Creative Radicalism in the Middle East: Culture and the Arab Left after the Uprisings 9781838601164, 9781838601522, 9781838601195, 9781838601171

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Creative Radicalism in the Middle East: Culture and the Arab Left after the Uprisings
 9781838601164, 9781838601522, 9781838601195, 9781838601171

Table of contents :
Half-Title
Dedication
Title
Contents
Acknowledgements
Introduction: From radical distrust to the darwish avant-garde
1 Politics as theatre in Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition
2 Discourses of authenticity and poetic good faith: Algeria, Israel and Syria
3 From hegemonic interpellations to revolutionary signs or amāra
4 Chronic disappointment, humiliation and pariah elitism in the Arab novel
5 Cults of pride and cultures of right-wing populism
6 The poetics of karāmah or why the Egyptian revolution was a poem
7 Figuring the sacred in martyr art
8 Equine messianism in Palestinian literature and art
Concluding remarks: Adab and iqtibās
Notes
Work cited
Index
Copyright

Citation preview

Creative Radicalism in the Middle East

For Felicity Rooney

Creative Radicalism in the Middle East Culture and the Arab Left after the Uprisings

Caroline Rooney

Contents

Acknowledgements Introduction: From radical distrust to the darwish avant-garde 1 Politics as theatre in Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition 2 Discourses of authenticity and poetic good faith: Algeria, Israel and Syria 3 From hegemonic interpellations to revolutionary signs or amāra 4 Chronic disappointment, humiliation and pariah elitism in the Arab novel 5 Cults of pride and cultures of right-wing populism 6 The poetics of karāmah or why the Egyptian revolution was a poem 7 Figuring the sacred in martyr art 8 Equine messianism in Palestinian literature and art Concluding remarks: Adab and iqtibās Notes Work cited Index

Acknowledgements

If this book has a starting point, it is when two PhD candidates approached me some years ago to work on North African literature and culture. Up until then, my research had been on liberation struggles in sub-Saharan Africa and so the journey I came to take with these two graduate students set me on a trajectory that led eventually to my encounters with the Arab Spring and beyond. A thousand thanks and more to Maggie Awadalla and Anastasia Valassopoulos for introducing me to their worlds and for extending my horizons in so many stimulating and enabling ways. A seminal event for the research towards this book was the ‘Egypt at the Crossroads’ conference at Cairo University in 2008. I am deeply grateful to Ayman El-Desouky for inviting me to join a panel with him and Stephen Quirke at this event where our particular crossroads entailed a discussion of the continuing significance of Egyptian notions of justice, the ethics of collective solidarity and the alignment of the intellectual with the people. The discussion that was started that day reverberates through the pages of this book. I am further indebted to the many profound conversations I have been fortunate to have had with Ayman El-Desouky over the years, at SOAS, at the Doha Institute and beyond. The North Africa that I discovered in the post 9/11 period was very different from the dominant Western depictions of the Arab world that at that time focused on either authoritarian governments or Islamic terrorism. It was this that prompted me to set up a grant programme entitled ‘Radical Distrust’ that was enabled by a Global Uncertainties fellowship awarded by the ESRC in 2009, by means of which I conducted a cultural analysis of the emotional, psychological and linguistic differences between creative radicalism and extremism in the run up to the Arab Spring. This programme began with research on youth and transnational popular culture in collaboration with my then PhD student Blake Brandes, a talented and committed hip-hop artist whose inspiration I am most grateful for. Blake Brandes and I co-edited a special issue of Wasafiri on Global Youth Cultures, with the invaluable help of Sharmilla Beezmohun and Nisha Obano. Blake Brandes and I also further collaborated with Baba Brinkman and Dizraeli in mounting their show ‘The Rebel Cell’, a hip-hop opera on radical youth views, at El Sawy Culturewheel in Cairo in 2010. My thanks to all involved for making this happen as well as to Julia Race and Cathy Costain from the British Council who supported me over the course of this project and related ones. I am grateful to my research associate Nazneen Ahmed for helping to set up the visits of youth from the Middle East, and to Anna Ball and Dalia Mostafa for kindly helping to host these. I thank Pascale Bou Rached and Leen Khaddour for their bold and illuminating participation in this project. I further thank Nazneen Ahmed for her initiatives in mounting ‘Face to Face: Visual Cultures and Radical Distrust’ at the October Gallery in 2012, and also

further thank Anna Ball and Dalia Mostafa for ongoing dialogues on the postcolonial Middle East. The fieldwork that I undertook in Cairo from the autumn of 2009 to the spring of 2010 entailed interviews with Egyptian writers and a collaboration with Cairo University to mount a workshop. I am grateful to novelist Sahar El Mougy for the insights she gave me into contemporary Egyptian culture and politics when I interviewed her and for her generosity in putting me in touch with other Egyptian writers, including Ahmed Alaidy, Khaled Al Khamissi, Rehab Bassam and Bahaa Taher, to whom I’m grateful in turn for the illuminations they afforded me. Yet more thanks to Ahmed Alaidy for welcoming me into the creative revolutionary hub of Merit’s, an unforgettable experience, and to Ferial Gazhoul for introducing me to Makan. My warm thanks to Nadia El Kholy for hosting the ‘Egyptian Literary Culture and Modernity’ workshop at Cairo University, as well as for later interconnections. Across the time I spent in Egypt there were many signs that revolution was in the air from regular demonstrations to observations made in the course of my interviews (a collation of which appear on the ‘Imagining the Common Ground’ website). Even so when the uprisings began in the squares of Tunisia and Egypt, they felt quite miraculous. I wish to thank all the revolutionaries for all that they conveyed to so many of us, something that this book hopes to contribute to the transmission of. My deeply appreciative thanks to Walid El Hamamsy and Mounira Soliman for bringing the Egyptian street culture from Cairo to Canterbury so vividly over the ‘Days of Rage’ conference we co-mounted at the University of Kent in January 2012. I would like to thank Walid El Hamamsy and Mounira Soliman more widely for ongoing cultural exchanges, and to thank Walid El Hamamsy and Randa Aboubakr for their collaboration on the ‘Geographies of Negligence’ workshop at the British Council in Cairo in 2014. The Global Uncertainties fellowship that launched the above was followed by a GU Leadership Fellowship I was fortunate to be awarded in 2015 under what is now the Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security (funded by the ESRC and AHRC). This new research programme was entitled ‘Imagining the Common Ground’ and its aim was to explore how culture and the arts bridge divides in civil society. The programme began with a workshop co-mounted with the appreciated help of my research associate Rita Sakr and hosted by May Maalouf at the Lebanese University, which led to the making of a documentary film, White Flags. I’m very grateful to Amal Makarem, Chawki Azouri, Jeanine Jalkh, Raouf Rifai and Aurélien Zouki for participating in this film so engagingly and for sharing their depth of wisdom. I am further enthusiastically grateful to Johnny Hchaime for his work on the film, and to the Media Trust, especially Wendy Pearce, Ben Chappell, Loubna Turjuman and Ximena Alvarez Maschio, for all their support over the years. I am grateful to all those who have facilitated screenings of the film, and especially grateful to Bahriye Kemal for arranging a screening with the World Poetry Day readings at H4C in Nicosia. I also appreciate Bahriye Kemal’s wider engagement with the research. The ‘Imagining the Common Ground’ programme also included research on the Israel–

Palestine conflict. I am much indebted to filmmaker Mai Masri, whose magnificent work has been an inspiration for my research, for generously sharing her insights into the prisoner dynamics of the conflict and for including me in research on child prisoners through fieldwork in the West Bank. This research was the seed of a theatre production that I went on to instigate with the collaboration of Zoe Lafferty and Omar El-Khairy and that was staged under the title of The Keepers of Infinite Space by the Park Theatre in London in 2013. This in turn led to my much-valued collaboration with gifted photojournalist William Parry of Pressure Cooker Arts on the documentary Breaking the Generations: Palestinian Prisoners and Medical Rights. A further research grant that has benefitted this book is ‘Egypt’s Living Heritage: Community Engagement Through Creating the Past’, a Newton-Mosharafa grant that I held with Mostafa Gad and Fekri Hassan in 2016. My deep t hanks to both fellow investigators, as well as to Ahlam Rizk, for guiding me through the streets, alleyways and communities of Islamic Cairo. I am grateful to the ICA and Astrid Korporaal for hosting the symposium ‘Utopian Realism: The Poetics and Politics of Hope’ and to the ICA and to Matt Williams for the chance to be a consultant on the Masāfāt Festival in London and Cairo in 2016. The ESRC and AHRC have not only given me the life-transformative chance to mount the above programmes but they have been very supportive in bringing those of us on various schemes together in various contexts. I am especially grateful to the following for the support of my work: Tristram Riley-Smith, Hilary Footitt and Stephen Burman. A few segments of some of the chapters in this book have appeared elsewhere. The discussion of Kant and Qutb in the Introduction draws on a related discussion in John Wolffe’s PaCCS report Religion, Security and Global Uncertainties. The second chapter begins with a compressed version of ‘Against the Corruption of Language: The Poetry of Chenjerai Hove’ in Versions of Zimbabwe: New Approaches to Literature and Culture, edited by Ranka Primorac and Robert Muponde (Weaver Press 2005). The fourth chapter partly draws on my article ‘The Disappointed of the Earth’ (2009) in Psychoanalysis and History 11 (2). I’m grateful to the editors of this earlier published work that has been re-worked in this book. My thanks to Omar Robert Hamilton and Sherief Gaber of Mosireen media collective for the photograph that appears in Chapter 6 that first appeared in the Global Youth Cultures special issue of Wasafiri (2012). I’m grateful also for invitations to present my work in progress on many occasions. In particular, Chapter 1 was first presented as a special anniversary lecture at the Brussels School if International Studies; thanks to Maria Mälksoo and Helena Torres. Aspects of Chapter 6 were presented at a talk at the Doha Institute, with thanks to Eid Mohamed. Other graduate students whom I have worked with on Arab literature and culture and to whom I am grateful for such opportunities that are for myself learning experiences include Clemency Scofield, Hania Nashef, Jill Ridley, Filippo Menozzi, Tinashe Mushakavanhu, Declan Wiffen, Nora Scholtes, Azza Harass, Sophia Brown, Yasmin Radwan, Heba Abdelazziz and May Sahib. For other meaningful discussions and for feedback pertaining to the research of this book, I am particularly grateful to Atef Alshaer, Karima Laachir and

Lindsey Moore. I am also indebted to collaborations with the band Oxford Maqam, and am especially beholden to the brilliant Yara Salahideen and Tarek Beshir. Apart from those I have mentioned so far, colleagues, creatives and friends who have kindly contributed to the research, whether through participating in it or providing other forms of support for it, include Glenn Bowman, Elizabeth Cowie, Donna Landry, Jan Montefiore, Patrick Cockburn, Stephen Chan, Benita Parry, Anna Bernard, Ivan Ward, Ayman Al Kharrat, Felicity Allen, Sarah Turner, Alia’ Kawalit, Wafa’a Abdulaali, Amal Treacher Kabesh, Marilyn Booth, Ziad Elmarsafy, Selma Dabbagh, Jean Said Makdisi, Ghada Karmi, Rafeef Ziadah, Ahdaf Soueif, Ahmed Haddād, Mervat Abdelnasser, David Herd, Awatef Sheikh, Toufic Haddad, Sonja Mejcher-Atassi, Wendy Pullan, Lyn Innes, Matthew Whittle, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Jivan Astfalk, Adrian Rifkin, Lene Auestad and Raphaël Lefèvre, not to forget the managers and staff at the Cairo Mayfair. I would further like to register my warm gratitude for the support of Lucy Ellmann and Todd McEwan, for the fact is champagne sessions can be life savers. I am very grateful to the editors at Bloomsbury I.B. Tauris, especially Rory Gormley, Yasmin Garcha and Joseph Gautham for their guidance, support and professionalism, and to the anonymous reviewers for their endorsements of the project. Finally, Julia Borossa has accompanied me on this work every step of the way. She has been at times its adventurous co-investigator and throughout she has been the work’s most sought after and depended upon interlocutor. My endless and heartfelt thanks to Julia. With the Mavros family in mind and with my late father in mind, this book is dedicated to my mother with love for giving me my African beginnings and for giving me so much more besides.

Introduction From radical distrust to the darwish avant-garde The Arab uprisings pose the challenge of an epistemic rupture with the secular Enlightenment West in ways yet to be adequately recognized. This is a challenge that this book responds to through differentiating creative radicalism from the radicalization of extremism and through raising the question of whether the uprisings, in particular the Egyptian revolution, serve to recast – at least to an extent – what we understand by revolution. In order to approach the nature of the epistemic rupture at stake this introduction will first explore how radicalism and extremism have been conflated in the discourse of radicalization. It will do so through attending to how ideological justifications of the ‘war on terror’ strategically obscure the differences between left-wing resistance movements and far-right movements, thereby serving to justify the order of neoliberalism over the persistent threat of extremism. This will be theorized in terms of the structure and dynamics of what I term ‘doppelgänger politics’ or the politics of doubling. The duality under consideration differs from the binarism of Orientalism in that it is not one of self and objectified other but rather one of self and not-self, where the not-self is paradoxically posited as that which is definitively and elusively obscure: unrecognizable, occult, sinister and irresolvably threatening. While on a psychological level the neoliberal-extremist double serves as a configuration of paranoia and disavowal, this introduction will also suggest that the geopolitical formation that corresponds with this psychological configuration is that of the gated community. The gated or fortified community is of course distrustfully and fearfully predicated on its own security, defending its private privileges while disavowing the reality of others. In many ways the formation of the gated community is an irrational phenomenon: it privatizes the public; it segregates the communal; and it turns its freedom from care into a form of selfimprisonment. If the Arab uprisings constitute a historical moment of truth, as I think they do, this may be said to be because they unmask the deceptions of doppelgänger politics. Through bringing to the fore true community values, they expose the falseness of the values of the gated community. While the gated community markets itself as an earthly paradise, the uprisings serve to retrieve a far more authentic sense of the sacred. Furthermore, the aesthetics of neoliberalism are revealed to be tawdry and unimaginative in the light of the aesthetics of creative radicalism. The bling-bling ostentation, airbrushed prettification and sterile cloning of neoliberal utopianism are modes of self-expression that are very far from the modest, raw and inventively illuminating art of the uprisings. I will conclude this introduction with a

further consideration of revolutionary aesthetics once I have discussed the formations of what they stand to challenge. Jack Shenker in The Egyptians: A Radical Story argues that ‘Egypt’s revolution has been misunderstood, and a great deal of that misunderstanding has been deliberate’. (Shenker 2017, 2) Shenker further explains that the reason for this is to divest the revolution of its ‘radical potential’. Regarding this radical potential, Paul Mason maintains that the new revolutions break with ‘the mindset of the left in an era of defeat’, and he states: ‘Slavoj Žižek rejected the idea that ideology was “false consciousness”, arguing, effectively, that ideology is consciousness: it is impossible to escape the mental trap created by capitalism, because one’s life inside the system constantly recreates it’ (Mason 2012, 29). For Mason, the advent of revolution ended this cynical accommodation characteristic of the Western postmodernist era, although from Shenker’s perspective it is this cynicism that seeks to reassert itself through erasing the revolutionary realities. What I now wish to show is that part of what Shenker identifies as the deliberate misreading of the Egyptian Revolution entails the calculated attempt to conflate left-wing radicalism with extremism and thus discredit its values or more specifically its alignment with certain values.

Radical distrust: The discursive origins of the war on terror Some years before 9/11, it is possible to locate a discursive framework calling for a war on terror, one already carefully pre-established, all ready for use. I refer to a book of thirty-eight essays edited by Benjamin Netanyahu, written by a combination of American and Israeli politicians, leading journalists and senior academics. Entitled Terrorism: How the West Can Win, it first appeared in 1986, showing that prior to the discovery of Al Qaeda, there was a concerted desire to mobilize a war on terror where it is possibly Netanyahu who first coins this now familiar term (or Netanyahu at least puts forward the notion before it was adopted by the government of George Bush). Netanyahu writes: Why is the West the target of terrorism? Spiritually, its values are the direct antitheses of those of terrorism. [...] But it is not only the clash of its humanity with terrorism’s inhumanity that has made the West terrorism’s chief target. There is another reason. Terrorists and their supporters view the West as uniquely vulnerable to their attacks. [...] And they assume that the West’s humaneness and its emphasis on rule of law will inhibit a powerful response. In particular, they rely on deniability. [...] The West can and must defeat the forces of terror before they spread further. It must unite and fight to win the war against terrorism. (Netanyahu 1987, 5–6) First, what may be noted is that Netanyahu identifies the war on terror as a question of protecting spiritual values that are supposedly definitive of the West, where Israel is implicitly positioned as a Western not Middle Eastern nation. Second, what may be noted is that he poses this in terms of a simple clash between humanity and inhumanity. Netanyahu also explains in his introduction to the collection of essays that the essays do not offer

specific studies of historical terrorist cases, for he says that the intention of the book is primarily to establish the terrorist as a category; one might add that this concerns an ideological branding operation as a rallying cry for war. However, what actually was the international terrorist environment of the times that prompted Netanyahu’s concerns? In the 1980s, the years directly prior to the book’s appearance, the main instances of terrorism emerge as related to nationalist or micro-nationalist movements. There are terror attacks by the Irish Republican Army (IRA ), the African National Congress (ANC), the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Basques, various Armenian groups and the Tamil Tigers. However, the intention of Netanyahu’s book is not to consider and work to understand what these specific groups might be fighting for, but to categorically deny their legitimacy. Moreover, while America does not feature significantly as an object of attack, America is seen as needing to involve itself in actively intervening on a world stage because of its privileged self-identification with democracy. Ironically, Netanyahu makes the case, as quoted above, for upping the Western militancy stakes through maintaining that because democracies are tolerant they are vulnerable, so in order to protect their tolerant dispositions they must become militant and intolerant; or, in order to protect their humane qualities, they must become belligerent and risk inhumane means. It is basically ‘an ends justify the means’ argument. Given that, at the time the book was written, it was very unlikely that America was at risk from terrorist attacks by the above groups, the IRA, the ANC, the PLO, the Basques and so on, the idea that it should set itself up as a global bastion against terror clearly serves an ideological purpose. In particular, Netanyahu argues that the ‘two main antagonists of democracy’ are ‘communist totalitarianism and Islamic radicalism’ that he considers ‘have between them inspired virtually all of contemporary terrorism’ (1). He omits, therefore, a number of cases, noted above, as well as to specify any markedly right-wing terror such as attacks in America in 1983 by Gordon Khalil and by a white nationalist group called The Order or in 1986 an attack on an anti-racist organization in France (and so on). Netanyahu’s conflation of communism with Islamism is perverse given that Islamic fundamentalism and Islamism, conservative theocratic movements, are largely opposed to communism. The Muslim Brotherhood was opposed to Nasser’s socialism in Egypt, and the Islamism of today is influenced by Wahhabi Gulf capitalism. That Netanyahu yet seeks to align communism with Islamic extremism suggests he wants Americans to transfer their Cold War paranoia to Islam, particularly appealing to the American right, among whom he was educated. It is also, of course, that Netanyahu and his collaborators seek to legitimize their refusal to recognize the Palestinian liberation struggle through locating this struggle within the frameworks of a Western war on Islamic terror. In fact, the war on terror that the book seeks to instigate particularly and repeatedly targets the PLO and their Arab supporters, especially Libya, Iran, Syria and Lebanon, but also the Japanese Red Army which founded a magazine called Solidarity in English because of its support for Palestine. In the book, there are chapters on: ‘Islamic Terrorism?’ by Bernard Lewis, ‘Political Terrorism in the Muslim World’ by Elie Kedourie and ‘The Spread of

Islamic Terrorism’ by P. J. Vatikiotis. Let it be noted again that this predates Al Qaeda, which almost arises as interpolated into the role of the enemy. Even the PLO at the time did not present itself as constituting an Islamic group. While Terrorism: How the West Can Win is an exercise in demonizing Palestinians and their supporters, there is little reckoning with the Sabra and Shatila massacres of approximately 3,000 Palestinian refugees in 1982, as aided and overseen by the Israelis. Rather, one commentator in the book objects that these massacres gained front-page coverage by the international media at the expense of coverage of acts of terrorism that he considers should further be flagged up (Krauthammer 1987, 112). Unwittingly, this anxiety actually establishes a connection between the massacres in Lebanon and terrorism. In Netanyahu’s collection, state-backed terrorism is seen as more dangerous than individual acts of terrorism and Lebanon is pointed to as a state that backs terrorism with no consideration of how Lebanon has absorbed about a million Palestinian refugees expelled from their houses and lands by Israel. Since the book defines terrorism as politically motivated violence against innocent civilians, the mass murders of Sabra and Shatila – most of them carried out on women, children and the elderly of both genders, young male Palestinians being relatively absent from the camps – it would be hard not to see this in terms of terrorism backed by the Israeli state. The Sabra and Shatila massacres constituted a major blow to Israel’s image at both local and international levels (Rose 2011b, 15; Rooney and Sakr 2013d), opening Israel up to unprecedented critique. The fact that we see Netanyahu and fellow Israelis campaigning to get America to join its war on terror on the Palestinians shortly afterwards indicates how the West has to be recruited in order to shore up Israeli legitimacy: that is to say, Israel’s militant right-wing violence is afforded legitimacy through alliance with the American right. When 9/11 occurred, Osama bin Laden claimed that it was in response to the 1982 Israeli bombing of Beirut, and the terror of planes setting buildings on fire in Beirut was mirrored in the terror from the skies of 9/11. Describing the Russian revolution in terms of terrorism in his contribution to the collection, Alain Besançon states: ‘Behind this new doctrine there was a classical metaphysical, Manichean stand. This world is the theater of two forces engaged in deadly conflict – Evil and Good, Darkness and Light, Ignorance and Knowledge’ (44). What is very telling is that this stark dualism of spiritual values needing to militantly defend themselves against their opposite as supposedly characteristic of terrorism is the very logic of the analyses of terror as set out across Terrorism: How the West Can Win where terrorists are repeatedly described as inhuman (as ‘cancer’, 33; ‘killing machines’, 29) and as evil and sick, and where Netanyahu explicitly aligns himself with the spiritual and, as he says, compassionate forces of the world (226). The conflation of the left-wing radicalism of liberation movements with right-wing terrorism is a move that serves to disallow any position outside of neoliberal states in their fight against extremism. What this serves to effect is a neoliberal-extremist double, the dynamics of which I will go on to explicate.

Doppelgänger politics and the gated community fractal What I wish to suggest is that neoliberalism and extremism are caught up in what may be termed the dynamics of mirrored oppositionalism or mimetic rivalry. In order to explain this, I wish first to set out how neoliberalism entails a doppelgänger logic or logic of the double, one of a Jekyll-and-Hyde formation. In Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, we are presented with the classic configuration of the uncanny double where Dr Jekyll develops a second self, Hyde, who is not really a self as such so much as a shadowy ‘not self’, one that engenders in Jekyll the paranoid fear that Hyde is out to usurp his existence. This state of affairs arises paradoxically through Jekyll’s very will-to-singularity. He states: ‘I sa w that of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness […] I was radically both. […] If each, I told myself could be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that was unbearable’ ([1886] 2014, 44). Thus, it is through the very attempt to eradicate duality in order to claim a perfectly singular state of goodness that the double or state of duality arises in the form of ‘true self’ and what it abjects. Jekyll thus devotes himself to inventing a potion that enables him to separate his respectable self from his vile ‘not-self’, coming to alternate between the ascetic existence of Jekyll and the depraved pleasures of Hyde, said to be extremely ‘undignified’ and even ‘bestial’ (47). At stake in this is a bid for liberty on the part of each existence. Regarding Jekyll, his desire for liberty is the desire to be free from any responsibility for the wretched Hyde. As such, he is a bourgeois liberal individualist who does not wish to be bothered by any dependence of others on him. On the part of Hyde, the desire for liberty is to do just as he pleases without the compunctions of conscience. As regards neoliberalism, its Jekyll aspect is its hyper-individualism whereby individuals are positioned as responsible only for themselves, devoted to their self-betterment and free of any obligations to others who may be in a position of dependency. Put another way, while neoliberalism like colonialism imposes dependency it seeks to abrogate itself from its implication in this. In its Hyde aspect, neoliberalism entails giving free rein to antisocial behaviour driven by greed, predatory drives and sadism. Stevenson’s story enables us to see that these two bids for liberty are the two sides of the same coin, the former the mask of the latter. What I now wish to propose is that the emblematic form of neoliberalism is that of the gated community. Jekyll can himself be thought of as a gated community as he seeks to build a fortress around himself to isolate himself from the bestial existence of Hyde. In effect, Hyde would here be the slum. Mike Davis has written of how the development of mega-cities is accompanied by the proliferation of slums (Davis 2006). What I would add is that it is specifically the gated community fractal of capitalism that generates slums together with refugee camps. Like the figure of Jekyll, the gated community is that which purports to be self-sufficient: it supposedly has everything it needs within itself. As such, the gated community also pretends to be self-generating where, accordingly, the formal dynamic of the gated community is one of cloning: self-replication. Gated communities have the logic of

self-resemblance and the slums and camps that arise alongside them consist of those who are reduced to a parasitical existence precisely because they have been shut out of the selfreferential economy as those to whom nothing is owed and for whom there can be no responsibility. While the gated community is a global phenomenon, since the case of Israel’s war on terror has been introduced above, it can be pointed out that this is not just a matter of the defence of an outstanding instance of settler colonialism, considered as a surpassed remnant of previous political formations. In fact, the whole of Israel is like a gated community: not only are the settlements structured as gated communities, but Israel, with its maze of fortifications and omnipresent wall constructs itself as one big gated community (Rooney 2014). It’s a neoliberal structure of elitism where the Palestinians are not so much a classically colonized working class (in spite of a degree of this), but an unwanted people, a disowned community, whom the Zionists would like to absolve themselves of responsibility for. Jekyll speaks of his daydream of housing his chosen self and what it seeks to disavow in ‘separate entities’, the term apartheid meaning separateness. In addition, he refers to himself tellingly as a ‘city of refuge’ (50), the term Geneva adopts for itself. Of course, the Jews arrived in Israel largely as refugees seeking sanctuary from crimes against humanity. If Israel then becomes a gated community, this implies that the gated community constitutes the privatization of the refuge or sanctuary. What is quite striking is the implicitly racist discourse of Jekyll. At one point in his narrative, he sees himself transforming into Hyde when he looks down to see that his hand has turned into Hyde’s hand. He says that whereas Jekyll’s hand is ‘large, firm, white and comely’, Hyde’s hand is ‘lean, corded, knuckly, of a dusky pallor and thickly shaded with a swart growth of hair’ (48). Hyde is presented as being of a different race to the ‘white’ Jekyll, as well as probably of a different class, given that his hand appears both somewhat emaciated and muscular, not a pampered hand. Hyde is also repeatedly described as not really human. The figure of the double is one prominent in German Romanticism, and Otto Rank’s psychoanalytic study of the German literature of the double is an illuminating one (Rank [1925] 1989). Rank maintains that the figure of the double arises in the period of German Romanticism as an effect of secularism and the loss of religious faith. He argues that the Hyde side of the double constitutes a negation of the shadow-self or other self that occurs in earlier periods of literature. In this early literature, the self is accompanied by its immortal soul while in the Romantic period the soul is no longer believed to be a reality and thus the self’s shadowy accompaniment becomes merely its own death (as opposed to immortal being). Thus, what was once a harmonious duo of mortal self and immortal soul becomes a tormented double of a self-preserving ego and its ‘not self’ as harbinger of death. What I would add to this is that it is important to register the structure of inversion that is at stake. When the immortal soul is negatively inverted into the spectre of the self’s death, then the self tries to take over the immortal role as it struggles against and refuses its own mortality. What Rank delineates in terms of the death-haunted double, Foucault speaks of in terms of an analytic of finitude that he sees as giving rise to ‘man and his doubles’, the modern and

still ongoing epistemic formation of the empirico-transcendental doublet (Foucault 2002, 347). It is this doppelgänger episteme that in our times is one of the neoliberal-extremist or extremist-neoliberal and that the Arab Spring serves to overturn. What Said analyses in terms of Orientalism is largely a self-other dualism, while the figure of the double problematizes this for its structure arises, as argued, through a will-to-singularity that denies the selfhood of the other that is then but a vague, shadowy, unspeakable, terrifying threat: a question of how the Oriental other as object of knowledge has turned into the shady, unknowable terrorist (maintained as a persistently unpredictable source of menace). While in my analysis, neoliberalism has a doppelgänger structure, this is not only internal to it in that neoliberalism and terrorism have come to constitute a double on the historical stage. If the gated community tries to claim spiritual and ethical values for itself in its faki ng of worldly paradise, the category of the extremist or terrorist arises as a negative interpolation to deflect the guilt of the gated community’s own anti-sociality onto, for instance: ‘We neoliberals are not the anti-social and racist ones, the “not us” are.’ Those who take up the role of terrorist are caught within the Jekyll- and-Hyde structure (one of a rivalrous will-tosingularity) while attempting to return deathly projections to sender and to claim ownership of the spiritual in turn. In reality, however, there are no doppelgängers. It’s just a monstrous, gothic, paranoid fantasy even as it acts itself out through the violence of singularization and disavowal.

