فالانژیسم جنسیتی یا فالانژیسم فمینیستی چیست؟

all_inclusive_01tumblr_n4x5hsdg5s1qaihw2o1_1280

فالانژیسم فمینیستی شکل نه چندان نوینی از گروه های فشار ایدئولوژیک است مبتنی بر فرقه گرایی وسواسی، و پارانویای بنیادگرایانه ی جنسیتی. شکل نوینی از کارآگاهان تفتیش عقاید که همه جا سرک می کشند تا نشانه ای از جرایم سکسیستی بیابند. درست مثل مفتشان کلیسای اعظم که هرجا نامی از خدا یا مسیح یا شیطان به میان می آمد شاخک های خود را تیز می کردند تا تفسیری کفرآمیز را به گوینده منصوب کنند.

آنها خود را صاحب هر سخنی درباره ی خدا و مسیح می دانستند. هر سخنی جز تکرار واژه به واژه ی سخنان کلیسا معنایی جز دشمنی با مسیح و کلیسا، کفر و جادو و بدعت نداشت.

فالانژهای فمینیست هم خود را صاحب زبان و به ویژه صاحب تمامی واژگانی که با زن و جنسیت مرتبط است می دانند.

مفتشان کلیسا بر این باور بودند که همه جز خادمان کلیسا، کافر و مشرک و بدعت گزار هستند حتی بدون آنکه خود بدانند،.فقط لازم است تا در ذهنشان جستجو کنی و آن نشانه های خبیث را بیابی و آنها فقط باید بپذیرند و اعتراف کنند و مجازات خود را متحمل شوند تا رستگاری شامل حالشان شود. فالانژهای فمینیست بر این باوراند که همه سکسیست هستند همه ضدزن هستند چه آگاهانه و چه ناخودآگاهانه ،هر کلام و رفتار و هر کنش و واکنش آنها اعلام جنگی علیه زنان است، فقط کافی است به ما فرصت دهید تا این نشانه ها را عیان کنیم.

در عین حال این هردو دسته (مفتشان قرون وسطی و فالانژها) از یک منبع مشروعیت می گیرند: مظلومیت. مظلومیت اسطوره ای مسیح و مظلومیت حقیقی زنان. از این منظر این دو با گروهی دیگر هم نزدیک اند: صهیونیست ها. صهیونیست هایی که از مظلومیت تاریخی یهودیان تغذیه می کنند. فالانژهای کاتولیک، فالانژهای صهیونیست و فالانژهای فمینیست هر سه یک کارکرد دارند: تهی کردن ایده ای که برای محافظت از آن تلاش می کنند. مبتذل کردن آن ایده از طریق استفاده ی وسواسی و فرقه ای از آن ایده همچون حربه ای در مقابل همه چیز.

امروز بخش عمده ای از اندیشه ی فمینیستی که خود خاستگاه مهمترین تحولات هنری، ادبی، سیاسی و فرهنگی در جهان معاصر بوده است جای خود را به فالانژیسمی میان تهی، سکتاریستی، ابلهانه و به غایت مبتذل داده است.

زمانی نظریه ی فمینیستی در قبال زبان در چنین سخنانی از ساندرا گیلبرت و سوزان گوبار متجلی می شد:

“اگر قلم و قضیب را یکی می پندارند، اگر به دست گرفتن قلم نشانه ای برای احیای میل به قضیب است، و اگر قلم به دست گرفتن زنان را همچون تلاش آنها برای جبران کردن یک فقدان در نظر می گیرند، پس زنان باید راه دیگری بیابند. اگر زنان قلم-قضیب را رد کنند با چه خواهند نوشت؟ با خون خود، با تن خود. و چنین نوشتاری یادواره ای، غیرخطی، سیال، چندپاره، جنون آمیز و نوسانی خواهد بود.” (زن در اتاق زیر شیروانی، نقل به مضمون)

امروز اما نگاه فالانژ-فمینیستی به زبان در تفتیش تحت الفظی واژه های به اصطلاح ضد زن خلاصه می شود. نوعی پلیس زبانی که تنها به دنبال قشری ترین نشانه های سکسیسم می گردد. فاصله ی میان این دو نگاه و تفاوت عمق این دو رویکرد نیازی به توضیح ندارد. این پلیس های زبانی هرجا که نامی از زن به میان می آید یا مخاطب قرار می گیرد، آژیرکشان ظاهر می شوند.

آنها خود را صاحبان سخن راستین درباب زنانگی میدانند. همانطور که صهیونیست ها خود را صاحبان سخن راستین درباب یهودیت می پندارند. هر گفتاری مرتبط با جنسیت، بدون رعایت قوانین این گروه، حمله ای بی رحمانه به زنان است، همانطور که هر گفتاری درباره ی اسرائیل، بدون رعایت قوانین صهیونیست ها، حمله ای آشکار به یهودیت قلمداد می شود.

مقاله ی مریلین فرای

آثار سارا هوگلند

فمینیسم در دست این فالانژها بدل به ایده ای زننده شده است. در عرصه ی عمومی، این سنت عمیق و اصیل انتقادی در حال فراموشی است و جای خود را به مضحکه داده است. بدیهی است که هر رویکرد فالانژیستی به هر ایده ای در نهایت به رویکردی پیوریتانیستی و نژادگرایانه می انجامد. تا جایی که زن بدل به یک نژاد می شود، نژادی در جنگ پایدار با نژاد مردان.

نمونه ی بارز این رفتار در جدال های لفظی در همین فضای اجتماعی فراوان است. و نمونه ی شدت یافته ی آن امروز در ترکیه رخ داد زمانی که فالانژ-فمینیست های ترکیه اعلام کردند برای ۸ مارس تنها در تظاهراتی شرکت می کنند که مردان درآن حضور نداشته باشند. این غایت رویکرد فالانژ-فمینیست ها به مساله ی زن است: زن به مثابه ی یک هویت نژادگرایانه. فالانژیسم در هرشکل آن خویشاوند پوپولیسم است. پوپولیسم جنسیتی، امروز درحال شکل دادن به طبقه ی فقهای فمینیستی است که هر روز گروهی را تکفیر می کنند و بخش عمده ای از زنان و مردان آنها را همچون محافظان و مجتهدان هر سخنی درباب زنان می پذیرند.

امید شمس/

Dastoor Magazine was indeed one of the leading literary magazines during the dark years of 2009-2010. Unfortunately, after four issues the magazine and the official website was shut down and the online versions were then unavailable. I know it was quite risky for my colleagues in Iran to upload the magazine somewhere else. So as a member of editorial board who lives abroad, I thought I should do something about it. Here are the full text of all four issues of Dastoor. Just click on the links below.

مجله دستور که با همکاری بهترین های ادبیات امروز ایران در فاصله سالهای تاریک 88 و 89 منتشر می شد، عمر کوتاهی داشت و صد افسوس. بعد از چهار شماره مجله و وبسایت هر دو تعطیل شد. می دانم که در شرایط فعلی ایران برای رفقا و همکاران دیگر این مجله چندان امن نیست که آن را دوباره در جایی بارگزاری کنند. برای همین به عنوان یکی اعضای تحریریه این اجازه را به خودم دادم هر چهار شماره ی دستور را اینجا برای خواننده ی مشتاق بگذارم. کافی است که روی لینک ها کلیک کنید.

 

Dastoor – 1
Dastoor – 2
Dastoor – 3
Dastoor-4

Literature, Memory, Forgetting

Literature, Memory, Forgetting

Omid Shams

Writing is always about the past. Even if it is written about future, the future is experienced as past. Since it is primarily imagined in mind and it will be written “afterward”. Therefore, to write is to remember because it is always one step after thinking. We think then we write. Here thinking does not necessarily means planning. It is just thinking as recalling. We think of things and through that act we recall them to our mind and then we recall them into words. Thus, the essence of writing is remembering. Moreover, the aim of writing is reminding; keeping alive the memory of something. Writing is recording; holding the past in an infinite presence of a text; but at the same time, confirming its death.

Literature as the purest kind of writing is not only the remembrance of memories but also the remembrance of the absolute principle of forgetting through imminent inevitable evaporation of all being. Being forgotten as being evaporated is the essence of mortality and mortality itself is the essence of all beings. Literature remembers the memory and also reminds the forgetting. Through these remembering and reminding, literature frees mortals from the burden of fundamental memory of being mortal. A memory which has apparently been forgotten but its spirit is always with us to that very last moment of our death.

