Welcome to the chapel of peril
The struggle that is life cannot be stopped in the name of peace
March 13, 2003
Dear Najmeh Fakhraie,
Thank you very much for your article in the Iranian.com [What
if heroes become villains?]. Good luck on your constructions for school. And
regarding the "stupidity" you bring up in your article, the chair of my
department has written a book on it: ("Stupidity" - Avital Ronell.) Sometimes
it turns tediously technical, but I think you would like it.
I enjoyed your writing very much. Reading and even writing it, or about it, around
it. The references you make in your article were very helpful for me to attempt to
reconstruct the world in which you find yourself, the place from whence you write,
and to rebuild the image of it in some "understanding." Not simply "I
understand," but rather "I understand while understanding, and somehow
fail at it."
The latter reminds me of the ground beneath this "understanding," - that
is the thing under which one stands or grounds oneself. Understanding something,
or standing under the weight of something, has to do with carrying a weight, being
under it. You mention having been bombed, but say that the pigs are not recognizable
from the other farmers. You ask: "What if they end up as the villains, like
the last scene from Animal Farm, where men and animals could no longer be distinguished?"
Pigs maybe standing on two legs and playing poker, but pigs are not humans; muddling
the differences too easily is not a necessity for understanding.
Understanding the whole reason, "the ground beneath her feet," making one's
way through the underworld whence Orpheus tries to bring back his lover and fails
at the last moment, (while hope goes on,) is where the story of Ormus (read Ahura
Mazda), Vina, and Omeed take place. Already on shaky grounds, we now find ourselves
in a Salman Rushdie novel: and get that straight: na Suleiman, ... Salman.
Differences and undecidabilities are the aporias through which we have to wonder,
not by easily synthesizing opposites, but nevertheless by making a choice. Please
excuse my long-windedness. I actually wanted to talk about your latest article.
I don't know Latin, but your quote was very powerful because it made me think that
I don't know Latin, - but somehow we all do. The Romans had a great civilization;
they were the rivals of the Sassanian of Iranshahr. I likes it. The hope to which
you give expression in the English poem however: "if only the new generation
would remember the mistakes of the old. But the fact that it never does seems like
a law of nature," - a rather melancholy despair in an incomplete "if/then"
construction leading to a "law of nature," - represents the sign of the
Talk of humanity and discussions on morality are even tiresome (and more than most
so) to those who conduct them, and force is to be detected in any argument trying
to set down a law or enforce it. I am in all honesty not interested in the news or
the ever ready possibility of soldiers killing innocents by mistake, but rather that
the Araagh, "the lowlands," be made great. This latter is only possible
if the people of Araagh are great.
The responsibility is paradoxically on the shoulder of those who are chained to free
themselves, and this freeing never takes place in any predictable, or scientifically
provable, or statistically detectable fashion, and in actuality moves in mysterious
ways. I am not sure that this war will bring that about, but I do recognize that
the struggle that is life cannot be stopped in the name of peace, whether this peace
is a peace of mind, peace around the world, or resting in peace -- or maybe it is
after all a peace in surrendering (a perfect colonialist dogma): Islam.
In any case, the reason oppressive regimes are there is because people bring them
about, and blame another for it. And this almost always while hoping for peace, freedom,
democracy, reformation, and all the other bestest stuff on earth.
Really, there are no grounds, and yet there are. We make choices, and none of our
choices can stop Time (Being.) The hope that at some point a solid ground will appear
is but one of the delusions we seem to need in order to go on, as it insures at the
same time, the continuation of the operation of the happy positivists (+). It is
therefore, that as you make your way across the campus in daze, I would like to welcome
you to the chapel of peril. And yet we have to make choices in order to go on.
Saddam and Baath just like the Mullahs and Hezbollah (or the new and
funky, stylized and shaved, "eslah"-karde or shode, the reformationists)
are a group of people who have usurped power and have in many ways no "ground"
in the countries or the Zeitgeist of their people. But again, there is no unground.
No underground, no over-ground. And of course they have ground; they even have ground-troops.
And this is by no means a phenomenon just for the Arab or the Ajam; it is the case
all over the planet and has always been thus. And still we make cuts and decide.
And all cuts are painful to make, even for a cut-up exile, and a caught inner-immigrant.
But speaking of the underground and the sub-way: it is imported from China; crashing
planes from Russia, failed intellectuals from France.
"Perhaps I will read this in two years and laugh at my own stupidity. Remembering
previous experiences that is quite possible. But still, for those of us who strongly
oppose the war, luckily there's still some good in the world -- France and Russia
are examples, even though Saddam has given them lucrative oil deals."
But one last thing about "the good" in the
world that you talk about, which is rather comically impersonated in your writing
by the proper-names "Russia" and "France," and in relation to
your linking of that to your "stupidity," I must say that I don't think
this is "stupidity" at all. Come on, you know it isn't either. The good
makes for half of that which the evil (whether it is Bushy Bush-Bush, or Mullah Omar)
completes. As long as you have the good, you also have the evil. But I hope that
in a few years you will, nevertheless and no matter what happens, be laughing. And
I hope you are laughing now despite the cold.
As you walk across the campus in a sort of dreamy contemplation about the nature
of man lamenting that human beings don't learn from their mistakes, it might be possible
to say you "strongly oppose the war" (above), even if you do not know what
you are saying: "Am I for this war? I do not know the answer."
I have to get back to my own work as well. Again, thank you.
Does this article have spelling or other mistakes? Tell
me to fix it.