Kant, Qutb and Hayek: An incomplete atlas of revolutionary slogans The relatively recent discourse of ‘radicalization’ arises with the neoliberal conflation of radicalism with extremism. What is striking about this fairly recent invention of the term is that it deliberately alters the historical use of the term ‘radical’ in relation to movements fighting for enfranchisement, equality and freedom in such terms. Arun Kunandi writes: Since 2004, the term ‘radicalisation’ has become central to terrorism studies and counterterrorism policy-making. As US and European governments have focused on stemming ‘home-grown’ Islamist political violence, the concept of radicalisation has become the master signifier of the late ‘war on terror’ and provided a new lens through which to view Muslim minorities. The introduction of policies designed to ‘counter-radicalise’ has been accompanied by the emergence of a government-funded industry of advisers, analysts, scholars, entrepreneurs and self-appointed community representatives who claim that their knowledge of a theological or psychological radicalisation process enables them to propose interventions in Muslim communities to prevent extremism. (Kunandi 2012, 3) Just as Edward Said defines Orientalism as a career, ‘radicalization’ generates a discourse of expertise in the service of state power. However, added to this is the question of the extent to which there is a readily identifiable phenomenon to which the term refers. In his useful literature survey of radicalization research, Alex P. Schmid comments: ‘What is actually

meant by “radicalisation”? There is no universally accepted definition in academia or government. The concept of radicalisation is by no means as solid and clear as many seem to take for granted’ (Schmid 2013, 5). He concludes: ‘We have to admit that in the final analysis, “radicalisation” is not just a socio-psychological scientific concept but also a political construct, introduced into the public and academic debate mainly by national security establishments faced with political Islam in general and Salafist Jihadism in particular’ (19). The UK Home Office definition of radicalization put forward under the Prevent strategy is: ‘The process by which a person comes to support terrorism and extremist ideologies associated with terrorist groups.’ The UK government further defines extremism as ‘vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs’ (Revised Prevent 2015, 21). What though makes these values specifically British values, and how do they fundamentally fit with the British neoliberal agenda from Thatcher onwards? While debates on ‘religion and security’, in particular, tend to presume a broadly Western Enlightenment value system that has been placed under threat by regressive Islamist forces, it may surprise some that there is notable common ground between Kant’s anti-authoritarian definition of Enlightenment and that of Sayyid Qutb’s attempt to promote a radical form of Islam. Qutb (1906–66) was a member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood who was hanged for political subversion. His significance today lies in the influence of his writings on not only the Muslim Brotherhood but also on Al Qaeda. That there might be some connection between Kant – exemplar of the Western secular Enlightenment – and Al Qaeda seems unthinkable. But, as Kant says, audacious thinking is called for: sapere aude! (Kant 1996) In fact, it should be pointed out that Qutb is to be located in a much wider Arab debate concerning interpretations of tanwīr or enlightenment (including Abaza 2010, Cherkaoui 2016 and Kassab 2019). In his book Milestones, Qutb describes the secular and ‘ignorant’ or ‘unenlightened’ state of jāhiliyya as ‘one man’s lordship over another’, and he argues that Islam is concerned less with the defence or securitization of a belief system on the part of its adherents than with establishing itself as the key means to freedom of spirit through acknowledging the power of God as antithetical to the impositions of human master/slave relations (Qutb [1964] 2007, 11, 24, 26, 57, 70, 73, 75–6, 94–5). It is the case that for Qutb ‘free-spiritedness’ is inspired by God whereas for Kant it is more a case of intellectual freethinking. That said, both Kant and Qutb regard their different versions of freedom of spirit to be essential to human dignity as a universal goal. Kant concludes his ‘What is Enlightenment?’ essay by stating that ‘the calling and propensity to think freely’ eventually works back ‘even on the principles of government, which finds it profitable to treat the human being, who is now more than a machine, in keeping with his dignity’ (emphases in text, 22). Qutb states: ‘The humiliation of the common man under the communist systems and the exploitation of individuals […] under the capitalist systems are but a corollary of rebellion against God’s authority and the denial of the dignity of man given to him by God’ (11). Dignity, along with liberty, is of course a major

demand of the Arab uprisings that chapters in this book will explore. First, however, some thought needs to be given to how potentially shared concerns have come to be so drastically polarized, the good intentions of both Kant and Qutb ending up far from their antiauthoritarian starting points. Kant’s notion of freedom is freedom from dependency on others, which can translate into self-sufficiency, independence as such (Rooney 2007, 72–4). If this ethic is applied to government, it leads to neoliberalism: or economic freedom (as regulation by the state becomes apparently minimal, though what this means is that the state is ruled by capitalist necessities). George Soros writes: ‘People came to believe in what former US president Ronald Reagan called the magic of the marketplace and I call market fundamentalism. Fundamentalists believe that markets tend towards equilibrium and the common interest is best served by allowing participants to pursue their self-interest’ (Soros 2008). This conviction has a ‘religious’ dimension insofar as the market is seen to function as a selfgenerating power that is a law unto itself: capitalism become godlike. As introduced earlier, what I term ‘the gated community fractal’ could be taken as emblematic of neoliberalism, where the gated community constitutes a privatization of the good life in an attempt to create pockets of self-sufficient mini-paradises or heavenly simulacra. Turning briefly to Hayek, the founder of neoliberalism, it is striking that he believed that his libertarian mission (although he did not call it that) was to maximize liberty and dignity, the terms that repeatedly appear in revolutionary slogans. However, the Egyptian revolution also put forward the demand for social justice, whereas for Hayek social justice is the stumbling block to liberty and dignity because it means taking others into account as goes against his individualism. (Of course, Kant’s original insistence on individualism is not detached from the individual’s role in civil society.) Hayek’s concept of liberty is actually very similar to that of Qutb. Hayek writes that it is the ‘state in which a man is not subject to coercion by the arbitrary will of another or others’ (Hayek [1960] 2006, 11). While for Qutb this means that people should only submit to divine guidance, Hayek places the market in precisely the divine position. For Hayek, the market functions as an overseer of all human activities: we are too humanly limited to comprehend it as a whole, while it stands to reveal us to ourselves. The way in which Hayek writes of the market is as if it were some magical self-organizing ecosystem holding everything together and obliging humans to submit to its mysterious ways. Hayek was not religious, but what he does is imagine the market as if it were godlike and so could take the place of God. My research suggests that in a parallel manner Islamism constitutes the commodification of Islam, as discussed in ‘Islamism, Capitalism and Mimetic Desire’ (Rooney 2015a). Although Islamism advocates, in true fundamentalist fashion, a return to original principles, it is in fact a modern phenomenon that has arisen in tandem with capitalist globalization. The following statement by Qutb in Milestones is particularly telling: ‘In the scale of God, the true weight is the weight of faith; in God’s market the only commodity in demand is the commodity of faith’ (151). This use of a capitalist vocabulary for religion is indicative of how Qutb obsessively sets Islam up in resentful rivalry with Western modernity at the same time that he

insists that Islam derives only from itself and is therefore completely self-sufficient. The kind of Islam that Qutb and also the Wahhabi school are concerned with is very homogenous in that it depends on the literal-minded cloning of an original model of Islam that is not to be deviated from. But cloning leads to commodification: commodities as replicas of an original and originating design. Moreover, as Achcar has argued, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has historically always had close ties with Saudi Arabian capitalism, under its banner of Islamic charity (Achcar 2013, 121–2). In an Egyptian context, as will be elaborated further on in the introduction, Maha El Said treats of how ‘resurgent Islamic identity’ re-invented itself through the mimicry of global capitalism (El Said 2013, 222–3). What emerges is that there is desire to claim (paradoxically in a possessive way) radical values – such as liberty and dignity – at the same time that to be called ‘radicalized’ denotes the absence of such values. To return to my earlier point about the recent shift in the meaning of the term ‘radical’, Schmid, in speaking of the enfranchisement of women as one example of radicalism, notes: Some of the 19th century radical demands have become mainstream entitlements today. In other words, the content of the concept ‘radical’ has changed quite dramatically in little more than a century: while in the 19th century, ‘radical’ referred primarily to liberal, anticlerical, pro-democratic, progressive political positions, contemporary use – as in ‘radical Islamism’ – tends to point in the opposite direction: embracing an anti-liberal, fundamentalist, anti-democratic and regressive agenda. (7) To what ends is this inversion of meaning? My suggestion is that while neoliberalism is an authoritarian structure, as analysed by Stuart Hall (2011) and Henry Giroux (2004), it claims that its values are emancipatory – this requiring the discrediting of left-wing radical values (that include social justice) through a discourse of radicalization meant to obscure the difference between truly democratic radicalism and exclusivist extremism. Put differently, neoliberalism seeks to claim the universal for itself when it is but an elitist gated community fractal. Philosophically speaking, doppelgänger politics incur irrational and hypocritical selfcontradictions, based on structures of disavowal and inversion. This differs from nondualism, the dynamics of which affirm the ultimate indivisibility of phenomena that appear separate. The doppelgänger crisis constitutes a rejection of coexistence – coexistence as predicated on the underlying unity of being – to leave only the imperative of usurpation. However, usurpation self-destructively invites retaliation while retaliation is also selfdestructive in that the act of retaliation derives from, and thus cannot free itself from, the position of the usurper. Those who retaliate often find themselves unintentionally occupying or replicating what they seek to destroy. As will be explored in later chapters, the revolutionary dynamic of the co-dependency of the collective differs from the interdependency of doppelgänger politics. The latter can but exert co-dependency negatively as neoliberalism and extremism remain indissociable in an internecine manner. The key difference is that the doppelgänger formation tries to substitute singular self-determination

for co-dependent arising, constantly failing in this attempt. In considering the question of jāhiliyya as a state of ignorance or non-enlightenment that preoccupies Qutb, what came to my notice in the closing stages of writing this book is that ‘ignorance’ is an inadequate translation of the Arabic even though it has become the standard translation. Haifa Al Rumaih (2019) in considering Laila Aljohani’s Days of Ignorance in a thesis on Saudi Arabian novels in translation suggests that Aljohani’s interpretation of jāhiliyya actually reflects its j-h-l root that correlates with barbarity, that is, with the tribal strife and warring of the days of darkness that Islam in its inception is said to confront. In the novel Days of Ignorance (2014), the barbarity in question pertains to contemporary racist abuse of those who do not belong to the tribe, so to speak. Related to this, William E. Shepard maintains that in pre-Islamic literature, and to a considerable degree in the Qur’an, ‘words from the root j-h-l mean primarily not “ignorance” but something like “barbarism”, specifically a tendency to go to extremes of behaviour’ (Shepard 2003, 522). Shepard quotes Qur’an 48:26, referring to ‘the fierce arrogance of jāhiliyya [Ḥamiyyat al-jāhiliyya]’ and comments that ‘Toshihiko Izutsu interprets the second phrase as referring to “the staunch pride so characteristic of the old pagan Arabs, the spirit of stubborn resistance against all that shows the slightest sign of injuring their sense of honor and destroying the traditional way of life”’ (522). Rueven Firestone, drawing on the scholarship of Goldziher, further comments that the j-h-l root, pertaining variously to ferocity and abominable acts, is the opposite of the h-l-m root that informs terms of civility and gentility (Firestone 1999, 40). While the early Arab understanding of what ‘ignorance’ means may be refined through considering precisely what it is not, thus not civility and gentility, it is also instructive to consider how ‘ignorance’ may be set off against Arabic terms for knowledge. Franz Rosenthal in his research into the early Islamic understandings of knowledge draws particular attention to two verbs. The first of these is the ‘-l-m root of ‘to know’. Rosenthal comments that most recent interpreters of the ‘-l-m root agree on its semantic relation to ‘alam, ‘sign, mark’ (Rosenthal 2007, 8). He goes on to state that it is ‘not unjustified to suggest that the meaning of “to know” is an extension, peculiar to Arabic, of an original term, namely “way sign”’ (10). He further elaborates: A similar development has been suggested for the Coptic verb sooun meaning ‘to know’; its supposed root w-s-n has been claimed to stand in the same relation to Semitic South Arabian w-th-n ‘stone marking a borderline’. […] Be this as it may, the connection between ‘way sign’ and ‘knowledge’ is particularly close and takes on significance in the Arabian environment. For the Bedouin, knowledge of way signs; the characteristic marks in the desert which guided him on his travels and in the execution of his daily tasks was the most important and immediate knowledge to be acquired. In fact, it was the kind of knowledge on which his life and well being depended. (10) Rosenthal then treats of a second sense of ‘to know’. He writes: ‘It seems certain that the Arabic word for poet, sha’îr, meant originally “one who knows”, and the word for poetry, sh’ir, meant originally “knowledge”’ (12). For Rosenthal, poetic knowledge emerges as a

superior form of knowledge to that of way signs, as I will explain in more detail a little further on. As mentioned, in the course of writing this book I was not aware of this semantic terrain of Arabic roots explored by scholars of pre-Islamic and early Islamic cultures. Thus, it was startling to find how closely and unexpectedly apt this material is for my research on the contemporary Arab world, even serving to offer a map for it. That is, firstly, in examining extremism, I pay particular attention to the politics of wounded honour and pride that is bound up with distrust and potentially with violent and barbaric extremes of behaviour. What is ironic is that while contemporary Islamic extremism often frames itself as a holy war against jāhiliyya as ignorance, it frequently resorts to jāhiliyya as pride-motivated barbarity or ignorance of civility. Then, in considering the dynamics of the uprisings, especially the Egyptian revolution, my work pays attention precisely to the civility at stake, the so-called manners of the square, extending to considerations of decency, respect and dignity. Not only that, my preoccupation has been with how the uprisings both express themselves through poetic forms while having themselves a poetic character. Drawing on the work of Ayman ElDesouky, I specify the nature of this poetry exactly in terms of what Rosenthal calls ‘way signs’ where I refer to ostensive signifying practices. While Rosenthal differentiates between ‘knowledge of way signs’ and poetry as knowledge on the grounds of the former being what he calls a ‘primitive’ mode of knowledge based on ‘data’ compared with the latter as more loftily concerned (18), in my work this distinction does not readily obtain. Rather, the state of ignorance is a state of not knowing the way, one of being misguided or entirely lacking in guidance, while poetic knowledge pertains precisely to forms of guidance that may be practical, ethical or spiritual, or a combination of such. While I do not think we necessarily know how pre-Islamic Bedouins in the desert used their way signs, it may be that they used them as we use poetic signs. For example, a particular stone may be chosen not to signify literally ‘a stone’ but say the vicinity of an oasis, figuratively speaking. Then just as the Bedouin are said to depend on their way signs for their survival, revolutionary communities may similarly depend on their creative expression to negotiate crucially their ways through all kinds of terrains. At the outset of this chapter, I spoke of the Arab uprisings as constituting an epistemic challenge. This need not mean simply the discovery of something new but may pertain to the re-emergence of ways and forms of knowing that are mistakenly thought to have been surpassed when they were only eclipsed and where their freshly contemporary reconfigurations are specific to the exigencies, influences and urgencies of their times. The above considerations may be further amplified through drawing attention to Armando Salvatore’s The Sociology of Islam: Knowledge, Power and Civility, a welcome recent study of the importance of civility in what Salvatore calls the Islamic ecumene or, following Hodgson, ‘Islamdom’ across the centuries (Salvatore 2016, 28). Against stereotypes of Islamic society as backward or statically locked in the pa st, Salvatore shows that while the West prides itself on having invented civil society, Islamic societies have always had their own flexible, dynamic and widely influential notions of civility that differ from those of the

West. While Salvatore is dismissive of postcolonial studies and cultural studies as falling back into the Eurocentrism that they critique, this has long been a preoccupation of mine within the postcolonial cultural studies field and, even though I cannot engage with the vast historical and regional scope of Salvatore’s study, it remains possible to indicate that certain findings in my research on the contemporary Arab uprisings are comparable to the findings of Salvatore that address earlier periods of ‘Islamdom’. Salvatore draws attention to Islamic civility as concerned with the capacity to build connectedness (131–64) where this pertains to the common good. This correlates well with what Ayman El-Desouky speaks of in terms of the ‘connective agency’ of the Egyptian revolution as also a matter of serving the common good (El-Desouky 2014, 68–75). Salvatore shows how in spite of assumptions of Sufi culture as characterized by private devotion, Sufi tarīqa were much concerned with the more worldly matter of promoting conciliatory civic encounters and harmonious or respectful forms of social coexistence (138). Salvatore also maintains that the civility in question is against ‘formalistic fixings’ (81). Civility is thus liminal in the sense that it concerns neither a religious retreat from the world nor its own enshrinement through institutionalization. This liminality is significant for the Arab uprisings that border on both the sacred and the public sphere from outside of its institutions, political and otherwise. Furthermore, this liminality is not marginality in that it crucially challenges from the common ground of the many the ignorance and negligence of self-interested governance. While civility in an Islamic context may engage with norms, Salvatore stresses that this is in a very flexible way and he addresses the crucially non-coercive aspects of civility. Western political correctness would be at odds with this kind of civility given its adherence to rigid norms and its surveillance of speech and behaviours. In this respect, political correctness lapses into incivility. True civility does not concern imposing conformity in that its stance is one of receptivity. While Salvatore is focused on the Islamic social configurations of civility, the trans-regional and trans-historical unfolding of this kind of civility are even wider than supposed. For instance, Stephen Quirke, Ayman El-Desouky and I have debated at the ‘Egypt at the Crossroads’ conference (Cairo University 2008) how the ancient Egyptian, contemporary Egyptian and African sub-Saharan ethics of social attunement share a common ground. Frédéric Volpi in his work on civility in a Middle Eastern context addresses how in a Western context civil society is aligned with the needs of the liberal state and he observes: ‘Viewing civility through the lenses of the liberal state predefines the types of civil and uncivil behaviours that are worth emulating or eliminating in society, as well as renders meaningless other views and practices that do not fit well within liberal normativity’ (Volpi 2011, 829). Drawing on the work of Cheshire Calhoun, he proposes that this problematic reduction of civility to a template that excludes as it includes requires an alternative notion of civility as communicative engagement. Volpi speaks of this in terms of the communication of respect for the other while I would add that respect for the other is also a matter of being open to what they communicate of themselves as allows for the spontaneity of the other. I

think it is useful to conceive of civility in terms of not ignoring the other (ignorance in that sense) and thus in terms of acknowledgement and solicitousness. There is also the question of how across societies, the arts and culture are perennially engaged with questions of respect for others and the sense of a shared social horizon. Salvatore treats of this in terms of how adab (culture, manners, humaneness) in an Islamic (and I would add more broadly Arab) context constitutes an important dimension of civility. In addition to this, in an Egyptian context especially, the ancient Hermetic tradition of the wisdom of Thoth with its emphasis on human creative potential and human unity within a greater cosmic unity is of relevance as will be considered at various points in this work. Mervat Nasser, in setting out her vision of a contemporary Hermopolitan revival in Egypt, explains that her first name is derived from a Turkish corruption of the word Marw meaning ‘holy well’, and she further states: ‘Only later would I find out that Marw is in fact a special type of stone that points to the presence of water either underneath it or in its vicinity. This is the same meaning as the term Herm or Herma, the origin of the name Hermes’ (Nasser 2019, 9). The name Herma refers to a pile of stones that may serve as markers or way signs and thus it pertains to the knowledge offered as common guidance discussed in relation to Islam. While Salvatore aptly considers civility in what I would call its lateral (as opposed to vertical) aspects of connectedness, it seems to me that today it is useful to confront the socalled global not merely with its binary opposite in the local but to decentre it through identifying three (at least) transnational strata. That is, there is the transnational stratum of neoliberalism (what in this book I address in terms of the gated community fractal). Although the principle of neoliberalism is one of self-sufficiency, neoliberal elites of course tend to ally with each other internationally. Secondly, there is the transnational stratum of extremist and far-right groups that see themselves as actually affiliated across their sectarian or ethnic separatisms. And then there is the transnational stratum of creative radicalism expressed through liberation struggles, popular culture and arts activism. Although my focus will be on the transnational Arab arisings, the revolutionary trans-regional connections go beyond the Arab world.

The epistemic challenge One of the early responses to the Arab Spring, Hamid Dabashi’s The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism stands out for the way that it understands the uprisings as serving to dismantle Western dualism. Dabashi thus writes: ‘What we are witnessing unfold in the Arab Spring is an epistemic emancipation from an old, domineering, dehumanizing, and subjugating geography – the geography that anthropologists have mapped out for colonialists to rule. By reclaiming a global public sphere and restoring historical agency, the world is finally discovered to be a planet, not a metaphysical polarity along an East-West axis’ (Dabashi 2012a, 54). For Dabashi, this challenges the Hegelian opposition of the West and the East that conditions the hegemony of colonizer-colonized relations, and it can be added that the Hegelian configuration is colonizing as a logic of assimilation or appropriation c onstituting what for Hegel becomes a singular history of the universal. That is, in Hegelian

terms, Western civilization does not merely emerge out of previous civilizations or alongside other histories but as something like the owner of world history as earlier and lesser stages of itself. Hegel makes the dialectical structure clear in stating: ‘The European spirit opposes the world to itself, and while freeing of itself from it, sublates this opposition by taking back into the simplicity of its own self the manifoldness of this its other’ (my emphasis, Petry 1979, 61). The other is thereby split into what becomes the internalized, privatized or colonized property of the West and what it cuts loose from and leaves behind. Hegel’s depiction of a backward Islam advocates what have become predominant Orientalist stereotypes. In particular, he maintains that Islam is essentially despotic and fanatical where this has to be understood within his wider schematics of the history of world spirit. Thus, very generally speaking, Hegel sees the history of Spirit beginning its journey through the rejection of the animist and pantheist philosophies that maintain the non-duality of spirit and nature. He sees the Jewish religion as accomplishing this breakthrough in abstracting Spirit from the world and he conceives of this Spirit in terms of thought. However, for Hegel, the problem is that this God is particularly for the Jewish nation, and he considers that with Islam monotheism frees itself from national particularity becoming universal. Instead of seeing this in a positive light, Hegel sees Islam (which of course comes after Christianity) as regressing to Judaism, as explored by Ivan Kalmar (Kalmar 2012). For Hegel, both Jews and Muslims are passively submissive in relation to an omnipotent protodespotic God while Muslims, beyond this, are considered by Hegel to be fanatics in that he assumes that the universality of God for them means that they bypass caste (class) and nation and where Hegel even assumes corporeal life has little value for them. For Hegel, in short, this means that Spirit has to be brought back into active worldly universal history through its incarnation in the Christian West. Kalmar explains Hegel’s views psychoanalytically as part of an anxiety complex concerning fear of an all-powerful yet malevolent father and yearning for the assurance of a kind caring father. In this doubling structure, the fear of the despotic father is projected onto those seen as less civilized. Kalmar also speaks of Hegel’s middle-class priorities in terms of defending the freedom of the market from worldly despots and in terms of the security of private property. Whether this is the explanation or not, Hegel’s fearful approach to Islam may be said to issue in a very distorted representation of it. His despotic Islam ignores, for instance, the considerable emphasis in Islam on compassion and mercy, together with its advocacy of the coexistence of monotheistic faiths (where in Islam God is not a father), as well as Islam’s sociality of civility studied by Salvatore. In addition, when Hegel speaks of the ‘categorical one God’, he shows no awareness of the notion of tawḥīd in Islam as the oneness or unity of being pertaining to all that exists (not just to a single empty abstraction as Hegel would have it). Along with this, while despots may arise in countries where Islam is the religion, despots also arise of course in countries where Christianity is the religion, or in countries of other religions as well in atheist countries. That is, the dialectical logic is too singularizing and essentializing. What Derrida’s Glas (1986) graphically as well as philosophically demonstrates is that

what always escapes the colonizations of Hegel’s would-be absolute knowledge is the poetic revolutionary consciousness represented by Jean Genet together with the necessary unpredictability of freedom of spirit. In his study of Islamic history, Firestone maintains that human existence should not merely be thought of in terms of temporality, observing: ‘While we tend to view history as a broad river that we are swept along through time in the same direction, a more accurate metaphor might be an ocean whose innumerable currents are multi-directional’ (vi). Improvising with this metaphor, it is as if Hegel refuses the oceanic unity through trying to funnel it into a would-be singular unidirectional force that attempts to swallow every obstacle to it. Dabashi elaborates the epistemic emancipation he speaks of in terms of ‘a Palestinian intifada going global’ (2). The term ‘intifada’ refers to shaking off, and what is implied is that the confines of the dialectical drive of endless appropriation-and-dismissal of the other are to be shaken off. If the capitalist dialectic concerns turning other into self (although through this repudiating the other), the alternative to the appropriative drive is a rhythm of acknowledgement whereby the self affirms the other as another self or ensouled being (both familiar in certain respects and mysterious in other respects). The dialectic serves to deny dependent co-arising whereby, as discussed, any precedence that Eastern civilizations may have over the West is displaced in favour of the Orient posited as always backward in relation to the Occident. Hence when the Arab Spring broke out, alarmed Western commentators claimed that Arab cultures were not developed enough to replicate the Western political models that they were too hastily presumed to have as their aspiration. It is further the case, as will be considered in this book, that many of those who took part in the uprisings did so out of the very frustration that their neoliberal political economies were constantly holding them back, putting their lives on hold. The backwardness that concerns me is this case of being forcibly held back. If the gated community ‘paradise’ may be considered emblematic of neoliberalism, it may be seen that the neoliberal aim is to secure a state of timeless living or agelessness (where online advertisements for gated communities repeatedly use the adjective ‘timeless’). While Marxism shows how time is converted into capital, the neoliberal twist appears to be one of converting capital into timelessness. With this attempt to be free from time, the ordinary work force finds itself thoroughly subject to time in either having to rush to catch up endlessly through time constraints imposed on it or in having a condition of the purely temporary forced on it. It is as if neoliberalism freezes life for the elites (as timeless, though only in terms of superficial immortality) while it pushes the non-elites into a position of what could be called constant or repeated ‘detainment’, that is, not as the cessation of time but as the prevention of movement. When a person is detained it is their freedom of movement that is denied. ‘Backwardness’ is engineered by this neoliberal logic of detainment. The previous is of relevance to how Egyptian intellectual Maha El Said views the epistemic shift produced by the revolution. In an article entitled ‘Alternating Images: Simulacra of Ideology in Egyptian Advertisements’, she examines how the Sadat era served to issue in an illusory Americanization of Egyptian society through advertisements and the media , stating:

‘All these images, although making the US the centre of the universe, did not fully represent authentic American culture. They were more a simulacrum of America, a pseudo-culture that is exported for commercial use, where the “pursuit of happiness” is attained through entertainment, individualism, and freedom coming from illusions of power’ (El Said 2013, 219). El Said explains how Egyptians were interpolated into this fantasy as a matter of belonging to progressive modernity. Following on from this, she shows how Islamism both steps into the place of loss of Arab identity (lost through Americanization) while nonetheless drawing on the whole apparatus of commodification and consumerism. El Said writes: ‘What Egyptians did was create a simulacrum of Islam, similar to their Americanization’ (222–3). For instance, there arrived Islamic banking, Islamic TV, Islamic fashions and Mecca-Cola. For El Said, the Egyptian revolution constituted a return to reality. She concludes that it broke with postmodernist Americanization and mimetic Islamization, commenting: ‘The Egypt revolution of January 25, 2011 […] to my mind, is a transformation from the hyperreal to the real, the end of the simulacrum of the postmodern condition into a new era that has yet to be named’ (226). Although the revolution does mark a new era or at least the possibility of such, it also entails a dynamic of retrieval signalled by the Tahrir Square slogan ‘Egypt I’ve missed you.’ Dabashi, for instance, argues that it is ‘cosmopolitan worldliness’ that is retrieved (11; 115). There are actually many ways in which we could specify the retrieval at stake. Some, for instance (El Hamamsy and Soliman 2013b, 250; Morayef 2016, 204), have spoken of how Egyptians managed to get their culture back (as other to Americanized culture, Gulfinfluenced Islamic culture and the state monopolization of Egyptian-ness). What is also at stake is that, while capitalism serves to desacralize human lives in its dispiriting ways, the uprisings served to retrieve a sense of the sacredly real for many. Furthermore, in the face of the irrationality of the singular logic that produces self-contradictory duality, the uprisings imply in many respects on a philosophical level the retrieval of non-duality. I will now offer some examples of this. One of the striking things about the Egyptian revolution in particular is that for many of the seemingly true assertions made about it, the precise counter-assertions also seem to hold true. For instance, the revolution is said to have been both entirely unforeseen and expected and prefigured where this is not really a contradiction in that both things were true. There is documented awareness of the potential for a revolution in advance of the revolution at the same time that its actual advent was widely experienced as thoroughly surprising or spontaneous. Both foreseen and unforeseen, the revolution was also both secular and not secular in its nature. Sarah Hawas, concerned like Shenker with the mis-recognition of the revolution’s radical potential, maintains that those who posit it in terms of aspirations for Western-style secularism serve to mis-translate it. She writes: ‘Secularism, in its multiple negotiations, is variously a fundamental tool of orientation toward a specific construct of the “global” and therefore a highly potent mechanism of depoliticization and ultimately subjugation. […] Frequently, the “secular” (like the “moderate Muslim”) does not exist outside of an imagined

containment of “extremism” and “intolerance”’ (Hawas 2012, 290). I agree that it is a misrepresentation of the revolution to posit it as secular, while I also agree with the following quite different interpretation. In an essay entitled ‘The Syrian Revolution, Art and the End of Ideology’, miriam cooke makes the important point that the Syrian revolution definitively broke with ideology, and she quotes Wassim al-Adl asserting that the revolution ‘was not about an ideology or a religion, and it wasn’t about grand political scheming’(cooke 2018, 442) further maintaining that ‘ideology is now the realm of Islamist groups whose destructive world view is failing to deliver on its promises’ (443). It would be possible to say along with Charles Hirschkind (2012) that the Arab Spring challenged the secular/ religious binary. However, what is also to be noted is that the secular is posited as de-politicizing by Hawas while al-Adl posits the Syrian revolution’s nonreligious or secular character as being at odds with political scheming. What I would say in relation to this is that, firstly, the aspects of the Arab Spring that are concerned with sacred are not reducible to religious denominations. Secondly, I would also add that the uprisings were political in certain respects but not political in other respects. While cooke aptly says that the democratic impulse of the revolution meant ‘speaking for oneself and not for the people’ (443), the uprisings also served to overthrow the distinction between the individual and the collective. They co-articulated the freedom of the people in their togetherness as the freedom of each citizen. Moreover, the extent to which this may be thought of in terms of the political or just the political has also been questioned. In an interview, Egyptian novelist Alaa Al Aswany observes that ‘I do not believe that the revolution is a political change; I believe it is a human change’ (Rustin 2016). Although there are those who read the Egyptian revolution as a political bid for popular sovereignty, I think that Mark Levine’s overview is an accurate generalization, Levine asserting: ‘The revolutionaries at the forefront of the revolutionary eruptions might have wanted the “downfall of the system”, but they by and large did not want to replace it’ (Levine 2013, 193). Some of the statements made about the revolution do indeed contradict each other. Thus, I don’t think you could argue that it was both a bid for popular sovereignty and not a bid for popular sovereignty. If you agree with Levine, as I do, this would be to contest the opposite interpretation. However, other seemingly contradictory statements turn out to be double affirmations in the manner of Oscar Wilde’s aphorism, ‘A truth is that whose contrary is also true.’ That the revolution is a non-dualist one means we can say it was both expected and unexpected, both secular and yet concerned with the sacred, and both political and not political. In addition, it could be said that it concerns ordinary people while constituting something quite extraordinary, being both down to earth and uplifting and inspiring. It can be seen as a working-class movement and as cutting across classes. We can consider it as culturally specific and as universal in its import. And so forth. The non-dualism of the revolutionary movement might make it seem hard to analyse; however, what I will be arguing in this book is that in this non-dualism or holism, the revolutionary movement not

only expresses itself through various creative forms but also is overall a work of art. As I will also be arguing, the Egyptian revolution undoes the art/life divide, and just as true art is inexhaustibly capable of generating interpretations, so is the Arab Spring (beginning even with the very term). For that reason, the techniques of literary analysis, beyond theoretical, political and social science forms of analysis, prove particularly enabling in a reading of creative radicalism. While epistemically speaking particular modes of knowing are at stake, as explained previously, what is very striking about how revolutionaries experienced the revolutionary moment was that they found it to be a transformation in consciousness – this perhaps constituting the Arab Spring’s main accomplishment. I have touched on how this was so for Al Aswany, while Mona Prince attests: Anyone who looked at our faces now would have been amazed. We used to look pale, sickly and depressed. […] Now, our faces were radiating joy, hope, and good health. Even the families of the martyrs had regained their smiles, their strength, and their determination, despite their grief, for us to live, for us to have a more human life. (Prince 2014, 166) People found it a humanizing revolution because they got their souls or spirit back. If a new episteme is needed, it is to account for this change in consciousness together with the fact that the very language of the revolution is a popular aesthetic one. As indicated, and as will be explored throughout this book, the revolutionary mode of transmission is especially a cultural one entailing poetic forms of understanding, articulation and communication. This book aims to clarify the difference between radicalism and extremism through a necessarily selective focus on their signifying practices that work in tandem with psychoaffective structures or orientations. This approach is to contest the overly ideological approaches to radicalization that are aligned with identity politics through conversely attending to the psychological and emotional perspectives offered by literature, art works and popular culture. In engaging with a psycho-affective approach, while this has an affinity with Raymond Williams’ notion of structures of feelings, I am influenced by the approaches of liberation theorists who consider the effects of oppression on the psyche, such as Fanon in Black Skins, White Masks, and who are concerned with the experiential, such as Césaire in Notebook of a Return to My Native Land, as well as with how the spirit of resistance and liberation may be understood in terms not just confined to Western political theory. Thus, for instance, I am interested in notions of ṣumūd and karāmah, among others that will emerge across the book. Furthermore, in that the Arab uprisings were transformative of consciousness for those who experienced them, it is appropriate to offer psycho-affective approaches as a means of analysis. While psychoanalysis is itself a response to the Western secular enlightenment, I am influenced by emergent debates on how it is being re-thought outside of the West, in particular the work of Julia Borossa (2009; 2012), Omnia El Shakry (2017), Stefania Pandolfo (2018), Amal Treacher Kabesh (2017), Amira Mittermaier (2011), together with the recent collection Islamic Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Islam (Parker and Siddiqui 2019) and Lene Auestad’s Psychoanalysis and Politics series.

In addition to the above methodological reflections, in that the revolutionary movement may be seen as a work of art, it is appropriate to consider it in terms of its aesthetic signifying practices. Excellent work on the popular culture of the Arab Spring has begun to emerge studying the various popular and aesthetic forms of creative resistance and dissidence, and important co-ordinates for my study include Ayman El-Desouky, The Intellectual and the People in Egyptian Literature and Culture: Amāra and the 2011 Revolution (2014); miriam cooke, Dancing in Damascus: Creativity, Resilience and the Syrian Revolution (2016); Atef Alshaer, Poetry and Politics in the Modern Arab World (2016); Charles Tripp, The Power and the People: Paths of Resistance in the Middle East (2013); Teresa Pepe, Blogging From Egypt: Digital Literature, 2005-2016 (2019). In addition, essay collections of key relevance include Walid El Hamamsy and Mounira Soliman, eds, Popular Culture in the Middle East and North Africa: A Postcolonial Outlook (2014); Dalia Mostafa, ed, Women, Culture, and the 2011 Egyptian Revolution (2016); Abir Hamdar and Lindsey Moore, eds, Islamism and Cultural Expression in the Arab World (2015); Anastasia Valassopoulos, ed, Arab Cultural Studies (2015); and Anna Ball and Karim Mattar, eds, The Edinburgh Companion to the Postcolonial Middle East (2018). While my work engages with and hopefully builds on this material (my essays appearing in the collections mentioned), in tandem with this rich field of study, what interests me is not only that the uprisings expressed themselves through the arts and culture but why this was so.