This fundamental memory of being mortal is much similar to the memory of catastrophe which has disappeared in our unconsciousness but it is reborn and becomes a mental torment. The memory of catastrophe will be exiled to the realm of forgetting but it resists. Just like a walking dead, a wanderer spirit, a zombie it comes back from the valley of the shadow of death and it will follow us. Such memories are not forgotten they are only ignored. Thus, to forget them we have to remember them first. We have to look at them in the eyes and let them tell their story. Literature lets those memories of fear to tell their story and at the same time lets them to be forgotten (or die in peace). Literature testifies the death of the things through remembering their memory. It is only the literature that dares to remember and speak of the fact that everything is evaporating or will evaporate one day. Literature is therefore remembering and speaking of the immemorial and unspeakable memory.

In this essay I try to explore the relationship between literature, memory and forgetting using the Anne Micheals’ novel, Fugitive Pieces, as an exemplary background. I specifically focus on the main character of the first part of novel, Jakob Beer, (as survivor of the Holocaust and an immigrant poet searching for a memory of a catastrophe to complete the puzzle of his identity), to illustrate the connection between his crisis of identity, contradictory desire for remembering/forgetting and his will to write. My essay creates a dialog with the theories of French philosopher and literary theorist, Maurice Blanchot, about the concepts of “forgetful memory”, the essence of forgetting, and “being Jewish”.

Literature as remembrance of the Vanished

Milan Koundera in his Book of Laughter and Forgetting has a short real story which can perfectly describe the quiddity of literature.

In February 1948, the Communist leader Klement Gottwald stepped out on the balcony of a Baroque palace in Prague to harangue hundreds of thousands of citizens massed in Old Town Square.

“Gottwald was flanked by his comrades, with Clementis standing close to him. It was snowing and cold, and Gottwald was bareheaded. Bursting with solicitude, Clementis took off his fur hat and set it on Gottwald’s head.

The propaganda section made hundreds of thousands of copies of the photograph taken on the balcony where Gottwald, in a fur hat and surrounded by his comrades, spoke to the people. On that balcony the history of Communist Bohemia began. Every child knew that photograph from seeing it on posters and in schoolbooks and museums.

Four years later, Clementis was charged with treason and hanged. The propaganda section immediately made him vanish from history and, of course, from all photographs. Ever since, Gottwald has been alone on the balcony. Where Clementis stood, there is only the bare palace wall. Nothing remains of Clementis but the fur hat on Gottwald’s head.” (3-4)

Literature is the Clementis’ hat. It tells the story of the vanished voices and forgotten faces. That is why literature is always referring to something else. As well as Clementis’ hat, literature is much more than itself. It is the narrator of what no longer exists. Literature is the people’s last hope against forgetting. The main goal in suppression, execution and genocide is forgetting, to send the concepts, persons and nations to the realm of forgetting and evaporation. Literature functions as resurrection of the forgotten. Literature collects those pieces that survived from forgetting and by doing so it recalls the vanished into the memorial. What is dead as a whole can yet live in its pieces. Even one piece can recall the whole to which that piece once belonged. Remembrance happens through those pieces. Fighting against forgetting is searching for those pieces.

In Ann Michaels’ novel, two main characters persistently struggle against forgetting: Jakob Beer is a poet who lost his parents and his sister in Nazi attack when he was a child and then he moved to Canada with Athos his savior. And Ben is a young Jewish professor who was born in Canada and his parents are Holocaust survivors. The few pieces of that catastrophic event, Holocaust, are still alive inside these characters that, in spite of physical surviving, make them still living with and within this catastrophe: “A man’s experience of war never ends with war. A man’s work, like his life, is never completed.” (Michaels 1)

For Jakob, the horror of Holocaust’s historical truth and vanished memory of his family and even their death within this historical truth is an unbearable trauma from which he tries to escape almost throughout his all life. He is trapped in the cruelty of history and he has not enough solace of memory. But “shortly before his death” he decides to put an end to this trauma by remembering the vanished memory and freeing himself from its burden through writing his memoires. Wisely, Michaels distinguishes between the history and memory as the amoral and moral concepts.

Jakob puts it in the novel:

History is amoral: events occurred. But memory is moral; what we consciously remember is what our conscience remembers. History is the Totenbuch, The Book of the Dead, kept by the administrators of the camps. Memory is the Memorbucher, the names of those to be mourned, read aloud in the synagogue. (138)

Memory nourishes from reality but it is not limited to it. Memory is not only remembering the events but remaking them and living them again and again. Memory selects the events and arranges them in an emotional and moral order. It is based on details which are not important for the history but for the person who remembers: “spray of buttons, little white teeth” these details are what history forgets and memory remembers. This is exactly the same function of literature. Literature is always about the details as well. Details which are not important as subject of the event. But they are the witnesses of the event. They are narrators of the event that also narrate the emotional aspects of it. The event is not inscribed on such details but they can recall it and only by such recalling we can feel the flesh and blood of the reality. Literature is memory because it deals with the details and rejects the incompleteness of historical generalized chronology. Memory is moral since it reveals the standpoint toward the reality. Whatever is omitted and vanished in history, as a senseless narrative of generalized reality, will be revived in memory and literature. Hence, the memory’s narrative is much more real than history. Real event never happens as it is narrated in history. It happens in and through the details.

This is what Jakob suffers from. He has not a clear memory of his family’s last moments but some noises and finally the dead bodies of his parents. He also has no clear memories of his family before the catastrophe but few memories of his parents and little more of her sister, Bella.

Then everything he sees and experiences in his life after his loss recalls and reflects the vague image of the past. He lives in his personal Holocaust of his present life because there is no difference between the past and present for one who escaped from a nightmare but left and lost everything he had in that nightmare. The only image that remains clear is the nightmare and the solidity of its historical reality. As result of inaccessibility to the clear image of the past, thus, everything in present recalls the memories of the past in order to complete the missing pieces of a puzzle:

Alex’s hairbrush propped on the sink: Bella’s brush….Bella writing on my back: Alex’s touch during the night…I have nothing that belonged to my parents, barely any knowledge of their lives. Of Bella’s belongings, I have…piano works that suddenly recover me; Bella’s music from a phonograph overheard in a shop, from an open window on a summer day, or from a car radio…. (140-41)

Memory is moral and more real than history but it is an incomplete narrative as well as history. It is limited to the point of view and the range of vision and hearing. From his hiding place “behind the wallpaper in the cupboard” Jakob cannot see anything when soldiers raid on the house. He has only his ears to record the event. “The burst door. Wood ripped from hinges, cracking like ice under the shouts. Noises never heard before, torn from my father’s mouth. Then silence […] I heard the rime of the saucer in circles on the floor. I heard the spray buttons, little white teeth.”

There is no image of the event. The Image must be made out of hearings. The memory is blind and where the memory cannot see imagination comes to be helpful. Imagination even creates the memory out of nothing, out of absolute darkness and silence:

“I couldn’t remember hearing Bella at all. Filled with her silence, I had no choice but to imagine her face” (10).

The most horrific trauma for Jakob is not solely that the Holocaust took the physical presence of his family from him. But that Holocaust took the memory of them and replaced itself as nightmare.

“In nightmares the real picture wouldn’t hold still long enough for me too look, everything is melting.”(25)
He is not even able to keep the memory of his vanished family. This is the horrific truth of genocide. The genocide tries to eliminate any kind of presence whether in reality or in memory. Kundra says “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”. Jakob tries to save his family from absolute death through recalling them into his memory. He tries to keep parts of them alive in spite of the nightmare. He let them live in his head. He divided his mind and body in two: one for himself and one for them.

“I paused when I ate, singing a silent incantation: a bite for me, a bite for you, an extra bite for Bella.” (31)

Such division of personality led Jakob to Schizophrenia. There are two solutions in front of him. One suggested by his first wife, Alex, is to foget the past and leaving it all behind as it never happened. This forgetting before remembrance is repressing or killing those vanished faces. It means leaving the remains of his parents unburied. This is exactly what causes Jakob’s trauma: Actually the impossibility of burying the remains of his dead parents made Jakob carries their remains as images of nightmare inside him. Such forgetting puts Jakob in position of those who made the Holocaust, those who killed his family and left them forgotten.

The second solution is what Michaela suggests: burying the remains and mourning for them through telling the story of losing them and the story of suffer caused by holding the melting image of them for a lifetime. It is possible only through writing as literature. Literature is remembrance of the vanished addressing the reader as one who can confirm the existence of the vanished. By reading the story of the vanished, the reader unveils the memory which was veiled under forgetfulness and brings it into the realm of reality.

