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Hawker Hunter

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  • tony shakar
    hello, i am a new member on this list, and i would like to share with you this text written by a friend of mine, lebanese (like i am) and an installation
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2000
      i am a new member on this list, and i would like to
      share with you this text written by a friend of mine,
      lebanese (like i am) and an installation artist. this
      text was written for a group exhebition he
      participated in (took place in istanbul, turkey).
      i'm not sure that this text belongs here. it is
      certainly not existantialist. but it's clever, and
      funny. i hope you'll enjoy it.


      Jokes are probably the most admirable of cultural
      expressions. and not because they make us laugh while
      affording us an insight into cultural taboos. that
      much i leave for others to contend. but rather because
      they seem to hurry, headlong, towards their exhaustion
      and demise from the moment of their unrecorded
      inception. a joke, when first heard, is like a spark
      which lights the face of its teller. it is a surprise
      announcement of a sentient intelligence, one which is
      able to infect, to a lower degree, the intelligence of
      the listener. this difference between teller and
      listener, although hard to calculate, is nevertheless
      easy to ascertain. firstly, because while the joker
      parades his/her humour, every listener is responding
      with a silent "i wish i said that". secondly, because
      every listener, having failed to shine fully at that
      moment, makes a belated but pointed effort at
      memorizing the joke heard and immediately begins to
      practice the full satisfaction of recounting it to
      another audience. yet this cycle of memorizing,
      finding a new audience and recounting is quickly
      exhausted. and it is not uncommon to hear one's "own"
      joke again within a short period after its launching;
      (perhaps a new science of mapping can be developped by
      studying the time cycle of a joke's journey). the
      return of a joke is never a welcomed incident. what
      was once a spark returns as a tired lump of words,
      often burdening the teller with a cultural stink,
      washable only through the acquisition and successful
      delivery of a new joke. jokes appear, swell, and then
      slide embarrassingly off stage. what they leave behind
      though is an insatiable demand for a new supply of
      jokes. thus the stage is always set for an addiction
      wherein the leading roles are swiftly exchanged and
      where stardom lasts but for a short while.
      just last night for instance, jack gregg, an american
      expatriate jazz musician, told a group of 4 a joke
      which i will recount for you here (for reasons that
      you should know by now). having filed a divorce,
      mickey mouse appears in court. the judge, after a
      careful study of the case at hand, tells mr mouse that
      the court cannot grant him a divorce simply because he
      says his wife is crazy. to which mr mouse retorts: "i
      did not say that, i said that she was fucking Goofy".
      a clever joke, judging from the concert of laughter
      heard from the 4 listeners, delivered in style by an
      american in Beirut. a demanding joke as well; laughing
      at its punchline (my appologies to minnie for the
      unintended pun), is absolutly necessary lest one be
      suspected of pop culture illiteracy. (i wish i said
      that and i did). minutes later, i cornered an
      unsespecting lebanese friend, who oddly enough started
      to laugh long before the punch line. an interresting
      tactic of prevarication. i was left floating in not
      knowing wether the joke was a success, wether my
      listener knew it before hand or wether he simply
      wanted out of that situation as soon and as painlessly
      as possible.
      another instance tells a different story. a joke based
      on enumerating the 4 reasons while researchers believe
      that jesus christ was lebanese (1). a joke that is
      cruel and specific. an uto-critique of every other
      young lebaneseman who dares to recount it. and yet,
      within a week of its "launching", the joke had made
      its way back to me. i suppose that i did not realize
      its cruelty nor feel its toll until i became its
      listener. did i really believe my mother to be a
      saint? should i find an appartment of my own? at that
      moment i was the "butt of the joke"; both its target
      and its two cheeks. there i was, stagnant even
      mesmerized, watching the joke coalesce in the
      distance, gaining momentum from its many transactions
      and then exploding like a torchlight over my head,
      signalling, without shame or embarassment: "look,
      here's the butt". and you can be sure that those who
      would respond to the flare of the torchlight would not
      be gathering to help. being the butt of the joke is a
      difficult thing to accept. yet perhaps one can find,
      in the long run, a perverse pleasure being in that
      position. the butt of the joke is a location. and to
      be the butt of the joke is to be deeply footed in a
      location, almost bound to it, like a heritage or even
      a heirloom. without it i would feel myself to be a
      little less worthy. true, i find in it the seductive
      palimpset of the victim. and who can remain cold and
      apathetic in the presence of a victim. that much i do
      not deny. yet the appeal of the "butt" is elsewhere.
      it is to be found, i think, in the lure of
      geographies. for that matter i find the "butt" to be a
      form of early Modernist Realism, where one can still
      designate, with a well pointed finger, a place and
      then take on the risky task of description.
      take for instance another joke, composed of 2 words:
      "Hawkwer Hunter". for most lebanese, it is a name that
      brings to one's face a strained smile, something akin
      to the facial tensions brought on by a sudden stomach
      cramp. ah yes, the "Hawker Hunter". isn't that the
      name of the four remaining jet fighters owned by the
      lebanese army? those >grounded< jets, designed for a
      life time of notoriety because they seem to present a
      greater danger to their own pilots more so than to any
      potential enemy plane. british made between 1953 and
      1957 and last seen in action over lebanon in may of
      1984 during a most absurd and violent chapter of the
      civil war known as the Mountain war. "Hawker Hunter"
      is not a hilarious joke. yet it fits at least one
      description of a joke in that it bluntly designates
      its "butt", namely, the lebanese. in a country
      renowned for its hospitality, the "hawker hunter" is
      another if not ultimate reminder of our utter
      openness. watching the lebanese skies is a popular
      form of entertainment. almost daily, one is privy to
      some expansive designs of white smokey streaks left
      behind by neighboring jet fighters. a free spectacle
      of calligraphic eloquence. in this land of
      hospitality, the "Hawker Hunter" is probably the only
      common denominator among the citizens. it is the great
      leveller, a surrogate identity to which we blong,
      desperatly. in this sense, we are all the children of
      the "hawker hunter", projects waiting for an airborne
      mission, a chance to have an overview. moreover,
      "hawker hunter" is a joke with a short fuse
      automatically turning any potential teller into a
      "butt" of a listener. it is a joke which dislocated
      the teller immediately, diallowing him/her even the
      temporary distancing glow of humor. if one considers
      jokes to be the transactional products of human
      metropoleis, then i find that particular joke, "hawker
      hunter", to be rather necropolitan. for it carries
      along with it all the weight of a past and communal
      disaster. one which is yet to be spoken not to mention
      rivaled. and what it determins in the menatime, is a
      location, akin, in its silence and eternalness, to a
      quaint but not so well tended cemetery. for that
      matter it comes close to a perfect joke. and again not
      because of its claims on any collective unconscious,
      but rather because of its geographically precise
      Realism. it designates its "butt" clearly. and the
      "butt" here is very much like a cemetery. for it is
      where all jokes yearn to go from the moment of their
      inception. there they long to rest, a pace to belong
      to indelibly and forever.

      (1)- the 4 reasons are:
      a- his father ran a small business,
      b- he lived with his parents until the age of 33
      c- his mother thought he was God,
      d- he believed his mother to be saint.



      Walid Sadek

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