut-based civil action group)
save beirut heritage (beirut-based group)
Lebanese Eco Movement (Beirut-based grouping of environmental NGOs)
Association for the Protection of Jabal Moussa (keserwan-based
NGO)
most of our collaboration efforts are mainly confined to the awareness or consultative field and not in a concrete project, except the Jabal Moussa foundation, where environmental visuals and children stories focused on the Jabal Moussa reserve, are being illustrated/designed by a APLH member.
21. Have you ever collaborated with international organizations? If yes, in what ways?
the APLH has approached the EU organization Federculture for a large historical project that is still in the making.
22. As an organization, have you relied on some ideas made by other organizations (outside the country) fighting for the same reasons and tried to implement them in Lebanon? If yes, what organizations and countries? What were the ideas you used?
we do follow the news of regional and world heritage but every country and region has its distinct problems, but we surely are always self-updating in case any foreign-implemented idea could be of use to us in lebanon, but so far, such a thing has not happened. we mainly rely on ourselves and devise our own projects internally.
23. What are your future plans/ actions/ aims regarding this subject?
secure a sponsor or donors who believe in our mission because we have a stream of ideas waiting to be implemented all over lebanon. some of these ideas have their feasibility study already completed.
24. Please Feel free to add any additional comments, experiences and facts that would be beneficial for this thesis.
many want to help but cannot get past social media ‘activism’. to help the APLH, and to help save heritage, real commitment, real members and real effort are needed. social media ‘awareness’ is another modern-day non-solution that makes one feel good without actually doing any effort. we thank our volunteers and real-time members and wish we had more of them. and thank you for your interest and we hope the above information will be useful to you!
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The APLH Releases its 2nd Mediabook, : : L’Hippodrome Du Parc : :

More than 2 years in the making, :: L’Hippodrome Du Parc – Un Siecle Dans L’Histoire du Liban :: is finally here. The APLH documents the history of the Beirut Hippodrome and its place in Lebanese history, and delves into the deep past, where horse racing and horse breeding were already cultural staples  of Lebanese life, as shown by the ancient Roman hippodromes that still exist in Lebanon.

:: L’Hippodrome Du Parc – Un Siecle Dans L’Histoire du Liban :: is the first and only exhaustive reference about the Last natural green area in Beirut and the meeting place of Lebanese citizens of all social and confessional denominations.

 

This media book comes in a deluxe hand-numbered box-set released in 500 copies and contains a 40-minute HD DVD about the Beirut Hippodrome and 3D glasses to view a selection of anaglyphic photographies.

:: L’Hippodrome Du Parc – Un Siecle Dans L’Histoire du Liban :: is available solely via the APLH To get your copy, contact info@protect-lebaneseheritage.com

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APLH Interview with Author Karim El Koussa

karim el koussa -le code phenicien - french edition

Not many people have heard of Karim El Koussa in Lebanon, but abroad, He is a best-selling author, with his new ‘Le Code Phénicien’ on Amazon’ “First Choice” picks. The book is currently rumored to have garnered a movie adaptation (in which case, we hope it materializes into the movie it deserves to be).

 

1 APLH :: Tell us briefly about your new book “Le Code Phénicien”  [The Phoenician Code]. Is the parallelism with Dan Brown (in the title) made on purpose?

 

K.el.K. Thank you for interviewing me.
Well, Le Code Phénicien is the French edition recently published (February 2018) by Editions Dervy in Paris of the already released novels The Phoenician Code in the US (October 2011) by Sunbury Press Books and Al Chifra Al Finiqiya in Lebanon (December 2015) by Dar Saer Al Mashrek.
It is in fact a fictional novel, a mystery thriller based on astounding historical and religious facts. Manipulated by the underground lobby since the coming of Christ, and revealed today by The Phoenician Code, those hidden facts come to light to reassess some major realities. Much more than just an anti-thesis to: The DaVinci Code. And yes, one of the main reasons the title has been chosen as such was to debunk the false claims of Dan Brown’s novel concerning Jesus’s relationship to Mary Magdalene.