Literature makes the vanished voices heard. By hearing them, firstly, they will be confirmed as voices that once existed. Secondly, they will be resurrected and live inside the one that hears those voices. What Michaela did was to let Jakob share his experience of the Holocaust with her. Jakob’s writings of his fears were not enough to make him free of that nightmare. It must be shared with a reader. “She has heard everything—her heart an ear, her skin an ear. Michaela is crying for Bella. The joy of being recognized and the stabbing loss: recognized for the first time.When I finally fall asleep, the first sleep of my life.” (182)

Michaela became an ear and just like Jakob hid behind the wallpaper. Through this emphasis on hearing Michaels implies the sharing of the experience between Jakob and Michaela. Jakob had no life before. He was identical with those dead bodies living inside him. Now he was free of them. He told his story and somebody heard it. So he could let them go and he could live as himself.

Remembering the immemorial memory:

In former section we discussed on Jakob’s attempt to get rid of the nightmare of his past and at the same time remember the vanished memory of his family. Finally and shortly before his death he decides to do that through writing his memoire. But his memoir is not about memory of his family. It is about his unsuccessful searching for such memory. On the other hand his desire of forgetting his memory of the catastrophe is about forgetting the absence of his memory of that very moment when the catastrophic event happened. He writes “I didn’t witness the most important event of my life” (17).

His separation with the event is the same as our separation with the history. Michaels implies the point that reading the history or story of a catastrophe doesn’t make us to feel the experience of that catastrophe. Our position as reader related to the Holocaust is similar to the position of Jakob related to the death of his parents. We are both behind the curtain that separates us from the catastrophe. All we have are the small pieces of a vanished and broken memory. Nobody has a memory of such catastrophe unless he was inside it and therefore he wouldn’t be able to talk about it. Any speakable memory of that catastrophe is a memory of one who wasn’t there, of one who didn’t completely experience the catastrophe. Because that complete experience is death and one who has such experience cannot talk anymore.

At the beginning of his novel Michaels mentions the impossibility of remembering what happened in Holocaust.
“During the Second World War, countless manuscripts – diaries, memoirs, eyewitness accounts – were lost or destroyed. Some of these narratives were deliberately hidden – buried in back gardens, tucked into walls and under floors – by those who did not live to retrieve them.

Other stories are concealed in memory, neither written nor spoken. Still others are recovered, by circumstance alone” (1)”

By this preface Michaels means that the pure memory of such deadly experience dies with its victims. Then any other memories are “recovered” through imagination. Even in Holocaust’s survivors there is always a missing piece: the most important moment of that memory is missing or recovered through imagination. That missing piece is death. Therefore the memory of Holocaust is immemorial. Whatever we say about Holocaust has not the strength of the real event. Because experiencing of Holocaust is experiencing of death and nobody can say anything about the experience of death unless he imagines it.

Jakob is a survivor of Holocaust but even he did not witness the event. Through posing this problem Michaels symbolically explains her own problem of writing about Holocaust. She stands in an eternal distance with the event. She also symbolizes this problem in Jakob’s comments on quiddity of translation.

“Reading a poem in translation,” wrote Bialek, “is like kissing a woman through a veil”; […] Translation is a kind of transubstantiation; one poem becomes another. You can choose

your philosophy of translation just as you choose how to live: the free adaptation that sacrifices detail to meaning, the strict crib that sacrifices meaning to exactitude” (108-109).

Jakob’s memory of his parent’s death is like kissing a woman through a veil. His experience of that moment was a translation of the event into noises. Also Michaels’ writing of Holocaust happens through a translation. She is not able to read the catastrophe in its original language. Nobody can do that but those who vanished within it. All she has is translation. Language of catastrophe (death) translated to the language of post-catastrophe (life). Such translation is an absolute transubstantiation. She also stands between two kinds of such transubstantiation: history and memory. She emphasizes the insufficiency of both to illustrate the all dimensions of the event.

However Michaels informs us about the impossibility of such illustration and therefore she gives us an idea, even if not clear, about the depth of catastrophic event such as Holocaust. Then she goes beyond the history and memory through the literature. Because literature is able to tell a certain story and, at the same time, tell the story about telling that story. She illustrates the event through details and she confesses the impossibility of grasping the whole meaning of the event. She lets us get as close as possible to the nature of remembering such immemorial memory.

Being Jewish: the Poetics of Exodus

The “most important event” of Jakob’s life happens in an eternal distance to him. This event makes his identity: being Jewish. He loses his family and he runs for his life because he is a Jew. But what does being Jewish mean? Why there is such a thing as being Jewish? Why being Jewish causes such tragic experiences? These are questions that Michaels never answers directly in her novel. But she writes the whole life of her main character as an answer to these questions specifically the first question. She writes her Jewish character, Jakob, as a constant immigrant.

Blanchot describes being Jewish as:

“It exists, through exile and through the initiative that is exodus, so that the experience of strangeness may affirm itself close at hand as an irreducible relation;” (124)

Michaels answers to the question of being Jewish through a poetics of exodus and exile. Jakob’s strangeness to that “most important event” of his life symbolically implies being Jewish.

Also Jakob’s journey to Greece and then to Canada symbolizes the most characteristic aspect of being Jewish. She defines the identity of her character through the concept of movement. Through this movement she is able to define him as dependent to the portrait of being Jewish drawn up by anti-Semitism. Because such a portrait reveals nothing about being Jewish but reveals everything about anti-Semitism, its brutality, its meaninglessness and its anti-humanism. It will define being Jewish as a reaction to or as an object of anti-Semitism. But she characterizes being Jewish actively in contrast with concepts of arrogance and paganism.

“At whatever time, one must be ready to set out […] in this Judaism stands in contrast to paganism (all paganism). To be pagan is to be fixed, to plant oneself in the earth, as it were, […]

Nomadism answers to a relation that possession cannot satisfy. Each time Jewish man makes a sign to us across history it is by the summons of a movement” (Blanchot 125.)

Exodus in this concept is the result of resistance against power that claims lands and kills for it. Also the exile makes one able to discover his identity because it is in exile that he can think of his origins. He can dig inside himself to find something that belongs to him to find something that defines him. In fact, the moment that one feels being stranger or exiled, more than any moment else, he focuses on his own identity and those aspects that make his identity.

“in xenetia – in exile[…] in a foreign landscape, a man discovers the old songs. He calls out for water from his own well, for apples from his own orchard, for the Muscat grapes from his own vine” (Michaels 86)

Jakob’s immigration to Canada is crucial for Michaels’s plan to create such identity. Canada is a country where no one claims the land. Canada lets Jakob to be Jewish. He describes Toronto as a city of “forsaken worlds” in which “everyone has come from elsewhere” (89).

Poetics of exodus and constant movement is also the characteristic of Jakob’s narrative and his state of mind. He is always moving between past and present, reality and illusion, history and memory. In fact the identity of Jakob and Ben as Jewish makes the form of the narrative as constant shifting among times and spaces.

Writing after Auschwitz

“To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.”

This famous quotation by Theodore Adorno tries to emphasis on the intensity of the catastrophic event. For Adorno, writing poetry after Auschwitz represents the belief that in the world in which such horrible event happened, beauty does not exist. From this point of view and as far as we accept the definition of poetry as writing to make beauty, what Adorno says is understandable. But what if we disagree with such definition of poetry? What if there is another goal for writing poetry?

Nazis themselves prevented Jewish people in Ghettos from writing poetry. They tried to stop their victims from escaping, escaping from the fate of being vanished, evaporate and forgotten. Writing poetry is tasting freedom and power. They could imagine themselves out of their real situation. They could write about the end of their suffering. They could create their own world in which Nazis had no authority. Writing poetry, after all, is going back to the origin of language to its essence where language emerges as absolute power: the power of naming. As

Hegel pointed out “the first act of Adam that made him the master of animals was to give them names”. Writing poetry is the power of renaming thing. Therefore, it still has that absolute power of language. By writing poetry they could claim that they have something for their own.

Paul Celan says:

“Only one thing remained reachable, close and secure through all losses: language. Yes, language. In spite of everything, it remained secure against loss.” (34)

From this point of view, writing poetry is resistance. Writing poetry is rejecting the cruelty of reality; it builds a place to live beyond the reality. After all poetry is memory. And through memory, one lives in spite of his death. He lives in spite of its disappearance in reality. Through writing poetry genocide will be defeated. Writing poetry rejects the absoluteness of the catastrophe.

“Poetry is memory; this is the classical assertion. Memory is the muse. The singer sings from memory, and grants the power to remember. The song itself is me-moire, the space where the justice of memory holds sway” (314)

Writing poetry after Auschwitz is not, as Adorono believes, rejecting the existence of Auschwitz. It is rejecting its successfulness in eliminating the memory. Nazis banned poetry. Therefore poetry itself was the victim of Auschwitz. Anne Michaels’ intentional poetic style and also characterizing Jakob as a poet is not only to show the possibility of writing poetry after Auschwitz but to emphasis on the necessity of writing poetry in order to defeat the Auschwitz. As we discussed before, there is no way to remember the memory of such catastrophe without the help of imagination. Therefore, she uses poetry as the most imaginative form of language, firstly, to recall those vanished faces into the realm of imagination and, secondly, to emphasis on surviving of poetry as a symbol of Auschwitz’s defeat.

