Framed as posthumous, or that which lives on past its death, the survivor is tagged by official postwar discourses and practices an impediment to the reconstruction of society along normative guidelines. But the persistent conditions of protracted civil war in Lebanon call for a re-conceptualization of the figure of the survivor along another temporal axis. No longer posthumous, the survivor is not an over-liver who aimlessly questions the significance of his brute survival but rather a witness who knows too much, carrying the weight of an unwelcome knowledge gathered from within war and crisis that challenges the official closure of the present to the unfinished past. What is this figure of a non-posthumous survivor and what is the knowledge that it carries? How are we to re-conceptualize the writing of history through this figure and what are the images it continues to safeguard?
In chapter 10 of the Book of Revelation, St. John of Patmos is made to eat a book he has not read. The witness of the apocalypse is impregnated by an event which he now carries. This essay extrapolates on the condition of the witness who ingests a drastic event and searches for a tongue with which to speak that which he does not fully know. As a ventriloquist, St. John is proposed as someone who is not muted by the event but rather one who finds his tongue forked and capable of speaking much and simultaneously. This essay also argues that such a ventriloquism following a drastic event structures in part the autobiography of the Lebanese political thinker and militant Fawwaz Trabulsi.