 

2 APLH :: Researching Karim El Koussa, shows us he is an author who chooses to self-publish abroad rather than in Lebanon. Is there some controversy over your views that prevents you from publishing locally?

 

K.el.K. Not exactly true. I have already self-published 4 books in Lebanon at Raiidy Printing Press, starting with Reflecting Unitas (1996), Blooming Planes (1998), Pythagoras the Mathemagician (2001) and Mystery of the Alphabet (2003).
Having clarified that point, I should rather say that the problem resides not in publishing books in Lebanon, not at all, but rather in the response of Lebanese readers to my writings in English. Of course, the Lebanese are mostly a trilingual group of people but my audience remained small to my aspirations. This in fact pushed me to consider seeking publication elsewhere, and it took me a couple of years after my last self-published book to find a publisher in the US for the 1st American edition of Pythagoras: the Mathemagician (September 2005). However, it was not until signing with Sunbury Press in 2010 and releasing the 2nd American edition of Pythagoras the Mathemagician (October 2010) that things started to take a different turn for me as an author.

Karim El Koussa Book Signing in Paris - Source-forzgharta.com

Karim El Koussa Book Signing in Paris – Source-forzgharta.com

3 APLH :: In « Jesus The Phoenician » you bring up the hypothesis of a Phoenician origin of Christ in comparison to the mainstream Jewish one. What were the cultural responses to that hypothesis, in lebanon and abroad ? Is the interest into the subject of the book, a religious one or purely historical?

 

K.el.K. Jesus the Phoenician (October 2013) was actually meant to be a companion book to The Phoenician Code, released two years earlier. It was a request made by my US publisher when we’ve met back in October 2011 on the eve of launching The Phoenician Code in Pennsylvania. As a matter of fact, what was written of history and religion in the mystery thriller fictional novel had been proven in the research book, so if people doubted the revelations found in the first book they’ll be assured in the second one.
In short, Jesus the Phoenician is a book of religious history that is sure to challenge conventional thinking about the origins of Jesus Christ, not only among Christians in the west but in the entire world. It conveys important historical, geographical, archaeological, cultural and theological findings regarding the possibility that Jesus was not Jewish, but rather Phoenician.

 

4 APLH :: In « the Phoenician Code », Phoenician lore, the Crusades, Secret brotherhoods, occultism and esotericism blend together. Beneath the ‘Hollywood blockbuster’ character of the novel, can the reader find some hard truths that can be retraced in the real world, a bit like the Dan Brown series did?

 

K.el.K. I guess that’s the point of the book. Other than being a thriller like Dan Brown’s books delving into secret societies and esoteric insights, The Phoenician Code makes its hero, Paul Khoury, discover the truth about the Holy Grail, and the hidden motives behind the Crusades by the deceitful Knights of Solomon’s Temple—Rashi’s Knights Templar. Referring to precise details in the New Testament, for example, the Keepers attest to the rightful spiritual role of Mary Magdalene, demonstrate the origin of Jesus-Christ and his Phoenician-Galilean Royal Bloodline, not Jewish as traditionally believed, and submit authentic maps showing another Bethlehem in Phoenicia to support the argument. There are more and more [clues I leave you to discover]…

 

5 APLH :: « Nul n’est prophete en son pays » Gebran, Maalouf and now yourself, 3 authors whose renown was established outside Lebanon, can you explain that phenomena and could you have produced your literary works
while staying in Lebanon ?