The darwish avant-garde and the Arab left The political focus on the Arab Spring has been to concentrate on the contestation of power between authoritarian governments and Islamist groups, this serving to marginalize the Arab left. Shenker aptly writes: ‘By bifurcating the future into a false choice between military authoritarianism and religious extremism, and by warning that terrorism and chaos will triumph unless the right option is selected, elites hope to shut down the space for alternatives’ (13). In ‘Dissonances of the Arab Left’, Hisham Bustani argues that few alternatives in fact present themselves, maintaining: With very few exceptions, the mainstream Arab ‘Left’ is not a Left at all. It is an intellectual void incapable of producing a political discourse consistent with its premises or with the frame of reference that it claims to belong to. What exists in reality are ‘leftist’ organizations and ‘leftist’ individuals who are similar in their political composition to the Arab regimes. (Bustani 2014) Wh ile in Egypt, for example, the counter-revolution did have the effect of splitting those who had supported the revolution into those who were prepared to align with El Sisi and those determined to remain true to the revolution, and while there may be no firmly institutionalized form of the Arab left, there is still surely a left that characterized the uprisings. For Bustani, an Arab left would necessarily be committed to the oppressed and exploited wherever they may be in the world. Yet there are many ways in which people in the Arab world have been and are resisting oppression, standing in solidarity with each other

from workers’ unions and strikes to the Palestinian liberation struggle and its supporters to courageous writers and intellectuals that maintain transcultural solidarities and who speak out and are consequently routinely censored or imprisoned. Also of much revolutionary significance is that those who are usually held back by patriarchal regimes precisely come to the fore at times of crisis, namely, women and young people as serves to create the holistic dynamic of the collective. Where Bustani’s comments have relevance concerns how earlier revolutionary movements come to be colonized by nationalist leaders who paradoxically see themselves as owning the liberation struggles of their countries (as with Gaddafi and Assad and beyond). However, there has been a marked generational shift. Gilbert Achcar, writing of the revolutionary youth networks of the uprisings, comments: The ill-defined ideology of most members of these networks is a form of political and cultural liberalism wed to an acute sense of social justice. It is, in some sense, an Arab version of the programmatic ‘four pillars’ defined by the Green Parties when the movement were getting underway in Europe around 1980 (the German Greens were a young, radical movement at the time). Three pillars are common to the Green movement and Arab social media networks: social justice, grassroots democracy, and non-violence. The Greens’ fourth pillar, the ecological principle, is replaced, in the Arab case, by a progressive nationalism opposed to Western and Israeli domination. (Achcar 2013, 162) I find Achcar’s reference to the Green movement suggestive in that if the vision of the uprisings were to be interpreted in the terms of current UK parties, it would probably accord more with the Green Party manifesto than the Labour one (at the time of writing this). For instance, the Green manifesto speaks of citizen democracy, co-ownership of social services, emphasis on the future of the young, right to education, sanctuary for refugees, remaining in Europe and of unleashing our creative power. The Labour one speaks of negotiating Brexit, creating an economy that works for all, a global Britain, leading richer lives, safe homes and so on. This is impressionistic but it is a question of outlook, tonal register and emphasis. However, it is the case that Labour is increasingly taking up the values of the Greens. With the younger generation, there is a shift in how the role of the intellectual is being conceived. This concerns arts activist or grassroots activist collaborations where, as ElDesouky (2014) puts forward, the intellectual speaks with and among the people, more than to or for them. Together with this, there is less faith in the intellectual as a singular emancipatory leader figure, as explored by Zeina Halabi in The Unmaking of the Arab Intellectual (2018). As indicated, the revolutionary movement has not only been a case of youth mobilization but of women moving to the fore. It has been suggested that the inspiration for the Arab Spring may have been the first Palestinian intifada (in 1987), a non-violent uprising that arose in a spontaneous protest against Israel’s violent targeting of innocent Palestinians and that aimed to ‘shake off’ the Israeli stranglehold on Palestinian lives. In fact, revolutionary Ahlem Yazidi comments: ‘I personally consider the Tunisian revolution as an intifada, the

justified uprising of an oppressed and heroic people, willing to sacrifice everything for the pursuit of freedom and dignity, the two sacred words that the entire Arab world aspires to yet are denied’ (Al-Saleh 2015, 25). Recent commemorations of the first Palestinian intifada have stressed its grassroots cooperative ethos and peacefulness, and drawn attention to how it was mainly mobilized by women. Suhad Babaa testifies to this and she goes on to say: ‘In holding up women’s leadership in movement building, we’re holding up bold and powerful models for our ongoing struggles for freedom, dignity and equality – models that all of us need so deeply across the globe’ (Babaa 2017). It is precisely this kind of liberation struggle that was unfolding in 1987, around when Netanyahu’s Terrorism appeared. In Egypt women have also played a notable mobilizing role in its revolutions, including in 2011 (Elsadda 2016; El Said and Pratt 2015; Mostafa 2016). Marx argues that ‘great social changes are impossible without the feminine ferment’ (Marx 1936, 255). It has to be said that this ‘feminine ferment’ is other to the constructed and performed femininity of Western thinkers in that it is a matter of not repressing the real and with this the feminine real needed to overthrow the foreclosures of the doppelgänger structure as a ghostly or unreal masculinist fantasy formation. In a literature of the double, the first self and the ‘not-self’ are invariably male while it is also a bachelor literature, precisely of unmarried men. Since there are no doppelgängers in reality, this suggests that the notion of pure masculinity is but a strange fantasy (as would be the notion of pure femininity). Revolutionary non-duality also pertains to sexual difference as never absolute. In that I have for worked on liberation struggles for some decades, this book therefore builds to some extent on explanatory frameworks established in my previous books. In particular, in African Literature, Animism and Politics, my concern is with how the Western Enlightenment philosophical tradition (as deeply informs poststructuralist theory) forecloses non-dualist animist philosophies of spirit that inform liberation struggles. In Decolonising Gender: Literature and a Poetics of the Real, I explore how similarly the preoccupation with the performative on the part of philosophers such as Derrida, Foucault and Butler serves to foreclose creativity (that which is not always already scripted) and how this creativity of the real requires a feminine freedom of spirit. In that this creativity concerns non-dualism it emerges androgynously in the ‘brother-sister’ configuration of liberation struggles. This androgynous spirit is equally for the masculine and the feminine on a horizontal plane, only not for colonizing forms of the masculin e. Ensuing chapters will explain the revolutionary structure in more detail. Revolutions are not necessarily teleological causes that lead to certain ends, and their true logic is not the ends justify the means one. This is why the Egyptian revolution, and the Arab uprisings more generally, challenges certain understandings of revolution. The dynamic at stake is paradoxically one of continuation and resumption with respect to what never goes away – reality – even though we might lose track of this reality. The Arab uprisings and the Egyptian revolution especially served to re-connect people with reality. Thus, the assumption of revolution as ‘change’ is not only vague but needs to be re-thought. For instance, a

revolution may confront both political and intellectual ‘diremption’ (going astray) and involve questions of getting back on the right track in terms of what really matters and should stand to benefit the people as a whole. A revolution is an overturning, a change in that sense, yet non-dualistically, also as resumption. What I wish to argue is that the arts in an Arab context have historically and very broadly had the significance of providing social and political guidance. Atef Alshaer’s study Poetry and Politics in the Modern Arab World illuminates the centrality of poetry to Arab cultural consciousness, and demonstrates how poetry continuously engages with the unfolding of political realities and the fates of communities and nations. The work ranges from the decline of Ottoman rule in accordance with the nineteenth-century Arab Renaissance and development of nationalist movements through to anti-colonialism and the Arab Spring, treating of poetry across the whole MENA region. With this wealth of material, the study shows how poetry maps political fortunes (often disappointments) and provides an emotional map of modern Arab history together with pointing ways forward, both healing and liberating. I have previously put forward the notions of ‘animist realism’ and ‘poetic realism’ with respect to the cultural expressions of liberation struggles, and I believe that the cultural expression of the Arab uprisings is also a matter of this poetics of the real (as somewhat distinct from the secular bourgeois social realism of the Western novel). Among what I mean by ‘real’ is the collective consciousness of the people as regards their co-dependent arising and destiny in common. There is a particular form of this that I will engage with in this work that I am terming the ‘darwish avant-garde’. The notion of the darwish aesthetic is one that was first suggested to me by Lebanese artist Raouf Rifai whose work prominently focuses on the figure of the darwish as appears in several guises such as the everyman figure, the social comic, the grassroots sage, the popular hero and so on. Rifai spoke to me of being inspired by Arab popular culture, especially Egyptian culture. Although the darwish derives from the Sufi dervish, the term (which in a French Lebanese context is rendered as ‘darawich’, while I am offering an Anglicized version) has a broader range of reference than a Sufi one, being of a case of the people in terms of what Ziad Fahmy calls ‘ordinary Egyptians’ (Fahmy 2011). What is at stake concerns what gets translated as ‘folk’ culture but the resonances of ‘folk’ in English (and still more in German as ‘volk’) are the wrong ones for an Arab context, as I discussed with Fekri Hassan and Mustafa Gad when collaborating with them in Cairo on a project entitled ‘Egypt’s Living Heritage: Community Engagement in Re-Creating the Past’. For a start, the darwish aesthetic is very much a case of a living heritage, thus sentimental nostalgia would be inappropriate. The festival culture of the Sufi mulid is a vibrant part of contemporary Egypt and manifested itself in Tahrir Square. Along with this, burlesque aesthetics – those of cabaret, sociopolitical satire and the mocking of false pieties – remain significant. This extends to the Egyptian culture of the joke (as pertains to the etymology of the term burlesque). What is also of relevance is popular youth culture across the region: graffiti, calligraffiti, hip-hop, graphic novels and blogging, for instance. While the Arab avant-garde is very wide-ranging as covered in The Arab Avant-Garde

(Burkhalter, Dickinson and Harbert 2013), the more specifically darwish avant-garde concerns a sensibility to do with the popular grassroots where forward-looking art of the past may be placed horizontally alongside forward-looking art of the present. While there is timelessness in this (concerning what has perpetual or perennial relevance), this is still a question of the avant-garde in a sense that has rather faded from Western culture. As touched on, this concerns the poetic and artistic role in offering social guidance, in pointing the way out of an impasse and indicating a way forward. Regarding this, an important aesthetic that I will discuss in this work is that of amāra as put forward by Ayman El-Desouky. This aesthetic has the collective ostensive significance of, for example, signposting, rallying, book-marking, witnessing and attesting. While the past may be drawn on this is to aid what is forward-looking and anticipatory. This constitutes a revolutionary avant-garde that differs from the postmodernist avant-garde broadly split into an alignment either with commodification (Warhol, for instance) or with high art’s self-referential experimentalism resistant to easy access. An emblematic figure for the darwish avant-garde is Egyptian poet Ahmed Fuad Negm. In an essay on Negm entitled ‘Speaking Truth to Power’, Hala Halim writes: That the poetry of Ahmed Fouad Negm (b. 1929) resonated in the 2011 Revolution in Egypt and in subsequent protests is hardly unexpected. […] Negm’s corpus belongs to a canon of modern Egyptian poetry composed in the colloquial rather than the classical language, often deriving its forms from dexterously reworked folk traditions, and committed to the themes of social equality and political justice. Over and above the accessibility of his poems’ register and the fact that so many of them have been set to music, his poetry is secured in the Arab memory by virtue of its association with movements of protest and with historical junctures in Egypt and the Arab world for more than half a century. (Halim 2013, 45) Negm, as an inspiration for today’s revolutionaries, himself pays tribute to those who inspire him: As if I were words from the mind of Bayram [al-Tunisi], A song straight from Sayed’s heart [Sayed Darwish]; As if I were a student who In the heart of a demonstration Chanting your name died rejoicing. As if I were the voice of Nadim [Abdullah al-Nadim] Waking up your people To help you back onto your feet. (‘Your Wondrous Sea, Oh Alexandria’, Negm [1976] 2013, 24) While Marilyn Booth notes how the Negm-Imam duo drew on ‘popular oral performance and collective life’, she adds that ‘these songs, performed, countered the “naïve folkism” that Nasserist rhetoric – including publications for the populace in the form of poems, songs and

studies of “folk life” – incorporated’ (Booth 2009, 71). As in Negm’s poem, the poets and the protesters strive to remind and re-mind, and to help people back up onto their feet to find the way of moving forward. Although the oral forms of performance poetry, lyrical poetry and song are particularly significant, it is also the case that poetic realism can be found in novelistic and narrative forms. As will be discussed in the book, this especially is in the case of the reworked modern and contemporary maqāma form, with its appeal to a consciousness of the collective expressed serially, both lyrically and satirically. Finally, one significant reason that the uprisings expressed themselves through popular culture is that they served to re-open a space between politics and religion at a particular historical juncture. As religion had politicized itself in the form of Islamism and as politics posed as the moral alternative to this in a justification of authoritarianism, the arts became the means of and media for contesting the various misleading conflations of the spiritual with the political, as this work will explore in detail from different angles.

Structure of the work The chapters of this book can be read as stand-alone chapters although they function as an interrelated cycle with a particular arc (like a critical maqāma if that is possible). In that Hannah Arendt’s political theory, especially that of The Human Condition is repeatedly drawn on to analyse the Arab Spring, I begin with a reading of Arendt’s framework in The Human Condition. While Arendt always offers food for thought, my argument is that her ideas in The Human Condition represent and derive from a particular Western, and especially German, philosophical tradition that has a limited relevance for the particular context of the Arab uprisings where the chapter teases out Arendt’s secularization of the sacred. In the first chapter, I attend to how Arendt’s work entails a notion of politics as theatre, as entertained by W. H. Auden, since this is of particular significance to the concerns of the second chapter. Chapter 2 explores how postcolonial and Arab writers, especially Assia Djebar in Algerian White, perceive the failures of post-Independence societies in terms of how elites offer their people only forms of hollow political theatre in which ‘discourses of authenticity’ are performatively used to mask political ineptitude and thuggish violence. These ‘discourses of authenticity’ are tantamount to what writers specify as the corruption of language, a preoccupation of Mourid Barghouti in the context of Israel–Palestine. The chapter goes on to reflect on this in the context of the BDS movement where writers who accept Israeli honours problematically present themselves as ‘writers of conscience’. The chapter also explores how what Adorno calls a ‘jargon of authenticity’ is countered in an Arab context through an exploration of the potential of poetry for unmasking deception, with reference to poems by Barghouti and Rafeef Ziadah. Chapter 3 takes up how Judith Butler in Notes Towards a Performative Theory of Assembly (2015) interprets uprisings and demonstrations, especially the Egyptian revolution, in terms of both Arendt’s framework and the theory of gender and transgender performativity for

which Butler is best known. The chapter argues that Butler presumes a form of hegemonic interpellation that the Egyptian revolution actually overturned, this leading to the transformation of consciousness that occurred in Tahrir Square that her biopolitical account bypasses. I put forward an alternative notion of anarchic or spontaneous revolutionary hailing in tandem with exploring El-Desouky’s exposition of the poetics of amāra or the ostensive signification of the real. The chapter also critiques Butler’s advocacy of vulnerability as a political stance. Chapter 4 maintains that both radicalism and extremism often emerge out of similar conditions while then going on to take different trajectories, the former one of creative defiance and the latter one of destructive militancy. I explore how Arab novelists, in particular, Al Aswany, Mahfouz and Kanafani, serve to depict conditions of chronic disappointment, humiliation and shame that derive from sociopolitical circumstances, drawing distinctions between these related though different affective states. The subsequent two chapters explore respectively how very different cultures of pride and cultures of dignity may emerge out of conditions of humiliation. Chapter 5 considers an array of pride movements in terms of their psycho-affective orientations and their signifying practices. It begins with a close consideration of white nationalist pride movements that arise to compensate for inferiority complexes, movements that are expressed through music, often hate music. While the Western media seeks to differentiate white pride attacks from Islamic terrorism, the chapter argues that similar dynamics of pride are at stake although Muslim pride can emerge as a reaction to racist stereotyping, as in the Charlie Hebdo context. The chapter also considers Hindu Pride and Zionist Pride and shows how all these pride moments often express themselves through kitsch aesthetics as a ‘jargon of authenticity’. Finally, the chapter argues that black pride and gay pride movements have different signifying practices that are more aligned with the carnivalesque aesthetics of the Arab uprisings. Chapter 6 explores the notion of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions as ‘revolution poems’. It is through showing how the dynamics of the ‘revolution poem’ entail codependent arising (a Buddhist concept that I adapt to the revolutionary context) that this chapter is able to explore the related dynamics of dignity. My argument concerns how, while pride often entails narcissism and self-pity, dignity arises through the dynamics of compassionate donation as well as respect for the place of the other. Chapter 7 explores the figuration of the sacred in martyr art in two different contexts. The first of these is the production of martyr posters in the context of civil war in Lebanon as approached through a close reading of Elias Khoury’s White Masks. The second context is that of the martyr murals that were produced during the Egyptian revolution. Taking the practices of aesthetic production into account, the chapter argues that while war martyrs are celebrated for their heroic sacrifices, in the context of the Arab uprisings there is often a different emphasis on how lives should not be sacrificed. The chapter also considers the iconic status of martyr portraits and how White Masks may serve to re-inflect our understanding of war trauma.

Finally, the brief last chapter considers the strange phenomenon of equine messianism in Palestinian arts, particularly with respect to Ibrahim Nasrallah’s Time of White Horses. The fact that the book ends with considerations of the sacred concerns how it constitutes as a whole a turning of Arendt’s The Human Condition on its head, so to speak, in that Arendt’s position in that work begins with a foreclosure of the sacred. That is to say, while there is a political dimension to creative radicalism, it is not only political but opens out onto a range of considerations, social, cultural, ethical and spiritual, the way that art itself does. The vision that the book ends with may be loosely called a Sufi-animist one, although it would equally be possible to posit this in terms of universal humanism with an eco-socialist orientation. Although I have consulted Arabic sources and worked with artists and intellectuals involved in the revolutionary movement, I am particularly reliant on work in translation where there are undoubtedly Arabic sources I overlook (and would be grateful to learn of). I am also indebted to works that raise the question of what it means to translate the Egyptian revolution, especially the essay collections of Samia Mehrez (2012) and Mona Baker (2016). In terms of my positioning, I certainly write as a supporter of the uprisings and their creative cast rather than as a neutral observer. However, this is also from a distance, one of transcultural dialogue, a space that the revolutionary movement has opened up across the MENA region and beyond as the ‘Transcultural Identities: Solidaristic Action and Contemporary Arab Social Movements’ research programme mounted by Eid Mohamed and Ayman El-Desouky is serving to further at the Doha Institute. In terms of regional focus, it has been necessary for practical reasons to limit the scope of the work to certain areas. In part, this has been determined by the places in which I have been able to carry out cultural fieldwork, especially Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine. At the same time, it seems to me that much of the destabilization of the Middle East concerns the unresolved Israel-Palestine conflict that has caused repeated conflict in Lebanon, mobilized the war on terror and, with this, the attendant rise of ISIS. The unresolved conflict has also limited the possibilities of the Arab uprisings being able to flourish, given how right-wing religious nationalism (and not only that of Israel) is opposed to the spirit of the uprisings. Even so, in the company of many others, I cannot imagine those uprisings being over given what they stood for. Lebanese poet Yehia Jaber states: ‘All revolutions begin as poetry … poetry and protest are inseparable twins’ (Quoted by Irving 2013).

1 Politics as theatre in Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition As noted by Daniel Zamora, ‘In a conference in Tokyo in 1978 Michel Foucault wondered whether we were not witnessing, “in the late 20th century, something that would be the end of the age of the Revolution”’ (Zamora 2016, 63). Foucault could be regarded as speaking for his poststructuralist and postmodernist generation, one widely resigned to capitalist inevitability. However, recent years have proved Foucault wrong, and the Arab revolutionary uprisings, especially in Tunisia and Egypt, may be said to have instituted an epistemic rupture with the ideologies and discourses of the late capitalist West. While Maha El Said (2013) and Hamid Dabashi (2012a) address the Arab Spring in terms of a rupture with Western ideological and cultural hegemony, there have nonetheless been repeated attempts to account for the Arab Spring in terms of theories that are deeply rooted in European philosophical traditions. In particular, the political theory of Hannah Arendt has been turned to in a number of analyses of the uprisings (Hanssen 2013; Elmarsafy 2015; Butler 2015; Hyvönen 2016) in ways that are thought-provoking but without a critical consideration of the European and especially German philosophical legacies and contexts that shaped Arendt’s thought. With these considerations, I will offer a close reading of Arendt’s The Human Condition since its particular vision (and not necessarily Arendt’s vision more widely) is one that I consider to be significantly at odds with the revolutionary vision of the Arab Spring in key respects. Most of the chapter will focus on how Arendt’s theatricalization of politics unfolds in The Human Condition, clarifying what I mean by this, while I will conclude with an explanation of how Arendt’s theoretical model fails to account for the Arab uprisings.

The performance of politics The probable reason for the renewed uptake of Arendt’s work at this juncture is that it is broadly concerned with the revolutionary institution of political democracy. However, this is explicitly from a non-Marxist position and is thus a question of capitalist democracy or of unelaborated alternatives to such. Arendt’s further and more basic concern is one of how to renew belief and trust in the political after the devastations of the Second World War. In The Human Condition, she mentions nuclear warfare particularly, but of course the Holocaust was an unavoidable subtext for her endeavour too. The Human Condition begins with a striking philosophical foreclosure, namely of the contemplative life as starkly distinct from what is to be Arendt’s exclusive interest in the

active life. That Arendt brackets off the contemplative life as unconcerned with the human condition is because she maintains that the contemplative life pertains to mysticism, ‘be it the ancient truth of Being or the Christian truth of the Living God’ (Arendt 1998, 15). She goes on to identify this mystical orientation with passivity, and through a consideration of Plato and Aristotle, she further posits it as a mute condition (1998, 20), apparently in contradistinction to speech as definitive of the human condition. Nonetheless, she goes on to write: ‘Only sheer violence is mute, and for this reason violence alone can never be great’ (1998, 26). Moreover, she later writes that oral poetry is the closest expression of the contemplative life or mysticism, and she maintains that poetry derives from thought (a philosophical bias some would contest, begging the question of how much poetry is dependent on feelings and forms of receptivity) (169–70). Arendt’s active/passive dichotomy is furthermore an implicitly gendered one given the conventional associations of masculinity with the active and femininity with the passive. In Arendt’s lecture notes of 1955 for a course on political philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, can be found the outlines of ideas leading to The Human Condition that appeared in 1958. In these notes, Arendt positions Socrates as an unmanly and passive philosopher (although it is Plato whom she is more usually averse to) and also Spinoza with his intellectual love of God as nature (Arendt 1955b). Spinoza’s amor fati, literally ‘love of fate’, is posited by Arendt to be at odds with her version of amor mundi, ‘love of the world’, where amor fati refers to reality just as it is, or as Arendt translates the term: ‘I want that to be as it is’ (Arendt 1955b). Although there is a certain inconsistency in Arendt’s statements concerning the mystical and the mute, what appears to be her position is that she seeks a typical Western Enlightenment separation of the sacred and the secular, the spacing apart of religion and politics although, as I will come to, it is not as simple as this. Arendt’s opening gesture in The Human Condition is recognizable to me as her version of the foreclosures performed by her German philosophical predecessors, in particular, Hegel and Heidegger. As I have examined in my book African Literature, Animism and Politics (2000), Hegel forecloses African animist cultures from history, maintaining that Africans are ‘inhuman’, while Arendt implicitly forecloses Spinoza’s pantheistic orientations. As regards Hegel, his gesture allows him to maintain that Africans need to be brought into history or, more accurately, a Western patriarchal and colonial economy of ownership, by means of slavery. Similarly, Hegel forecloses the freedom of the feminine when he assigns the figure of Antigone to the familial sphere, positioning her as goddess of the domestic hearth as opposed to affirming her as the free-spirited rebel or revolutionary that others (ranging from Jean Genet to Nelson Mandela) see her as (Rooney 1997). Hegel’s foreclosures precisely enable him to set up hierarchical dualisms, in particular, the public sphere of masters over the private sphere of slaves and domesticated existence, as is relevant to Arendt’s concerns. Arendt’s more immediate inf luence is Heidegger. In fact, she wrote the following in a letter to him: ‘Had the relations between us not been star-crossed […] I would have dedicated [The Human Condition] to you […] it owes you just about everything in every regard’ (Ettinger 1995, 114). In his philosophy, what Heidegger forecloses, or initially puts under erasure, is

Being and the metaphysics devoted to an understanding of Being. For Arendt, this equates with the mystical and contemplative. For both Heidegger and Arendt, the bracketing off of cosmic origination produces man as his own beginning thrown into a historical existence. Arendt terms this ‘natality’, drawing on St Augustine’s assertion that God created man as a new beginning, although she implicitly de-theologizes St Augustine’s notion as the human is treated as self-initiating by her, seemingly owed neither to natural evolution nor to a beyond human spiritual genesis. Whereas St Augustine’s vision concerns the unique gift of each soul, Arendt substitutes the political and historical agency of the human subject apart from God. In her lecture notes of 1955, she treats of man making his own world in an existentialist fashion, her reading list culminating with Sartre and Camus. Regarding the world of historical existence, Arendt introduces a strange way of determining the value of the human condition. While on the mystical side the concern is with the immortal soul and eternity, for Arendt it is temporal existence that concerns the immortal. She writes: ‘By their capacity for the immortal deed, by their ability to leave non-perishable traces behind, men, their individual mortality notwithstanding, attain an immortality of their own and prove themselves to be of a “divine” nature’ (1998, 19). For Arendt, as we will see, this partly concerns the traces people leave of themselves in their works but beyond this and more importantly it concerns the effects of individually motivated actions on human history. Arendt begins her model for immortality by setting up a hierarchical division between the economic sphere and the political sphere, the former as much inferior to the latter in entailing necessity as opposed to freedom. The economic sphere is subdivided into menial labour and manufacturing work, the former constituting the lowest rung of the human condition. Whereas menial labour was once a matter of the private sphere of woman and slaves since the relative liberation of this class as a working class, Arendt sees that this labour has become more public and therefore, we could say, recognized as labour. Still, for Arendt, this work does not have much value for the reason that, as she puts it, ‘the least durable of tangible things are those needed for the life process itself’ (1998, 96). Because not durable, it is labour that has to be repeated over and over with nothing to show for this drudgery – other than keeping life going! We might think that would be the most important thing due to its necessity, as well as to possible pleasures in sustaining life. For instance, although cooking does not produce anything lasting, we find value and pleasure in it, and while we do our laundry again and again, we may enjoy wearing freshly laundered clothes. But for Arendt, work activities such as farming, cooking, cleaning and taking care of the ill, young and elderly are banal and unremarkable in their lack of lasting achievement. It may be added that with the sacred bracketed off through the foreclosure of the mystical, life itself loses precisely its sacred value as something to be cared for, becoming for Arendt merely animalistic, hence her term ‘the labouring animal’. For her (as is clear from her lecture notes), life as zoe is the other of life as bios (Arendt 1955a). Paradoxically, life itself is aligned with mortality in that life as human deeds and their story is aligned with immortality. Moving up the hierarchy, Arendt finds more value in the manufacturing work of homo faber since this gives rise to more durable products. Arendt’s value category of ‘immortality’

pertains to what outlasts the perishable, on a material or quasi-tangible level as opposed to spiritual one. It seems that she finds this in things, and as such she emerges as something of a commodity fetishist in Marx’s sense where Marx considers it ridiculous that we accord more ‘life’ to inanimate things than to labour. While Arendt praises the ‘worldly stability of the human artifice’ (1998, 126), in a capitalist society, fabricated commodities are constantly updated and replaced, that is to say trashed, so this supposed endurance of the manufactured product is less stable than Arendt would like. And yet, the beauty of ancient Greece remains for us in its art works (poetry, for instance) and architectural ruins (temples, for instance). However, such remnants would pertain to the contemplative life. Finally, what Arendt calls ‘political actors’ are those freed from the realm of economic necessity and thus not instrumentalized by its ends in ways that prove effacing for the workers and makers of things. Thus, Arendt is concerned with those who are capable of making some kind of permanent impression of themselves on their societies in terms of historical destiny. If a class question (where an alternative will be considered further on), we run into here the question of why these actors would be needed if they do not contribute to society through the work expected of others. Moreover, in order to be free to perform themselves, these actors would be dependent on drawing their livelihoods from the work done by others: that is, its surplus value would accrue to them, at least in part. While the labour of economic necessity is replaceable, in that even if it requires some skills it does not matter who exactly carries it out, for Arendt, there would need to be something irreplaceable about the political actors to justify their transcendence of ordinary life. Here, the answer given by her is that each human being is unique by virtue of their birth. In that case everyone would be irreplaceable, but Arendt implies that labour enters into an obligation of giving up on the uniqueness that should be valued in the case of each being where this is for the sake of those who do not sacrifice themselves in this way. As already touched on, while the political actors would owe their freedom to labour, they would be in the position of justifying this not on private selfish grounds but in terms of demonstrating how others depend on their irreplaceability. Implicitly, Arendt is trying to find her way around the sociality of labour, that is, that we work as so-called labouring animals not only to care for ourselves but for the benefit of others. Indeed, Arendt aligns the social (something she thinks of in terms of mass society) entirely with the economic as distinct from the political sphere where actors appear to each other as individuals. In that the ‘mob’ is potentially ‘superfluous’ (terms used in her notes, Arendt 1955c) necessity emerges on the side of the political actors rather than on the side of life. It is as if, through an ideological inversion, the political actors supposedly do not need the workers but the workers need or are obliged to depend on the political actors. While Arendt’s explicit yardstick is one of permanence and endurance, she also works with the logic of appearance and disappearance maintaining that her political actors require ‘a space of appearance’ (1998, 199). In capitalist terms, she could be seen to be protesting against faceless labour and mechanized production as causing the disappearance of humanity or its obscurity: as if the human had become just an unknown private life. Thus, the ‘space of

appearance’ is actually a ‘theatre of re-appearance’ where humanity is able to appreciate and even worship itself as such. The notion that the public sphere is of importance to the sense of a shared historical reality and recognition of a life in common cannot be disputed. However, what is questionable is the depiction and valuation of the public sphere in terms of the visibility of political performance. In capitalist terms, it might be proposed that Arendt’s political actors appear as celebrities: although Arendt would most probably not have approved of such an outcome, her arguments do in certain respects fit with celebrity culture. She states: ‘Only the vulgar will condescend to derive their pride from what they have done. […] The saving grace of all really great gifts is that the persons who bear them remain superior to what they have done’ (1998, 211). She also maintains that greatness ‘can only lie in the performance itself’ (1998, 206) where ‘in the performance of the dancer or play-actor, the product is identical with the performing act itself’ (1998, 207). Thus, it seems that for her political actor, the act of self-performance is an end in itself. Problematically, Arendt’s concept of greatness is very self-referential even as it requires an audience. I raise the question of celebrity culture in that celebrities appear larger than ordinary life, and they are expected to put on public display every aspect of their lives. Moreover, while the conventionally honoured are famed for great achievements that they have worked to attain (the discoveries of a scientist, the novels of a writer, the wins of a football team), celebrities, like Arendtian actors, are known for mainly just performing themselves, as previously cited. Neal Gabler aptly points out in his work on celebrity Life the Movie that while celebrities are spoken of as royalty, celebrity value is different from royalty (2000, 174). To clarify this, it may be said that Princess Diana achieved celebrity status while Queen Elizabeth is not a celebrity as such. Queen Elizabeth may be said to preserve a distance between herself and her role. Indeed, her role is treated very much as a role, one of public duty and service, while she also maintains a private life. Princess Diana conversely put the intimate details of her private life on display, performing her ‘unique self’. With celebrity, life and performance coincide, while Arendt maintains this is what happens with the political actor. Moreover, Gabler states that celebrities arise when entertainment becomes a religion (2000, 175). In this respect, the celebrity is an idol. For Arendt, however, the auto-performances of political actors are valued for their historical impact. Here, another criterion comes into play: the distinction between muteness and speech. The assumption in The Human Condition is that menial labour is a form of doing that is almost without speech and that making something is a form of doing that may constitute a form of speech but where the making and what is expressed are separable. For Arendt with action that is not work, speaking and doing occur at one and the same time. Thus, speech would be an enactment not of something other than itself but of itself. What this means is that origin and copy would be seamlessly conflated in the form of an originating copy. In other words, political actors, having severed themselves from owing anything to the process of work, would appear much as the commodity form or ideal thing: seemingly out of nowhere and self-originating, as Marx notes of commodities. The human being in this light

