The Derivative is a bi-annual online publication launched in October 2020, in the midst of unprecedented political, social, economic, and environmental collapse in Lebanon. It is an attempt at building collective vocabularies, registers, and practices able to account for and run against the systemic onslaught we are faced with.

The Derivative is a student of the uprising of Oct 17, 2019; it is first and foremost a rhizomatic object around which to mobilize a diversity of praxes. Experimenting with collective editorial models, each issue is above all an excuse to think and make together and a way to expand and strengthen networks of friends and allies through divergent modes of address, thought, and action.

Every issue of The Derivative starts with three guest editors, each assigned a theme in the form of a three-letter root word (جذر) in Arabic. Each editor then collaborates with five contributors to help unfold the various facets of each theme, as well as an artist contribution responding to each text.

Tumultuous Convolutions

Nour Sokhon

Neighbors - Sarah Saroufim

My ceiling fan morphs into a helicopter

My ceiling fan morphs into distant gunshots

My ceiling fan morphs into the dense soundscape of a city in rebellion

Tear gas

Rubber Bullets

Water Cannons

Helicopters

Traffic lights

Street Vendors

Endless construction noise

Church bells

A sonic invasion from the past

The habitual soundscape of the city is disrupted by the recurrent insistence of sirens, preachers, birds, generators, nomadic announcements by the state, and political parties

These sounds become all the more ubiquitous as the city is calmer, as the electricity cuts more frequently, as the pandemic becomes ever more insistent, pervasive, with Easter Sunday on the horizon.

Vicariously living through the sonic intervention of the human, animal, and machinic other, embedded in a city at rest

The ambulance sirens now pierce the air with an unprecedented intensity.

On April 4, 2020, my best friend’s partner burned his hand while cooking a late night snack

A month later on May 4, 2020, I realized that I was not leaving the country for my fellowship abroad.

Two months later on June 4, 2020, I was unable to leave my bed from excruciating menstrual pain.

The nights leading up to July were sleepless, hot and dark. There was barely any electricity. Except for the concrete walls surrounding me, it felt like I was camping in my own home.

On July 4, 2020 I went to the Chouf valley to get some fresh air.

On August 4, 2020 at 2:00 pm, I started recording a voice over for a film with a poet. We shut down all the windows to block out the city noise. We finish at 5.30 pm. She leaves and I order a fried chicken burger. The windows are still shut.

At 6:08 pm, a bomb explodes at the port. It’s 2750 tons strong

Six years in the making, if not thirty

Reverberations

An earthquake perhaps

A rocket maybe

A suspension of the audible

A suspension of time

Vibrations

A shockwave

A suspension of the suspension

A sonic boom

Shattered glass

Alarm bells

Not so distant cries

Hysteria

Sensory deprivation

Sine waves

Lighting up of the sensory cortex

Sensation overtakes information

Fight or flight

Flight

Intricate entanglements

Deafening silence

Brown noise

A hum

A high pitch

Tumultuous

Thunderous

Ear-splitting

Ringing in the ears

Tinnitus.

Ringing of phones

Voices breaking up

Still no information

No sensation

No signal The sight of the ceiling fan never evoked anything until I heard it.