Abdelkader Filali : Ph.D. Politics/Security Ottawa University
“ In the beginning was the world and the world was with God, and the world was God”, and in the beginning was the “40 Nuclear”. The doomsday documents, the mother of all evils that triggered high alert within the security services somewhere in the northern hemisphere. The plotters were duly apprehended. Inquiries were initiated to lay the hands on what was probably going to be an apocalyptic scheme that was about to launch the collapse of western civilization, as we know it.
Let’s all hold our horses. Before anyone jumps into nightmarish conclusions, it is a question here of a translation error of a very well known book in the Arab Muslim hadith literature whose culture is no one else but Sheikh Abu ZakariaIbnSharaf alNawawi, known as Sheikh Nawawiliteral translation “ the r Sheikh who made the effort gathering 40 haddiths (narration of sayings, events, situations, behaviors of the prophet Mohammed) and called it after his name the “40 Nawawi” literal translation “40 Nuclear”.
Echo of Orientalism
The above stated anecdote that some say it is based on true story is nothing but another simplification of what Edward Said wrote in his renowned book “Orientalism”. A gigantic apparatus of thinking based on shallow reports, investigations, and so called academic theses that do not even scratch the surface when it comes to being willing to know the “other”.
Volumes after volumes, and accounts upon accounts have furnished the western collective system of beliefs in its relation with the unknown about which the least one can say is that it is marked by poverty of imagination. The Oriental “other” is portrayed in the form of caricature coming straight from one thousand one Arabian night where every household has a harem and a sultan submerged by earthly pleasures making it hard to differentiate him from a beast whose reigns are in the hands untamed, instincts or a tableau from Victor Hugo’s “ Les Orientales” where the Turks were contrasted to the civilized freedom loving modern Greeks. What is referred to as logo centrism is nothing but another form of linguistic Autism where the self is the centered and the “other” who ever the “other” might be is at the periphery.The images, the stereotypes, the misconceptions have created a condition where the individual is utterly bound to the image that he or she has of themselves as individual entities within a collective apparatus that negate the humanity of whom ever is outside the center.
Said cites the example of John Stuart Mill who “made it clear in On Liberty and Representative Government that his views there could not be applied to India because the Indians were civilizationally, if not racially, inferior.” If Mill cannot be applied to the Indians by virtue of their inferiority, then why can we apply a Hobbesian state of nature to the Indians? Would the experience of a state of nature, if at all there ever existed this historical antecedent, have been different for Indians than it was for European civilization, assuming that European civilization had not yet contacted the Indus valley civilization? Where once such theories, ideas, and ideals were erstwhile too good, too thoughtful for the Indian, now they are applied to the Indian a priori. That is, where the Indian was once seen as too primitive to enjoy the high loft of liberty. Of course, this is not a good example because Mill was writing in a completely different time, where it was intellectually acceptable to see the Indian as inferior.
The western logo centrism
The above mentioned examples from Edward Said’s “Orientalism” highlights the centrality of language in creating an almost intrinsic relationship between the perceived and who conducts the act of perceiving. Words resonate within the western collective psyche, creating panoply of images that in their turn shape the understanding and subsequently the mechanisms based on which the “other” is represented. A robot-portrait which in its mechanical glacial process strips human entities from that which makes them humans, contenting itself with a skeleton whose flesh is nothing but stereotypes upon stereotypes.
Language shaped the collective imagination of the west where reality cannot exist outside of the syntactic and semantic boundaries erected by what the Greeks refers to as the logos every utterance, every notion and relationship that it has with the utterances and notions govern the manner through which the world is perceived.
The Autistic Mapping
This condition have entailed the emergence of a structure that despises chaos and disorder, nothing is to be left as uncategorized, and non classified or without label: for to control is to know and to know necessarily presupposes a tedious process of putting things together even if these things do not make sense if they are put together. Let’s take the Middle East as an example. A geographic notion that bears tons of images, history, cultures, politics of a multitude of people, nations that if put in the same basket will sometime constitute a heterogeneous mix that bears absolutely no relation with these nations and these people considered individually. Are we witnessing the death of history?
End of history and the first man
History is dead. This statement should be taken for what it is, bare bone, without any Barthian mythologies, or Foucauldian genealogical “concepts”; not even with any “Derriddiandifferrance “. History is dead, period. One wishes one could say that it is a purely natural statement upon which the claws of history break.
This statement has for sure, nothing to do with what has come to the front by one of the theorists of the old new thinking apparatus. It is question here of the actual death of history, that has been laid in its casket in the darkness of a wintery night, and where the only witnesses were the ones who have confiscated its agency to make of it a puppet, and they the puppeteers. They are called first men.
This would be bitter to swallow for Hegel and Marx, and push hair onto Foucault’s bald head. The story begins with the time when this creature (history) was the subject of numerous poems of praise; volumes and volumes portraying its sublime beauty, and infinite power.
In one of these “poems”, Hegel, and in a moment of glorious euphoria, saw in Bonaparte when invading Prussia, history on horseback. That, right there, was the apogee of the idolization of the concept. An idolization that went from a mere” metaphor”, to the highest level of sanctification. The French revolution at that time, even though it was purely French, it represented ideals for which humanity had been yearning. And thus spoke Hegel, and thus started an epic that would last for centuries.
It was too good to be true. The horseman became a tyrant, thirsty for expansion, thirsty for confiscating the freedom of which he was the symbol under the Hegelian historical terms. Bonaparte slaughtered every ideal that was personified in him, and every single gleam of light of which he was the igniter.
Symbols and anthems of fraternity, solidarity changed into synonymous of despair and oppression. At that time Hegel should realize that that history is dead, or at least its life span would not last long. How could a father disgrace his son? And how could Marx argue against, he was the one that history is grown around his shoulders. Foucault thought he had deciphered the secret of history while understanding history as ruptures and building blocks. He modeled and changed mode of thinking of history and broke the old idles of horizontality and continuity. He did not realize that that the structure he fought against and infiltrate inside it has accumulated immunity and became self-accommodating of such thought and used it for its continuity and survival. Ruptures and building blocks became excuses for new discourse, new world orders, and new millenniums. History is found dead and Kalahari eagles, which shake its skeleton convincing everybody that this is history, have devoured its flesh. . This is history and who ever confront it are really confronting Bonaparte and his horse and stand as an obstacle on the road of the first man.
Academia is no exception with what has been mentioned earlier in its endeavorto shade what it perceives itself to be the posterity of remains unequivocally tied to the line of thinking from the early Greeks to the post posties.
What is fascinating is that academia from the periphery cannot help it but an almost identical copy of the center when it comes to portraying itself the post posties of the center in a way that dictate the music to which to post posties of the periphery have to dance to.