Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Humiliated Mind !

On Life:

Couple of years ago, no, it was exactly 7 years ago, I was in one of Abbas Abdi’s speeches in one of the Teacher’s colleges in Tehran: he, who at the time was a well-known reformist, explained Iran’s political situation on the issue of socio-political reform by giving a very interesting and funny example. He said: “our situation is like this: we, the reformists, are trying to play chess with an opponent who is a boxer and knows nothing about chess and is using his fist instead of his mind to win.” He continued: “Our religious conservatives are boxing with us on a chess board.”

All this came to my mind when I was listening to NPR’s Day to Day (November 5th) report on a new sport called Chess-boxing. In this sport the athletes swap between six rounds of chess and five rounds of boxing, and can win in the ring or by checkmating their opponent on the chess board. An American finalist of the Word Chess-boxing Championship in Berlin who lives in San Francisco was also interviewed on the program.*

The apparent irony between my memories of Abdi’s speech and the NPR’s report aside, perhaps one should inform Abbas Abdi and the other reformists about these new athletic strategies, particularly when the match is against the newly born fundamentalist government. The crucial point is that the reformists should be cognizant of their limits. While they are wasting most of their efforts on whom among them should get the high chair after the most probable war, their opponents are working on both their chess and boxing skills to become the champion of their populistic agenda and win every battle within the country. As we know it is not them, fundamentalists, who pay and suffer from the crisis of a war.

A Self-reminder Note:
And so the real reform should start from within: when Iran’s most noticeable reformists cannot put aside their differences and get together with other social, political an intellectual groups inside the country the loss in every stage becomes inevitable.

Who are these others whom everyone ignores? These are the large group of hardworking and educated social and political activists who, in more than 2 decades, have been the main target of the regime’s violence, whose rights have been denied as unwanted apostate and second-rate citizens. These are people who, in the best case, have been pushed aside both by the regime and the reformists. Here I should emphasize that many of today’s reformists were Islamic revolutionaries/conservatives in the beginning of the Islamic republic. This is what reform really means: a gradual change; but shouldn’t this change be a responsible one? Responsible means make a mistake, but for God’s sake don’t repeat the same one. Responsible means be tolerant and not ignorant of others who work on the same front as you do.

And on Art but connected to Life :

Here are the first sentences of André Breton’s article, “Originality & Freedom”, published in the journal Art in Australia (1941-42):

“Human thought today is greatly humiliated. The book of history has opened wide before our eyes, and with a rapidity, which we can scarcely comprehend; its white pages are being filled with frenzied writing. Suddenly all of those past events which we had been accustomed to consider purely from a speculative of theoretical standpoint, such as wars, religious conflicts, crises in government and the rise and fall of culture – all that which up to the present had been for us a beautiful but dim and misty revelation of the heroic past – has now become for us a living actuality, a poignant presence incorporated in our beings”

Just keep in mind that this publication was dated two years after the Second World War began in Europe. To our misfortune André Breton’s criticism is still valid today. Today also human intelligence is under a rapid humiliation. Indeed, our beings relive what is not too far away to be called history but nonetheless it is the past. Once again our conscious is failing to learn from its mistakes.

The Thinker (Le Penseur), Auguste Rodin, 1902-04
designed was based on Dante's Devine Comedy for the Gate of Hell
I took the photo in an exhibition in Istanbul,
June 2005


Helaleh said...

Tameshk jan,

Enjoyed your writing so much, and hope to see you soon again!

ا. ش said...

آن چه در باب اندیشه و هنر و موقعیت فکری بشر امروز می گویی تمشک عزیز قابل تامل است. دقیقاً چنین نگاهی را می توان در نوشته های کسانی چون مالرو در ضد خاطرات و ارُول در کاتالونیا درست در کوران جنگ دوم جهانی یا اندکی پس از آن و کسانی نظیر ساراماگو (کوری و بینایی) در دهه های اخیر جستجو کرد. به جز اندکی افراد، نگاه عموم اندیشمندان امروز به حوزه ی سیاست است، چیزی که در نوشته ی شما نیز (و برخی نوشته های پیشین) بار آن را به وضوح می توان احساس کرد. اما این همه ی واقعیت نیست! آن ذهنیت و اندیشه ی پست و تحقیر شده ای که شما از آن یاد می کنید ریشه های عمیقی دارد که علاج را در پرداختن به حوزه های فکری بنیادی تری از این نگاه سیاسی غالب امروز اقتضاء می کند. در دنیای امروز نگاه انسان روشنفکر بیش از پیش از مقوله ی فرهنگ دور و بر عرصه ی سیاست متمرکز شده است و هرچه این نگاه بیشتر در این عرصه متمرکز شود، سطحی گرایی افزون تری را نیز دامن خواهد زد.ء

Tameshk said...

Dear Helaleh

Thanks for your comment. I am looking forward to see you in Thanksgiving holidays.

Dear A. Sh.

Thanks for your insightful comment, which brought up these questions:
- why do we see everything that is related in anyway to the social, cultural and more over philosophical issues as a Political View. - Why do we consider any political reading as a shallow approach toward the subject matter?