 

K.el.K. Oh, thank you for naming me along with Gibran Khalil and Amin Maalouf! I truly appreciate that and, honestly feel flattered. I think the main problem resides in the fact that not so many Lebanese living in Lebanon read in comparison with the western world, be it Europe or the United States. I have been to both, and to be truthful, well, I have seen them reading in trains, buses, cafeterias, libraries (naturally), parks, airports, planes… almost everywhere. Having said that, if someone wants to be better known as an author, he has to find publishing opportunities outside Lebanon, and mainly in the west.
Unfortunately, Lebanese are too much attached to politics and are even swallowed by it. Perhaps the best selling books in Lebanon are those centered around politics and political figures. There needs to be more focus on changing our cultural ways and intellectual perception, I suppose!

 

6 APLH :: Is there a looming movie adaptation in your horizon ?

 

K.el.K. Yes indeed. I have a serious opportunity for some time now. The Phoenician Code has been selected by a US based Film Production company sometime around Sept-Oct 2014 to review for a possible Major Motion Picture production in Hollywood and it is under serious consideration since March 2017. I was relying on some Lebanese Investors to embark on the project only for a kick off deal, but they stood down eventually, and the film is waiting…

Karim el koussa Invited to present his book 'the Phoenician Code' at Radio Orient

Karim el Koussa Invited to present his book ‘Le Code Phénicien’ at Radio Orient

7 APLH :: Did you have the opportunity to meet Lebanese Philosopher Said Akl? If yes, can you tell us your impression of such meeting (especially that Mr Akl congratulated you on your book ‘Pythagoras the Mathemagician’)?

 

K.el.K. As a matter of fact, the first time I came in touch with Mr. Said Akl was a long time ago at the NDU University, Louaize, when I attended one of his lectures. But of course, Mr. Akl is in our collective memory and will always be there.
When I finished Pythagoras the Mathemagician and had it self-published in 2001, I decided to send him a copy and it was delivered later to his office at NDU by a friend of mine. No more than a couple of months later, he called me to congratulate me on my book and invited me to the Press Syndicate in Beirut on a certain date to receive his prize. That was one of the best moments in my life, and during the event, I named him : Philo-Libanus which means Lover of Lebanon. He loved it a lot and a beautiful smile drew on his face. Such a great man.

 

8 APLH :: Occultism, Theosophism and Esotericism are an integral part of your literary culture; please tell us about the origins of your interest in those subjects (if you find no objection to do so!)

 

K.el.K. True, I have always been interested in knowing the deepest mysteries in life and our place in the universe. Of course religion gives you a bit of the answers to your query so does philosophy and science. But that is not enough, I believe!
Delving into the secrets of religions is esoterism itself. It is where you discover the meanings behind religious teachings. The occult is something different, it is where you put those understandings into practice, but the word “Occult” has a bad connotation, for it is often wrongly connected with sorcery and black magic, although we know that it was used for such purposes by some twisted minds throughout history.
Other well reputed western teachings such as Anthroposophy, Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry or even the eastern traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism are definitely interesting to study and investigate. However, my main interest goes back to the ancient Phoenician/Egyptian mysteries where I believe is found the origin of all learning.

'The Phoenician Code' by Karim El Koussa is available in 3 languages already and is in serious movie adaptation talks

‘The Phoenician Code’ by Karim El Koussa is available in 3 languages already and is in serious movie adaptation talks

9 APLH :: You opinion on the current state of Lebanese culture.

 

K.el.K. I have probably answered this before when I said that Lebanese are truly hypnotized by politics and even chained by its tribal/feudal system. There in fact needs to be a major change in our cultural and intellectual perception of our history, identity and our true role on the world scene. We must recuperate our legacy and revive it for the present and future generations.

 

10 APLH :: Any suggestions on the protection of Lebanese Heritage ?

 

K.el.K. I guess we can start by injecting more money into the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Education for programs of national cultural and intellectual interests. Creating a new ministry, the Ministry of History and Archeology as well as helping /funding other non-governmental associations and organizations that have the same purpose of discovering, protecting and saving our Lebanese patrimony.