We can assert that literature, specifically through narrating the story of forgetting, revives the memory of vanished faces and by reviving such memory it saves those vanished faces form being forgotten. Also, literature through its power of imagination brings the immemorial memory as closest as possible to the realm of remembrance. The identity of survivors of a catastrophe is dependent to this aspect of literature. Literature lives on behalf of all vanished and forgotten faces in history, shouting their suppressed voices aloud.

Works Cited:

Blanchot, Maurice, The Infinite Conversation. Trans. Susan Hanson. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1993

Celan, Paul. Collected Prose. Trans. Rosmarie Waldrop. Riverdale-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Sheep Meadow Press, 1986

Michaels, Ann, Fugitive Pieces. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1996.

Kundera, Milan, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. Trans. Aaron Asher. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1996.

Six Tableaux of a Tragedy

Omid shams

Danish version of this article was published in Atlas Magazine

 2 2696900 (1)

218

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tableau 1

The massacre at the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, by fanatics is indeed “one” of the most horrific and disgusting events in Europe after World War II. Perhaps the only other event as horrific and disgusting as this one is the Norway Massacre by another fanatic, Anders Breivik. At this moment, there is nothing more necessary than strongly standing in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and condemning such a savagery that threatens this magazine and so many others like it.

However, through some of these messages of solidarity, even with the all good intentions, something horrifying is happening for Charlie Hebdo. There is a statement with the intention of solidarity which can be seen everywhere: I am Charlie Hebdo.

There are millions of people sharing such statements in social networks as they share hidden camera videos or Best Vines compilations. Politicians, actors, writers, priests, preachers and mullahs they are all stating: we are all Charlie.

This statement is indeed the worst thing that could ever happen to a magazine like Charlie Hebdo. This very popular way of showing solidarity is pushing Charlie Hebdo into the realm of symbols. They are turning Charlie into a symbol, an empty symbol, with which everybody could agree without even knowing what it is.

What is happening to Charlie Hebdo is exactly the opposite of what they stand for, fight for and identify themselves with. The most essential characteristic of Charlie was emphasizing on disagreements and the right to disagree with any idea.  Radical criticism of all powerful ideas and persons without any hesitation is not a thing that everybody can or dare to support and embrace. Such symbolization and reification of Charlie, whose essentiality is now being vanished beneath the oceans of sentiments, is making it digestible for the most spiteful enemies of all Charlies around the world to turn an annoying critic into a pale, holy and harmless ghost.

Tableau 2

It is most unfortunate but undeniable that after such events, the “European” Muslim community will be under lots of pressure. However, they cannot sit back and expect not to be treated as a “scary” minority or as “they” who live in “our” country. There is no doubt that such a semi- segregationist view is not acceptable at all and, according to the social values of European society, equality is their absolute right. However, not accepting such discriminative views cannot simply change them. The European Muslim community must be the first who recognize themselves as an equal part of the European society. Therefore, they must react to such events not only as “Muslims” but also and more importantly as “Europeans”. As long as their priority is to defend Islam from misjudgements, they are separating themselves from the rest of the society. Their priority must be to condemn such brutal violations of all the humanity’s principles and through which they are implying that their interpretation of Islam is way different from those who commit such a monstrous crime.

Moreover, it is not enough for the Muslim community to simply state that “this is not Islam” or “not in my name”. This horrible event is and will be one of the most memorable images of Islam unless the Muslim community actively and determinedly step forward to change it. The truth is that Muslim community has the least influence over their own image that illustrates them to the global community and is created either by the western mainstream media or the Islamist fanatics. In most cases they are just the passive consumers of that image whether they agree with it or not. Denial doesn’t change this image but alternative images do. In this specific case, where the Muslims might be seen as violent and intolerant community, they must be the front-line of any demonstration condemning the violence and intolerance. They must also suggest an alternative image which can be found within the Islamic culture. For example there is a story in many Islamic texts showing the way Muhammad treated his critics. There was a woman who despised Muhammad everyday by throwing dirty garbage on him. One day she got sick and didn’t show up. Muhammad visited the woman in her house saying her absence worried him that something might happen to her. As long as these gestures are not followed and promoted by the Muslim communities, misjudgements that surround them will not easily change.

Tableau 3

Charlie Hebdo is not only the victim of extremism, intolerance and violence. It is right now, the victim of hypocrisy and opportunism as well. The messages of condemnations and solidarities are coming from the governments or political parties who are the most horrifying enemies of freedom of speech or the most notorious symbols of intolerance, violence, racism and apartheid. Governments such as Bahrein, Turkey, Emirates and Russia express their solidarity with French people while they have had hundreds of journalists suppressed, tortured, detained and assassinated. The most ridiculous example of such hypocrisy is Iranian government condemning the murdering of “innocents” in Charlie attack, while just three months ago they executed another “innocent”, Mohsen Amir Aslani, for insulting Jonah the prophet; and while they already have another prisoner, Soheil Arabi, waiting to be executed for the same charge; and while they are the only government that issued and politically supported the Fatwa for assassinating Salman Rushdi for the same accusations. The Israel’s condemnation of attack reminds us of another cartoonist, Palestinian Naji al Ali, famous for his criticism of Israel, who was assassinated in London. It also reminds us of RWB reports on 17 journalists killed during the Israel-Gaza war.

These kinds of preposterous hypocrisy are murdering Charlie Hebdo journalists and so many like them more than once. It is up to people to retain these bodies from those who are weeping for them while their foot is on the other journalists’ neck.

Tableau 4

The whole Europe is shocked, furious and mournful. Yet the people and the leaders called for unity to pass these dark days. There is no message to the violent extremism, and no consolation for a tragic loss, stronger than unity. The point is that the unity must go beyond a mere large demonstration. And it is possible if and only if we define unity comprehensively and radically. The question is that what should be the basis of our unity? It could be the democratic values, or the European values, or the civil values, or the religious values. They are all worth to be united for, but they are also open to various interpretations. A unity on such basis cannot go further than a one-day demonstration. The basis could also be the human values, the most comprehensive basis for the largest possible unity, understandable in all human societies. The unity on such basis won’t allow us to distinct a European catastrophe from a Middle Eastern catastrophe. There would be only one catastrophe, the catastrophe for humanity. In this sense, wherever innocent people are being killed, supressed and exploited, it will be our responsibility not to remain silent. Otherwise, there would be no unity at all or there would be only the alliances against each other. The massacre of 12 innocent French journalists is and must be a tragedy for all the humanity and it necessitates the world to get united against it; the massacre of 2000 people in a Nigerian city with 10000 inhabitants in the same week by almost the same terrorist group, is and must be seen as a tragedy for humanity as well. As long as, the reactions to these two “similar” catastrophic events are not the same, there would be no unity, or at least no unity based on human values.

Tableau 5

All of a sudden, nobody is “Charlie” any more, or better to say, when being Charlie means more than a gesture and it might be possible to leave the neutral realm of symbolism in order to defend the freedom of speech in the realm of reality, where doing so actually matters, nobody is ready to step forward. From CNN to NBC and from Huffington Post to New York Times, nobody is willing to reprint the Charlie’s last cartoon. The excuse is not their disagreement with provoking people or insulting their belief, which would, also, be absolutely nonsense. Their explanation is way more ridiculous than that. CNN head Jeff Zucker said: as a matter of journalistic importance, they want to run the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, but they do not want to risk the safety and security of their employees. What Zucker implies is that the journalists’ responsibility, especially in the case that the free journalism is under attack, means nothing when there would be the potential risk for safety of the employees. Well, the safety of the employees will be at stake in all news coverage of major crimes or political scandals, war crimes etc. Does it mean that CNN makes the same decision in all the similar occasions and, therefore, we must not expect any trustworthy report on any topic that might put their employees at risk?

Another sad point that Jeff Zucker’s explanation implies is that the terrorists actually won and they will win in any other similar cases in future. If you want the press to remain silent, that is the way to shut them up. The mainstream press not only gave up their main responsibility, which is covering “the matter of journalistic importance”, but also encouraging the terrorists implying that their brutal method to response to journalists actually works.

