We have a new Prime Minister here in Lebanon, a Sunni billionaire hand picked by Hezbollah. Since my crystal ball is in the shop this week, I have no idea what this means for anyone in Lebanon. And nobody else does either. If there's one thing I've learned since arriving here in 2004, it's this: people will talk as though they've got it all figured out, as if they know when the sky will fall and who will be responsible, but these kinds of claims are always wrong.
It's well intended, I know it is. They're just trying to make sense of what happens around them, to sort out the mixed up stuff and eek out a modicum of predictability. I don't blame them for doing it. But the future, as they say, is a mystery. The end.
And so in the spirit of mystery, of the riddle that life can be, I give you this, a photo of automobile decals that I found not long ago.
Here's a context shot:
So, going back to the decals on the side-view mirror . . . despite my cynicism about those who project sense onto the senseless, I can't help attempting to decode this odd sort of cartouche, this unexpected and unintended rebus.
Here in Lebanon, these are completely normal things to see as truck decorations. Culturally, the eye is protective, right? But in an English rebus it would mean "I", the self, or could represent seeing, looking, beholding, watching. And the Lebanese flag has all kinds of symbols within it, beyond merely representing the country. The horse has Arab connotations that are new to me and plenty of western ones that aren't.
So, what do you think? Go ahead, create a little order from the chaos. Give some meaning to the meaningless. Solve the unintentional riddle of the auto decals, and let us all know what you came up with.