would but be that which animates a self-idealization. The question is whether Arendt runs into precisely what she is running away from: the commodification or thingification of the human being. There are ways that Arendt’s arguments on political greatness may be differently contextualized but for the moment I will follow through with the question of their Enlightenment, including in Elisabeth Roudinesco’s phrase ‘Dark Enlightenment’ (2009) context. Arendt’s emphasis on politics as self-enacting performance is potentially problematic, given her stated indebtedness to Heidegger and given how Benjamin and Adorno consider fascism in the light of the theatricalization of politics. Sebastian Haffner writing at the time of the rise of fascism maintains in his book Germany: Jekyll and Hyde that fascism has no ideological content, saying: ‘Hitler serves no idea, no nation, no statesmanlike conception, but exclusively the propulsion of his own ego’ ([1940] 2005, 18). Accordingly, Hitler’s politics, according to Haffner, amount to ‘political exhibitionism’, with a ‘preference for theatrical coups, cheap startling effects, imposing parades and celebrations’. Haffner also maintains that having no ideas (as would entail contemplation) the Nazis value ‘raging activity’ and he speaks of ‘their mania for rushing about’ promoting their ‘dynamic’, their ‘activism’ which Haffner states are ‘current terms of Nazi jargon’ (45). Thus, Haffner ascribes to fascism an obsession with both theatrical forms of self-expression and action for action’s sake. I will later explain how Arendt’s concept of the performative actually differs from the theatrical as an art form, while at this point it becomes necessary to engage with Arendt’s relation to Heidegger. I have discussed Arendt’s version of the foreclosure of Being and metaphysics, and it is obvious that she shares with Heidegger a snobbish horror of the faceless masses of the capitalist work force, called by Heidegger the ‘they’, as discussed by Hanna Pitkin (1998). I believe that what Arendt dubs ‘space of appearance’ is also owed to Heidegger. Heidegger, as echoed by Arendt, had a fascination with ancient Greece. Influenced by Nietzsche, he thought that philosophy had become a set of groundless truth claims and (to use a phrase of Arendt’s out of context) had lost its treasure. What I mean by this is that philosophers, for Heidegger, were no longer able to disclose the shining authenticity of Being. As is well known, he thought it might be possible to relearn this from the earliest generations of the ancient Greek philosophers, and he spoke of what he strove to re-discover as aletheia or unconcealment: literally, the reverse of lethe or oblivion and thus what stands to last forever. In addition, he maintained that the disclosure o r revelation at stake requires what he calls lichtung, an opening like a clearing in a forest, or indeed a space of appearance. Arendt, much more matter of fact than Heidegger, might be seen to be demystifying Heidegger with respect to his pretentious obscurities. Thus, she brings back the Greeks (and Romans) as political actors who disclose or un-conceal themselves through their ‘speech acts’ in a public space of appearance: as if to imply that the nostalgia at stake is nostalgia for the origins of democracy. This constitutes a corrective to Heidegger’s Nazi sympathies, but it still begs the question of what philosophical complicities could remain at stake with what

may be spoken of as the fatal ruse of German idealism. The fatal ruse of German idealist philosophy is to try to sneak in through the backdoor the very thing that it begins by foreclosing: the mystical. Ronald Beiner, in his recent book Dangerous Minds: Nietzsche, Heidegger and the Return of the Far Right, argues that what aligns the philosophy of Nietzsche and Heidegger with the far right is that both thinkers seek to restore some long lost authenticity to humanity, Beiner stating: ‘Nietzsche’s formula for the death of God and Heidegger’s formula of the forgetfulness of Being are two ways of articulating a shared intuition – namely that there’s a spiritual void at the heart of modernity’ (2018, 132). In this, they are similar to T. S. Eliot of The Waste Land, but whereas in identifying such a void Eliot turns precisely to religion, neither Nietzsche nor Heidegger do because, it seems, they wish to transfer the spirituality of religion to a human domain: in Nietzsche’s case, new men proudly carving some kind of heroic destiny for themselves – in what Beiner sees as his rejection of the contemplative life (2018, 37) – and in Heidegger’s case a Germany made great again by its eventual custodianship of primordial, radiant Being. So, they yearn for forms of non-religious redemption and immortality where the mystical is foreclosed as truly divine so that it can be re-introduced as belonging to secular man in terms of what Heidegger speaks of as ‘en-owning’, appropriation and mineness. Nietzsche traces this self-deification tendency back to Hegel in stating amusingly of Hegel’s god: ‘This god, however, became transparent and comprehensible to himself inside Hegelian craniums and has already ascended all the dialectically possible steps of his evolution to this self-revelation: so that for Hegel the climax and terminus of the world process coincided with his own Berlin existence’ (Nietzsche 1997, 104). While this implies the end of history, Nietzsche’s key point is that Hegel divinizes his own mind with his claims to have translated absolute spirit into the rational terms of his own philosophy.1 As for Nietzsche, while he proclaims ‘God is dead’ and rants against the passivity of Christianity he ends up performing himself as Zarathustra prophesying a new beginning in the Overman. The closeness of Heidegger to Hegel is apparent in juxtaposing Nietzsche’s judgement of Hegel (just cited) with Richard L. Rubenstein’s following appraisal of Heidegger: ‘For Heidegger, history is ultimately the story of the self-concealment and self-unveiling of Being, a self-unveiling which begins to manifest itself in our own times in Heidegger’s own philosophy’ (1989, 192). It is noteworthy here that Arendt begins The Human Condition with what could read as a critique of scientific hubris regarding genetic experiments to produce superior human beings (2) and regarding the human desire to cut free from the earth and go the moon. If the human condition is about accepting our earthbound humanity, it is yet strange that Arendt demonstrates some contempt for creaturely humanity and natural life and somewhat follows in Heidegger’s footsteps as regards historical self-fashioning given an aura of the sacred or divine. Briefly, Heidegger in his Black Notebooks speaks of National Socialism as a new commencement or beginning (2016, 97), as the far right often speak of ‘new dawns’ that hark back to long lost eras, while letters to his brother show he regards Hitler to constitute a redemptive destiny for the Western world (Zielinski 2016).

It is interesting to note that Edward Said maintains in Orientalism that the Germans did not have an Orientalist tradition in the way that preoccupies him in that he sees Orientalism as specifically bound up with the colonial will-to-power in the Middle East (Said 2003, 19). However, what Said overlooks is Aimé Césaire’s crucial insight that fascism is colonialism returned to Europe (Césaire 2000, 36). Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment German thinkers are demonstrably quite fixated on the mystical East, where this is especially with respect to the spiritual philosophies of China, India and Persia. Said does concede that there were Germans with a scholarly interest in the East but without this being connected to worldly power. However, Hegel constitutes a very significant turning point here in that his obsession with Eastern mysticism is actually combined with his desire to take philosophy away from its merely contemplative role into the sphere of active life and political world spirit. Hegel’s fascination is with Chinese and Indian philosophies that he writes of at great length and also with Rumi whom he treats as a Persian and tellingly not as a Sufi (Muslim). As indicated, Nietzsche develops a fascination with Persian mysticism, and Heidegger maintains a clandestine fascination with Zen Buddhism and Taoism. While the legacies of the thought of Hegel, Nietzsche and Heidegger are diversely plural and subject to wide-ranging debate, these legacies can be considered in the light of what is called German Orientalism. An aspect of this is that certain strands of Eastern mysticism are appropriated as a part of emergent German self-consciousness, as proper to it or as its property, while at the same time this tends to be set off against the Semitic (Jewish and Islamic) Middle East. Disturbingly, this links to the Aryan myth in which Germans spuriously claim Indo-Iranian ancestry as definitive of their German racial identity. A certain divergence is marked in the thought of Schopenhauer in that while he openly compares his philosophy to Buddhism, he does so in a way that entails a renunciation of the active (as appropriative) life or will-to-power in favour of starkly pessimistic passivity (similar to that of Conrad and Beckett both of whom he influenced). It is Nietzsche who reconnects philosophy with the will-to-power, while Heidegger goes even further in aligning his philosophy with the Nazi political party. Although this German configuration of Orientalism bound up with colonialism as fascism stands to be explored in a more complex and detailed way as has begun to unfold variously among scholars (Kontje 2004; Librett 2015), it is important to consider how internalized Orientalism (the dialectical turning of the Eastern mystic into the German self) is set off against anti-Semitism (regarding the spiritually/ racially inferior East) and how this is bound up with philosophy turned into political action. While Germany may have been less involved than other European powers in the acquisition of colonies, it has been suggested that this serves as a motivation for the colonization of the Orient on a cultural and intellectual level. For instance, Kontje states: ‘Germany’s intellectual participation in European Orientalism compensated for its inability to be a real player on the international scene’ (Kontje 2004, 6). What was Arendt trying to do with Heidegger? Was she seeking to maintain a certain complicity with his work and the German Enlightenment tradition or was she aiming at a conscious, surreptitious revision of it, and if so, what kind of revision? Although the sources

of the terminology of The Human Condition are religious or spiritual – Augustine’s ‘natality’, revelation of the ‘divine’ nature and ‘immortality’ of political actors, in particular – in appropriating a spiritual discourse, what Arendt serves arguably to effect is what Habermas came to call ‘the linguistification of the sacred’ (Habermas 1985, 82). For Habermas, this serves as a socially binding mechanism in a secular world. (Actually, the word ‘religion’ comes from the Latin religare, ‘to bind’.) Thus, Arendt uses a vocabulary derived from religious discourses but emptied of reference to the sacred so that the sacred is merely scripted and performed. Before Habermas, Adorno spoke critically of a version of this in his work The Jargon of Authenticity (Adorno 2003) in which he accuses German intellectuals, including Heidegger, of appropriating spiritual terminologies and turning them into jargon, as the next chapter will engage with. In Heidegger’s case, Reinhard May (1996) has documented how he relies in unacknowledged ways on Zen Buddhist and Taoist sources, this as supposedly the essence of what belongs to Germans. The problem is not only that Heidegger ‘forgets’ to acknowledge these sources but that he arguably fails to understand them. One pertinent example is that Heidegger declares that ‘language is the house of being’ (Heidegger 1978, 217). The opening of the Tao Te Ching states: ‘The DAO that can be expressed/ is not the eternal DAO’ (Tzu 1989, 27), while Suzuki says ‘the human tongue is not an adequate organ for expressing the deepest truths of Zen’ (Suzuki 1964, 3). That is, Heidegger himself promotes the linguistification of the sacred, especially in his worship of the German language as the privileged language of Being. In Hannah Arendt, Totalitarianism and the Social Sciences, Peter Baehr addresses the rift that occurred between Arendt as a political theorist and political sociologists such as Raymond Aron and Jules Monnerot who saw totalitarianism as an attempt to sacralize the political or create a secular religion. Baehr writes: ‘The sacralization of politics under totalitarian rule, together with its liturgies, festivals, and cults, was marked by the deification of the leader, idolatrous worship of the state, that arrogates to itself the exclusive right to determine good and evil, organize mass rallies [with] the appeal to sacrifice, the cult of death.’ He adds, ‘Of this Arendt had little to say’ (2010, 14). Instead, according to Baehr, she counters the assertion of totalitarianism as the sacralization of politics through asserting it was not a religion at all but merely an ideology. Of course, totalitarianism is not really religion, just what may be performed as such, so Arendt does not admit to the irrationality of what is at stake. In fact, as Baehr shows, she argues instead for the logical consistency, as opposed to irrationality, of totalitarian ideology. If Arendt lumps together Communism and Nazism as ideologies this is problematic given the far-left assertion of radical equality and the far-right assertion of white or ethnic supremacy. Lumping the far right and far left together leads to the postmodernist position that there’s no alternative to liberal capitalism. It also concerns the way Netanyahu equates the radical left with far-right extremism, the argument that serves to set up the war on terror, as discussed in the introduction. Partly, the difficulty Arendt faces in The Human Condition is that she combines many different sources, some of them acknowledged and some of them not: for instance, Heidegger

is not mentioned in the work itself. There is one further seemingly unacknowledged source that is potentially illuminating. In 1955, the British philosopher J. L. Austin launched his lectures on ‘How to Do Things with Words’ at Harvard and at Berkeley. In 1955, Arendt was a visiting lecturer in philosophy at Berkeley, so it is most likely that she attended Austin’s lectures. As is now well known, Austin in ‘How to Do Things with Words’ originated a theory of performative speech acts that serve to effect what they utter. This accords closely with Arendt’s notion of political speech as that which is self-enacting. Arendt’s The Human Condition came out three years after Austin’s lectures at Berkeley and, in my view, it arguably bears the unacknowledged traces of a debt to Austin. For instance, the presumed debt explains Arendt’s presentation of politics as a matter not of ideologies or of ideas but of ‘speech acts’ and performance, certainly ‘doing things with words’. Austin’s theory of the performative does not concern performance arts, it has to be said (despite persistent confusion over this), and this accords with the Aristotlean distinction between poiesis and praxis that Arendt relies on. The examples of the performative that Austin gives concern ritualized or institutionalized and bureaucratic authority as in ‘I pronounce you man and wife’ or ‘I name this ship the Queen Elizabeth’. Performative utterances are literalizing: they turn the ‘as if’ into a literal reality as distinct from a factual reality. That is, something said to be the case becomes the case through the authority of the utterance irrespective of reality. Although performative events are staged in public, such as the naming of a ship, those who officiate do not appear as unique beings so much as public functiona ries. With Arendt’s political actors, it is as if there were no difference between the individual who plays a role and the role they play. They are like characters in a play that has no author. It is as if a character such as Oedipus brought himself into being through his script but with no Sophocles. At times, Arendt explicitly conflates the figure of the author with that of the actor (184). However, in literary terms we do not generally conflate the role of the author with that of the actor, nor do we conflate the actor with the role she plays. In the world of creative performance, actors do not play themselves (their unique beings) but lend themselves to imaginatively portraying and interpreting the characters that have been in turn imagined by an author. In this there is a dynamic of receptivity and transmission as opposed to a selfreferential one. In addition, the theatrical scene is not supposed to be taken literally, the way a wedding ceremony is. While Arendt argues that political actors display their uniqueness, she does not address the mimetic aspects of performance or how her own work seems driven by a mimetic compulsion as she synthesizes the ideas of Aristotle, Augustine, Heidegger and arguably Austin. Beyond this, other concepts for which Arendt is known can be traced to sources outside her work. For instance, she takes over Bruno Lazare’s concept of the conscious pariah versus the parvenu (Piterberg 2008, 14) and Walter Benjamin’s theses on history influence her notion of revolution’s lost treasure, while her most famous concept, ‘the banality of evil’, draws significantly on Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews. Hilberg took copious notes on what he identified as Arendt’s plagiarism of his work, as

discussed by Nathaniel Popper who refers to Hugh Trevor Roper’s endorsement of the plagiarism claim (Popper 2010) that has also been supported by Norman Finkelstein (2007). While Arendt’s treatment of Hilberg could hardly be called civil, in the context of The Human Condition, what particularly interests me about her mimetically driven chain of appropriations is that Arendt cuts ideas off from their origin in labour and work. For instance, Hilberg’s theses come out of his meticulous research on the Holocaust together with the contemplative labour of his extensive study. When Arendt presents her version of ‘the banality of evil’, it appears original since it seems to come out of nowhere. Hilberg in fact commented that Arendt positioned him in the role of ‘labour’ for her to capitalize on as ‘the thinker’ without her adequately acknowledging her considerable reliance on his research and ideas (see Popper 2010). Ideas whose actual sources are not acknowledged appear thus disclosed on a stage of appearance, much like Marx’s commodities, and they perhaps acquire an attendant fetishistic attraction in seeming to be magically self-generating. Both Dana Miller and Bonnie Honig’s present Arendt as significantly a postmodernist theorist (Honig 1993; Miller 1996), and definitive of postmodernism is the recycling of texts that Barthes speaks of in his ‘Death of the Author’ essay, published in 1967, where Barthes refers to this in terms of the ready-made scripts of speech act theory, scripts that are performed rather than authored (Barthes 2004). However, regarding the notion of natality, the question is whether certain ideas may be thought of in such terms, that is, in terms of what may be given to a particular person to think due to their being born into circumstances that are specific or even unique to them. A whole train of postmodernist and poststructuralist theorists also went on to deploy Austin’s work, from Barthes in ‘Death of the Author’ through to Derrida and Butler who have drawn on Austin’s work very extensively (Rooney 2007). Tuija Pulkkinen, though, while noting Arendt’s anti-foundationalist performative emphasis on identity as produced by ‘doing’ not ‘being’, rightly considers that this does not really fit with Arendt’s emphasis on natality, the importance of what you are born as – in Arendt’s case, according to Pulkkinen, the condition of being born as a Jew, as a woman and so on (Pulkkinen 2003, 225). In her lecture notes of 1955, Arendt advises her students to distil the work of philosophers into their key words or phrases, giving the example of ‘labour’ as Marx’s key word. Arendt herself works in this way, through key words or phrases, offering us (as already discussed) ‘natality’, ‘space of appearance’, ‘pariah/ parvenu’, ‘banality of evil’ as key terms she uses to distil the work of others. But does Arendt have her own key term? I think perhaps she does, and I think it is an important one that derives from her own experiential history. I would suggest her key word is ‘cohabitation’. In The Human Condition, while she believes that religion is not able to bind human communities (implicitly in the West), she turns to political participation to do this. In her lecture notes of 1955, she says: ‘The question is not: Where is the new body politic in which men can act, but how can men live together’ (Arendt 1955a). I would say that the crucial question of cohabitation takes us back to what Arendt forecloses. A question that fails to be posed in relation to Arendt’s position is how is cohabitation possible when you foreclose or bracket off the contemplative life where mystics,

believers and philosophers like Spinoza, as well as poets and creative people more widely, would somehow be set apart from the human condition as a secular sphere of action? That is, in terms of the criteria of The Human Condition, these so-called passive types2 would be the truly or extremely superfluous, dangerously so, if they were to be considered to contribute nothing to the human condition as such. I would even propose that there might even be an unexamined relationship between the repeated gesture of foreclosure in German philosophy and the separating out of people deemed to be superfluous to the human condition. However, Arendt herself says in a letter to Karl Jaspers that she defines ‘radical evil’ precisely as ‘making human beings as human beings superfluous’ (Arendt 1993, 166). She further states that this is not in the terms of the indignity of instrumentalizing human beings but through a more extreme eradication of their spontaneity t hrough the assumption of the godlike omnipotence of man in the singular (this closing off creative alternatives where godlike man would be self-sufficient needing no others beyond himself). This human redundancy is perhaps implied in ideologies of man’s self-perfection that would surpass humanity as we know it (in its ordinary plurality of men and women), implying also a concern with the Nazi biopolitics of human engineering and, of course, genocide.3 It also seems to me that Arendt’s crucial emphasis on spontaneity entails allowing (not controlling or denying) the being of the other and in this dignity is implied. I would also add that what communism and fascism do actually have in common in their totalitarian formations is the denial or curtailment of human spontaneity, allowing for no creativity outside of the political. At this juncture, I wish to quote Albert Einstein with respect to acceptance of the given world. Einstein says: ‘We followers of Spinoza see our God in the wonderful order and lawfulness of all that exists and in its soul (“Beseelheit”) as it reveals itself in man and animal’ (Jammer 1999, 51). He also states: ‘While it is true that scientific results are entirely independent from religion or moral considerations, those individuals to whom we owe the great creative achievements of science were all of them imbued with the truly religious conviction that this universe of ours is something perfect and susceptible to the rational striving for knowledge’ (Jammer 1999, 117). So, for Einstein amor fati, the love of being, given the way it is, is the basis of human achievements in science and in knowledge of the real world. While the performative presents reality as the enactment of a self-reflexive script, in the case presented by Einstein reality extends beyond the inward-turning human condition to our place in the cosmos that we have been given to share with other life forms. For this reason, humans may receive inspiration from what is outside of the Greco-Arendtian polis, be this in terms of scientific enquiry, ecological engagement, spiritual worship, philosophical contemplation or creative production. It could further be pointed out that the scientific discoveries of the last century quite radically challenge Hegel’s key supposition that ‘what is rational is real; And what is real is rational’ (Hegel 1952, 10). Quantum physics, for instance, shows this is not the case, as shocked scientists including Einstein who found it hard to accept the non-rationality (rather than irrationality) of the real. Quantum physicist Niels Bohr came to adopt the Taoist yin-

yang symbol as his coat of arms while his colleague Erwin Schrödinger embraced Hinduism. Obviously, rationality remains important although not in any totalizing way. What Einstein says of himself and Spinoza actually re-states what is perhaps first expressed in a different way by the ancient Egyptian philosopher Thoth in The Hermetica. Thoth explains that the human being ‘was created to view the universe/ with awe and wonder/ and to come to know its Maker’ (Freke and Gandy 1999, 79). The birth of culture is attributed to this love of the world, Thoth stating: ‘Men looked with wonder and questioning/ and, having observed the Maker’s masterpiece, wanted to create things for themselves’ (65). The term ‘Maker’ actually refers to the holistic ‘Oneness’ of the cosmos (21).

The forgotten poet ‘Poetry makes nothing happen’ wrote Auden famously in his elegy for Yeats, ‘In Memory of W. B. Yeats’(W. H. Auden 1991, 247). Poetic speech is thus not a doing with words (and differs from the speech of political actors), and yet Auden, in acknowledging this, tries to convey what the value of poetry is. Auden wrote his poem on the brink of the Second World War, and the value of poetry is set off against this. In brief, Auden positions poetry against the ‘intellectual disgrace’ of those who are pitiless or who lack civility, and he offers poetry as a source of rejoicing and praise without blanking out human failings. In addition, Auden places poetry on the level of attending to basic human needs, speaking of it in terms of horticulture and as a healing fountain. He likens poetry to a river and writes: ‘It survives/ In the valley of its making where executives/ Would never want to tamper, flows on south/ From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,/ Raw towns … .’ Auden’s poetry is written in solidarity with the workers and although it is not a history-making force, it yet has the capacity to endure and help others go on living through the human sympathy that may console us. In fact, in likening poetry to a river, Auden is rather Taoist. Lao Tzu, advocating ‘the watercourse way’, states: ‘The highest benevolence is like water./ The benevolence of water is/ to benefit all beings without strife. [competition]/ It dwells in [lowly] places which man despises’ (Tzu 1989, 29). It is notable that Auden refuses to idealize poetry, either through the figure of the poet whom he says may be ‘silly’ (as he calls Yeats) or through the worship of poetry considered lowly in the valley of its making, way below the executives. However, it is in its very humility that poetry teaches us to care for and dignify the forlorn and lowly and also in its humility it finds a way of praising what is other than itself. Auden’s elegy is a strange one because it does not actually celebrate the dead poet, Yeats. In Auden’s treatment of Yeats there is a certain sullen anger that you can mainly hear in the pitch, rhythm and intonation of the poem. The lines dispatching with Yeats have something extraordinarily dismissive in them, such as Yeats referred to as now a mere ‘vessel emptied’ and his imagined funeral but a perfunctory ritual delivered in the rhythm of a bureaucratic jingle. It is as if Auden in tossing the poet aside resented his own action, the subtext being that self-effacing poets go to their deaths unappreciated by a public not that grateful for their useless work. However, the poem does not really make it clear why poets as worshippers

might not themselves count as worthy of the praise of others (as opposed to selfappreciation). It is intriguing that Auden much admired The Human Condition, reviewing it on its publication and seeking a friendship with Arendt. What attracted Auden to The Human Condition, it gradually emerges, was its Christian subtexts. He first reviewed it in June 1959 (Auden 1959a), and his initial review primarily offers a supportive paraphrase of his understanding of Arendt’s arguments although he does challenge her in a significant respect. He maintains that her understanding of the applicability of ancient Greek society to the present is ahistorical in a way that does not work. Auden maintains that the private/public divide of the Greeks has been inverted in the modern world. For the Greeks, he says, labour constitutes a private sphere of slaves whereby free self-disclosure belongs to the public sphere. With modern capitalism, Auden argues that labour is now very much a public activity, so that the realm of self-disclosure is actually the private sphere of intimacy. Auden wrote a second essay six months later (Auden 1959b) that refers only obliquely to Arendt’s work, where his disagreement with it is more pronounced (and where the room for disagreement in the friendship seems to have strengthened its intellectual appeal). In his essay, Auden devotes himself to political figures in Shakespeare with respect to the question of what makes a good leader, Henry IV being his prime source in that it is a play that deals centrally with the makings of an ideal ruler. Here, Auden clearly prefers Falstaff to Hal. He says that Falstaff lives in a kind of eternal present which enables him to continue to be what he is, his motif being ‘I am what I am’, which has for today’s readers a Gloria Gaynor echo of gay disco culture. The lyrics of the Gaynor song are like a hilariously comic version of the subtext of some of Arendt’s more elevated concerns, presuming a de-idealization of them, as if to say ‘come on, out with it’. The lines of the song are: I am what I am I am my own special creation So come take a look Give me the hook or the ovation […] I am what I am And what I am needs no excuses. So, in a way, this is Auden’s self-accepting Falstaff whose ‘tune’ is actually a ‘get lost superego’ one. However, obviously Falstaff is no role model for Hal as future king: being the merrily self-satisfied ego as opposed to ideal ego that Hal has to aspire to in his path from role model to sovereign. Auden speaks of how, while in Greek theatre the Gods are evident or disclosed to the audience, Shakespeare has to find new ways of indicating the ethical and sacred life in a more secular world, precisely in that the ethical is now located in inner states of feeling. Taking the example of Cordelia, an extremely good character, Auden shows how her role is not a theatrical one of self-display but one of ‘love and be silent’. For Auden, if Cordelia were to flaunt her capacity for love in a theatrical manner she would become sham (say, veering towards her evil sisters who do theatrically perform their so-called love that is

actually self-serving). The situation is that while the relative muteness of the good cannot be revealed directly on stage, this does not mean that it does not exist but that some aesthetics of ethical indirection needs be used, Auden referring to how religion uses parables, a bit like the way Zen uses koans. And the character of Falstaff seems to function for Auden as a kind of riddle (koan) by which goodness may be revealed indirectly. While Falstaff is no ideal man, with lots of obvious faults, Auden sees him as constituting a figure of charity, very accepting of others with their imperfections. Auden here aligns forgiveness with charity, where Arendt considers that the unpredictability of political action requires the possibility of forgiveness. Arendt’s response to Auden’s views is recorded in a brief but very pithy letter in which she states: ‘Of course I am prejudiced against charity.’ She adds: ‘I can forgive somebody without forgiving anything; if I forgive a thing then only that I was wronged’ (Arendt 1960). She further says that she finds that the kind of forgiveness rooted in humility is actually conceited and goes on to align forgiveness with pride: it is an act that preserves the pride of both the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven. Thus, forgiveness for her is a performative way of saving face as opposed to requiring anything heartfelt. Nonetheless, Arendt’s lecture notes reveal that she had Christ in mind in advocating forgiveness in that she believes that Christ’s forgiveness allowed for there to be new beginnings. For Arendt, the question of forgiveness must surely entail the thought: what of the legacies of German culture after the Holocaust? The significance of Auden’s interest in Falstaff in this context is that Falstaff, rather than Hal the future political leader, is the one who is animated by amor mundi in his lowlife joie de vivre and humour. Regarding Auden’s reading, this worldly love of life is positioned between the discrete authenticities that Cordelia is the bearer of and the ritualistic displays of public office. What may be added is that Falstaff in aesthetic terms can be aligned with the burlesque and the carnivalesque of popular culture. Thus, the carnivalesque expression of the Arab uprisings might be considered in terms of what emerges in a liminal position between the sacredly real and political performance. Falstaff’s place might be understood as a pivotal one of chiasmatic inversion, say between the sovereignty of love and the love of the sovereign. Since I suggested that Auden’s riverine notion of the poetic in his elegy for Yeats has a bearing on ‘the watercourse way’ of Taoism, it is worth noting that a poem that Arendt much admired is Brecht’s ballad ‘The Legend of the Origin of the Book Tao Te Ching on Lao Tzu’s Way Into Exile’ (written in 1938). In the poem, Lao Tzu is a contemplative teacher who on seeking to escape his country’s descent into dark times has a mutually transformative encounter with a border guard or custom’s official. The official learns that the sage has no valuables to declare other than his wisdom, specifically his insight that the yielding qualities of water are eventually able to wear down rocklike rigidity. The official then offers Lao Tzu shelter and sustenance in exchange for the teacher setting down his thoughts. Arendt, who received the poem from Walter Benjamin, who had received the poem from Brecht in exile, found it a ‘consoling’ affirmation of the refugee at the border, while her wider reception of

Brecht was an ambivalent one given his politics (Stonebridge 2018, 65–8). Benjamin’s reading of the poem is that it constitutes a lesson in friendliness across a distance (Benjamin 1998, 74). What I further wish to suggest is that it constitutes a form of poetic hailing that is other to the politically hegemonic and officially recognized forms of role-play that police the boundaries between us. The third chapter of this book will offer an account of the significance of this poetic hailing for revolutionary forms of solidarity. In the light of Auden’s seeming anxieties over the forgotten poet, what is striking is the way Brecht’s poem ends. We are told that gratitude is due not only to Lao Tzu for writing down his wisdom but equally to the custom’s official for ‘he did the eliciting’ (Benjamin 1998, 72). The transmission of the poetic work of wisdom is nothing without those who are open to receiving it and eager to learn from it, while beyond this ‘the calling’, so to speak, is not just that of the poet but dependent on those who call for the work, a matter of co-dependent arising. Thus, the official is not just the passive receiver of the teachings but in a way their solicitous anticipatory source whereby the hierarchies of writer and reader, as well as teacher and pupil, are broken down also putting the host and the guest on the same level of genuine exchanges. Finally, one meaning of the poem is that the watery yielding of poetic civility has the capacity to outlast the hard rocks (as well as borders) of the political world in that inspiration lies precisely in the cross-cultural flow of reception, acknowledgement and transmission.