Tableau 6

Since the beginning of War on Terror, a sort of neo-colonial discourse is dominating most of the discussions about Islam, fundamentalism, Muslims and immigrants. There are two major approaches toward these topics and they both can be categorized under the neo-colonial discourse: The first approach, which is mostly supported by the right wingers, directly links these terms to each other and sees the Islam as fundamentalism and all immigrants (or at least the immigrants coming from Muslim countries) as Muslims. This approach reduces the conflict to the ideological and cultural conflict and simplifies the problem as a problem of increasing violence and fundamentalism caused by the immigrants.

The second approach, mostly supported by the leftists, believes in an absolute distinction between Islam and fundamentalism and between Muslim/immigrants and fundamentalist. This approach tries to avoid any generalization about these terms. It also enters to the discussion from the human rights point of view. They support the Muslim community’s right to be seen equal with the rest of the Western community and they believe that the violent fundamentalism is a result of political conflict.

The point is the both sides are simplifying the discussion and their knowledge of Islam, the Muslim community and the immigrants diversity is at the same level, which is so fragile. On the other hand, apart from their major differences, their view of the Muslims and immigrants is very much the same. They both see the Muslims and immigrants as the “other”, whether they hold grudge against them or sympathize with them. Such view will not let them to understand these minorities profoundly and without presuppositions.

There is an obvious discriminating view in all the discussions about Islam. You will never see it being discussed as a religion in a same way that the rest of religions are being discussed. There is a pointless dispute between those who argue that Islam is evil, violent and merciless, and those who exculpate Islam. They both talk about Islam and Muslim countries without clarifying the difference between the Muslim countries and Islamic countries or explaining that how Emirate, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey could all be called Muslim countries or Islamic countries at the same time?

The point is that there is a huge difference between Muslim countries, which only indicates the religion of the majority in these countries, and the Islamic countries, which indicate the role of religion in the political apparatus and the means of controlling the society. The Islamic countries are responsible for the rise of Islamic violence in a same way that some of the Western countries, especially United States, are responsible for the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in late 70’s. They supported, equipped, theorized and promoted the violent Islam or at least their wrong political and cultural policies led to the emersion of this evil threat. The Islamic countries and some of the Western countries are creating a new conception of “being Muslim”, which is violent, intolerant and extremist. This new conception is spreading within the Muslim community and needs a comprehensive analysis.

Islam is nothing but a religion; and like all the religions, it has the most potential to become the main source of violence, mercilessness, dogmatism and evil. The Christianity caused the bloodiest Crusades that killed at least a million people. Judaism in the hand of Israeli state showed enough talent to cause the insane level of violence. Even the Buddhism proved that is able to launch a massacre in Myanmar. Religion is nothing but a potential mass destruction weapon (as its counterparts the communism, nationalism, fascism and capitalism are), if it remains untouchable, uncontrolled and not constantly and fundamentally criticized.

Spectacle of Terror, Terror of the Spectacle

By Omid Shams

            It is commonly said that September 11 pushed the world into a new era. Some analysts see 9/11 as a sign of America’s decline and others interpret the event as the final confrontation between the East and the West, foreseen in Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations. Also, there are a few commentators who explain 9/11 as the beginning of militarist globalization. Despite contradictory ideas, there is a common agreement over the idea that after 9/11 the global geopolitics has been dramatically changed. Obviously 9/11 is not the only cause of that changing, but it was, indeed, a turning point; an event that forced the ongoing upheaval, previously intangible, to become visible and accelerated.

            There are many discussions on the origins of 9/11 and “real” masterminds behind those attacks, asking an exciting detective question: “Who is responsible for 9/11?” In this essay I skip the question of “who actually planned the event?” toward the question of “how and for what purpose the event and its aftermath are being controlled?” believing that through such investigation we will be able to find some probabilities to answer the question that we put aside, keeping in mind that controlling the event does not necessarily begin after 9/11. In this probe, I explore this central question: How 9/11 became the most powerful image that legitimated the American military expansion, specifically in Middle East, and led the American empire toward militaristic global domination?

            My essay draws on Situationist theory of society of the spectacle, specifically the concepts of “image”, “spectacle” and its relationship with reality, to analyze 9/11 as key image or as a source for a set of images that lead global domination toward its actualization. I also argue that American expansion of such scale through the postmodern crusade of “war on terror” based on Manichean confrontation of good vs. evil and misdefining the terms “terrorism” and “enemy” result the political, financial and military negative effects that may bring down the American empire.

September 11 as Image

            9/11 is indeed an event which happened in realm of the reality, but it moves out and continues its life in realm of the images. In other words, what “really” happened in 9/11 immediately dissolved into a peculiar image. Whenever one thinks of 9/11, there would be an image that appears in his mind: twin towers collapsing. There is no way to imagine the event without that certain image. The image occupied the pre-existence of the event and made it restricted to that very image so everything outside the frame of image remains unknown and will be forgotten. Guy Debord argues:

“For one to whom the real world becomes real images, mere images are transformed into real beings tangible figments which are the efficient motor of trancelike behavior. Since the spectacle’s job is to cause a world that is no longer directly […] it is inevitable that it should elevate the human sense of sight to the special place once occupied by touch; the most abstract of the senses, and the most easily deceived…”(Debord, 7).

            Both sides of the event, creators and victims, are aware of this image’s power. There is no image which has been seen as largely and frequently as 9/11. This was the image of our century, the most characteristic image of our age, a spectacular image that impressed the world, making everyone to say that “the world is going to change”. The nearest image to 9/11 is Hiroshima. Both have a clear message. Both are Messengers of extreme fear. But even the Hiroshima, despite the intensity of the catastrophe, was not as powerful as 9/11 to make such global gazing and impression. Firstly, because 9/11 was, as 2002 HBO film “In Memoriam” called, “the most documented event in history” and  may be the strongest and most symbolic image of terror in all ages: Collapsing of twin towers seemed like a Titan fell on his knees. Secondly, 9/11 happened in the untouchable realm of Titian. As Kellner says “The spectacle conveyed the message that the U.S. was vulnerable to terror attack, terrorists could create great harm and that anyone at any time could be subject to a violent terror attack, even in Fortress America […] the 9/11 terror spectacle was the most extravagant strike on U.S. targets in its history and the first foreign attack on the continental U.S. since the war of 1812.” (2-4).

            The September 11 was designed to have a powerful visualization and symbolization. In addition to the symbolism of the image of attacks, the targets were symbolic as well; WTC and Pentagon represent the American financial and military power and symbolize the America’s leverage in global domination. “We are convinced that the horrors of September 11 were designed to be visible. […] there were no cameras at Dresden, Hamburg and Hiroshima […] September’s terror was different […] it was premised on the belief (learned from culture it wishes to annihilate) that picture worth a thousand words” (Boal, Clark, Matthews and Watts 26).

            Society of spectacle makes images and by magic of spectacle it transforms images “into real beings,” through which it controls the reality and reflected behaviors. Then, the power of image is the essence of such society. Spectacle is actualization of such images, “weltanschauung that has been actualized, translated into the material realm a world view transformed into an objective force” (Debord 5). Through this actualization spectacle has to cause gazing so anything outside the spectacle’s stage will be removed from range of sight; and spectacle appears as the only existing reality. “[spectacle] is that sector where all attention, all consciousness, converges” (Debord 5). Debord wrote these sentences at the time that television was becoming the main medium for molding the public opinion, long before the internet. But the power of image, which is replaced with the reality as its only existing notion, had the same effect as it does in our time. The first impression of recorded image from the beginning of photography until now is that what we see in a recorded image is referring to something real. In the world of mass media, the image is our only impression of realness of its subject. Thus, through controlling the viewpoint and framing of those images, media can easily control our perception of the events.  In the case of 9/11, the event was limited and reduced to that very image from a restricted viewpoint of terrified and innocent Americans. The image was broadcast repeatedly for days without advertising, focusing on buildings in flames and people jumping out of windows desperately, to replace the hostile emotions with reasonable questions. The United States’ government and mainstream corporate media framed the event to circulate the war fever and hatred. They actively refuse or even obstruct to consider the “causes” and “motivations” behind these attacks trying to show the terrorist as an enemy for whose actions no motivation other than “doing evil” is being admitted” (Koechler, 3). With the help of media and commentators and government statements the event became a threat against the “civilized world” and terrorists became de-humanized, as “absolute evil” from the world of “tyranny and darkness”, to attain such conclusion: “There can be no neutrality between justice and cruelty, between the innocent and the guilty. We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name […] and we will lead the world in opposing it” (G.W. Bush, West Point Commencement, June 2002)

            In 24 July 2002, President George W. Bush gave a speech entitled “Middle East Peace Process” declaring that For too long, the citizens of the Middle East have lived in the midst of death and fear. The hatred of a few holds the hopes of many hostage. The forces of extremism and terror are attempting to kill progress and peace by killing the innocent. And this casts a dark shadow over an entire region. For the sake of all humanity, things must change in the Middle East”. In mainstream media such words might be followed with images of Kurd victims of Saddam’s regime in Halabja or images of Anfal genocide as typical image of “killing the innocents”. But there is no image of Hiroshima or bombardment of Vietnam or more recently the image of civilian casualties of war in Afghanistan. There is no image of victims of poison gas attack by Iraq, heavily supported by United States, during the invasion of Iran. Also in mainstream media there is no place for such questions: Why hatred of few costs the life of thousands of innocents in Afghanistan? Why United States remained silent since the Anfal genocide in 1986 for 16 years to rise against “forces of extremism” “for sake of all humanity”? What are the roles of oil policies, dollar watchers and electoral popularity in such decisions as invasion of Iraq?