[Amen to that, Mr Koussa, we hope some highly-positioned person reads this -ed]

 

11 APLH :: Would you like to add something or mention a subject which we haven’t covered?

 

K.el.K. The Phoenix will rise again from its ashes if the Cedars are still alive.

Thank you Mr Karim El Koussa for this interview and wishing you all the best in your literary endeavors!

Other notable books by Karim El Koussa:
-The Phoenician Code
-Jesus the Phoenician
-Pythagoras the Mathemagician

——————- Interview made by the Association for the Protection of the Lebanese Heritage [APLH] – March 15,  2018

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Independence Day Workshop at the Lycee FrancoLibanais Verdun, Beirut

The APLH is very happy to announce that it conducted a heritage workshop at the Lycee Franco-Libanais Verdun, Beirut on the 17th of November for the Lycee’s “Journée de l’Indépendance” – Pictures and links to be posted next week. A big Thank you to the Lycee’s  administration and to the students for this big opportunity!

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The Rose House: Emergency Room Alert.

 

Two years after British artist Tom Young held his site-specific painting exhibition, ‘At The Rose House’, the building is today in a lamentable state. At the date of the exhibition, the Rose House was already in a shape that needed urgent repairs. Today the pictures, more than words, depict the gravity of the situation.

smashed-shutters-first-floor structural-crack-upper-floor-1 structural-crack-upper-floor-2 structural-crack-upper-floor-4

Although privately owned by Mr Hisham Jaroudi, the house is left unguarded and anyone can enter its premises. As the pictures show, many fixtures are missing and were probably stolen. Large cracks in the walls have either appeared or got worse.

FullSizeRender(2)

While it was structurally possible to live at the Rose House (as demonstrated by Fayza El Khazen who lived in the house until October 2014 whilst Tom Young made his paintings during a sejour of 6 months inside the Rose House), the current state of the building clearly is a dissuasion factor.

FullSizeRender(3) FullSizeRender(4) FullSizeRender(5) FullSizeRender

Walking inside the Rose House today, let alone spending a few days there, is technically dangerous. As windows and shutters are left open and broken, the house is being vandalized and gradually deteriorated by the elements.

It’s not hard to imagine seeing a building of national importance left in such a state; the Lebanese government is not exactly in an economic surplus situation, but we cannot understand how can somebody who apparently cares about the property is leaving it to crumble.

The APLH calls on the owner to remember the promise he made on TV, to restore the Rose House, and be an example of civic and cultural responsibility by protecting and preserving this beautiful symbol of old Beirut.

 

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Of Men And Ruins Issue III :: A Compendium :: 2014-2015-2016

This issue of OMR has been long in the making, but it’s finally here, and we hope you enjoy it. The APLH has no deadlines to issue a publication, since it’s an independent entity with benevolent members who provide their work and time for free. we do not know when the next issue will be ready but it’s already in the works. It all depends on our personal schedules and on the good people who decide to help us on the way.

Capture

This Issue III is unlike its predecessors in that it unites articles from the last three years, dealing with local, regional and world heritage in a publication that spans 15o pages in a massive A3 (A2 spread) format.

We couldn’t find sponsors to help us print this 3rd issue, but we want to share it with you anyway, in soft copy format. You can download this new issue here.

Once the file expires, you can request your free download by emailing to info@protect-lebaneseheritage.com.

We would like to thank all those involved in this 3rd installment of OMR, namely the students of the Lebanese University – Arts and Design – Deir el Qamar, for the layout work they gave us as part of their layout/art direction apprenticeship course. As their first major layout project, we tell them Hats Off and THANKS for doing their bit in the documentation of Lebanese heritage. Every new Issue of OMR is better, more refined, more information-packed and more Passionate than its predecessor because we believe that someone somewhere sees meaning in what we’re doing. We’re quite happy with the result ourselves and we hope you agree. Thank you for your interest and happy reading!