The overturning of The Human Condition by the uprisings I will now indicate why Arendt’s scheme does not do justice to the Arab uprisings while also indicating how some of her concerns may be re-considered. First of all, one of the triggers for the Arab Spring was that the people were tired of the way that political actors insisted on their durability in clinging on to power as if this is all they were good for. The will-toendurance of political leaders appeared to be their main concern so that their leadership appeared to be nothing other than self-congratulatory performance, self-display delivering nothing. For example, Egyptians were appalled by the rumour that Mubarak was arranging for his son Gamal to take over from him, just as Bashar Assad had succeeded Hafez Assad in Syria. Gaddafi was another leader for whom political endurance was everything, while Yemen’s president Ali Abdullah Saleh was seen to be grooming his son Ahmed Saleh to succeed him. For the Arab revolutionaries, in a democracy, political leaders should be temporary not seemingly or dynastically forever. Instead of this, capitalist and neoliberal economies render workers disposable. The uprisings reversed this with the message: we demand the right to remove our leaders, especially when they act as if they and their gated community dynasties were immortal while treating the work force as superfluous. One of the many amusing jokes of the Egyptian revolution was ‘Mubarak demands a change of the people’. He had come to think of himself as irreplaceable, and the (disloyal) people as replaceable. That the political actors of the times were seen as merely performing themselves, accomplishing little else, is borne out by many statements. Syrian arts activist Zaher

Omareen states: ‘Assad [Hafez] completely pervaded the public sphere’ and, drawing on Lisa Wedeen he states: ‘Everyone was just “pretending as if…” The power of the leader […] lay in his ability to “impos[e] his rhetoric on people. No one is deceived by the act but all … are obliged to participate’ (2014, 92). Thus, the objection is all are obliged to participate in the literalization of performative speech acts. The problem, however, is not so much that politics may entail performing in front of others (as seems unavoidable) but rather that the performance entails a deification of the actor as idol. In arguing that the Arab desire for democracy especially pertains to the right to remove leaders that are ineffectual or corrupt, it may be noted that the general question of political endurance pertains not just to leaders but also to parties and movements. For instance, in right-wing Rhodesia the motto was ‘Rhodesians Never Die’, and the Islamic State’s motto is bāqiyah wa-Tatamaddad. While bāqiyah is usually translated as ‘remaining’ it can further translate as ‘enduring’ everlastingly. Second, it may be suggested that the revolutionaries were critical of the political from a place not subsumed by the political in that they objected to how political actors turned a blind eye to care for the necessities of life, not just bread but dignity. From the revolutionary perspective, politics is also a job, a job the leaders were failing to fulfil, turning a blind eye to the necessities of life and forcing undignified conditions on people, as will be discussed in subsequent chapters. Arendt points out that Marx believed that the state should serve society (even if he is not always read this way), where she disagrees with this orientation thus potentially aligning her position with the Hegelian insistence that people should serve the state (Arendt 1955c). Khayri Hammad, who translated Arendt into Arabic for publication in Egypt, agrees with Arendt that politics should not be reduced to economics, but unlike her he considers that the social should also not be reduced to the economic sphere (Jenssen 2013). Egyptian demonstrator Aly Hassan Amin Rabea (employee of a petroleum company) observes that under Mubarak, ‘the Egyptian people forgot or were made to forget what society means’, going on to say, ‘during the Egyptian revolution … we discovered an astonishing new reality. The protestors treated their revolution and one another with the highest degree of civility – I saw girls walking through huge crowds without fear of being harassed, and I saw Christians protecting Muslims during their prayers’ (Al-Saleh 2015, 87). This is civil society (the general public) as civil society: courteous, respectful, decent, solicitous and so on. It is worth noting that this civility emerges precisely when revolutionaries contest their submission to the state. I much agree with Albena Azmanova in her analysis of the revolution when she speaks of the need to focus ‘energies on solving the social pathologies that sparked the Uprisings and ground the newly established public authority on the ethos of responsible governance’ (Azmanova 2016, 251). Arts activist Khalid Abdalla shares this view, maintaining revolution is not just about a change of government but concerns a lengthy ‘process intended to reconceive the way the entire state apparatus is conceived’ (2016, 37), a radical renegotiation that would have as much social legitimacy as possible and that would entail the accountability of the state to its citizenry. As Azmanova notes, though, this concerns Arendt’s

apt question of discovering what freedom is for. Azmanova also examines how in Arendt’s later work on judgement, political actors do not just perform themselves but require spectators who engage in making meanings in common out of a shared sense of justice. However, Azamanova rightly observes that inter-subjective communication cannot be guaranteed where structural dynamics of inequality are in play (Azmanova 201 2). Of course, the uprisings were very much about economic inequalities too. Writing of Arab feminist anti-colonial movements, Anastasia Valassopoulos sees that the struggle for equality is tied to the question: ‘How can all work have meaning?’ (Valassopoulos 2018, 326) As indicated, this is something that Arendt fails to attend to. For instance, while football players get paid millions for performing ‘action’ in a space of appearance, the labour of a nurse is accorded very little value in exploitative societies. Moreover, the uprisings also concerned high levels of unemployment. Third, following on from the previous, the revolutionaries in rejecting the political rhetoric that obliged them to perform the ‘as if’ political world turned instead to creative expression. The ‘passive’ resistance of the Egyptian revolution, for instance, was accompanied by a huge creative outpouring in song, poetry, murals, story-telling: this was its very language. This creative outpouring had a number of facets to it. It celebrated freedom of individual expression at the same time that it celebrated a popular culture in common – the people bound to each other through this legacy of a shared story of the nation from below, one united by a long history of oppression. Beyond this, the creative expression of Tahrir Square drew on the spirit and practices of Sufi mulids (festivals), as written about by Sahar Keraitim and Samia Mehrez (2012), Ziad Elmarsafy (2015) and myself (2015b), while in Syria, art activists drew on the songs of the arcada or traditional wedding ceremonies. Both the mulid and the arcada are exuberant celebrations of life itself, mulid translating as ‘birth’ where mulids are traced back to pre-Islamic celebrations of natural renewal (hence ‘Spring’). What the revolution accomplished was, schematically speaking, the turning of Arendt’s human condition paradigm on its head. What was asserted is that it is not political actors that are immortal and what was asserted instead was the sacredness of all life as found in the many martyr murals and the festiveness of the mulid. However, what this means is neither the replacement of politics by religion nor an attempt to conflate them. Rather, while Arendt conflates the social with the economic, in the Egyptian context the social has its own experiential voice that calls for ethical accountability on the part of those who have power. As Walid El Hamamsy and Mounira Soliman state, the Egyptian revolution is ‘not only a political revolution; it is also, and equally forcefully, a social and cultural one’ (2013a, 12). What this shows up is that capitalism and neoliberalism do away with the social and cultural dimensions of human existence, serving to displace and even usurp what brings us together and binds us as if the political economy were everything. We have to remember too that it is totalitarian regimes that allow for no togetherness outside of the political state. Where Arendt’s interests do accord with the uprisings is over the question of cohabitation, together with her notion of acting in concert. However, her filtering of these questions through the legacies of German philosophy arguably does not fit the Arab context. For

Arendt, the enacted bios or life story of the political actor corresponds with the special individual appearing to other individuals, while zoe (real life) is what she sees as the undifferentiated blob life of the masses. In the Egyptian context, among others, I think something of the inverse is the case. In this context, bios concerns the collective consciousness and shared story of the people affirmed in aesthetic and cultural expression (as opposed to what is scripted by the state). Then, in the Egyptian context, it is zoe that corresponds with the sacredness of each unique life, as opposed to Arendt’s animalistic masses. You cannot bracket off the sacred in an Egyptian context for it is a fact that by far the majority of Egyptians are religious whether they are Sunni, Sufi, Salafi or Copt. Where Sufism is particularly important is that it is devoted to a vision of interfaith tolerance and world peace: the notions of plurality and cohabitation are in an Egyptian context associated with Sufi values that are not necessarily thereby unworldly. Charles Hirschkind observes: ‘One striking feature of the Egyptian uprising of January 25, 2011, is the extent to which it defied characterization in terms of the religious-secular binary’ (Hirschkind 2012, 49). One of the difficulties of applying Aristotle to contemporary societies is that his discourse relates to the social formations of his times. Thus, when he speaks of the political community, he refers to the polis as a city-state whereas today we might speak of the nation as the realm of a people’s cohabitation. Accordingly, when the Greek for ‘political community’ is translated into Latin it is as societas civilis that in English is of course ‘civil society’. While Marx is dismissive of civil society this is because he sees this as the realm dominated by the bourgeois class. However, as regards the Arab uprisings the Aristotlean emphasis remains relevant in the sense of how civil society seeks what is ‘advantageous for life as a whole’ (Aristotle 2014, 316), as would extend in our times to how humans need to co-operate to save the planet. Whereas Arendt looks to politics to unite us in the secular capitalist context out of which she writes, what the Arab Spring brings to the fore is that politics often serve to divide people and that coexistence requires the living engagement of an ethics of genuine social attunement (beyond the purely performative or ritualistic). In an African context this could be unhu or ubuntu, while in an Arab context it is especially Sufism that has this emphasis together with the Kemetic and Hermetic (more animist) aspects of North African heritages as carried through popular culture. While cohabitation entails living in a wider world that humans don’t own, each human could be seen as a microcosm of human–human and human–other relations. For example, a day in the life of an Egyptian taxi driver may be sketched as follows. The taxi driver gets up, washes and makes himself breakfast, and then commences his work of ferrying people around the city. This work accomplishes nothing lasting but it enables people to go about their businesses. At the same time, the taxi driver engages in many varied political conversations with his passengers about the state of the nation and what should be done about it. He also decides to listen to a cassette sermon or Qur’anic recitation, passively absorbing its spiritual message while he is on the go. Then he turns to a radio station that follows an Um Kulthum song with a satirical song by a new singer. When he goes hom e, he fixes a chair of his that is broken so he does not have to throw it away. Then he goes out to a

café to meet his best friend, their friendship having lasted since childhood. When he leaves, he notices the full moon and decides to go for a stroll by the Nile. He reflects sadly on tales of hardship heard during the day yet he feels consoled seeing the beauty of the moonlight on the water and the joy boats, and he enjoys feeling the warm night air on his skin, happy to be alive. He has never wanted to be famous though he hopes his death will be mourned by friends, family and people he’s helped out in his local community. Arendt’s views need not pertain to classes of the human condition but to valences of it. Even so, she produces a hierarchy that serves starkly to devalue the contemplative life and to accord to political actors the heights of greatness. I would like to reflect on this question of greatness, beginning with the juxtaposition of two quotations. Bush’s adviser Karl Rove, as quoted by Paul Mason, proudly states: ‘We are an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. […] We’re history’s actors […] and you, all of you, will be left to study what we do’ (Mason 2012, 31). Farhad Khosrokhavar states: ‘They [the Arab uprisings] are supported by “modest actors” who do not wish to lift themselves above average citizens and [who] aspire to be anonymous individuals rather than heroic leaders’ (Khosrokhavar 2016, 10). This juxtaposition serves to suggest that the Arab revolutionaries are not concerned with political greatness and only with the establishment of a decent and fair society. While I much agree with Khosrokhavar, the question of greatness could be revolved further. While earlier I spoke of how Arendt’s definition of greatness (as independent of achievement) could fit with notions of celebrity, there is another side to this. When I happened to discuss the question of political celebrity with a young Egyptian diplomat, she confessed to me that she admired and respected Nasser even though he had been a failure as a leader. I could see immediately what she meant because I too admire Nasser and think he could be considered great, even though he certainly had failings and even though some of his most cherished projects (Pan-Arabism, the liberation of Palestine) came to nothing. Somewhat similarly, though at quite some distance, Arendt admired the 1956 Hungarian revolutionaries even though their revolution failed. We could also say that the Arab uprisings are great even if they were not able to last. However, they showed us that what would be great is a society that manages to achieve dignity for everyone: it is decency rather than ‘glory’ (Arendt 1998, 180) that may actually be great. Karl Rove’s hubristic notion of political action, cited previously, is that it is the power to change reality so that it is the way you want it to be. Amor fati (love of reality the way it is) should not be confused with suffering the status quo of man-made injustices, in that injustice is not merely social but a case of how humans lose touch with reality in assuming that they can bend it to their will, a destructive affair. As touched on, many Egyptians felt that the revolution put them back in touch with reality and their revolution was a radiant one. (This revolutionary aura will be discussed in subsequent chapters.) In the Arab context, I am intrigued by how political intervention might come from the people when those in power have badly lost touch with reality the way it is, behaving like sleep walkers leading the nation into crisis or danger. It is as if, in certain situations, revolution could be a re-awakening to the

collective consciousness of reality. In presenting this chapter as a talk, I accompanied it with illustrative photographs I had taken in Cairo. Thus, for ‘the contemplative life’, I offered a photograph of a Sufi concert that took place in Cairo in 2016 and that gathered together on stage hundreds of Sufi singers from all around the world (countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe) in order to spread a message of plurality and unity towards peaceful cohabitation on earth. It was very popular with thousands in the audience. I then showed photographs of an Egyptian woman selling lemons and of a young male Egyptian candy floss maker to illustrate the category of ‘labouring animal’, but it felt really disrespectful to label people in this way: a zoo of labouring animals. In showing images of the so-called labouring animal and of homo faber (a guy making shisha pipes and another carving brassware), what was evident is how much Egyptian labour is connected with the public life of the streets. The markets are on the pavements and the workshops are not closed rooms but open to the streets. It is certainly a social environment, easily open to political discourses. Then, for the ‘political actor’ category I offered a photo of an outdoor antique stall selling old photographs of Sadat and Nasser. What I had not realized when I originally took the photo was that the shop owner had propped up an old advertisement poster above the photographs of the heads of Nasser and Sadat. It was a poster for a pest control company called Sawco, and it featured a cartoon of a man crying out ‘Drop dead!’ with a rat on its back lying at his feet. The Egyptian sense of humour: pest control for politicians who out stay their welcome. The streets have their own frameworks of analysis (Figure 1).

Figure 1 El Moez Street antique shop. Photograph: Caroline Rooney.

If I have attended to Heidegger in this chapter, it is because his way of thinking is much closer to far-right extremism than it is to the creative radicalism of revolutionaries. What Heidegger begins with in his foreclosure is forgetting: foreclosure as forgetting. The words ‘forgive’ and ‘forget’ are interesting in that ‘for-give’ implies a giving in advance without any getting, while ‘for-get’ implies a getting in advance without any debt to what is given in advance. Thus, Heidegger forgets that the gift of natality is not about ownership. The gift is received rather than owned or appropriated. The foundationless foundation (achieved by forgetting) becomes a myth of the German volk whereby empathy, mercy, compassion, pity for non-German races and non-human animals are denied: instead you would just get inwardturning auto-empathy, self-pity (see, Borossa and Rooney 2014). What is also at stake is an original self-forgiveness, a total self-forgiveness in advance of any action, as thus the sanctioning in advance of wrongdoing. Arendt’s emphasis on forgiveness is important because in forgiving someone you can extract yourself from a structure of abuse: you are no longer trapped by it or at the mercy of it. Forgiveness is not a case of denying the wrong doing as such, but entails freeing yourself from the other’s entrapment of you in their abusive structure. Arendt sees this as a matter of pride, but I see it more as a case of dignity, a question to be taken up in subsequent chapters. I would also add that if the political actor is conflated with their deeds, and if these deeds are

evil, this acts as an obstacle to forgiveness. If forgiveness does not deny the wrongdoing, then you would need to forgive the person as distinct from and not wholly subsumed by their deeds. Finally, in speaking of turning The Human Condition on its head, this relates to but is different from Marx’s attempt to turn the Hegelian dialectic on its head. Marx may be said to invert the priority Hegel gives to spirit over material factors in the unfolding of the human condition. Among other things, what is really at stake is a different thinking of causality that Arendt’s notion of acting in concert potentially implies. Whereas for Arendt acting in concert is a matter of the consensual cooperation of political democracy, beyond this what is philosophically pertinent is the creative notion of co-dependent arising that I will explicate in discussing revolutionary dynamics in subsequent chapters. What I would also suggest is that while Marx’s inversion of Hegel is said by Marx to be a matter of extracting the rational kernel from the mystical shell, it seems to me that Hegel actually tries to enclose the mystical East within his rational logic in ways that are potentially irrational or futile. It is the rational that becomes the empty shell when it aims to possess what cannot be possessed. Marx rationally analyses the appropriative drives of humanity as they play themselves out in actual historical struggles, implicitly extroverting the introversions of a certain German Orientalism. Beyond this, the question of the revolutionary spirit that resists its appropriation or repression yet remains.

2 Discourses of authenticity and poetic good faith Algeria, Israel and Syria

Assia Djebar in her memoir Algerian White (1995) and Chenjerai Hove in his poetry and essays (1985–2002) can be shown to put forward strikingly similar critiques as regards the emergence of authoritarianism in their respective post-colonies, Algeria and Zimbabwe. As this chapter will explore, both writers are preoccupied with a certain theatricalization of the political that makes performative use of discourses of authenticity. Moreover, both writers serve to indicate that the means of resisting this state of affairs is through a combination of the maintenance of good faith and the practice of a literary language that resists its conscription by the political, this being something I wish to term ‘poetic fidelity’. The first half of this chapter will explore the critique mounted by Hove and Djebar, concentrating on Algerian White, while the second half of the chapter will show how this critique resonates with Mourid Barghouti’s analysis of Israeli discourse in the context of the BDS movement, as well as with analyses of Syrian authoritarianism.

The corruption of language: Zimbabwe to Algeria As I have attempted to trace in a previously published essay entitled ‘Against the Corruption of Language: The Poetry of Chenjerai Hove’ (Rooney 2005), Hove’s political essays collected in Palaver Finish (2002) are concerned with how it is that a pervasive corruption of language proves instrumental in the undermining of democracy. The title of Hove’s collection of essays Palaver Finish indicates impatience with a use of language that may be defined as a calculated empty verbosity. The OED definition of ‘palaver’ is as follows: (as a noun) 1. conference (prolonged) discussion, esp. between African or other natives and traders; profuse or idle talk; cajolery; affair, business. (and as a verb) 2. talk profusely. 3. flatter, wheedle. It is ineffectual palaver or idle talk that is the target of Hove’s essay ‘Party Symbols’ in which he writes: ‘The problem that we face in Zimbabwe is one of small talk. No one is ashamed of talking nonsense at a time when we need serious argument and debate’ (2002, 30). In the same essay, the ‘untruth upon untruth’ of African politicians is denounced along with the censorships of the ruling party in Zimbabwe. Then, in ‘Collapse of Law: Collapse of

Conscience’, Hove offers the following important testimony: ‘I believe that corruption begins with the corruption of language. If a senior politician uses vulgar language in public, that is the beginning of corruption. […] Once language degenerates into a vehicle for untruth, people are engulfed in a form of corruption’ (2002, 5). The above statement of Hove resonates with comments made by Theodor Adorno in The Jargon of Authenticity. Adorno, like Hove, considers sociopolitical corruption to derive from a wrong use of language. It should be noted that the terms in which Adorno sets out his argument can be slightly misleading in that the jargon of authenticity that he speaks of is clearly a matter of inauthenticity and, in fact, amounts to what Hove would call a corruption of language. Adorno speaking of ‘the dark drives of the [German] intelligentsia before 1933’ states: The theological addictions of these years have seeped into language. […] [T]he sacred quality of the authentics’ talk belongs to the cult of authenticity. […] Prior to any consideration of particular content, this language moulds thought. As a consequence, that thought accommodates itself to the goal of subordination even where it aspires to resist that goal. The authority of the absolute is overthrown by absolutised authority. (2003, 2–3) For Adorno, there is therefore a causal connection between a deceitful language of truthfulness and the slide into authoritarianism. For both Adorno and Hove, a certain manipulation of language is what precedes abuses of power in that language comes to be used in such a way to set up and sanction the malpractice of authority. Adorno maintains, with the severity of hindsight, that the corruption of language with which he is concerned can come to constitute a linguistic refuge within which ‘evil expresses itself as though it were salvation’ (2003, 3). And Hove, reflecting on how an inflammatory use of language can lead to violence, appeals to a sense of shame, and comments: ‘Most Zimbabwean politicians are thugs masquerading as our national saviours’ (2002, 40). Apart from the different circumstances being addressed to different ends, the mutual point that arises from this farflung echo (evil expressing itself ‘as though it were salvation’; ‘thugs masquerading as our national saviours’) is that it is the reduction of the redemptive to the merely performative, the masquerade, that may allow for its shameful perversion. The ethical objection, therefore, is to the attempt to perform the authentic and to authenticate the performative. Given how the previous chapter attends to Auden’s poetic approach to the human condition, it is significant that he too is concerned with the corruption of language, writing in The Dyer’s Hand that ‘there is one evil […] which should never be passed over in silence but continually publicly attacked, and that is the corruption of language’ (Auden 1995, 11). I wish now to show how Assia Djebar addresses very similar concerns in Algerian White. In Algerian White, Djebar writes especially and intimately of the last days of three friends of hers – playwright Abdelkader Alloula, psychiatrist Mahfoud Boucebi and sociologist M’Hamed Boukhobza – who were assassinated during ‘the events’ of 1993–4, that is, the period in which journalists and other writers became the targets of, according to the authorities, Islamic armed groups. However, Djebar’s text reveals that very little is known

about the perpetration of the assassinations, and serves to emphasize a bewildering opacity around what appears to be senseless violence, for instance: ‘My fir st question remains unanswered: how, in Algiers, the black city, did the executioners of yesterday join hands with those of today?’ (185) In one instance, bewilderment over the motivation of the killers of M’Hamed Boukhozba is expressed at his funeral, and the following outburst is recorded: ‘A man like him, and they killed him.’ ‘And they claimed to have killed him in the name of Islam!’ (65) The way that this is offered to us carries the inflection of: they even kill the men of good associations, the sort of men to admire. The suspicion is, however, that such men are targeted for no good reason other than being just the sort of men, and sometimes women, that they are: a man like him, so they killed him. What kind of people are these scapegoats? First and foremost, as is already evident and well known, it is a question of those who are well educated and cultured, the intellectuals, journalists and poets, those for whom a hospitable freedom of mind and spirit is worth perpetuating and, when necessary, defending. Djebar draws much attention to the fact that it is the well educated who are despised, a strange kind of logic for a newly independent nation. In order to explain this more fully, it is Fanon’s prophesies of decolonization that will be referred to and that will be further corroborated by some cross-references with postcolonial Zimbabwe. In Algerian White, Djebar stresses that the violence of 1993–4 is part of an ongoing history of Algeria’s troubled liberation struggle and so it is this wider context that has to be remembered. Fanon understood that the new ruling elites emerging from national struggles were schooled in seizing power through force but that they did not necessarily have the skills and knowledge necessary for making efficient use of the new nation’s forces of production. In The Wretched of the Earth, he writes: ‘The national bourgeoisie of under-developed countries is not engaged in production, nor in invention, nor building, nor labour; it is completely canalized into activities of the intermediary type’ (120). Fanon adds: As we see it, the bankruptcy of the bourgeoisie is not apparent in the economic field only. They have come to power in the name of a narrow nationalism and representing a race; they will prove themselves incapable of triumphantly putting into practice a programme with even a minimum humanist content, in spite of all the fine-sounding declarations which are devoid of meaning since the speakers bandy about in irresponsible fashion phrases that come straight out of European treatises on morals and political philosophy. (131) For the moment, I will suspend the question of Algerian hostility to French culture, in order to address the significance of Fanon’s line of analysis. In brief, inept, insecure, the ruling elite maintains its power only through authoritarianism, that is through rhetorical appeals to the spiritual validation of the national struggle; through an empty, ritualistic performativity; through a commodification of the liberation struggle, as opposed to a real commitment to freedom; and through brute force. Thus, ‘liberation’ degenerates into a thoroughly

performative affair – a self-confirming performance – without any substance, meaning or materialization. Djebar’s text shows a sceptical awareness of such a politics of meaningless performativity. One of the striking features of Algerian White is that it reveals how the hypocritical state exploits the mourning of dead writers through a ceremonial theatricality that is usually thoroughly hollow, for instance: The officials start to feel reassured: they sense the determination of the master of ceremonies. ‘The poet, quick, bury the poet: bury his word. At last!’ The imam will tame the crowd: they will be able to go off, the Minister of Cults, the Minister of Culture, the Minister of Information, the Minister … (159) What emerges with this subtle scorn is a distinction between insincere speech, mere speeches, senseless ‘palaver’, and a language used with care, with both precision and love, a careful language such as an intellectual or a poet might use. Djebar writes the following of the iconic heroization of some liberation fighters in the early years of decolonization: Would it begin to glean in that sunlight: the chahids or chouhadas, as they were known, that is, literally, ‘the martyrs in God’s name?’ Why not the abtals, the war heroes, the volunteers who offered their lives, their ardour, why already that hyperbole, and by suspicious consensus? We missed Fanon, who would have made a protest in the name of semantics: he more than anyone else ready to pull out the scalpel of his lucidity. (104) The desired Fanonian protest is one that may be found, as I have already begun to indicate, in the writings of Chenjerai Hove on the authoritarianism and accompanying violence that has blighted the post-colony of Zimbabwe. As already quoted, Hove writes: ‘The problem that we face in Zimbabwe is one of small-talk. No one is ashamed of talking nonsense at a time when we need serious argument and debate’ (2002, 30). This may be juxtaposed with Djebar’s observation that Mekbel’s journalism aims for a concision of expression for ‘he’s always felt that chatter and verbosity have destroyed this country, have brought it out of its innate culture!’ (209) And whereas Hove comments: ‘Most Zimbabwean politicians are thugs masquerading as our national saviours’ (40), Djebar writes: Above all what can you say of those who continued to rule in the confusion of that hollow political theatre? In their speeches they were to invoke the dead on every occasion […] gaining weight, complacency, space, nourishing their bank accounts, some turning towards a conservatism, ostentation, lukewarm religiosity, others towards a moral delicacy which could only become more and more hypocritical. … And thus would develop the caricature of a past in which sublimated heroes and fratricidal murderers were to be mingled in an hazy blur. (127–8) The opposition to the complacent, posturing, hypocritical state is from two fronts: the Islamists and the left-wing intellectuals. It may be proposed, however, that the former operate according to a similar logic to the authorities for they too seek to colonize the liberation struggle, and they recapitulate and re-intensify this effort through counterclaims to

authenticity: both as a matter of linguistic claims (that in being made degenerate into their own mere jargon) and as a matter of a possessive attitude towards authenticity. ‘[W]hat would be the point of killing a poet?’ (203) Djebar asks. On the one hand, the intellectuals and the poets may be targeted because they have not forgotten and erased the distinction between authenticity and hypocritical, theatrical, fetishistic approp riations of it. On the other hand, their sense of values, cosmopolitan and modern, is seen as a betrayal of authenticity. They are caught in the cross-fire of different ideas regarding authenticity, and for this very reason the question of authenticity as a question cannot be abandoned. Taking up a phrase from the text, it is a question for all people (p. 147). In fact, it would be possible to compare Algerian White with Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing (2016), a novel that exposes the resentful targeting of musicians through the Cultural Revolution of Maoism. This comparison serves to suggest that what is really at stake is a freedom of spirit and conscience that cannot be co-opted by ideology or the state. As observed by Lindsey Moore in her reading of Algerian White, Djebar offers an alternative form of mourning to that of the state, to what in the novel is called ‘the readymade theatre of Islamic compunction’ (53), through the mourning circle of ḥalaqa that involves spontaneous chants, cries, songs and ululations (Moore 2018, 101). While Djebar objects to the politicization of mourning, she implies a possible national unity through the collective mourning of all the dead as if this were a case of the recognition of all lives as sacred, beyond political differences, where Djebar mourns not only the victims of political conflict but those who have died in accidents or from illnesses. Thus, while she challenges the co-opting of authenticity and the sacred by political actors, she does not then give up on the authentic and sacred. Theodor Adorno’s work on this complex dilemma implies that the abuse of authenticity on the part of authoritarian regimes requires the jettisoning of poetry and the search for authenticity. While Adorno’s critique remains crucial, it leaves us with a double impasse. First, we would be left with only an endless critique of a performative politics as precisely performative or inauthentic without being able to go beyond this. Second, with only a notion of the inauthentic in play, how would it be possible to make the necessary differentiations and discriminations, ones that would make for the distinction between the writers and their abusers, among other things? For writers like Hove and Djebar, the challenge is the ongoing one of finding another language, or much more precisely, of finding ways of using the languages we have with care and responsibility, that is, meaningfully. Very noticeably, Assia Djebar’s writing often devotes itself to mediations and reflections on the use of language. This should not be construed of as an aesthetic fixation, but seen to derive from questions of the ethics of writing. And I would further argue that such a quest is thoroughly inseparable from the affirmation of genuine forms of friendship, solidarity and hospitality within a horizon of transcultural connectedness. It is to these concerns that I will now turn. In an ironic reversal of authority, it is the well educated who are denounced as inauthentic by the heroic defenders of the national struggle. Djebar writes of how under Colonel Amirouche in the late 1950s, thousands of young people met with their death for speaking

French, stating: They spoke and wrote French. They had therefore drunk the sap of ‘the French mind-set’ from childhood on. They were suspected of talking at the first interrogation, of making deals with their captors. Yes, because by nature, because of their new language, they were already ‘traitors’. (198) It is absurd to think of languages themselves in terms of authenticity: for example, Heidegger’s repellent claims for the specialness of the German language. It is equally absurd to think of any language as inherently corrupting. What really is at stake in this confusion of language with the ontological is a desire to colonize the liberation struggle or the desire to colonize the liberation struggle leads to the literal-minded positing of its language and forms as identical to it in a discourse of ‘claiming’. Authenticity is never reducible to words alone, and the desire for freedom cannot be realized as a patriotic or fundamentalist re-colonization or re-possession. That is, freedom cannot be singularized and rendered a question of selfidentity, the proper and property. What this desire for self-identity brings with it is the invention of enemies. In Algerian White, what is painfully poignant is that there is a slowly cumulative realization that a definitive trait of those murdered is their faith or optimism in the very possibility of friendship. Djebar recreates the scene of the assassination of Tahar Djaout as follows: ‘Are you Tahar Djaout?’ Tahar lowered the window, smiled vaguely but sincerely (one of the killers sees the smile again, not even a hesitant smile and not out of mere politeness at all; no, a real smile). ‘Are you Tahar Djaout?’ the man repeats. And Tahar begins his sentence: ‘What do you want from me?’ Or, to be more precise, what he answered was: ‘Yes, what do you want from me?’ (And so he said ‘yes’ in good faith, calmly, and still smiling!) (190) We see here a predisposition towards friendship that is anything but performative in that the smile is stressed as offered ‘sincerely’, ‘a real smile’, ‘not out of mere politeness’. The willingness to respond or receive is ‘in good faith’. The fact that he is then shot betrays this possibility of friendship, this moment of faith, but it does not betray the possibility of friendship in general, which is also to say of friendship on other specific occasions. The detail of Djebar’s rendition of Tahar’s attitude serves to suggest that the ‘yes’ that he offers to his killers, still smiling, is that he refuses even in the face of death to give up on his predisposition towards friendship. They can kill him, but they cannot take that commitment away from him. That said, for the predisposition towards a friendly encounter to succeed, for this hospitality to universalize itself, it needs be met by its counterpart in the other. In Of Hospitality, Jacques Derrida identifies two forms of hospitality: the conditional and

the unconditional (Derrida 2000, 75–81). Both of these forms are, however, circumscribed by the logic of the performative. Conditional hospitality may be considered to depend on rituals, duties and obligations, that is, on codes of behaviour that are acted out. Unconditional hospitality is, if anything, even more performative in that it requires the assumption of an unqualified welcome to whatever may arrive. With reference to Algerian White, I wish to suggest that there is a third possibility: a hospitality that is unconditional only once a certain condition has been met. That condition is that both host an d guest are genuine in their predisposition towards a friendly encounter. This tricky question of what is genuine cannot be commanded by any law or script and this is why it is irreducible to the performative. Faced with a jargon of authenticity neither Djebar nor Hove are prepared to give up on the authentic. In fact, it becomes something that it is the task of the writer to stand by but, paradoxically, not merely in words. Faced with the corrupt verbosity of Zimbabwean politicians, Chenjerai Hove’s poetry resorts to a stark minimalism, and he begins a poem called ‘words’ with the statement: ‘I will not waste you/ like words in a poem’ (Hove 1998, 19). The promise would seem to be immediately broken, yet we are to understand that the poem is not saying what it could be saying, thus the promise of words remains as such: words are to be saved from expenditures of the absolute and absolute expenditure. As concluded in my earlier essay on Hove’s poetry, his response to the corruption of language that he identifies takes the form of scathingly ironic treatments of performative public discourses, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, of a bare minimum of expression that serves ostensively to point to a sense of the sacred and the real that is outside of any poetic utterance. The final paragraph of Algerian White is as follows: ‘In the brilliance of this desert, in the safe harbour of writing in quest of a language beyond languages, by trying to fiercely obliterate all the furies of the collective self-devouring in oneself, finding “the word within” again that, alone, remains our fertile homeland’ (230). What is significant in this conclusion is the fidelity to the inexpressible, but unfortunately Djebar makes use of a terminology that could easily be appropriated by the corrupt rhetoricians she hopes to resist. That is, the ‘language beyond languages’ is not some ultimate or meta-language – a language of the absolute, I would argue – but a form of fidelity that cannot be put into words. And ‘the word within’, something of a cliché, is neither a word nor is it within. What is at stake concerns bonds or affections between people: meeting places rather than jealously guarded inner reserves. This question of the between rather than the inner is more effectively gestured towards in an earlier passage of Algerian White where Djebar writes of the poetic fidelity of Mammeri (a champion of Berber culture). What she writes is: And Mammeri patiently set about tracing the fragile path, the narrow and uncertain passage, the secret thread that links, separates, links up again, traces and leaves uncertainty, the trace between the virgin territory of the oral and the soil, hardened too soon, of the written […] it is a question of what makes the secret emerge for all people, the secret and the effort and the dark, of what is emphasized between gaze and voice, it is a question of the wing of the word, its translucence, it is a question for all people. (147)

In this passage, Djebar is clearly struggling sometimes to articulate the existence of something beyond what can be fixed in words.1 The poet’s task thus becomes one of what may be termed a negative poetics, as we speak of negative dialectics. When language can no longer be trusted, the resort is a silence that is not simply silent but a silence that makes itself felt in the spaces between what is said. This is what Hove accomplishes in his poem, ‘I will not speak’, and I will conclude this section with an excerpt from this poem. my words have died a painful death murdered on the pavement slaughtered in the streets crushed along the path to the empty tap silenced by the roar of the factory machine. i will not speak. (1998, 10)

The pollution of language: Israel and Syria In their speech (09 May 2010) in acceptance of the Israeli David Dan Prize for individuals who are judged to have made an outstanding contribution to humanity, Amitav Ghosh and Margaret Atwood set out to justify their decision to claim the prize in defiance of the many Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists who had variously attempted to persuade them to boycott the award. In mounting their justification of their acceptance of the prize, Atwood and Ghosh state that art should be committed to a resolute and courageous freedom of expression, and they maintain of their own experience as writers: ‘The more we were told to turn our backs, the more we wanted to see – and speak – for ourselves’ (2010, np). They further argue that art differs from propaganda in its commitment to undecidability over certainty and in its imaginative embrace of human complexities against reductive side-taking. Such arguments are frequently put forward, understandably so, and their sentiments are easy to credit in an abstract, de-contextualized way, but what is really at stake in this defence of aesthetic autonomy at the historical juncture it was made? Ironically, the points made by Atwood and Ghosh have some similarities with those that the Palestinian writer Mourid Barghouti makes in an essay of his entitled ‘Verbicide’, an essay that protests against the ‘apartheid hate-speech’ of certain Israelis and explains the role of the poet in working against discourses that promote or sanction racist violence. Barghouti writes: ‘One of its charming miracles is that through its form poetry can resist the content of authoritarian discourse. It breaks with existing certainties and their official representatives’(2003, np). He also states: For a fanatic it is always useful to simplify, for a poet it is suicidal. The suffering of a nation should not be used as a pretext to justify the mediocre, the clichéd and the thumb worn, in any form of artistic expression. It is not acceptable that because we are on the tragic edge of history our paintings should be reduced into posters, our lyrics into military anthems, our plays into preaching, our novels into straight ideology, or our poems into slogans.