            Answers to these questions are those parts of reality which are kept away from public opinion, under the shadow of 9/11 manipulated image, in favor of that “weltanschauung” to be actualized.

Origins and Existence of an event before the happening

            There is no doubt that 9/11 was shocking but it was expectable. It existed so many times before it happened. In fact United States itself brought it into existence. Baudrillard says “we have dreamed of this event, everybody without exception has dreamt of it, because everybody must dream of the destruction of any power hegemonic to that degree(1). Attraction and necessity of such dream comes from the absoluteness and untouchability of United States as a superpower. Another reason for such dream is the way that the United States defines its enemies and defines itself against them. The notion of America as absolute good fighting the absolute evil is the American empire’s fundamental and a basic tactic to justify its expansion.

             Ronald Reagan in his famous speech to the National Association of Evangelicals in 1983 called Soviet Union as “focus of evil in modern world”. He describes the world’s situation as “There is sin and evil in the world, and we’re enjoined by Scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might”. Quoting de Tocqueville he emphasizes on America’s goodness thanks to her churches and urges Americans “to beware … label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil”.

             Bill Clinton in his speech on Oklahoma bombing in 1995 calls the terrorists “dark forces” who threatens the peace, freedom and “our way of life”. Interesting part is that Timothy McViegh was a radical “American” member of the Patriot Movement. Such perception of enemy is the basic characteristic of United States’ reaction to 9/11 and terminology of War on Terror. In political discourse of American officials, there is a dualism that is deeply extremist and religious. In such dualist discourse the enemy is a metaphysical enemy which has no relation with whatever is natural; and here the term natural belongs to the “civilized world”. Therefore, this enemy is “(a) “incomprehensible” (representing evil of an unimaginable dimension) and (b) “threatening” – as the paradigmatic “other” – humankind as such” (Koechler, 8). United States refuses to understand the real motivations of its enemy and claiming for absolute good defines the enemy as absolute evil. In this viewpoint, whatever belongs to or connected with this enemy is evil; thus, there is no other way, but to totally annihilate the enemy’s world. United States also refuses or obstructs to find a consensus and legal definition of terrorism that can distinguish between resistance and terrorism and also clarify the term, state terrorism. In other words, United States as an omniscient narrative put itself in a Godlike position to define and judge the identity of enemy, its motivation and its goal. Furthermore, its enemy is also the world’s enemy or at least the civilized/natural world’s. The result is that such enemy reverses these extremist definition and judgment and uses them against United States.

“No need for a death wish or desire for self-destruction, not even for perverse effects. It is very logically, and inexorably, that the power of power exacerbates a will to destroy it.  […] It has been said: “God cannot declare war on itself”. Well, It can. The West, in its God-like position (of divine power, and absolute moral legitimacy) becomes suicidal, and declares war on itself” (Baudrillard 1).

               However, that “death wish” also has been created by the United States for two reasons. The first reason is creating the image of a world savior. Numerous American disaster movies and novels imply that any threat against United States would be the sign of apocalypse. Through saving itself, the United States is always saving the world.  Some of these movies produce the images of everlasting evil that the United States is fighting with.

             The second reason is justifying the United States’ global expansion. After World War II, when America became the first world power it produced and reproduced the image of its own destruction (from Soviet Union’s nuclear threat to alien’s attack and from year 2000 millennium bug to international terrorism)  only the details of the image have been changed and finally it actualized as 9/11. Although such images of Armageddon and apocalypse are understandable after World War II, but they have roots in Biblical thoughts that have strong influence on American minds and American empire. The Christian extremism has been an ally to American empire from its very beginning. In other words, American expansion can be seen as Christian expansion. John Fisk in his essay, “Manifest Destiny” published in Harper’s Magazine 1885 says American empire “is destined to go on until every land on the earth’s surface that is not already the seat of an old civilization shall become English in its language, in its religion, in its political habits and traditions, and to a prominent extent in the blood of its people” (Pratt, 6).

            J. H. Barrows in The Christian Conquest of Asia perfectly indicates the conjunction between American Expansion and Christianity: “The time of our moral and political isolation has passed away … America’s place in the Christianizing the world is far ahead, in the very foremost ranks…here Christianity has a free field for the exercise of its divine energies…God has placed use, like Israel of old, in the center of the nations” (Barrows, 237).

             Bringing the topic to the present time, let’s give an interesting example that is incredibly matched with strategies of American Empire. The first book of Left Behind series published in 1995, an evangelical based narrative of “End of the world” that immediately became one of the most debated and appreciated books in the United States. “In total, works have sold more than 60 million copies since the first book appeared in 1995” (McAlister 190)

            The first book opens with large raid of Russian MIG fighters on Israel. The attack fails with divine intervention, but it reveals the arrival of Antichrist to dominate the world. Antichrist appears as Romanian (not American) politician who takes control of the United Nation, calls for general disarmament, introduces a new international currency and tries to make UN stronger than world powers. These are presented as parts of Antichrist’s evil plan. All of these actions are threatening the hegemonic role of the United States as a superpower. The general disarmament is what Ronald Reagan warned evangelicals about. The Powerful UN is similar to what Senator Henry Cabot Lodge Sr. opposed, in the case of the League of Nations. Antichrist’s deeds seem to be opposing the financial, political and military interests of United States rather than the laws of God and his Son. Moreover, “There is a resonance between such scenarios [as Left Behind] and President Bush’s rhetoric garnishing his Middle East policies” (Ataoev, 27). In 2000 when the movie based on novel released, the Russians (who were no longer credible to appear as evil forces) replaced with Arabs. “The Christian Right had identified different groups or entities (from Native Americans to Soviet Communism) at different times as representation of the Antichrist. Islam is now taking their place” (Ataoev, 34). Left Behind unbelievably predicted a global war against Christianity; and regarding to its public reception from American readers and mass media, it is not accidental that President Bush used the term “crusade” for the War on Terror. McAlister says: “[Left Behind] series offers its readers a way to see the aggressive actions of the United States (and those terrorists and other actors) as part of a divine plan” (194) The Left Behind shows, also, the similarity between fundamentalism and neoliberalism. The novels fully support the privatization, technocracy, multinational capitalism, and military expansion. There is no representative from working class in savior circle of Tribulation forces. They are all highly professional bourgeois who help the working class people. “Evangelical culture is predominantly popular within the petit bourgeois class, which benefits from neoliberal gains. Although the events described in the books are related to contemporary times, they reflect religious prophecy insofar as it agrees with the dominant features of the present” (Ataoev, 31). The notion of apocalypse justifies the neoliberal management of the world and makes a religious background for acceptance of military expansion in future. As result, in 2003 the majority of Christian Americans believed that Saddam Hussein, involved in 9/11 attacks and development of weapon of mass destruction, was the Antichrist rebuilding the Babylon.

            The image of Muslims and specifically Arabs throughout the Hollywood movies before 9/11 is mostly passive, weak, peaceful, poor and demanding American heroes’ help. In the first movie based on Left Behind, which had produced after Kenya’s American embassy bombing and releases just before 9/11, we can see a dramatic change. Along with disappearance of communist Russians and Eastern Europeans’ evil image, the hostile image of Muslims and Arabs started to be foregrounded in mass production of spectacle. However, it was not simply a reaction to growing Islamic anti-American fundamentalism. Such image has existed in American political and Christian discourse since the beginning of twentieth century. The president of Armenian Patriotic Alliance in New York, M. S. Gabriel, in 1896 wrote “When Christendom repeats the phrase, “Thy Kingdom Come”; in the universal prayer it means the downfall of Islam. The kingdom of Christ is a kingdom of righteousness and between it and the cruel, lustful barbarism of Islamism there can be no peace.” (Gabriel and Williams, 471)

             These are only the symbolic and ideological preparations of 9/11. But there are actual causes as well. The occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza since 1967; 1982-1983 military operation in the Lebanon against Palestine Liberation forces, 1987 Operation Nimble Archer against Iran, 1988 Shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655, Siege of the Gaza strip, military operation against the Moro Islamic liberation movement in the Philippines, the military intervention in Somalia, etc. “the aggressive policies enacted in these cases, while neglecting the actual grievances, have in turn become the root causes of many a “terrorist” act, that in each and every case is seen by the perpetrators themselves as heroic act of resistance” (Koechler, 15).