APLH

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APLH Handmade Leathercraft

The Association for the Protection of the Lebanese Heritage custom-makes leather items and uses proceeds from their sales to finance itself. 100% made in Lebanon 100% leather.

for your orders: info@protect-lebaneseheritage.com

leathercraft APLH II leathercraft APLH leathercraft III301220164513 301220164515 301220164516 301220164517 301220164518

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The APLH produces Utica: Lebanon’s first modern Mead

The Association for the Protection of the Lebanese Heritage has successfully produced its first limited batch of experimental Mead, which is wine fermented from honey, instead of the conventional grape-fermented wine.

 

Mead is the ancestor of wine and one of the oldest drinks, dubbed the nectar of the gods, its body is provided by honey, which is its main ingredient.

081120164404Made with first grade quality Orange flower honey supplied by L’atelier Du Miel, Utica is a light sweet mead fermented following a traditional recipe. The APLH looks forward to a fruitful collaboration with L’atelier Du Miel, in the production of Mead, a first-of-its-kind endeavor in Lebanon, where honey-fermented wine is unheard of.

utica LR labelThe APLH is set to produce limited quantity batches of Mead and Ale-Mead (beer fermented from honey).

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Tradition v/s Trend

Every once in a while, a group of people agrees on a same set of values, beliefs,
life goals, defensive concerns, lifestyle, etc… a civilization is thus born. To take but one example, the ancient Roman Civilization lasted 700 years (western Roman empire), an impressive lifespan, from its birth, to the start of its decline (which took yet another millenium until the total demise of Western and Eastern parts of the Roman Empire with the fall of Constantinople).

The early Romans of 300BC differ from the Romans of the 3rd century AD, but not so drastically as to be unrecognizable. At its founding, ancient Rome took much from its preceding Hellenic civilization but quickly developed its own identity. This identity, visually evident in Roman garb, military equipment and architecture, evolved and grew as the Romans forged their empire through the centuries. This is tradition in motion. You cannot touch it, but you can see and feel it everywhere, reflected upon the people who wear  and live it.

roman army

As illustrated in this book cover, the same people’s clothing and equipment evolved, but without losing identity. In trends, Identity is not important because trends are all-inclusive, for obvious commercial reasons.

Tradition, contrary to what we’re told in these ‘modern enlightened’ times, is not the dust-buried remnants of a dead past: It moves, it grows, slowly and steadily, with its people, according to their needs. It’s an ongoing empirical experiment, trying things, adopting them when they work, discarding them when they don’t. The growth is there but imperceptible within a single human lifespan. This is perhaps why humans invented trends; to have something that changes several times within one lifetime, and give them the feeling that they are in control. Trends are centered around the individual, while traditions emanate from a functioning community with a defined shared identity. No wonder why in an age and paradigm of excessive individualism, traditions are mocked and
disregarded as ‘out of fashion’ and ‘outdated’.

Traditions were never meant to be a ‘fashion’ anyway. One individual has no control over a tradition and if they did, as maybe an emperor could,  chances are they wouldn’t live to see the results of the changes they made forging and shaping their reformed society. As society grows more atomized, the individual lives as an island of feelings and emotion, operating their fashion trend on their own Instagram page, basking in delusions of changing the world while actually mistaking a banal trend for something far more enduring, timeless and outside their grasp.

Trends and fashion are attempts by us to influence others into adopting a certain way of clothing, behavior, cuisine, or artistic outlook. But because humans get bored, trends and fashions being the man-made devices they are, must change with human emotion, feelings, moods and attitude of the time. The shallowness of trend is evident in its cyclical nature: It always returns back to square one under the name ‘retro’ or ‘vintage’, which are actually no more than camouflaged acknowledging of the relevance of an older lifestyle. No matter how many fashion tendencies we’ll see in the space of a few months, they’ll always come back to ape whatever classical or timeless cultural trait they originally sprung from.

Left: Parisian Gentleman Hugo Jacomet in a classic handmade suit. Right: Progress.

