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The attempt to find a common denominator in the work of Jalal Toufic, a thinker and video artist, seems even from the get-go doomed to failure, not simply because his work stretches from theory to literature to art in many books and videos, but rather, more basically, because such a task seems inappropriate: “My texts and videos do not try to accomplish the same thing, but complement each other.” While one finds in his books thought-provoking thoughts that are discontinuous yet together form (and occasionally disperse) a universe that “does not fall apart two days later” (Philip K. Dick), his videos are attempts to do something else. Regardless of whether he focuses on the yearly commemoration of the battle of Karbala in the year 680 (the most important Islamic days of mourning) in “‘Âshûrâ’: This Blood Spilled in My Veins” (2002), or videotapes, in a single long take, his sleeping nephew (“A Special Effect Termed 'Time'; or, Filming Death at Work”, 2005), or scans the partially torn election posters showing the distorted faces of Lebanese politicians (“Saving Face”, 2003), or, in “Credits Included: A Video in Red and Green” (1995), registers the “withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster” following the fifteen-year civil-war in Lebanon, one of the main concerns of Toufic’s videos is “providing ‘reasons to believe in this world’ (Gilles Deleuze)—through resisting this ‘world.’” Another main concern of the works of Toufic, who describes himself as a “mortal to death,” is mortality—less as physical death at the end of life than as a simultaneity of life and (un)death.

Most of Jalal Toufic’s books are available for download as PDF files at his website: http://www.jalaltoufic.com. His two shortest videos are available for viewing at http://vimeo.com/jalaltoufic.

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