So, for Atwood, Ghosh and Barghouti alike, art is by definition that which resists the role of propaganda; art is that which cannot be instrumentalized and thereby vulgarized by the political and still count as art. However, what is striking is how this aesthetic credo can be deployed to support the different public stances taken by Atwood and Ghosh, on the one hand, and Barghouti, on the other, with respect to the Israel-Palestine conflict. While Atwood and Ghosh would seem to support the autonomy of art as a matter of liberal individualism – the artist as free to express herself or himself as they wish – for Barghouti the freedom of the artist would seem to be commensurate with radical responsibilities and commitments. In a sceptical online response to Ghosh’s defence of his acceptance of the Dan Prize, and in speaking of the need to support the Israeli BDS movement through which Israeli activists are trying to persuade their fellow citizens to disengage from complicity with the Israeli government’s siege of Gaza, Yael Oren Kahn drew attention to how even the self-proclaimed ‘peaceniks’ in Israel, such as Achinoam Nini, are nonetheless guilty of war-mongering hate speech. In a 2009 blog, Nini writes to Palestinians in Gaza: ‘I can only wish for you that Israel will do the job we all know needs to be done, and finally RID YOU of this cancer, this virus, this monster called fanaticism, today, called Hamas’ (Nini 2009, np). She also writes: Now I see the ugly head of fanaticism, I see it large and horrid, I see its black eyes and spine-chilling smile, I see blood on its hands and I know one of its many names: Hamas. You know this too, my brothers. You know this ugly monster. You know it is raping your women and raping the minds of your children. You know it is educating to hatred and death. (2009, np) Just who is the fanatic here? In terms of the logic of analysis being put forward in this chapter, the ethical failure in the above is not merely that it is an extreme hate speech but that it attempts to disavow this fact by setting itself up as a virtuous crusade against hatred in order to justify purging Gaza. Moreover, Achinoam Nini seems to be completely unaware of the fact that her rhetoric is identical to some of the Nazi rhetoric used to justify the genocide of the Jews, for the Nazis called the Jews ‘this cancer, this virus, this monster’ that had to be eliminated for purity’s sake (see Borossa and Rooney 2014). However, the point would certainly not be to set Nini up as an object of hatred in turn to rant against. Barghouti says: ‘Whoever fights monsters, as Nietzsche put it, should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster’ (2003, np). Those who employ hate speech already shame themselves, so there is no point in further demonizations. The question is rather how to persuade the separatists to see otherwise. Through BDS? Interestingly, Nini has now (since she wrote the previous) become a supporter of the BDS movement, attracting the ostracism of far-right Jews. It may be said that the decision to boycott Israel is problematic when it sets itself up as an intention to isolate and ostracize Israel (unfortunately some boycott advocates argue for this), seeking to turn Israel into a pariah in a replication of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as pariahs. This is wrong because, for a start, it reinforces the Israeli self-mythology of Jews as perpetual victims and gives Israel some scope to justify its intensely paranoid stance.

Secondly, it is wrong since it replicates the separatist or apartheid logic of apartness, of setting apart. Given the immense injustice perpetrated by Israel with relative impunity, a boycott certainly seems necessary, but we should be careful to clarify its message. Its message should not be that activists seek to isolate Israel as a diseased rogue state, but rather that we are trying to get Israel to realize that it is isolating itself through its ideology of itself as the perpetual victim, through its dehumanization of fellow beings, through its extreme hate speech and through its politics of radical distrust. The boycott should therefore have as its aim an appeal to Israel to overcome its separatist paranoia and so rejoin humanity in its universal aspect. This failure of language to operate as it ought to, that is, meaningfully or in good faith, is what Barghouti terms ‘verbicide’, which he speaks of in terms of ‘polluted language’ and ‘vulgarization’, the same terminology used by Hove. He states: The Israeli occupation imposes a double, triple, endless redefinition of the Palestinian. Call him militant, outlaw, criminal, terrorist, irrelevant, cancer, cockroach, serpent, virus – the list becomes endless. Be the one who makes the definitions. Define! Classify! Demonize! Misinform! Simplify! Stick on the label! Then send in the tanks! (2003, np) And he poses the question: ‘Can verbicide lead to genocide?’ The term ‘verbicide’ is related to the term ‘culturecide’, used to describe the Israeli practice of destroying tangible Palestinian heritage in order to remove the physical traces of Palestinian history and inhabitation of the land (Miller 2009, 11). Culturecide is used as an alternative to genocide in that it destroys the symbols of Palestinian presence as opposed to the actual existence of Palestinians. Verbicide goes beyond this in being the misuse of language in such a way as to justify and sanction brutality against Palestinians en masse. In a similar manner to Adorno, Barghouti writes: Over-simplification has always been a factor in the failure of poetry and prose – indeed, of any discourse – but when it is the dominant characteristic of the language of politicians it ends in fanaticism and fundamentalism. Coupled with invincible superiority and a sense of sanctity, simplification might be, as history teaches us, a recipe for fascism. That’s why the rhetoric of them/we and either with us or with evil is not just irresponsible jargon – but an act of war. (2003, np) For Barghouti, poets have the responsibility of using language in a way that testifies very precisely to reality so as to retrieve the capacity for language to signify meaningfully. He states: Poetry remains one of the astonishing forms in our hands to resist obscurantism and silence. And since we cannot wash the polluted words of hatred the same way we wash greasy dishes with soap and hot water, we, the poets of the world, continue to write our poems to restore the respect of meaning and to give meaning to our existence. (2003, np) Barghouti’s position differs from that of Ghosh and Atwood for the latter accord to

themselves a position of liberal tolerance that transcends worldly conflicts. Interestingly, Atwood finds it puzzling that the activists concentrated their campaign on writers rather than on other recipients of the prize. She thinks this is a question of the fame accorded to writers’ names, as if these were powerful brands. But is it not rather that writers are singled out because they are especially looked to for speaking truth to power? That is, it is not really that writers are being asked to act as commodifiers of political struggles but, on the contrary, to de-commodify the ideological hype through an avowal of what others would prefer to disavow. I would argue that what is particularly s hameful about the acceptance speech of Ghosh and Atwood is not simply that it shows a reluctance to confront the reality of the sociopolitical context of the Dan Prize, it is that Ghosh and Atwood put themselves forward as authentic defenders of the authentic role of art at such a moment. They co-opt the stance and arguments of writers such as Hove, Djebar and Barghouti but merely as an empty posture. For example, when they boast that the ‘more we were told to turn our backs, the more we wanted to see for ourselves’, what can this mean in a context in which they are averting their gaze from the humiliation suffered by Palestinians, merely taking a brief, sidelong squint at such? Their boasting of their braveness here surely becomes a trite even meaningless statement. The deft audacity of their position – or its hypocrisy – is that they take up the very anti-jargon stance of the writer of conscience in order to turn it into jargon. In order to substantiate this claim, it would be helpful to quote further from the acceptance speech. For a start, I will juxtapose an extract from an open letter from students of Gaza with Atwood’s response from her acceptance speech. Participating in normal relations with Tel Aviv University is giving tacit approval to its racially exclusive policy towards Palestinian citizens of Israel. We are certain you would hate to support an institution that upholds so faithfully the apartheid system of its state. […] Let us remember the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu: ‘If you choose to be neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’ As such, we call upon you to say no to neutrality, no to being on the fence, no to normalization with apartheid Israel, not after the blood of more than 400 children has been spilt! No to occupation, repression, settler colonialism, settlement expansion, home demolition, land expropriation and the system of discrimination against the indigenous population of Palestine, and no to the formation of Bantustans in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip! (Palestinian students 2006, np) Propaganda deals in absolutes: in Yes and No. But the novel is a creature of nuance: of perhaps, of maybe. It concerns itself, not with gods and demons, but with mortal people, with their flawed characters, their unsatisfactory bodies, their sufferings, their limited and often wrong choices; with the dubiousness of their own actions and the unfairness of their fates. (Atwood and Ghosh 2010, np) The effect of this contextualization is that it is the Palestinians who are implied to be ‘propagandists’, not the Israelis, while Atwood and Ghosh appear to deny the capacity of

language to discriminate right from wrong. Do they think that a writer can never say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, not even when presented with evidence of atrocities? They state: The public territory the novelist defends is very small, even in a democracy. It’s the space of free invention, of possibility. It’s a space that allows the remembrance of what has been forgotten, the digging up of what has been buried. (Atwood and Ghosh 2010, np) The remembrance of what has been forgotten? This cannot be a question of the fact that Tel Aviv University, the very place in which Atwood and Ghosh make the above claim, has been built on the site of a razed Palestinian village. They must rather be referring to the novelist’s right to select what is to be remembered and what is to be repressed. Moreover, they disengage the question of conscience from any concrete historical situation: Yet how can conscience operate in a decontextualized realm of airy generalizations? Only in fiction? While I can understand the desire not to ostracize Israel, the dilemma is that the context of the prize is unavoidably the Israel/Palestine conflict. If the intention is not to take sides, the prize could always be refused on such grounds. Atwood and Ghosh do not acknowledge Palestinian writers as writers of conscience for, as already argued, this is a position they are very keen to usurp for themselves, for instance as follows: Worldwide, novel-writing is under constant pressure, both from political groups who want to co-opt it, and from powerful governments who’d like to silence it. Around the world, novelists have been shot, imprisoned, and exiled for their failure to toe somebody else’s line. But they continue to write stories. (Atwood and Ghosh 2010, np) Here they do contextualize, and they explain as follows: We two fiction writers are very small potatoes indeed in the context of the momentous political events now unfolding. But writers everywhere are soft targets. It’s easy to attack them. They don’t have armies, they can’t retaliate. We have both received a number of letters urging and indeed ordering us not to attend, on the grounds that anything connected with Israel is tabu. […] Some have been willing to listen to us, others have not: they want our supposedly valuable ‘names’, but not our actual voices. In other words, the all-ornothings want to bully us into being their wholly owned puppets. […] We are familiar with what other artists of many countries have been put through in similar circumstances. (Atwood and Ghosh 2010, np) Atwood and Ghosh piously and self-righteously align themselves with writers who have been censored and persecuted for bravely speaking out for liberation against oppression, but in doing so in the very context of the Israel-Palestine conflict they act as if it were not the Palestinians who are faced with the predicament of being cut off from humanity and silenced but they themselves. With this they actually appropriate the position of the oppressed, turning the tables on the Palestinians. In fact, Atwood and Ghosh are explicitly defending their status as ‘writers of conscience’ by styling the Palestinian and pro-Palestinian writers of

conscience as ‘bullies’, the term they use. Their liberal dilemma is one of trying to fit the historical situation into a schema of moral equivalence that they call a matter of their ‘fairness’ and ‘good faith’. It is telling that Atwood and Ghosh resort to praising themselves for what they see as their exemplary stance: this smug self-praise, self-praise being smug, is not something that Barghouti, Hove or Djebar have to resort to. The credibility of the writer surely resides in how they are heard by others, how they come across to their audiences. Indeed, reactions to the speech of Ghosh and Atwood have concentrated on its embarrassing tone of inauthenticity, precisely as they claim to be so authentic. Michael Neumann writes of Atwood’s self-defence: ‘By the end of Ms Atwood’s letter we venture into the land of “oh please” […] I would have preferred to be told: “It’s a million dollar prize! Are you out of your mind?”’ (2010, np) Similarly, Claire Chambers and Robin Yassin-Kassab in a joint blog entitled ‘Ghoshwood’s Mendacity’, object to the obfuscations and platitudes of the writers of a ‘surprisingly badly written speech’ (2010, np). The detection of ‘a jargon of authenticity’ is not only a matter of an inappropriately pious tone and a self-righteous self-reflexivity, but it is also something that is evident in the twists and turns of a discourse of evasions and inconsistencies. For instance, Amitav Ghosh rejected the Commonwealth Literature Prize because he felt that this literary prize is bound up with a history of colonialism, whereas he feels Israeli literary prizes exist in a world of their own untouched by a history of Israeli colonialism. In retrospect, it prompts the speculation of whether Ghosh might have been really objecting to being identified with the formerly colonized, presumably having left that lowly status behind and having attained a degree of Westernization. Might this have something to do with his reluctance to identify with the plight of colonized Palestinians in ways that would put him at odds with the Israelis who, as Joseph Massad has argued, have come to identify themselves as European compared with Arabs (even as they contortedly at the same time claim to be returning to their Middle Eastern roots)? (Massad 2006, 166–9) How should we define writers of conscience? In the context of this chapter, the role of the writer and the intellectual is to expose corrupt uses of language and to retrieve the possibilities of meaningful communication. This in turn is a question of the relation of language to material and spiritual realities. That is, the realism at stake is not just historical, social and empirical but interpersonal and ethical as pertains to questions of trust, good faith and decency. It is one of the arguments of this book that the Arab uprisings entailed, among other things, an attempt to retrieve meaningful speech. While this is something that the later chapters will attend to in detail, an indication of what is at stake will be put forward to conclude this chapter. The arguments examined in this chapter, concerning the corruption of language in political contexts, are similar to Orwell’s critiques of totalitarian language in his novels Animal Farm and 1984, as well as his critique of linguistic deterioration in ‘Politics and the English Language’ (1946). One reason that I draw attention to this is because when I was based in Cairo in 2017, I noticed that the Downtown street book stalls prominently displayed

copies of Orwell’s 1984 translated into Arabic. It is further worth noting that Atwood in a Guardian article professes that Orwell is a hero of hers and an influence on her writing, particularly her dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale which she actually began writing in 1984 (Atwood 2013). An impetus for this novel was the Iranian revolution (in 1979) and the media attention given to the veiling of women. Atwood’s sequel to it, The Testaments, is arguably influenced by the Arab Spring since it revises the earlier tale through introducing the possibilities of youthful resistance that took Western observers, especially those with stereotypical views of the Arab world, by surprise. Having refused to heed the BDS call, Atwood later re-thinks her position in an Haaretz article entitled ‘The Shadow Over Israel’ which strongly echoes Barghouti on the Israeli pollution of language and on the link between verbicide and genocide. For instance, Atwood writes: ‘Once you start calling people by vermin names such as vipers, you imply their extermination. […] Once a country starts refusing entry to the likes of Noam Chomsky, shutting down the rights of its citizens to use words like “Nakba”, and labelling as “antiIsrael” anyone who tries to tell them what they need to know, a police state beckons’ (Atwood 2010b). However, she still maintains she was correct to accept the prize, as awarded by a ‘moderate committee with an independent foundation’, in spite of the prize’s sponsorship by Tel Aviv University and the fact that it has been presided over by Shimon Peres, guest of honour at its inauguration. Atwood selectively mentions some of the former recipients of the prize, including Tom Stoppard and musician Yo-Yo Ma. In looking at the list of recipients of the prize, the only Arab name among others of various nationalities that stood out for me was that of Magdi Allam, an Egyptian journalist who resides and works in Italy. In fact, Allam’s alienation from Egypt began after the Egyptian security police interrogated him in his youth on suspicion of spying for Israel, although there is no certain evidence of this. Allam was awarded the Dan Prize in 2006 (when known for opposing the Islamization of the West and for his support of Israel from 2002), for ‘his ceaseless work in fostering understanding and tolerance between cultures’ (Traubmann, Haaretz, 2006). Allam, born a Muslim, converted to Christianity in 2008 at which point it is claimed that the Vatican tried to distance the Pope from Allam, since he was known for his diatribes against Islam. For instance, Allam opposed the building of mosques in Italy in 2005 and El Pais quotes him as saying that the root of evil is an inherent part of Islam where, according to Allam, Islam is physiologically violent (El Pais 2008). In 2013, Allam abandoned the church for being too soft on Islam, and he has been politically active in the post-fascist party Brothers of Italy. It is hard to consider such a figure as a builder of bridges. In addition, Tony Blair was awarded the Dan Prize in 2009 for, as reported in the Guardian (16 February 2009), ‘exceptional leadership’ in forging ‘lasting solutions to areas in conflict’ (Oh, please). In 2016, British historian Catherine Hall, known for her work on slave ownership, declined the prize for political reasons. Atef Alshaer in Poetry and Politics in the Arab World addresses the poetry of the Arab Spring and quotes from a poem entitled al-maydan (‘The Square’) by veteran Egyptian poet Rahmān al-Abnūdī. In this poem the Egyptian revolution is characterized in terms of a

renewal or rebirth (as in ‘spring’) of specifically language. In particular, the autumn of the corrupt old guard is said to have been surpassed by the spring of a brilliant younger generation whereby: ‘It is impossible that lying can wear the mask of truth again/ They have written the first lines on the page of the revolution’ (Alshaer, 240). Alshaer also discusses the poetry of Ahmad Fu’ad Najm (also transliterated as Negm), the people’s poet who with great wit unmasks the lies of the ruling elite and the complacency of those who play along. Alshaer suggests: ‘In a way, Najm puts into critical verse Lisa Wedeen’s thesis about Syria, which is applicable to other dictatorial contexts where people seem to produce the regime’s platitudes and unreservedly show reverence to its leaders’ (242). That is, Najm unmasks the hypocrisies of both leaders and those who play along with them. As noted by Alshaer, Lisa Wedeen in her book Ambiguities of Domination examines the cult of Hafiz al-Assad and she states: ‘The regime produces compliance through forced participation in rituals of obeisance that are transparently phony to those who orchestrate them and to those who consume them. Assad’s cult acts as a disciplinary device, generating a politics of public dissimulation in which citizens act as if they revere their leader’ (Wedeen 1999, 6). That is, while the cult draws on an aura of the sacred around Assad as a saviour figure surrounded by religious iconography, the inauthenticity is obvious with Wedeen writing of the actual ‘shabbiness’ of the phenomenon with its monotonous slogans and empty gestures. In ‘The Symbol and Counter-Symbols in Syria’, Zaher Omareen, drawing on Wedeen, writes of how this political performativity of the ‘as if’ (the phrase also used by Adorno and Hove) continued with Bashar al-Assad, stating: ‘Ba’athist imagery is essentially a monologue – blind sanctification of the leader’ (99). Omareen goes on to explain that accordingly Syrian revolutionaries attended very much to the language in which they expressed themselves which he calls ‘a grammar of dissent’, explaining that ‘it is no longer acceptable to make representations of concepts such as freedom, justice and dignity using the same methods, language and techniques that the Assad regime’s propaganda employs’ (101). An example of Syrian cultural expression that serves to dramatize this directive can be found in Ossama Mohammed’s story ‘The Thieves’ Market’ (2014) that satirizes how the Syrian government appropriates or steals the phenomenon of political demonstrations, compulsory marches for the regime’s trumped-up causes, in order to give itself a liberationist image so as to appear populist when in fact this pageantry serves as a decoy to distract from the security state’s murderous realities. In fact, totalitarianism may be understood, I would suggest, in terms of a thoroughly coerced populism, one that is therefore all show, what Djebar would call a ‘hollow political theatre’ (127) and Wedeen, the ‘politics of spectacle’ (18) or ‘cults’ of compliance.2 The point that I wish to stress as regards the above is that the Assad cult may be understood to have appropriated the language of liberation struggles – liberty, dignity and so on – for itself in much the way Mugabe and ZANU did in Zimbabwe and in much the same way that Djebar diagnoses of the speeches of Algerian politicians. And, obviously, when liberty and dignity become merely the words ‘liberty’ and ‘dignity’, they no longer carry any meaning. While Barghouti concentrates on the hate speech aspects of Israeli discourse, it is also the

case that the Israeli state appropriates leftist terminology for what is in actuality a very rightwing enterprise. Thus, Israel refers to itself as a ‘democracy’ when a Jewish-only state cannot be called a democracy with respect to its non-Jewish citizens. Or, Israel refers to its founding as ‘Independence’, in the manner of postcolonial states, when this so-called independence takes the form of settler colonialism on the ground. In response to this state of affairs, how is poetic language a remedy?3 As touched on earlier, while Djebar is astute in dissecting the inauthenticity she confronts and is aware of the importance of literary language, there are occasions when she lapses into fetishizing the poetic producing at times (certainly not always) a rather florid or over-written style (although it may be counter-asserted that it is instead impassioned). Hove’s negative poetics and poetic minimalism are arguably more effective, and it may be added that Barghouti’s style shares this quiet or understated mode of communication. His poem ‘Without Mercy’ (part of the sequence ‘Midnight’) begins with the lines: ‘There is a sweet music/ but its sweetness fails to console you.’ This is because the backdrop of the music (and the poem) is war. The poem continues by imagining a soldier playing a harmonica and singing a love song, seducing his fellow soldiers, and it ends with the lines, The singer takes the whole regiment with him to Romeo’s balcony, and from there, without thinking, without mercy, without doubt, they will resume the killing! (2008, 98) While the language of the poem is straightforward, the poem is far from simple. It resonates somewhat with Adorno’s complex concerns over authenticity and evil. We are told that the song composed by the soldier ‘does not lie’, and is thus authentic. What the poem thus challenges is a simplistic view of the soldier in that those who go to war are yet human beings who may have ordinary tender feelings and creative sensitivities. In the poem, it is hinted that the soldier is seeking to protect a guiltless part of himself that has not been tainted by war, as he has ‘carefully protected’ his harmonica from ‘dust and blood’. Here, Adorno’s dismissal of poetry becomes relevant, where I think that Adorno’s notion that poetry should not be written after Auschwitz implies that a culture that has become completely barbaric cannot resume poetic consolations as would be extremely hypocritical. Adorno’s position would seem to be that art can only address the ruin of European civilization without hope, hence his endorsement of Beckett’s bleakness. As already indicated Barghouti, after all a poet, does not quite share Adorno’s position. While his poem initially sets up the poetic or lyrical as other than war, the ending of the poem produces a shocking continuity between the love song and soldiers rushing into war that precisely makes us question how this can be. Whereas initially the soldier with his

harmonica thought he was protecting something, possibly a part of himself, from the degradation of war (in my reading), we are now invited to think of war itself in terms of a fanatical drive to protect what is valued. For instance, it is conventionally assumed that men go to war to prot ect women and children, or save the values of civilization, or out of love for their countries. However, what Barghouti’s poem makes us consider is how paradoxical and how deluded this is. How can the protection of mercy, love and compassion be merciless? How can the defence of thinking and doubt be so fanatical? Barghouti’s poem does not then imply that the authentic song is actually a lie. Rather, the poem draws attention to the misguided irrationality of war that the soldiers mindlessly throw themselves into. It is the logic of war that is the lie: the belief that violence can be redemptive. In terms of the previous arguments of this chapter, it is a case of thugs masquerading as saviours. In contradistinction to this, ‘Without Mercy’ is a thoughtfully nuanced poem that seeks to evade the merciless in trying to imagine what makes the soldiers so merciless. The phrase ‘Romeo’s balcony’ is arresting because it is normally Juliette’s balcony. What this suggests is that the fanaticism of the soldiers concerns how they identify themselves so much with their elevated love object that they seek to usurp its place. Ironically, they go to war to save what they have destroyed through their act of possessive usurpation, and it is if they fight to justify themselves. In an essay entitled ‘Agamben and Authenticity’, Robert Eaglestone states: ‘Agamben’s sense of authenticity as the grounds of the possibility of art, metamorphosed into his sense of authenticity (as anomie, as pure violence) as the grounds of possibility of politics’ (Eaglestone 2009, 279–80). Eaglestone considers this to align Agamben with the Nazis, and on the basis of my reading of Barghouti’s poem, it is the very slippage or metamorphosis from the authentic into political violence that is the deluded error for the violence turns what is not a lie into a lie, say, a betrayal of love, beauty and compassion. The song or the poem may sound sweet, but there has to be more to it than merely sounding sweet. What that implies is that there needs be something more than language for the words to be meaningful. Effective poetry often leads its listeners to such silent realizations that hover in the air between speaker and audience, and by speaking of ‘realizations’ I do not mean certainties so much as how commonly held assumptions may be questioned and how different perspectives may come into view. At the same time, what may be at stake are values that are genuine because of their horizon of universality. Writing in a Syrian context, miriam cooke states: ‘Living in truth entails solidarity with all who demand justice’ (cooke 2007, 164). Our cultural expressions may be relative to a universality that exceeds them and, furthermore, it is this horizon of universality that demonstrates that writers of conscience not only defend their own individual freedom of expression but also honour what British-Iraqi rapper Lowkey calls ‘the voices of the voiceless’ in a song of that name (made with Immortal Technique and released as a single in 2009). In the song, Lowkey attests: ‘Never worked for a Zionist/ Never been a Yes Man/ My art is like Rembrandt painting/ Pictures of death camps’. Finally, other Palestinian poets such as Suheir Hamad (2008) and Rafeef Ziadah turn to poetry as a means of trying to communicate through words what cannot be reduced to words,

and this chapter will conclude with a brief reflection on Ziadah’s poem ‘If My Words’, a poem written in response to a request from someone in Gaza that she write a poem to stop the bombing of Gaza in 2014 and performed at the Abbey Theatre in 2016.4 Ziadah’s poem in performance sometimes begins with a repetition of its opening line, ‘If my words can stop this…’ I mark the pause because it is there for a registering of the phrase. The poem unfolds from this phrase in terms of both rhythm and semantics just to get us to really understand what it means to say ‘if my words can stop this’. In repeating the words, they are heard to beseech and so the poem continues, If they [my words] can stand in the way of a bomb, a drone, or a bullet, I would lay them at the feet of every child in Gaza, And offer them like prayer. (2016) At the same time, the poem registers that words are but words, stating, ‘But words can’t stop this/ so I offer you the silence.’ But immediately the silence is heard to fill with the words of slick Israeli spokesmen serving to silence the Palestinians, and so the poem continues, If my words can stop this I would argue circles around Every Israeli spokesperson And I would tell them, ‘Let’s be clear, Your smooth accent can’t make killing children justified. Let’s be clear, we are not collateral’. (2016) The poem thus marks the way jargon sanctions violence, as discussed earlier, setting itself apart from this use of language through showing it up for what it is. It is then said, ‘I wish for quiet from those who battle to get to the microphones and perform the rituals’ and ‘I will not mourn my dead in 140 characters for your Twitter’. This is similar to the negative poetics of Hove’s ‘I will not speak’. In protesting the glibness of the media’s ‘words, words, words’, poets still have to use words but this is towards careful clarifications, nuance upon nuance, as opposed to wanton obfuscations. And what is clear is that Ziadah’s poem is composed out of her caring for those suffering in Gaza. This is why I have paid some attention to its process of unfolding for in the way that it unfolds we can hear that the poet is present to its situation and that the poem is faithful to what it addresses, conveyed also by pitch, rhythm and intonation. As such, the poem is best performed live, not as thea tre but rather as a means of communing or being present with others. In this way, the poem’s receivers are able to feel or sympathize with what the poet feels and what she feels is the misery of those suffering in Gaza. Here then is the secret bond of good will or good faith that Djebar addresses. The poem’s moment comes thus to unite us in fellow feeling and it is this poetic fidelity that has the strength and the grace to survive the corruption of language. Finally, how political is the creative resistance exercised against the political appropriation of authenticity? It is partly political, say, in its democratic impulses, but it is certainly not

wholly political in terms of what cannot be prescribed or commanded. Later chapters of this book will reflect further on this variegation.

3 From hegemonic interpellations to revolutionary signs or amāra Judith Butler’s Notes Towards a Performative Theory of Assembly does not begin very auspiciously. Its opening statement is: ‘Since the emergence of mass numbers of people in Tahrir Square in the winter months of 2010, scholars and activists have taken a renewed interest in the form and effect of public assemblies’ (Butler 2015, 1). Does she think Tahrir Square is in Tunisia or fail to remember when the Egyptian revolution began? This is not just a random slip since other statements in the book point towards an uncertainty as to when the Arab uprisings took place. For instance, Butler refers to ‘the first Egyptian revolution of 2009’ (90) and speaks of tanks and revolutionaries on the streets in 2009 (136). She further positions her lectures as occurring in 2010 (231) thus before the Egyptian revolution occurred even though she discusses the revolution in them. Of course, these are just errors; however, they demonstrate Butler’s distance from the uprisings. Her interest in them, as I will discuss further in some detail, is not a factual one with respect to how they unfolded at street level or to what the uprisings meant to those who took part in them. Rather, it may be said that the uprisings constitute an opportunity for Butler to test out her transgender theories, combined with aspects of Hannah Arendt’s political theory, on a new terrain. Given the previous, my aim is to contest the theoretical and ideological translations of the Egyptian revolution (and by extension Arab uprisings more generally) into terms that merely ‘demonstrate’ the theories at stake. With respect to this, I hope to show that it is important to pay attention to the lived experiences of such struggles in terms of both their psychoaffective dynamics and their particular signifying practices. Of course, many Western theorists, who were completely unprepared for the resurgence of revolutionary liberation struggles in North Africa and who had no particular prior interest in or knowledge of the region, rushed to put themselves forward as experts on the Arab Spring. In Butler’s case, she has been seen as being among those who instituted a turn away from the politics of radical feminism that were affiliated with Marxist and socialist debates towards a sociocultural domain of identity constructions elaborated broadly in terms of poststructuralist textual idealism. For Butler, whose thinking has a strong Hegelian influence, it may be said that the unforeseen Arab revolutionary moment constitutes a negation of the direction her textual idealism had been taking her and her postmodernist colleagues in. Thus, in Hegelian terms, the challenge for her is to transcend the contradiction to her position, or to negate the negation, through showing how her theory of transgender may actually be extended to the Arab Spring. In that what is at stake is a movement of recuperation and expansion, the first chapter of