Controlling the Event toward Global Domination

          The apocalyptic images of future such as those that presented in Left Behind and, somehow, actualized in 9/11 are the logical consequences of the United States’ will to be a God-like power of the world. Hence, they are not completely detached from the nature of United States’ empire. They are parts of the global order which United States tries to create. Thus, even if their role is attempt to destroy the American empire but their function is to participate in intensifying the existence of that order. While United States’ intervention in Muslim world caused extremist reactions such as 9/11, such extremist reaction caused acceleration of American military expansion. This is a war in which terror fights against terror. Both sides nourish from each other until both implode. 9/11 made the road for invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. Death of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq accelerated the recruitment of terrorist organizations and spreading of the Islamist radicalism in body of political power of Arab world (Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Egypt).

            However, the latest phase of terrorism as suicidal, having almost all the weapons, technologies and tactics of empire that makes it essentially similar to the nature empire’s system, has another weapon that makes terrorists superior:  they have themselves, their own bodies as weapon; they have “their own death”. This weapon makes them and all of their acts symbolic specifically for their own supporters and followers. They want to die as much as Americans want to live. Firstly, their death implies, as 2005 London’s bomber said, their “motivation doesn’t come from tangible commodities that this world has to offer.” (Aljazeera, 1st September 2005) Secondly, their death is their goal, their reward and salvation as a martyr. They inject their symbolism to the reality. It has been said that they are not realistic thinking that they can destroy the world’s superpower by demolishing some buildings. It is true. They are way beyond the reality. They are symbols of that dream we all have about “destruction of a power hegemonic to that degree”. Whatever they do is the actual symbol of universal desire to destroy this hegemony.  They attack to the symbols of imperialist power. They symbolically targeted the heart of the United States. By their own death they expand this symbolism to its extreme level. They control their death, so they take the opportunity of punishing and eliminating from the system they try to demolish. They cannot be eliminated; then, they are immortal, untouchable. They act by their death and before acting they don’t exist because they are like everyone else: normal citizens.  Only by their death they symbolically exist forever. Suicide terrorists can turn themselves into a weapon. It is their death that guarantees their existence. Suicide terrorists’ existence is not limited to the reality, but the potentiality of their existence, so they cannot be really eliminated. Dominant power is limited to its real existence. Dominant system itself creates symbols attaching them to its absolute mastery over the reality. But in its nature it is nothing but real. It is limited and trapped in its realness and that is why it needs to create symbolic war of good against evil. It uses symbols to hide the weakness, insufficiency and mortality of its realness. It cannot die in reality and resurrect in realm of symbols as terrorists do as symbolic martyrs. To fight with terrorists’ symbolic acts and existence, dominant power can do nothing symbolic. It can only spread its pure and insane violence. That is why it needs narratives such as Left Behind to symbolize its War on Terror as holy war for good sake and salvation. But it is impossible because society of the spectacle presents itself as realm of salvation. The promise of paradise beyond this world (which is the main motivation of suicide terrorism) is not among its properties. Society of the spectacle claims itself as the only existing paradise. Any promise beyond the “real” borders of this society is rejected as illusion. Of course there are eschatological narratives in Christianity as well; but it is obvious that culture of martyrdom has not such central role in Christianity as it does in Islam. Although the War on Terror is controlled and legitimated on basis of moral and religious values, but its goal is claimed to be protecting freedom, democracy and civilized world, not serving God.

               American empire cannot control the terrorism, but it can control the image of terrorism in favor of its interests (such as controlling oil supplies in the Middle East). It can control the horror caused by terrorists to make public opinion accept such extremist claims as Ann Coulter does: “We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” (Kellner, 9) United States cannot eliminate terrorism, but it can set up a terrorist model that exists in reality and by eliminating that model it can claim victory and hide the pointlessness of its violence. Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran are going to be those models. War on Terror needs to attack these countries as locus of terrorism and global threat. Hiding Bin Laden in Afghanistan, producing mass destruction weapons in Iraq or making atomic bomb in Iran is, therefore, vital for this plan.

American empire as heart and head of society of the spectacle needs images which he can control. It created the image of terrorism as a global threat through holding a mirror in front of itself. But it cannot get hand over this image because it doesn’t exist in realm of its authority. It lives symbolically in imaginative part of the world. Terror lives in our heads and in the United States’ head as well; just like an insect that inhabits in the head of a giant. The enormous violence of giant over the things around him doesn’t harm the insect that lives inside him. It is the insect that makes giant desperately hurt himself through revealing his aggression and anger on everything and everywhere. When the giant reaches to the final level of aggression and desperation the only way to get rid of the insect is that the giant crushes his skull. Killing that insect is due to suicide of the giant. War on Terror with the current strategy leads the American empire to reach the very dangerous level of the militarist expansion. Regarding the role of other superpowers such as China and Russia in Middle East, growing nuclear arms race in this region, political and financial problems of America’s European allies, there would be the possibility of another world war. “To the chagrin of the American Christian Right, God may do nothing to save “His chosen people” if that country pursues the present course of “imperial overstretch”. The miscalculating fundamentalists may then be astonished to witness a different kind of Armageddon. The two wars in the Middle East will probably drag on for a long time, draining the strength of the United States. American power, great though it is, is not necessarily sufficient. Expansion of such magnitude may bring down the American colossus, just as it brought down the Roman, the Habsburg, the Dutch and the British Empires. They all had a sense of exceptionalism, but all met disillusionment”. (Ataoev, 42)

Works cited and sources:

Ataoev, Turkkaya. “Holy Terror: Christian Fundamentalist Share in U.S. Globalization and War.” International Progress Organization: University of Sains Malaysiya. 29 Jan. 2008.  web. 20 Aug 2012. 

Barrows, John Henry. “ The Christian Conquest of Asia”. New York, Scribner.s: 1899.  Online. 20 Aug 2012,

Baudrillard, Jean. “Spirit of Terrorism.” Le Monde 2 Nov 2001. Trans.  Rachel Bloul. Online.

Boal, Lain, et al. Afflicted Power: Capital and Spectacle in New Age of War. London, New York: Verso, 2005.

Debord, Guy. Society of the Spectacle. Trans. Donald Nicholson Smith. New York: Zone Books, 1994.

 Inside Al Qaeda. Dir. David Keane. Wild Eyes Production, 2007. Documentary, Film.

 Kellner, Douglas. “9/11, Spectacles of Terror, and Media Manipulation: A Critique of Jihadist and Bush Media Politics”. UCLA, web, 20 Aug 2012

 Koechler, Hans. “The Global War on Terror and the Metaphysical Enemy”. International Progress Organization: University of Sains Malaysiya. 29 Jan. 2008.  web. 20 Aug 2012.    

 LaHaye, Tim, and Jerry B. Jenkins. Left Behind. Chicago: Tyndale House, 1995.

 McAlister, Melanie. “Left Behind and the Politics of prophecy talk.” Exceptional State. Eds. Ashley Dawson and Malini Johar Schueller. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2007. 

Sculpture: The Tree of Locks of Hair

Sculpture, Performance and Installation by Omid Shams and Parissa Jamali in Godsnbanen Gallery, Denmark

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Vild Med Ord festival, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Vild Med Ord festival, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

 

The Tree of Locks of Hair, the sculpture made by Omid Shams and Parissa Jamali, was revealed at Godsbanen Gallery in city of Aarhus, Denmark. The opening ceremony was along with a performance performed by Omid Shams and Parissa Jamali and a short speech by art critic Trine Rytter Andersen. (You can see the pictures of the opening ceremony at the end of this post). You can also find a link to Deutsche Welle’s interview with Omid Shams about the exhibition in here. The interview is in Farsi.

