Monday, August 20, 2018

Cedars of Lebanon

Cedrus libani (photo: Benutzer:Mpeylo)
Cedars of Lebanon is the name of a well known hospital in L.A. From the arborial point of view, it also refers to a vanishing species of tree indigenous to a country that was once known as the Switzerland of the Middle East ("Climate Change Is Killing the Cedars of Lebanon," NYT, 7/18/18). Lebanon, a bilingual country where French is spoken in addition to Arabic is still a facionalized society after years of skirmishes between Christian and Muslim factions (it’s home to the Hezbollah). However, lately it's become overheated in another way. From a literary point of view the environmental problems (in particular overheating) could be viewed as an example of the pathetic fallacy, in which nature mirrors the terror in the poet's soul. But they’re also terrifyingly real as the seemingly immortal and eponymous cedars that have been one of the countries most well-known natural wonders have begun to die. And it’s not a result of the frictions between opposing parties. Nature can be an articulate spokesman for the derelictions of man. However even if the solution lay in an end to the country’s political problems, it’s unlikely warring factions would lay down arms. Self-destruction and the seeming human need to implode can be viral forces as has been noted in the legacy of mutilation that followed the fall of Tito’s Yugoslavia. Still it’s unlikely that the death of the cedars is a metaphor for domestic politics in an embattled country. The cause is, for good or bad, is more global with the blame falling to the greenhouse effect and co2. 

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