Butler’s book devotes itself to a very self-defensive recapitulation of the performative theory of gender and transgender for which she is best known. Butler’s theory rests on the dualist separation of the body (with its biological sex) and gender (as something that is culturally, socially and ideologically assigned). Butler tends to presume (as we will see) that bodies are mute or almost mute so that it is just the script of gender norms that speaks. For this reason, Butler argues that we are only rendered intelligible to ourselves and to others through hegemonic interpellations that impose norms on us that we are obliged to enact in a largely conformist way with a degree of variation. She says: ‘Indeed the compulsory demand to appear in one way rather than another functions as a precondition of appearing at all’ (Butler 2015, 35). I disagree with this statement (one that insists that there is no alternative to its claim), in that it rests on a stark mind–body dualism. It presumes that the body cannot think for itself so that it is the externalized mind of social authority that has to inform it. A nondualist position would be that the body and mind are not separate so that we would be able to question the impositions of authority through our experiential mind-and-body consciousness. From birth (or even before) we may be said to experience our worlds with awareness, whether as male, female or intersex, and so knowledge of our life environments is not just imposed on us by institutional authorities. From a different perspective, Butler writes: ‘My wager is that most of us have had our gender established by virtue of someone ticking a box […] there was doubtless a graphic event that inaugurated gender for the majority of us, or perhaps someone simply exclaimed into the air, “it’s a boy” or “it’s a girl”’ (29). Thus, for Butler, we are not born male or female but have this imposed on us. Yet, what if a midwife in making such a statement were merely trying to note what most would regard as a preexisting fact rather than acting to institute a whole set of highly regulatory norms? What is worth noting about Butler’s anti-foundational position is that it seems to go against Arendt’s interest in natality: the question of what is given to each being by birth. For Butler, gender is not a fact and instead seems to be thing-like, as if it were the commodity form or a template that is made ‘real’ through acting it out. In my view, norms don’t arrive inexplicably out of the air but are inevitably reductive generalizations initially derived from reality. That is, they copy and codify reality but are set up in a capitalist or ideological manner to make it seem as if reality mimics the norm. What does this have to do with the Arab uprisings? Butler’s basic argument is that when transgender people appear in public, they are particularly vulnerable to attack (presumably for being seen as abnormal in terms of the hegemonic gender script) and that the transgender struggle is thus one for ‘the right to appear’ (24–65) as entails public recognition as a matter of liberal tolerance. This is not problematic in its terms but what might this mean for the Egyptian revolution? How does the struggle for hegemonic recognition on the part of a beleaguered minority relate to the Egyptian people? I will come to how Butler reads the Egyptian revolution, but first will interrogate the seeming assumption about the transgender predicament as having the potential for revolutionary guidance. There are instances of what I will call a classically transgendered predicament (regarding the conviction that bodily sex and psychological gender are binaries at odds with each other)

that potentially concern the question of what may be termed ‘gender authoritarianism’ or a strong investment in norms and stereotypes that people feel cannot be avoided: you just have to enact them. In a thoughtful article on transgender studies, Jacqueline Rose comments on the transgender desire for the embodiment of sexual difference as an ending of ambivalence, noting: ‘This is why, for some, transsexuality, or rather this version of transsexuality, is conservative; reinforcing the binary from which we all – trans or non-trans – suffer’ (Rose 2016, 4). Rose also observes that ‘transition comes as much, or more, from the parent and adults than the child’ (8). Thus, in this instance, non-dualist ambiguity is disallowed and foreclosed to produce a conflicted dualism that seeks to resolve itself through a singularized identity. At this outset I would stress that not all transgender cases can be attributed to gender authoritarianism, while Rose considers an array of positions, where there is a significant difference between the literalizing of gender norms and the playful disregard of them: the difference between the performative in Austin’s philosophical sense and creative performance in the artistic sense. A useful example of this distinction, one that I have used before (Rooney 2007, 25), is the difference between Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. Whereas there is a playful disregard or mockery of gender norms in Orlando, the reverse is the case in Hall’s novel where gender norms are taken very seriously and literally. Hall’s protagonist really believes in the conventional norms of masculinity and femininity, her dilemma being that she idolizes and identifies with the masculine stereotype. Whereas Woolf loved femininity, was a feminist and staunchly antifascist, Hall’s biographer discusses Hall’s reactionary beliefs and maintains that she was a bully and that she worshipped Mussolini (Souhami 1999). In that Woolf’s creative androgyny and Hall’s kind of gender dysphoria could not be further apart, the term ‘transgender’ for both these positions becomes meaningless. Gender authoritarianism is even a question of pre-feminism. I would like to suggest that when female hysteria manifested itself at the end of the nineteenth century, this was, at least in certain respects, a response to internalized gender authoritarianism. That is, as Freud and others became aware of, women who were suffocating from their subjection within patriarchal power structures started to exhibit bodily symptoms that were not rooted in bodily realities. Freud saw that because these women could not openly express their dissent and rage (repressing such in obedience to socio-familial obligations), their bodies began to signify in strange and indirect ways what they could not say. That is to say, hysteria needs to be understood in terms of an internalization of authority and a forceful repression of the strong desire to rebel, hence the outbreak of dissent through mute bodily signs of distress. While feminism comes to break with this hysteria in ceasing to repress the desire to rebel against imposed norms, what does it mean to re-institute the ineluctability of ‘obligatory norms’ that in being enacted serve to produce the body as the symptomatic locus of distress and dissent? This is of relevance to Butler’s reading of the revolution. What is particularly striking about Butler’s approach to the Egyptian revolution is that she speaks throughout her book of revolutionaries as ‘bodies’, as if they are made to appear as a

hardly vocal mass of creatures reduced to bare necessities. She writes: ‘I want to suggest only that when bodies assemble on the street […] they are exercising a plural and performative right to appear, one that asserts and instates the body in the midst of the political field’ (11); and, ‘just to be clear […] I am suggesting that political claims are made by bodies as they appear and act […] that fact alone threatens the state with delegitimation’ (83). The way in which she pervasively refers to rebels and revolutionaries as ‘bodies’ is a terminological insistence that serves to create the impression of oddly headless, faceless and spiritless entities. While tending to ontologize and naturalize economic precarity in accordance with ‘the unspeakable’ other of normative discourse, Butler appears to end up with a theory of rebellion as mass hysteria: the inability to speak taking the form of a protesting conglomeration of near mute bodies asserting only bodily distress or distress through bodily symptoms. If Butler aligns hegemony with intelligibility, then the rebels as labouring (or unemployed) ‘animals’ apparently lack this in any articulate way. For Arendt, however, speechless or unheard as ‘labouring animals’ may be, the political is defined by her in terms of speech making and debate. In fact, her dismissal of Marxism may entail an unstated concern that its materialist emphasis on labour may be complicit with biopolitics as opposed to the politics of public discourse. Butler addresses the supposed (in my view, too readily assumed) lack of a discourse outside of obligatory norms and their mimetic elaborations in terms in of what she calls ‘the unspeakable’ and addresses the response to this impasse in terms of the use of the body used as a kind of substitute for speech. She asks: ‘How does the unspeakable population speak and make its claims?’ (my emphasis, 58) As follows, for example: al-Sha’b yurīd isqāṭ al-niẓām (The people want the removal of the regime)? taghīyir, Ḥuriyah, ‘adālah igtmā‘iyya’h (change, freedom and social justice)? IrHal (Leave)? Allī w ‘allī w ‘allī-l-ṣūt/ Illī Hayihtif mish Haymūt (Raise, raise your voices high/ Whoever chants will not die)? Although Butler concedes that her bodies can utter sounds – bodies that mutter? – she treats the Egyptians as if they were silent, not quoting Egyptian testimonies or any Egyptian or Arab assessments of the uprisings, so that it is just her own voice that speaks for the ‘bodies’.1 How does an unspeakable bodily revolution work? Using Arendt’s The Human Condition as her theoretical focus, Butler posits precarity in terms of what for Arendt concerns man as a labouring animal: the unrewarding and repetitive drudgery of maintaining life on the basic level of needs. However, Butler writes: ‘Arendt’s view is confounded by its own gender politics, relying as it does on a distinction between the public and the private domains that leaves the sphere of politics to men and the reproductive sphere to women […] the body in the private sphere is female, ageing, foreign, or childish, and always prepolitical’ (75). What Arendt actually states is: ‘The emergence of society […] from the shadowy interi or of the household into the light of the public sphere, has not only blurred the distinction between private and political, it has also changed beyond recognition the meaning of the two terms’ (Arendt 1998, 38). Arendt further maintains ‘the modern age emancipated the working classes and the women at nearly the same historical moment’ (73), where she herself explicitly does not consider this labour, recognized as wage labour, to be a matter of slave

labour hidden away within the private domain of the family. Therefore, it is Butler herself who wishes to retreat to an earlier model – one that seems to be closely based on Hegel – of the family as a pre-political female sphere (one she herself tellingly posits as ‘female, ageing, foreign, or childish’) opposed to the masculine public sphere, this retreat from modernity serving to erase the long histories of feminist, Marxist and anti-colonial struggles for emancipation. On this basis, the primary logic of Butler’s performative theory of assembly is that public assemblies serve to put on display an otherwise private or familial sphere, one that therefore seems to be pre-political, pre-nationalist, pre-feminist, pre-Marxist and so forth, as a matter of the vulnerability of bodily needs. It is the case, however, that Arendt’s distinction between the contemplative life and the political sphere is implicitly gendered where, from her perspective, retreat from the political sphere would be ‘feminine’ for either sex and political activity ‘masculine’ for either men or women. Butler’s transgender theory of revolution is that just as trans-people need publicly to ‘come out’ as such against their marginal and threatened existences, for the sake of social assimilation, it is somehow a comparable situation for Arab revolutionaries, transgender vulnerability equating with economic precarity (Butler 2015, 123–53) First, in Egypt the struggles for liberation have a long public history (Amin 2012, 17; Marfleet 2016, 98–101). Not only that, for a century or so, women have been very publicly at the forefront of these struggles (al-Zayyat 2017; El Saadawi 1997; Kamal 2016; Mostafa 2016). Secondly, with respect to hegemonic recognition, as I will consider in Chapter 5, Butler’s arguments are demonstrably more relevant to pride movements than to revolutionary ones. As regards the Egyptian revolution, Butler is fascinated to observe, given her interest in the public display of the usually private, that demonstrators ‘were sleeping and eating in the public square, constructing toilets and various systems for sharing the space’ (97). She assumes that this was a deliberate act of exhibitionism offered up to an international voyeuristic gaze, stating: In this way, they formed themselves into images to be projected to all who watched […] it was only when those needs that are supposed to remain private came out into the day and night of the square, formed into image and discourse for the media, that it finally became possible to extend the space and time of the event with such tenacity as to bring the regime down. After all, the cameras never stopped (My emphasis, 98). Personally, I did not see it this way at all as I will indicate further on, but for the moment, it should be pointed out that the demonstrators camped in the square because, as people who know Cairo are aware of, it is a large, congested city and getting in and out of the centre is not easy. In addition, the square importantly needed to remain occupied against military control of the space. That is, it is highly unlikely that camping in the square was something designed to display bodily needs for media consumption. Butler’s depiction of Tahrir Square somewhat comes across as if her televised reception of the event is conditioned by so-called reality TV: she envisions Tahrir Square in the manner of

a camera beaming into a Big Brother household to reveal the otherwise private or intimate lives of the inmates who are happy to comply with the exposure for a moment of grabbing the public gaze. More to the point, the mainstream media in the West constantly offers its viewers a stream of images of foreign others in states of bodily distress: bodies ravaged by famine, wounded by war, afflicted with illnesses, humiliated by powerlessness, washed up dead or dying through desperate bids to escape regions of conflict. And we do not usually hear what these ‘bodies’, these people, have to say about their situations. Therefore, Butler’s discourse reflects the perspectives and practices of the mainstream media. Kaiama L. Glover argues, for instance, that the reduction of Haitians and Africans to mere bodily vulnerability serves to confirm the boundaries of global citizenship, and she states: ‘It is the ricketiness of the fences separating nervous “haves” from hungry “have-nots” that explains in large measure the media saturation with images of Afro-misery’ (Glover 2017, 249–50). In seeking out first-hand Egyptian accounts of the revolution, I came across an essay by Wiam El-Tamami that accords with my own sense of the mainstream media. El-Tamami writes the following in considering the coverage of the revolution: ‘Never was I so aware of the chasm between the “news” and lived experience as I have been in these past four years, when our country was on the news’ (El-Tamami 2016, 29). She continues: ‘The news – even from the most “respectable” sources – seems to me an elaborately orchestrated pornography of drama and desperation that we have somehow mistaken for a profoundly explanatory anatomy and imbibed in lieu of touch, in lieu of a dance. An intentionally flat schematic that we have come to regard as a living picture of our world’ (29). I know what El-Tamami means because when over a long period I moved back and forth between Zimbabwe (my home country) and England, there was the same chasm between news about my country broadcast in England and lived experience in Zimbabwe. The news painted life in Zimbabwe as permanently in crisis and horribly abject while actually day-today life carried on in Zimbabwe as normal, even with more everyday conviviality than in England in spite of hardships. In writing of the revolution at the time, El-Tamami says she wished to draw attention to ‘the pockets of normalcy that always exist, persist’ in terms of ‘what they don’t tell you on the news’ (26). She’s obviously not talking about ‘norms’ in the sense of regulation, but of life carrying on in all its dimensions in contradistinction to ‘the pornography of drama and desperation’ (29). In fact, ‘normalcy’, life as it actually is, refers to the reality you see when you take off the world-distorting spectacles of ‘norms’ or the filters of ideology. While El-Tamami speaks of wishing to record the lived experienc e of the revolution in its real-life dimensions, against the schematic, taking in the revolution with the senses and, as she says, with ‘the soul’, she also states: ‘For a long time I was afraid and unwilling to write about the revolution, struggling with the impossibility of translating the immensity, intensity […] What does it mean to write without betraying?’ (21) I am interested in this statement as a question of muteness in that Hannah Arendt brackets off the sacred as mute in her account of the human condition while Butler follows Arendt with her emphasis on the near muteness of the ‘labouring animal’ body.

First of all, El-Tamami finds the revolution too momentous and vast to put into words, as if oceanic. Secondly, the fact that she does not wish to betray it suggests that it was something sacred for her that she therefore does not wish to offer up to the glare of publicity that is so falsifying. Liberation struggles have something sacred about them, as I have explored previously (Rooney 2000), and the sacred is actually something you can be afraid to display: it does not belong on a theatrical stage. Jean Genet, for instance, in writing about the Palestinian struggle also constantly worries precisely about betraying it because for him it was something sacred (Genet 2003; Said 2017). In order to address Butler’s perspective, I would like to quote from an earlier essay of mine on the Egyptian revolution as a ‘Sufi Spring’. First, I relate how in the year before the revolution broke out, 2010, I encountered a demonstration in the form of a vigil outside the Egyptian Parliament in Magles el-Shaab Street, as follows: The demonstrators, with sleeping bags or blankets, were lined up against the railings opposite the parliament. You could see at a glance how poor they were, an unavoidable acknowledgment, while their complete silence was haunting. There were a couple of small clusters of policemen standing at either end of their line of pavement, and I wondered if the silence was because of this. The police sent over menacing looks and they were clearly armed, so I kept my distance. There were a few cardboard placards but my very basic Arabic meant I could not decipher them. My initial feeling was that this scene seemed spectral; in a strange way it was as if I were seeing a procession of ghosts representing the downtrodden throughout the ages. But then, in a sudden reverse shot, it was the demonstrators who seemed very real and present, if only we could just speak, and the parliament building appeared like an unreal facade as if made of cardboard, and the Embassies all seemed like confectionary, meringues and cakes, displayed in glass windows, not buildings at all. (Rooney 2015b, 43) The reason that I quote this is because Butler’s perception of the revolution itself echoes aspects of this pre-revolutionary 2010 demonstration that I witnessed: the visibility of the poverty of the protesters camping out and the matter of their silence.2 However, the silence here was due to the armed policemen not due to an innate condition (of almost mute labouring animals in Arendt and Butler’s terms) while the message of the protesters was yet displayed on their placards. In ‘Sufi Springs’, I go on to explain how the revolution, when it broke out the following year, was transformative. No longer, and this is important, were the people forced into beggarly supplication out of fear of the police state because the authority of Mubarak and company no longer meant anything to them. They were able to break through the structure keeping them intimidated, and instead, with a feeling of the miraculous, the people were free, exuberant and very vocal where I explain how the revolution took the form of a Sufi mulid (festival), in the ‘festive, creative, uplifting’ manner described by Sahar Keraitim and Samia Mehrez (Keraitim and Mehrez 2012, 30). In addition, revolutionary Adel Abdel Ghafar relates of his experience of Tahrir Square: ‘There was a raised collective consciousness among us. A realization. An epiphany. That we will no longer be afraid’ (Al-

Saleh 2015, 59). As I explained in Chapter 1 of this book, the Egyptian revolution serves strikingly to turn Arendt’s The Human Condition on its head. Whereas Arendt forecloses the sacred and idealizes (or idolizes as immortal) the performative praxis of political actors, the Egyptians threw off the persistence of political actors who were doing nothing but perform themselves, ignoring the needs of the people, and they turned the public sphere into a sharing of poetry and song and art (poiesis) and also into a Sufi celebration of the sacred, demonstrating that it is not the performative leaders that are immortal whatever their desires. What ‘precarity’ pertains to is superfluous labour. I want to stress, contra Butler, that the people did not display their superfluity. The revolution overturned (as a revolution) the Arendtian structure so that the political leaders became truly superfluous and the people became the truly necessary presence of the nation, its living heritage, its creative life force and its future. Some might see this as an appropriation of political power, and while there may be some aspects of this, I would argue that what is really at stake is a retrieval of the sacred from its political appropriation or mis-prison. That Tahrir was a joyously transformative experience where people were able for once to experience and assert their radiant dignity as opposed to their miserable precarity is borne out by a great many statements on the part of the people. The writer Alaa Al Aswany comments: ‘The people I saw in Tahrir Square were new Egyptians, with nothing in common with the Egyptians I was used to dealing with every day. It was as if revolution had recreated Egyptians in a higher form’ (Gröndhal 2011, 77). Artist Yasser Rostom states: ‘I want to thank the youth of Egypt. You brought my soul back’ (Gröndhal 2011, 69). Theatre director Hassan El Geretly explains: ‘The Egyptian people for a long time have been at the bottom of the proverbial pyramid. At Tahrir Square the pyramid was all of a sudden standing on its head’ (Gröndhal 2011, 72). And finally, Businessman Hazem Monir states: It was an amazing moment when I arrived in the square. People I’d never met before were hugging and welcoming me like a brother. I didn’t know we were so many people who wanted the same thing: to think, live, and pray freely. (Gröndhal 2011, 58) The fact that Monir refers to thinking and praying and that both Rostom and El-Tamami refer to the soul is significant in that this constitutes for Arendt the contemplative life. It is precisely Arendt’s foreclosure of the sacred in her turning away from the contemplative life that serves to produce the worker in the form of the near mute body of supposedly mere existence, lacking thought and soul, where it is only the political that officially speaks. Butler’s Hegelian schema rests on the foreclosure of the real, especially the feminine real. It is this that produces her doppelgänger formation of the performative script (the conventional Dr Jekyll) invariably accompanied by the mute body (Mr Hyde). It is certainly the case that Hyde has no voice, and in terms of the singular masculine logic of the double functions as an unspeakable body, though as Jekyll’s body, a body that is a disowned one. In political terms, what I think Butler, among others, is unable to analyse is the deep structural interdependency of neoliberalism (capitalist performativity) and biopolitics

(precarity), instead merely presuming it. Regarding the media described previously, neoliberal governments are keen precisely to exploit the biopolitical spectacle of precarity where the sub-textual threat is: be grateful you live in a neoliberal state, otherwise you could well end up as one of those helpless bodies, and be warned that there are plenty of people who are ready to take your jobs if you are discontent with their conditions. However, it is not only a case of such threats, in that the Western media also seek to construct the image of a West that cares for unfortunate others let down by their foreign leaders. The structure though of the neoliberal master and its lowly biopolitical double remains the same. Positing the biopolitical as display of superfluity as if this were resistance alters nothing as it merely reinscribes the unequal relations of power as that which cannot supposedly be radically overturned. If neoliberalism produces biopolitics, reducing people to bodies, what does it mean to offer a re-statement of this as if it were resistance? It may be observed that Butler is not alone in her biopolitical framing of revolution and her resort to the body as the instrument of resistance. For instance, Marwan Kraidy in his book The Naked Blogger of Cairo (2016) maintains, both in terms of biopolitical and phenomenological frameworks, that the body is central to creative insurgency. Without engaging in detail with Kraidy’s arguments, I will offer just a few points. First, Kraidy opposes the body to the virtuality and spectrality of digital media and implicitly the postmodernist episteme more widely. Here, it is obvious that revolutions are not disembodied occurrences and even social media channels could not operate without physical input. Rather, the question is what does it mean to rely on the biopolitical when this is generated by the dominant ideologies? It could be argued that it is in the most desperate of situations when people are deprived of any acknowledgement of their humanity that they feel forced to resort to instrumentalizing their bodies as a form of protest such as in the cases of suicide bombing and hunger strikes. Such tragically self-destructive acts differ from precisely the creative expression and communication of revolutionary subjects. Where Kraidy’s arguments are pertinent to my concerns is in how they observantly attend to the way in which the classically heroic bodies of leaders are demoted into reviled and grotesque bodies. That is, if anything, it is the toppled political leaders who come to appear as mere bodies (stripped of the aura of previous heroic glamour). For instance, we may recall the scenes of the capture of Saddam Hussein and the capture of Gaddafi as well as of Mubarak being wheeled supine on a trolley into a courtroom, the leaders all reduced to abject vulnerability. In part, this is a question of revolutionary inversions: as the people get their souls back, the leaders are returned to the fragile mortality of their bodies. However, I also wish to say that this can be problematic. When scenes of the supine and suffering Mubarak being wheeled into the courtroom were broadcast, I remember thinking that perhaps here is where the revolution has gone astray. While it is important that the people retrieve their spirits and are no longer crushed, this should not issue in a mere reversal of the structure but its undoing. Thus, the leaders should not be humiliated, stripped of their dignity and dehumanized in revengeful ways when they have already lost their power. What this dynamic of vengeance actually shows is how the

revolution may get caught up in the structures of idealization and idolization that demonize others. (Surely this proved fateful for both the French and the Russian revolutions in their practice of terror, this idealization and idolization of the revolution.) What then are the alternatives? In what follows, I will consider two alternatives: an alternative form of interpolation to hegemonic interpellation3 and an alternative to the deracination of the performative in the ostensive, a question of revolutionary signs and thus communication. The uplifting psycho-affective mood of the Egyptian revolution, touched on earlier, reminded me very much of how Zimbabwe felt on the brink of Independence and just after. There was the same feeling of outward-facing joy. Walking down the street, you’d catch the eyes of a stranger (white or black, old or young, male or female), and you could see that they saw in you what you saw in them, the same spirit of freedom, good will and hope. And we’d smile at each other, spontaneously, immediately, irrepressibly. It was the same for many with the Egyptian revolution, as cited previously. Speaking of how women used to view each other through the gender stereotypes of norms, Amira Abdul Rahman states: ‘For the first time we were not looking at each other in the old way. Our eyes met and we smiled at each other and shared the victory sign’ (Gröndhal 2011, 28). Butler wonders at length who ‘the people’ are (154–6), and given her hegemonic model of interpellation proposes that the only alternative would be a speech act of auto-interpellation, ‘linguistic autogenesis’ (175), by which they would lay claim to an identity. As just indicated, I would say that the people are rather those who recognize each other as such on the streets, needing no authority to mediate this for them and needing no self-election. You can, very immediately, see it, the acknowledgement, in each other’s eyes or by similar modes of recognition. Butler says that her performative model of assembly has nothing in it to distinguish between the massed bodies of populist demonstrators on the right or the left, noting: ‘“Bodies on the street” can refer equally well to right-wing demonstrations’ (124). Since Butler regards the linguistic utterance ‘we the people’ to be self-ac tualizing (169), this would indeed be as effective for, say, right-wing ‘populists’ as it would be for the colonized. Whoever makes the populist claim would produce it in a self-confirming or literal way, problematically so. The kind of recognition that I am talking about differs from the interpellations of the far right and of religious cults where identification is vertical and categorical, based on a rigid group ideal, such as ‘whiteness’, ‘masculinity’ and pious adherence to an authority figure. In the liberationist movements, there is no transcendental group ideal, no performative template. Each sees the soul of each in an actual encounter. That said, during the Egyptian uprising, people did speak of feeling Egyptian, as I will come to later, but where this was the matter not of some ideal but a matter of those who felt freed or ‘decolonized’ in their land, throwing off kitsch state Egyptian-ness, perhaps a question of birth rights. What I speak of is crucially experiential, not theoretical. However, an academic study that offers some pertinent considerations is Fritz Kramer’s The Red Fez (1993), a work that could be described as an anthropological study of different kinds of interpolation in African

societies. In particular, Kramer distinguishes between official forms of recognition (dependent on centralized and hierarchic structures) and forms of recognition that are acephalous (leaderless or anarchic) and entail cross-border, unofficial ways of hailing strangers and, in an African context, spirit beings, through receptive empathy. Whereas with the former you identify with what you are supposed to be (your official group), the latter border-crossing affiliative forms of co-belonging are in disregard of this, thus hospitable to strangers. Since Kramer’s highly specialized anthropological study is difficult to translate into the terms that would be applicable in this context, I will offer a few personal experiences of what is at stake. The first one concerns when some years ago I attended a conference in Scotland on gender in an African context and presented a paper. Afterwards, three women came up to me and they introduced themselves to me as Eritrean freedom fighters and they then said to me that they thought that I was one of them, that I could be an Eritrean freedom fighter too. At first, I was quite surprised in that I had never identified myself in this way. However, along with this surprise, there was also a feeling of aptness and I think that this sense of aptness came from the fact that liberation struggles do deeply engage me. There was perhaps thus a point of commonality underlying what would be officially cast as our differences together with other differences. Another example, among possible others, of this kind of hailing can be given. When I attended an official British Embassy party in Delhi designed to create cultural diplomatic links between British and Indian intellectuals, I engaged in conversation with an Indian anthropologist and he suddenly interrupted me to say that I seemed just like a Baul to him, the Bauls being the community of his anthropological research. Again, my reaction was one of surprise (and it also seemed funny to me in that I was at the party as a representative of the British). All the same, there was also oddly an element of rightness in that I have always been rather fascinated by the Bauls, drawn to and feeling empathy with their freespiritedness. An example of the kind of hailing that I am interested in can be found in Forster’s A Passage to India (1991). While Forster is concerned with how hegemonic interpellations serve to thwart the friendship between the English national Fielding and the Indian national Aziz, he offers a counter-case through the figure of Mrs Moore. Mrs Moore has an unconscious sympathy with Hindu culture that leads to the absurd climax of a group of Hindus hailing her as a goddess. It is on a literal level that this may be seen as absurd, while on a poetic level there is something apt about what would otherwise be an error. I speak of the poetic because what you find in poetry are metaphoric connections that have the effect of being surprising and apt at the same time, a startling rightness. This derives from discovering the hidden underlying unity of and the unknown commonalities of what seems to be a divided world. While the hegemonic interpellations divide us into homogenous groups, it is anarchic and poetic hailing that may connect us together in enjoyably surprising ways across a distance. ‘Anarchic hailing’ would be an apt term to use in contradistinction to ‘hegemonic

interpellation’ in that it does not depend on a leader (the etymology of ‘anarchy’ being ‘without ruler’), and anarchism has of course a long association of revolutionary freedom among equals. A further example of anarchic hailing concerns the way that Jean Genet was hailed into the Black Panthers and into the Palestine liberation struggle. However, perhaps a more apt term than ‘anarchic’ would be ‘spontaneous’, thinking of Arendt’s profound consideration that the redundancy of human is predicated on a denial of spontaneity. While it is obviously not possible to be spontaneous all the time, it is crucial to defend our right to be spontaneous. Also to be noted is that spontaneity occurs when someone is not being self-conscious and this why it cannot be self-acknowledged but concerns what is acknowledged or welcomed by the other. Thus, an important thing to note about the form of hailing and recognition pertinent to the anarchist spirit is that it cannot be a matter of selfelection or auto-nomination, as if you could hail yourself. This therefore differs from Butler’s emphasis on the claiming of ‘linguistic autogenesis’. For instance, if I had gone up to the Eritrean freedom fighters (or to a group of Bauls) to announce to them that I was really one of them, such an insinuation would come across as claustrophobically presumptive or creepy. You cannot welcome yourself into another’s world without this being an imposition or usurpation lacking respectful distance; the welcoming gesture has to come from the other for it to be authentic and valid as such since it is a matter of acknowledgement across a distance. That said there is potential mutuality in this in that, across all the different instances of the phenomenon, it seems to be a case of recognizing the soul or the free spirit in another. That is, this concerns what you cannot recognize of yourself all by yourself but can have recognized in you by another as you in turn recognize it in that other. We speak of this in terms of mutual respect and mutual trust where we are bound together by such at the same time that a distance is preserved in honouring the other’s freedom. In the Egyptian revolution, Egyptians discovered each other again in mutual respect. Muslim greeted Copt and Copt Muslim; the middle classes and working classes welcomed each other; the older generations and younger generations hailed each other; men and women looked out for each other. Ahdaf Soueif writes of her experience of Tahrir Square: ‘And all these millions look like people who’ve woken from a spell. […] A man asks: how did they divide us?’ (Soueif 2012, 55). According to Soueif, the people woke up to realit y in throwing off the ‘zombie existence where we are emptied of ourselves but continue to perform their [the regime’s] “Egypt”’ (55). There is strangely something more real about creative or poetic welcoming than the official interpellations, perhaps because they concern your true yet often hidden spirit. In order to bring out the difference between the two in terms of their signifying practices, I will turn to Ayman El-Desouky’s work on amāra in The Intellectual and the People in Egyptian Literature and Culture: Amāra and the 2011 Revolution (2014). In this book, El-Desouky is concerned with the role of the intellectual when the people are already aware of their predicaments, demands and aspirations. He writes: ‘What if the social already knows and already speaks?’ (emphasis in text, 2) This is very different from Butler’s position as regards what she terms ‘the unspeakable population’. That is, the people are able to understand the situations they are in from experience without the formulations of intellectuals

and without formal hegemonic recognition and representation. El-Desouky continues that the social may ‘manifest agency in collective modes of speech, and of action, rooted in cultural memory, the understanding of which seems to demand a form of analysis that can only be aesthetic – as we have seen in the Arab uprisings and other social movements since 2011’ (2). The Egyptian notion of amāra affords one such means of aesthetic analysis, a very significant one. El-Desouky defines amāra as ‘a collective aesthetic force that is at once an aesthetic of resonance and an ethic of solidarity, offering visions of social cohesion that do not readily translate into the modes of knowledge production in discourses of power and their conceptual languages nor into the sociological languages of the effectuation of structures of domination or the political theories of populism’ (12). Indeed, we have an experiential consciousness of shared lived realities and shared destiny outside of ideology and theory, the language of which consciousness is cultural: a poetics of the real. El-Desouky defines amāra as originally denoting ‘stones set up in a waterless desert’ (21), further acquiring the more widespread meaning of ‘signs, marks and signposts’ (21), where the term has also come to refer to ‘an appointed time’. An equivalent to amāra that I have explored in other revolutionary contexts is the ostensive sign (Rooney 2007). In a philosophical sense, the ostensive sign neither represents nor performs what it refers to but indicates or points to it. For instance, I have shown how Indian writer Mahasweta Devi in her story ‘Draupadi’ draws attention to the way that Naxalite rebels use a coded underground system of communication that escapes the ability of officials to even notice it let alone decipher it (Rooney 2000, 47). While this language is off the radar of the officials, the rebels use it as precisely a sign language, like a covert noticeboard of revolutionary communiqués. Social media and messaging can function in this manner too. Saudi Arabian writer Yousef Al-Mohaimeed writes in his novel Where Pigeons Don’t Fly: ‘Centuries ago, poems were newsletters spreading word of a tribe’s heroism and glory. Later neighbourhood walls took on the role’ (Al-Mohaimeed 2014, 340). More exact to concerns here, however, would be the ‘way signs’ of pre-Islamic Bedouin and early Coptic cultures or ‘herma’ signs (terrain markers) of Hermeticism discussed in the introduction to this work. In the Egyptian context, El-Desouky explains that through its etymological root, the term amāra is related to imara as pertains to a princedom or rule, and this concerns how amāra may also be used to designate tokens of authority (21). As El-Desouky indicates, this entails a perversion of amāra in terms of how certain people seek to trick the community into believing in them as entrusted with the people’s destiny (23–9). What El-Desouky considers a pathological form of self-election concerns, in terms of Chapter 2, questions of inauthentic discourses of the authentic and mere linguistifications of the sacred. True amāra entails acting in good faith, where a member of the community may put forward signs to aid the community to find its best way forward, warning against the pitfalls of a given situation. Amāra, in its key orientation, may be understood in terms of signifying practices mobilized for the common good, both indicating what this might be and designating the paths towards it. Given this, amāra includes forms of hailing, entailing questions of recognition. Here, what becomes significant is the ability to distinguish between those who

elect themselves to represent the people (often an enterprise of personal vanity and elite empowerment) and those who are actually able to align themselves with and attune themselves to the needs and hopes of the people, a matter of genuine collective consciousness. As put forward by El-Desouky, amāra has an explanatory potential for the dynamics of the Egyptian revolution of 2011. It may be suggested that the revolution was preceded by a number of signposts (or ostensive signifiers) towards its occurrence, as ranged widely, including rap songs, graffiti, blogs, social media posts, local demonstrations and so on that cumulatively served as a rallying cry that issued in a time and place of appointment, Tahrir Square, 25 January 2011. This is true too of the Tunisian revolution (Tripp 2013) and the Syrian one (cooke 2016) What can further be said about this is that the people were hailing each other in way that had nothing to do, of course, with official forms of interpellation. When I was in Cairo from the autumn of 2009 to the spring of 2010, there were various forms of anarchic hailing drawing on ostensive revolutionary signs. Briefly, just one example of this is that I and a friend were invited to Merit’s publishing house, run by Mohamed Hashem, to find there a flux of writers and journalists coming and going, exchanging topical jokes, snatches of poetry, anecdotes, snippets of significant news and so on. These were like the signs or clues of a joint treasure hunt. Novelist Ahmed Alaidy said to me ‘this is where we are plotting to overthrow Mubarak’. It was a joke but not only a joke. After the revolution happened, I learnt from Mona Prince’s memoir that Merit’s (very close to Tahrir Square) had acted as the creative headquarters of the revolution, Prince commenting, ‘Merit had become the house of the nation’ (89). Again, one of the forms of the ostensive is the rallying cry, a call pointing to a future collective event, and Merit’s certainly served as a hub for an insurrectionary rallying cry. As indicated, amāra and the ostensive concern signifying practices especially relevant to collective destiny on a popular level. What this form of signification depends on is the ability to stay in touch with reality, the reality not subsumed within nor produced by ideology and textual idealism. This is what Omar Robert Hamilton testifies to: ‘The Egyptian Revolution of 2011 to 2013 was glorious in its momentary difference, its unexpectedness and its clarity […] there was no need for translation’ (Hamilton 2016, 242). He calls it ‘undeniable’. Its truth was in its undeniable reality. It shone with this. And the poetic expression of the people spoke for itself. The point that I especially wish to make is that the people rose up to show that its leaders were failing to act in the best interests of the country, as a whole. The amāra of the revolution constituted a warning of the dangers of a mal-directed world, and it is also a re-orientation for the collective, a renewal of the sense of the common ground, the common good and shared destiny. As such, it was not really about seizing power, so much as about challenging the political disavowal of the social, cultural and ethical, the disavowal of the people, the people accordingly refusing to be reduced to labouring animals or mere bodies. It was a matter of indicating wrong directions and right directions without any given template or destination. Crucial to understanding the significance of the uprisings is to see them as an unfinished process, an ultimately unstoppable opening. Revolution is always ‘to be

continued’. I will conclude this chapter with a reflection on what the message of the revolution might be for the Western philosophical tradition represented by Heidegger, Arendt and Butler. Heidegger yearned desperately for the un-forgetting of the radiance of Being and he believed that either German fascism or something similar had the force to deliver this. Well, the beautiful revolution in Egypt had this radiance of the real that it disclosed to a forgetful world, and other liberation movements and revolutions have also had this radiance of the real. Wordsworth found it in the French Revolution, ‘Bliss was it to be alive in that dawn’, and the Spanish anarchists of the Spanish Civil War uncovered it too. Heidegger’s errors entail making this radiance a matter of ‘en-owning’ and mineness on the part of idealized Germans represented by an idolized leader. This radiance is not something that can be colonized since it can only be given and received and not self-claimed or appropriated. The difference between donation and idolatry will be considered further in Chapters 6 and 7. Regarding Arendt, I have already discussed the limitations of her theory for the Egyptian case in Chapter 1; however, as indicated, what she forecloses, the sacred, is what the uprisings were retrieving. Soueif quotes a revolutionary testifying to the brutality of power and counter-asserting: ‘But God is present. God is here. With us’ (Soueif 2012, 113). Revolutionary Al-Sayed Abdulmughni states: ‘I still feel that the spirit of Tahrir Square, the sit-ins and the demonstrations we had in it, was like performimg a hajj (Islamic pilgrimage) to Mecca! People were great there – everyone had the attitude of cooperation and love’ (AlSaleh 2016, 111). Although theorists like Butler apply their versions of Arendt’s schema to the Arab uprisings, I wonder whether Arendt herself would have agreed with this. Given her preference for the American Revolution, I think she would have considered the Arab uprisings, that were anti-capitalist ones, to be doomed. Butler writes of Arendt’s position: ‘The political conception for which she fought was, in her view, implicit in the American Revolution, and it led her to refuse to accept exclusively national, racial, or religious grounds for citizenship’ (114). However, this presentation of the American Revolution is ideological more than historical. For Arendt, the American Revolution was more successful than the French one in that it established a capitalist democracy where she saw the French Revolution failing in turning to radical socialism. Dabashi states: ‘Using the French and American revolutions as her model, she believes that initially these revolutions had a restorative force to them, but that in the course of events something of an epistemic shift occurs in the revolutionary uprising’ (Dabashi 2012a, 60). I agree that there is a restorative dynamic at stake, but in my view, the American Revolution was not really a revolution. As Simon Schama’s study Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution (2005) importantly demonstrates, the American Revolution initially had the preservation of slavery as its motive. Commenting on the enlightening value of Schama’s book in a CounterPunch article, Heather Gray states: ‘What is rarely discussed in U.S. history is the role played by slavery in the American Revolution itself’ (Gray 2011), that is, prior to the civil war.

