A boy hangs off the Rouche, an iconic rock formation on Beirut’s coast, yelling,“Oh my God!” He is preparing to jump 50 feet into the polluted waters of the Mediterranean Sea. There are two other boys; one has a camera (the same camera thatallows us to re-watch the event), and the other, exasperated, blurts out, “This guy is stupid!” As we watch the video we are witnessing a transformation. The transformation could be minor, one in which he changes from a boy to a man. Or we could be witnessing a traumatic transformation, one that can mean death, or the loss of a limb or consciousness. I constantly think about the moment one realizes their identity has transformed, like the moment one realizes that they are no longer a virgin, that someonehas passed, that they are unhappy. Those moments of realization are never at the exact moment of the event, but always come after. There are no immediately noticeable consequences to most of these transformations; your life still moves forward. You still eat, drink and sleep. When you realize the transformation it is only because you have a memory; your memory makes you realize that something has changed. And the time between the moments before and after the transformation is critical and curious. If the thing that makes you transform is destructive, your transformation is destructive; if what makes you transform is productive, your transformation is productive. In either case a complete disfiguration takes place, a force that shakes up your identity to form a new one.
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