Here is the statement of the exhibition:

The idea of Tree of Locks of Hair came up to my mind from a simple conversation with one of my friends back in Iran. I told her that I am leaving to Denmark and I asked her “what would be the first thing you’d like do if you leave Iran?” She answered: “I would like to feel the wind blowing in my hair without being afraid”. So I took a lock of her hair and of thirty other women as well and I decided to make a Tree of Locks of Hair.
The sacred trees have a long history in Persian culture and they are all illuminated by various feminine elements. These trees represent the women’s wishes, grieves and dreams. A long time ago women in western and central parts of Iran used to cut their tresses and hang them as a sign of grieve for loss of their loved ones. This ceremony has been recorded in Iranian literary masterpieces such as Shahnameh (The Book of Kings) and Savushun.
In her great novel, Savushun, Simin Daneshvar writes:
” Zari said: The first time I saw the tree of tress I thought it was the tree of wishes illuminated by yellow, brown and black rags. When I came closer I saw they are woven hairs on the branches. They were the tresses of young women who lost their men.”
In Iranian culture, hair is a symbol of “being”, “spirit” and “life”. The tree also is the symbol of “life”, “resistance”, “growth” and “incarnation”. In central Iran, women used to hang their tresses on the tree and believed that as the tree grows and the blooms flourish, the one they lost will be brought back.
For me, the tree of locks of hair represents our women’s struggle for their own being, spirit and life which have been taken away from them. The tresses grieve for the loss of Iranian women’s freedom and the tree stands for their resistance and their strong hope for the future of their struggle.
Omid Shams

The performance was a protest against hiding and eliminating the women’s individual and real identity in both capitalistic and religious societies. A woman sitting passively on a chair was gradually covered with a black fabric and the fabric itself was covered by the pictures of supermodels,female TV stars, advertising pictures of women and ideological pictures of women. Here is the statement for the performance:

What is the meaning of being a woman? Why are we so obsessed with defining femininity, while it seems there is no need to define masculinity? Ideologies, economies, politics, cultures, and religions, they are all trying to confiscate the women’s body and turn it into a battleground, an advertisement spot, a political banner, an artistic statue, and a cultural or religious shrine. There is unique being that lies underneath of all these labels. Who is she? Which one of these images is her real, her own image?

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Performance at the opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Performance at the opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Performance at the opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Performance at the opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Vild Med Ord festival, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Vild Med Ord festival, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Performance at the opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Performance at the opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Performance at the opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark-  Parissa Jamali

Performance at the opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Parissa Jamali

Performance at the opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Performance at the opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Performance at the opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Performance at the opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

The Locks of hair we collected from more that fifty Iranian women- Tree of Locks of Hair

The Locks of hair we collected from more that fifty Iranian women- Tree of Locks of Hair

Tree of Locks  of Hair at workshop- Parissa Jamali

Tree of Locks of Hair at workshop- Parissa Jamali

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Performance at the opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Performance at the opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Tree of Locks  of Hair at workshop

Tree of Locks of Hair at workshop

Tree of Locks  of Hair at workshop

Tree of Locks of Hair at workshop

Tree of Locks  of Hair at workshop- Omid Shams

Tree of Locks of Hair at workshop- Omid Shams

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

The opening ceremony of Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Tree of Locks of Hair at Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark- Omid Shams- Parissa Jamali

Our Father Prayer: A Poem

“This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come,

your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.“, Bible, Matthew 6:9

 

Our Father Prayer

Our hollow Father who is in the holy hypermarkets

Who is in the sacred banks

Who is in the sanctified arm factories

Who is in the heavenly presidential palaces

Who is in the saintly police stations

Who is in the messianic departments of defense

Who is in the divine stock markets

Who is in the faithful heart of every single riot police, field marshal, intelligence chief, national guard cardinal, Rabi, and Ayatollah.

McDonald is your name

Coca Cola is your name

Goldman Sachs is your name

Morgan Stanley is your name

Lockheed Martin is your name

Raytheon is your name

Starbucks is your name

BP is your name

G20 is your name

WTO is your name

WCO is your name

WHP is your name

WFG is your name

IMF is your name

IMI is your name

IAI is your name

IWI is your name

Enhanced interrogation techniques is your name

Simulated drowning is your name

Solitary confinement is your name

Sleep deprivation is your name

Human branding is your name

Kneecapping is your name

Keelhauling is your name

Scaphism is your name

Nail extraction is your name

Hypothermia is your name

Strappado is your name

American controlled fear is your name

Chinese water torture is your name

Iranian reverse hanging is your name

Our loving Father

CIA is his Archangel

NSA is his Archangel

MI6 is his Archangel

RGC is his Archangel

ISI is his Archangel

DCRI is his Archangel

BND is his Archangel

MOIS is his Archangel

Mossad is his Archangel

Shin Bet is his Archangel

Aman is his Archangel

AISI is his Archangel

AISE is his Archangel

And his kingdom comes

For the lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command,

With the voice and eyes and ears of his archangels,

With the sound of the trumpet of God,

With two hundred tons of napalm,

With sixteen hundred tons of white phosphorous

With four hundred tons of dens inert metal explosives

With eleven thousand air strikes in a week

With two hundred thousand gallons of Sarin gas

With seven thousand hypersonic missiles

With nine thousand flechette shells

With fifteen hundred deadly drones

His kingdom comes

And the dead will rise

 And his will be done

In Gaza as it was In Vietnam

In Afghanistan as it was In Chile

In Iraq as it was In Yugoslavia

The dead will rise

and pours out his blood into the sky

Here is your lamb at your feet.

This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between hellfire missile and human body, drink it.

It is poured out as a sacrifice to forget the sins of many.

This is my body which is given for you, it is dismembered as a background to support your peace speeches, eat it.

For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.

Our deadly Father

seated on an empyreal throne

Surrounded by his Arch agents

Sends us ISIS

Sends us Al Qaeda

Sends us Buku Haram

Sends Al Shabab

And blesses us all with holy war on terror.

O’Father

Give us porn to feed our cocks

Gives us veil to disappear our women

Give us Fox News to keep our faith

Let us see the JLO’s ass

Lets us vote for our favorite butchers

Let us march through the streets for May day

Let us wear a Marxist t-shirt and drink 40$ cup of coffee in Broadway and dream of revolution

Let us stop the war from our living rooms through facebook while we’re watching Pornhub

Let us give flowers to cops while they’re reloading their M4s

Let us know you are deeply concerned by genocide in South Sudan so you send George Clooney to fix everything.

And you are deeply concerned by Michael Brown murdered by police so you send National Guard with tanks to give them your condolences.

And you are deeply concerned by civilians killed in Gaza so you ask them to dodge the bombs.

And you are deeply concerned by Human Rights violation in Europe so you rape 16 prisoner in Kahrizak to teach them manners.

And you are deeply concerned by cracking down the Green Movement in Iran so you caress the Wall Street occupiers with pepper spray.

And you are deeply concerned by hunger in India so you waste 133 billion pounds of food each year

And you are deeply concerned by  Taliban’s brutality in Afghanistan so you send your drones there and leave behind 2400 civilians dead

 And the dead will rise

and pours out his blood into the sky

Here is your lamb at your feet.

This is my blood, drink it.

This is my body, eat it.

For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.

 My name is Suana

And I fear

I walk in Tehran and I fear for I am a woman

I walk in Berlin and I fear for I am a black head

I walk in Gaza and I fear for I am an Arab

I walk in Rome and I fear for I am an Anarchist

I walk in Kobane and I fear for I am a Kurd

I walk in Kabul and I fear for I am a human

I walk in New York and I fear for I am nothing

O’ Father

I should have killed you when I had a chance

I should have killed you in Paris Commune 1871

I should have killed you in Moscow October 1971

I should have killed you in Spain 1936

I should have killed you in Reggio Emilia 1945

I should have killed you in Paris 1968

I should have killed you in Turin Hot Autumn 1969

I should have killed you in Tehran 1979

I should have killed you in Cape Town 1994

I should have killed you in Seattle 1999

I should have killed you in Tunis 2010

I should have killed you in Cairo 2011

And I should kill you in Syria

And I should kill you in Iraq

And I should kill you right now

O Father,

Your scary blue hands block our way

And you pick up our haggard hurt lives from the branches of your garden

one by one ten by ten thousand by thousand

Oh those yellow petals and red flowers of men

And I saw death, an un-bloomed blossom, and I picked it from the sky of regret.

And I saw the sun, the happiness of thousand deranged scallops, and I kissed it from the farthest horizons

Oh fairies of forest, fairies of moon

Fairies asleep on no trees of no Hindu temples of no continent

The shivering crystal of times of the past grows there

By the Armando river

Where everyone who had a love lost it

And I drink the sky still like a desire for morning scent in early childhood

And I swim love always like a dripping wet blade among the Emily Dickenson’s horses which fall forever.

Fairies of earth, fairies of water

There shine all the sorrows of my people

There, by the Aral sea

Wind has taken my dreams

Winter has heard my wishes

My name is Suana

I pray and I fear.

I pray and I fear.

I pray and I fear.