Left: Parisian Gentleman Hugo Jacomet in a classic handmade suit. Right: Progress.

Trends do not require a shared set of values, beliefs, blood bond
or lifestyle to admit a newcomer. They should be taken for the recreational human distractions they have always been, without confusing them with actual traditions, which live longer and will always constitute the benchmark upon which trends spring and die. Oscar Wilde bitingly called fashion an intolerable ugliness, but fashion/trends are actually
a bit more than that.

Because we will never be able within our human lifespan, to experience the birth and maturation of a tradition, we’ve created a substitute, which we can control, depending on how prolific creators we can be. Imitation being a form of flattery, Trends are an imitation of something intangible we humans can feel and see, thanks to artifacts, historical documents and records we inherited from our ancestors. Tradition is something we can only deduce and acknowledge, a tranquil force that shapes us over several centuries, even millennia.

We currently live in Leftist times. Leftism, an ideology that promotes equality, but not before God, is an anti-traditional force imbuing the zeitgeist of the past and current century, but which seeds bloomed in the times of the Enlightenment era and French
Revolution. Since then, trends took center stage and traditions were vilified. Instead of having people creating trends and fashion as a healthy creative expression of the human mind, trends became increasingly marketed as a replacement of actual tradition.
As societies ‘modernized’, individuality slowly mutated into individualism, resulting in today’s atomized societies where tradition and cultural roots are abhorred, and every single individual wants to be a trend setter with his/her horde of social media worshipers.
We’re mini gods/rockstars now and we set the pace in our mini social media group. Or at least we like to think so.

Signs of decline

Signs of decline

Just like Traditions are a reflection of the Eternal, trends are a reflection of the Eternal’s creation. Fluttering expressions of creativeness borne out of an ephemeral individual. Movements taking place within  the much larger timeframe of a tradition. Trends are an unconscious imitation/flattery of Traditions and should never be at odds. When a trend’s purpose is to mock and degrade, it’s a sign of something wrong that needs to be addressed promptly, because next time such frustration or negativity manifests itself, it will no doubt do so through less artistic and more violent means.

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Hypocrisy

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Dear Lebanese citizen, in case you were still wondering why your country has no hope of emerging from its 33rd world cesspool condition, here is why. In 33rd world cesspits, an inscription forbidding littering, actually invites deliberate littering. The culprit is no doubt feeling smart, rebellious and defying, with his heroic littering act. There is no greater proof of a people’s progressiveness and acute sense of evolution, than deliberately covering trees with your own (unsorted) trash. Such respect of nature is only the sign of highly evolved, supra-progressive breeds like Lebanese people. After all, we cant help it because, it’s our leadership’s fault! It’s never our fault or responsibility if we destroy our own lives and the

environment that sustains us and brings us whatever small beauty is still left in our ugly existence. Dear Lebanese citizen; you are ugly. And because you’re ugly, and you know it, you want to destroy that which is beautiful, and you do it deliberately. Then when you’re cornered, you conveniently blame your leaders. Yes, your leaders are bad. Very bad. But have you forgotten who voted for them?

It’s small, banal evils like this everyday vandalizing of nature, which bring about a people’s doom. A small cheating from here, a wasta abuse from there, a trashbag thrown into a pond, a glass bottle left in the forest… After all, it’s just ONE trashbag. And nobody saw me do it! Multiply this 1 small, meaningless evil by 5 million, by 365 days and you have yourself a catastrophe. People are still throwing their garbage unsorted, despite municipal efforts to sort the garbage for recycling. If you want to commit suicide, please do it alone, because the rest of the country is actually trying to abide by the rules. Whining about the

desperate situation in the country? Just do a quick review over your most recent transgressions. That should shut you up for a while. Still reading this article? You wont find a single congratulatory word here, so you might as well start having your precious feelz hurt. Come on, feel alienated and offended. YOU are to blame. You dont like the patronizing tone? Take a look again at the picture. Now grow up and do something about it.

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