In brief, Schama demonstrates that prior to the American Revolution, African slaves were beginning to revolt, signing petitions and deserting plantations. Gray writes: ‘Before the white revolution in America, Blacks were already engaged in revolutions of their own’, Schama pointing to ferocious rebellions in Surinam, St Vincent and Jamaica, areas where the black population outnumbered the whites. At this time, Britain granted freedom to a slave who had been brought to London, and the grounds for this were that slavery was alien to the laws of Britain. When hostilities then began to break out in America against the British, Britain offered the slaves the opportunity of freedom if the slaves abandoned their plantations. However, it was this that especially served to mobilize the American South in separating from Britain to protect their slave economy. History repeats itself. Schama’s account resonates with my experience of growing up in the British colony of Rhodesia. When Britain began to support the liberation struggle of the African population towards their independence, the right-wing white racist party under Ian Smith rallied for the independence of the settler society from Britain that the party unilaterally declared. These white supremacist movements for settler colonial independence, whether in Rhodesia or America, cannot accurately be called revolutions. Significantly, they follow on from the revolutionary movements of Africans calling for universal rights, and so what the settlers seek to ‘restore’ is a liberty, equality and fraternity reserved for or maintained by conservative white brotherhoods: elite populism! It concerns also a strange performative mimicry of the revolutionary (to be explored further in Chapter 5). Arendt’s possible impasse is one of trying to translate the revolutionary into what is implicitly a capitalist structure. Butler gives the American declaration of ‘We the people’ as an example of her performative, populist, linguistic self-constitution (154, 175–6), but ho w authentic is this if it means a fraternity of white people nominating themselves as the people? As for Butler’s transgender-based theory of revolution, there are questions of interpellation and hailing that in terms of her theories are very specific to the transgender predicament (as gender dysphoric). In brief, neither official nor anarchic forms of hailing seem to work for the transgendered (in the strictly gender dysphoric sense and not necessarily in other senses). The initial hegemonic, official interpellation obviously does not work nor does anarchic hailing in that the trans-sexually transgendered are presumably looking for precisely official or hegemonic recognition and are concerned with the very literality of their gender (as opposed to points of similarity or poetic, non-literal likeness). In an interview in The TransAdvocate, Judith Butler states of her book Gender Trouble: ‘I did not mean to argue that gender is fluid and changeable (mine certainly is not)’ (Williams 2014). For Butler, gender is not sex, and here something like self-image or selfconsciousness, and so she seems to be saying that her sense of herself as masculine (as she has often attested to) is non-negotiable. The question is how do you get this counter-hegemonic self-image that seems so true and real if not from embodied life as birth sex including intersex conditions? It would appear to constitute some form of inner conviction. Regarding the transgendered, unlike others, they (the gender dysphoric) are said to have to rely on auto-interpellation, what Butler terms ‘self-

constitution’ (169) and ‘linguistic autogenesis’ (175), hailing themselves into society on the basis of personal convictions (possibly images and ideas that are deeply invested in if not a case of a biological condition). D. Veale in a psychiatric paper entitled ‘Over-valued Ideas: A Conceptual Analysis’ considers that what various kinds of body dysmorphia have in common is a sense of the non-negotiable that he finds is based on overvalued ideas and he states: ‘An idealised value occurs when one of the values develops such over-riding importance that it defines the ‘self’ or identity of the individual or becomes at the centre of a personal domain’ (Veale 2002, 388). While Veale proposes the overvalued idea of anorexia is the self-control of weight and shape, he argues the overvalued idea of gender dysphoria is correct gender (among other kinds of body dysmorphic conditions discussed by Veale). Although I am not in a position to assess Veale’s theory, what is interesting about it is that for the majority of people the situation would be the other way around. That is, their birth sex taken as a fact not as an ideal would be what they would strongly adhere to (a truth they would not deny and a reality they would not agree to give up) while their approach to ideas and images of gender would be flexible (gender as open to endless interpretations or as quite fluid in its configurations). For Butler, birth sex is negotiable and readily changeable but, as she says, her sense of gender identity is strictly not fluid or flexible, as seems to be the transgender position for some. Whatever auto-interpellation may mean for the transgendered on an individual level (and Butler’s theories may differ from other transgender positions), if this is the situation, on a political stage are there not dangers around questions of self-election and the non-negotiable? I think the problem with Butler’s frame of analysis is that instead of seeing the transgendered as a minority worthy of respectful treatment within a much wider whole where everyone deserves respect, it is as if the transgendered come to signify the new norm that the majority have then to fit in with in ways that can potentially constrain the scope of political articulations and freedoms. For instance, with transgender brought very much to the fore in gay, lesbian and bisexual movements, the emphasis is taken away from these movements as being primarily about same sex love and desire in that many transgender people are not gay, lesbian or bisexual but heterosexual. With this, the focus is re-orientated around self-image as opposed to other-desire with gays and lesbians loving the sex they were born as. The gay and lesbian community is mainly happy to welcome the transgendered yet the transgendered (as often heterosexual) cannot be the measure of the community as a whole just as there are other constituencies that the transgendered cannot represent. Without debating such questions in detail, my basic point is that while the transgendered are to be included within the universal they surely cannot be universalized as the model for all liberation movements. As regards the Arab revolutionary movements, the considerable difficulty of the kind of transgender theory championed by Butler is that for these movements the reality of the feminine is often crucial to their momentum and constitutes a significant aspect of their epistemic challenge. In my earlier critique of Butler’s Antigone’s Claim (Rooney 2007), I argue that Butler fails to understand Antigone in terms of her revolutionary spirit in that Butler reads Antigone as a male-identified gay woman seeking to replicate the hetero-normative family: arguably the

kind of queer domestication or assimilation that Jasbir Puar writes of (Puar 2007). The desire for performative transgender assimilation cannot surely be equated with the revolutionary assertion of the real. When Butler produced the gender idealism of Gender Trouble, feminists asked: what about the body? Since then Butler’s work oscillates between gender idealism and bodily materialism. However, both idealism and materialism are highly deterministic systems. For me, the question I have long put in relation to her work from a revolutionary perspective is: What about freedom of spirit and creativity? In Revolution Is My Name, Mona Prince writes: I remember the day of January 25. A new society was being born; a new spirit was in the making. There was a marvellous feeling that we had all become Egyptian again, real Egyptians. (Prince 2014, 90–1) What it means to be a real Egyptian is a preoccupation of Waguih Ghali’s Beer in the Snooker Club (2010), a novel concerned with what it means to be a revolutionary in the time of Nasser. While the protagonist Ram is politicized by his cosmopolitan Jewish girlfriend Edna he says that the ‘mental sophistication of Europe’ (Ghali 2010, 60) takes something Egyptian away from him, and he comments: ‘Gradually I have lost my natural self. I have become […] my own actor in my own theatre’ (60). Even so, he still posits his sense of himself as Egyptian through his preference for people who are down to earth and honest, telling Edna he is a ‘real Egyptian’ (185). He explains to her: ‘I have our humour. Even though my “Egyptian” has been enfeebled by my stay in England and by the books I have read, I have the Egyptian character. You haven’t […] You have no humour’ (185). Ram fur ther associates the Egyptian sense of humour with how music brings people together (19, 165), and he also tells Edna: Egypt to me is so many different things. Playing snooker with Doorman and Varian the Armenians, is Egypt to me. Sarcastic remarks are Egypt to me – not only the fellah and his plight. … How can I explain to you that Egypt to me is something unconscious, is nothing particularly political. (190) What is interesting about this is the 2011 revolution was dubbed al-Thawra al-daHika (laughing revolution, the revolution of the joke), and the sense of being Egyptian was expressed very much through music (Valassopoulos and Mostafa 2014). Even more striking is that this Egyptian unconscious, that which the revolution un-repressed so that Egyptians could feel real again, is said to be ‘nothing particularly political’. Is there a sense in which this might be said of aspects of the revolution? While Butler maintains that Antigone wants to claim Creon’s power and masculine entitlement for herself (2000, 61–2), this is something that I consider to be a misreading. Rather, surely Antigone’s rebellious position is against the politicization without limit of the human condition in that Creon believes that he is entitled to make recognition of the human a strictly political decision. Antigone says she acts out of love not politics where politics has its limits for her.

Since my critique of her reading of Antigone, Butler has strangely claimed the very terms of it as they unfold across the work (Rooney 2007), especially interdependency, the relational, the horizontal, the collective, persistence (and more besides), as if it were a case of a kind of Hegelian auto-correction.4 However, you cannot belatedly include in your system what it forecloses without ending up in an irrational position. To take but one pertinent example of this, in my critique of Butler’s Antigone’s Claim, in contesting her argument that Antigone is trying enviously to usurp the masculinity of the men around her, I point out that conversely Antigone may be seen as offering the solidarity of ṣumūd which I explain in terms of her revolutionary persistence and perseverance in standing by her brother, a matter of her fidelity to him together with her sense of the reality of the sacred outside of man-made laws (what would be norms for Butler) (Rooney 2007, 32–43). Significantly, whereas the fate of Oedipus is to reject his natality – killing his father, marrying his mother – Antigone cannot disown her brother because he is her brother through natality (what is given to her by birth as opposed to self-constitution). Latching on to the term ‘persistence’, Butler comes to apply it to the precarious and vulnerable bodies produced by neoliberal capitalism so that their precarity and vulnerability is what persists! (123–53) That is, Butler takes what is radically outside of the capitalist structure and applies it to what capitalism effects. No longer the persistence of revolutionary spirit, it is an insistence on the persistent failure of revolution. Persistence in the revolutionary sense of ṣumūd is in actual reality experienced as a form of resilience, not vulnerability (see Bernard 2018, 280). Also, this resilience or strength is spiritual, psychological and emotional, often to offset lack of physical power. While it is really important to be able to admit to feeling vulnerable as opposed to disavowing the condition as I have written of elsewhere in relation to extremism (Rooney 2009, 173), Butler seeks to persuade us that vulnerability is a condition that we should work to make persist. What is strange about Butler’s transgendered reading of revolution is that it rather inverts itself. If it were a case of saying that transgendered people as transgendered people and Egyptian citizens as Egyptian citizens, respectively, struggle for societies in which they can be respectfully treated, this indeed makes sense. However, Butler’s argument turns away from this in her trans-universalization when she seeks to include everyone in an obligatory vulnerability based on the transgender situation. Yet being in a vulnerable state is awful: you feel threatened and are afraid. You feel there is no one you can rely on or trust. Symptomatic of vulnerability is the feeling of being alone and unsupported by others. Butler writes: ‘Although we speak as if vulnerability is a contingent and passing circumstance, there are reasons not to accept that’ (150). Such as keeping neoliberalism going? (Joke.) She even goes on to argue that permanent vulnerability ought to be the basis of politics because people stick together out of weakness and fear (152). In Egypt, before the revolution, it was fear – a sense of vulnerability – that kept people at home or away from protests. Mohamed Elshahed, speaking of the Friday of Rage, states: ‘January 28th marked a major rupture in Egyptian history: it is the day Egyptians truly broke the fear barrier created by Mubarak’s regime’ (Elshahed 2014).

As I keep saying, revolution is an overturning, and with the solidarity of the people out on the streets calling for the downfall of their rulers, it was the rulers who became vulnerable and superfluous for a change and not the people. What I would say here is that it is important for the ruler placed in this position to avow their vulnerability as their vulnerability without trying to push it back onto the people. Obviously, Assad failed hugely and terribly in this respect. Butler says that vulnerability is connected to receptivity (Butler 2016, 23) and I would agree with this, having argued also this (Rooney 2009, 173), but we need to distinguish between what we are receptive to exactly. While generally speaking receptivity is a good thing, there are instances where it could be fatal. You cannot be receptive to abusiveness unless you are a total masochist and so on. I am certainly in favour of transgender people being respected and not subject to violence, thus reducing their vulnerability. However, in Butler’s later work especially it is as if the insecure have to make everyone else vulnerable to alleviate their anxieties (Butler 2016). What though about needy bullies (of whatever gender) who insist on making their partners feel endlessly vulnerable to keep them in a state of dependency on them? Ahmed Towfik in Utopia describes pre-revolutionary Egypt as a battered wife (Towfik 2011, 103). Those who took part in the Egyptian revolution saw it as a feminine revolution: actually feminine as opposed to replicating or deforming normative constructs of femininity. For instance, Dalia Mostafa writes: ‘It is time to consider the deep feminine sensibility which these women, who come from all sectors of Egyptian society, are bringing to the struggle for freedom and justice’ (emphasis in text, Mostafa 2016, 8). And novelist Sahar El Mougy states that after a forceful beginning: Later, the feminine dominated. You could see that in the music and songs in Tahrir, in the wit and humour, in all the palms of strangers offering you water and dried dates. There was this tenderness among people that you could not but see as the anima of the Egyptians coming to the fore after years of oppression. Love flooded the angry crowds. (Sethi 2011, np) I think, along with those just referred to, the Egyptian revolution was feminine both for women and for men in quite an illuminating way. When the divide-and-rule principle of the state was toppled, men and women came together. What this means is that the gulf of sexual difference is greatly lessened and men and women appear like each other (brothers and sisters).5 We are actually rather similar in reality. Intriguingly, in the art of ancient Egypt, men and women appear like each other, as male and female versions of each other. In fact, in the Egyptian Hermetic tradition the soul is both androgynous and beyond sexual difference. It is said: ‘Souls all have one nature’ (Freke and Gandy 1999, 91) and that the cosmic soul is ‘bisexual’ (37). What setting up a stark man ideal assumes is the denial that men may be partly feminine. The feminine is repressed, and thus women are constructed simplistically on the oppositional basis of what the man-construct is not. Ergo, if you remove the cut off hyper-man ideal, femininity returns to both sexes and does so in the unrepressed form of

freedom of spirit. Although Butler posits vulnerability as the alternative to ‘sovereign modes of defensiveness’ (Butler 2016, 25), it is paradoxical that she is so self-defensive of her performative theory that she keeps re-positing. I can see Derrida deconstructing her: an invulnerable theory of vulnerability? What I would affirm, however, is that vulnerability is precisely a question of the risk that accompanies opening yourself to the other in good faith or out of trust. That is, vulnerability borders on the alternative forms of hailing discussed earlier in that an unguarded openness and spontaneity is at stake beyond self-consciousness. Yet the strong hope is that the openness, good faith, trust and so on will not be betrayed or exploited. Paradoxically the risk is not dismissed for the very chance of averting it. Of course, there were members of the LGBT community who took part in the uprisings who hoped that this might accord them greater visibility. However, some came to regret this in that they found that their visibility turned out be detrimentally ill-timed. Writing of this, Arnaud Kurze states: ‘The growing visibility in society provoked violence and resentment against LGBT members and supporters.’ He then quotes a feminist as saying of minorities: ‘“Being more visible has made us more vulnerable.”’ (Kurze 2019, 224) This vulnerability to violence was thus felt to be an unfortunate setback. Joseph Massad has similarly expressed his concerns over the ‘outing’ of gay people in ways that are not sensitive to local contexts (Massad 2007b). Interestingly, Butler in linking resistance with vulnerability offers an exact inversion of the linkage of surrender with safety in Islam. For me, what is other to state ‘security’ – etymologically ‘freedom from care’ – is the safety of the people rather than their perpetual vulnerability. Keraitim and Mehrez maintain: ‘The collective sense of responsibility and public safety among all the protestors was the rule of the day’ (51). The sole thing Butler notes of what the revolutionaries actually said is that they enjoined each other to be peaceful, silmiyya, then informing her readers that the call for peacefulness (90) is etymologocally related to Islam. What though interests me is that in Arabic, the words for peace and safety – non-vulnerability – have the s-l-m root that Islam has, the root that pertains to the interimplications of safety, peace, deliverance and salvation, for instance, salima (to be safe and sound, to be free, to escape) and salāmah (safety and well-being). Since Butler interprets the revolution in terms of precarity (as indeed many have aptly done), and further relates precarity to persistent vulnerability, there is a contradiction here with safety as the rule of the day in that vulnerability is a feeling of not being safe, by definition. (Also, ‘superfluity forever’ would be a contradiction.) In actuality, part of the magic of Tahrir Square was that a curious feeling of safety, not vulnerability, transpired (not all the time, but still strikingly so in a situation in which it was not expected). I would like to end this chapter with a brief consideration of two songs. The one song is by Sayyid Darwish, entitled ‘Salma Ya Salama’. Palestinian singer Reem Kelani made a BBC radio documentary on the songs of Tahrir Square (Kelani 2012), and in her documentary Darwish’s songs feature prominently, including a snippet of the song that I wish to discuss. ‘Salma Ya Salama’ is aptly translated by Ted Swedenburg (2012) as ‘Welcome Back to

Safety’. The version I first became familiar with was the 1977 upbeat disco one by Dalida as it is posted on the website of the hostel that I usually stay in in Cairo. It is a good choice of song for a hotel booking because the song is about a traveller who is weary of being away from Egypt and yearns to return there, the chorus hook being ‘salma ya salama’. I heard the Dalida version as ‘yearn no more, come home!’ It is a heart-warming hailing for Cairo lovers. Dalida’s French version of the song translates its lyrics in such a way as to bring out a mystical dimension. This version begins with a man of the sands, the desert, who is implicitly travelling in search of the divine and who abandons this in sensing he has been travelling restlessly away from what he seeks. He returns to his ho meland but, in this version, finds it is not the paradise he seeks, the implication being that life is exile from the divine. The original Sayyid Darwish version is not like this (as kindly sung for me by Dr Mohamed Shabana, an Egyptian musicologist); it differs from the later versions, where what is clearer is its call and response structure, the solo voice joined by the chorus, the rhythm slower than the dance version and more chant-like. Sung like this, the chorus comes in with a profound feeling of togetherness, the sacred lying in this more than ‘elsewhere’. As noted by Ted Swedenburg (2012), the context for the original composition is the conscription of over a million Egyptian soldiers to fight in the First World War, and thus the yearning for the homeland is not nostalgic but rather a matter of defiance of the forces of colonialism and expressive of the desire to leave the battlefields of Europe for the peace and safety of home. In other words, what is at stake is a patriotism that has very different values from European patriotism: one that is welcoming not possessive, peaceful not belligerent, down to earth not territorial, concerned with the safety of the people not the security of its leaders. Possibly the most popular songs of Midan Tahrir 2011 were those of Sayyid Darwish because of their affecting ability to convey an Egyptian sense of ‘the people’. In the feeling of safety that I am concerned with here, there is a sense of enormous relief that is a form of surrender, the laying down of arms not as an act of submission but as a question of trust and faith. In my view, ‘Islam’ is better translated as ‘surrender’ than as ‘submission’. At stake in this is the amor fati that concerns me: resisting oppression through giving yourself over to the undeniable. Although in itself the Egyptian revolution did not fail, it has been failed for a number of reasons. The counter-revolution has entailed the conservative reclaiming of privilege, a matter of keeping the people in their precarious or, as is said, undignified state and a matter of forcing women, as well as the young, back into positions of subservience. Regarding this, young Egyptian singer Hamza Namira composed a particularly pertinent post-revolutionary song entitled ‘Esmaani’ (Listen to me). Addressed to the conservative older generation of uniformed men in power, the song protests the resumption of the ways of former regimes: ‘And you still want us to live in humiliation/ No! In one word I say to you: No! / I will not be a clone of your past’ (Namira 2014). It is a refusal to answer to the old hegemonic templates, reiterated in the line: ‘Why should I be a carbon copy of you, just barely alive?’ The alternative is: ‘No, I will choose my own way, and I will stubbornly resist. This is my time to shine!’ It could possibly be said that the revolution was political in what it resisted, authoritarianism and neoliberalism, but not political in what it affirmed, creativity,

mutual acknowledgement and human dignity. In Chapter 6 I will attend further to the revolution in terms of its ethos of civility and dignity.

4 Chronic disappointment, humiliation and pariah elitism in the Arab novel In this chapter, my aim is to attend to novels that address conditions that engender the turn towards either revolutionary radicalism or reactionary extremism. Literary works are an important source for understanding the formation of such movements in that they offer an alternative to the prevalent ideological approach to questions of extremism that focuses on the content of beliefs, often together with identity profiling. In contradistinction to this, literary discourse and the arts more generally attend to subjectivity and experience, bringing to the fore questions of the psyche, affect and language together with their inter-implications. Thus, what is offered here is a psycho-affective reading concentrating on how crushed aspirations and the disesteem of humiliation serve to pre-dispose those who suffer towards recuperative or rebellious positions.

The disappointed of the earth in Egyptian literary discourse My starting point for this study has been an engagement with Egyptian literature, as will be my primary concern in this section. The reason that I began to explore Egyptian novels around 2008 was that the emergent expertise on extremism and Islamic fundamentalism devoted particular attention to Egyptian contexts to provide historical case studies (Rubin 2002; Ruthven 2004). It therefore seemed important to find out what Egyptian writers and intellectuals thought of their own situations, where writers in particular are aware of the everyday concerns of the people and the structures of feeling of particular communities. As I found, writers are especially well informed due to their role as listeners to and transmitters of the stories of others in keeping with Arab understandings of the role of the writer as community scribe (Jacquemond 2008, 87; El-Desouky 2011, 430). One writer who has been hugely influential in this regard is Naguib Mahfouz and he may be seen to offer his conception of the writer’s duty through the character of the storyteller in his novel Children of the Alley, presented in the first-person prologue to the novel as follows: ‘It was my job to write the petitions and complaints of the oppressed and needy. Although many wretched people seek me out, I am barely better off than our alley’s beggars, though I am privy to so many of the people’s secrets and sorrows that I have become a sad and broken-hearted man’ (1996, 5). Before considering some of Mahfouz’s fiction in more detail, I will attend to a more recent novel that devotes itself to an understanding of the emotional and psychological formations of extremism, Alaa Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building (2002). What is striking about Al

Aswany’s treatment of this subject matter is that it demonstrates the significance of what I wish to term ‘chronic disappointment’ in the trajectory from individual experience to fundamentalist convictions to an eventual act of terrorism. I will now give an account of the novel in order to substantiate this claim, subsequently going on to show how chronic disappointment has been a widespread concern among Arab writers and intellectuals, this serving to identify it as a key structure of feeling for Arab social and cultural modernity. As indicated, The Yacoubian Building offers us the narrative of a young man’s downfall in a chain of events that issues in his political and religious martyrdom. This young man, called Taha, is the son of a doorkeeper in the Yacoubian building that is situated at the hub of downtown Cairo. In the buzzing, teaming heart of this great city, Taha is able to lead only a shadow life since he is forced to take on a menial existence in which his living humanity is repeatedly not recognized. In order to escape this half-life of constant humiliation, he seeks to elevate himself through applying himself to the schooling and training necessary to gain entry into the Police Academy. His expectations are described in the following terms: He beholds himself in his mind’s eye as a police officer strutting proudly in his beautiful uniform with the brass stars gleaming on his shoulder […] He imagines that he has married his sweetheart […] and that they have moved to a suitable apartment in an up-market district far from the noise and dirt of the roof. He fervently believed that God would make all his dreams come true. (Al Aswany 2007, 20) Therefore, he has a strongly emotional belief in his betterment in materialistic and class terms, as reflective of his true worth, and given he wishes to make progress through his acceptance into the ranks of the modern middle classes, it would not be possible to posit him as from the outset simply a traditionalist in the face of modernity. This is a point to be taken up a little further on. At the final interview for Taha’s entry into the Police Academy he is turned down due to the fact that his father’s low-class status is revealed: ironically, while his father is despised as a doorkeeper the interview panel act as doorkeepers themselves. With affected refinement the panel call the father ‘a property guard’ (60), when they may be said to be guardians of the proper and property themselves. Taha’s long years of determined preparation towards his desired self-betterment therefore come to nothing in an instant as constitutes a crushing and chronic disappointment. This disappointment is precisely lack of appointment, even categorical unappointability. Because this unappointability has nothing to do with a lack of talent, application and personal qualities on Taha’s part, he comes to consider the bourgeois system of appointment as thoroughly inauthentic. In particular, its democratic principles appear to him as a sham. I would now like to cross-reference the chronic disappointment of Al Aswany’s Taha with the opening scenes of Herzl’s Old New Land, one of the foundational texts of modern Zionism. The opening section of the novel is entitled ‘An Educated, Desperate Young Man’, and what is striking is that it depicts the condition of young Jewish men in Europe as one of

chronic disappointment. This is because, like Taha in The Yacoubian Building, these young men are educated and talented but are treated as if they were unappointable by an antiSemitic German society. Herzl depicts the constituency of young men he is concerned with in the following terms: They were really only a superior kind of proletariat, victims of a viewpoint that had dominated middle-class Jewry tw enty or thirty years before: the sons must not be what the fathers had been. […] And so the younger generation entered the ‘liberal’ professions en masse. The result was an unfortunate surplus of trained men who could find no work, but were at the same time spoiled for a modest way of life. They could not, like their Christian colleagues, slip into public posts. (Herzl 2007, 8–9) As in The Yacoubian Building, what is at stake is a desire for self-betterment. Moreover, this self-betterment is not merely conceived of in materialistic terms but considered to be a matter of spiritual refinement and elevation. In Old New Land, the unemployed Friedrich is told by a concerned friend: ‘You let too many things disgust you. One must be able to swallow things […] Get thee to a nunnery, Ophelia!’(Herzl 2007, 9) The implication is, therefore, that Friedrich’s desire for self-betterment in class terms is bound up with a squeamish desire for a spiritual purity of being. This is similar to Taha’s situation in The Yacoubian Building since he seeks to escape the dirt of his father’s existence for something cleaner, purer, more refined. The reason why I wish to juxtapose Herzl’s novel with Al Aswany’s will be entertained more fully further on but what can be said at this stage is that it is a matter of trying to critique the ways in which the labelling of identity politics – such as Zionist or such as Muslim fundamentalist – serves to distance and distort questions of what may be considered human tendencies that cannot be too conveniently othered. In The Yacoubian Building, when Taha fails to obtain a place at the Police Academy, he enrols for a degree at Cairo University. However, he feels tawdry in comparison with those students who are comfortably and securely middle class. For instance, Al Aswany writes: ‘When he saw his student colleagues, he discovered that his clothes were not at all what was called for and that the jeans in particular were nothing but a cheap, second-rate imitation of the original’ (Al Aswany 2007, 90). It is this sense of an inability to break into a social elite that comes to lead to his radicalization through a political and religious movement on his campus. A panel at a conference at Cairo University, ‘Egypt at the Crossroads’ (2008), addressed the contemporary role of the university within Egypt. In particular, Mohamed Abou-Elghar, who set up the university reform group called ‘March 9’ some years ago, spoke of how a university education that fails to develop and work with the aspirations of students could lead to students feeling ‘totally crushed’. I was struck by the use of this phrase ‘totally crushed’ since it describes the feeling of chronic disappointment. From the point of view of a novel like The Yacoubian Building, students who feel ‘totally crushed’ in the course of their education seem likely to be drawn to idealistic movements of religious and/or political

extremism. The above observations can be tellingly juxtaposed with the following excerpt from an interview I conducted with Egyptian blogger Rehab Bassam in 2010. Rehab Bassam addresses how she writes to reach young people anxious about prospects of failure and falling out of the system, and the conversation continues: RB  There are lots of things … what do you call it? … that crush the spirit of the people. You can feel it. CR Disappointment? RB Disappointment. They always expect to fail. (309Rooney 2011a, 474) This mood of constantly thwarted aspirations was part of what issued in the Egyptian revolution, especially with respect to the instigating role played by young people. However, it is worth noting that in Al Aswany’s novel it is a psycho-affective state that can alternatively lead to terrorism. Towards the end of the chapter I will reflect on the difference between these trajectories. This question of chronic disappointment can further be given a sociological dimension. In an essay entitled ‘Islamism(s) Old and New’, which treats of the varying fortunes of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Sameh Naguib comments: ‘From the mid-1970s […] the waiting period between graduation and employment grew longer: by 1979 it was three years and by 1985 it had become ten years. […] At the same time the private sector, despite growing in relative strength due to economic liberalization, was not able to absorb the growing number of graduates’ (Naguib 2009, 113). Naguib maintains that this situation stimulated impoverished graduates to become supporters of and activists in Islamist movements. That is to say what is at stake is a culture of raised expectations and the dashing of those very expectations. As quoted by Philip Marfleet in writing of the extreme wealth gap between elites and the people in Egypt, Mona Abaza comments starkly of contemporary Cairo: Cairo consists largely of slums. It is the culture of slums opposite a culture of international hotels and shopping malls. I see an increasing contradiction […] you are raising up expectations, dreams and desires. (Marfleet 2009, 17) If it is the case that modernity is rejected by fundamentalists (as argued by Karen Armstrong 2004, 368), what needs to be taken into account is that such a predicament may arise through modernity itself being experienced as a form of rejection. That is, modernity may be seen as a disappointing phenomenon in that it has its own mythic structures that are divorced from reality. In particular, in the context of The Yacoubian Building, modernity operates according to a myth of democratic universalism that it fails to live up to. However, this is a much wider phenomenon. The Lebanese intellectual Samir Kassir comments in Being Arab: ‘The rise of political Islam took the form of a reislamization of society in response to what were considered to be inefficient, iniquitous, or impious, governments, rather than a reaction to the culture of modernism’ (Kassir 2006, 28). What, to this day, fails to be appreciated is that

‘reislamization’ is not something autonomous but a phenomenon that needs to be contextualized as a response to corrupt governments and police states, including the torture of political prisoners (especially in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Israel), as well as to the violent hypocrisies of the foreign policies of the right-wing neoliberal West. Attending to the effects of the affect of chronic disappointment, among other pertinent affective states, may serve to alleviate bewilderment over the formation of extreme beliefs with a means of effective analysis. What is also at stake in such an approach is the understanding that there is a cross-cultural and trans-historical pertinence to the role of chronic disappointment that may serve to prompt reconsiderations of an inclusive humanity in the face of the desire to other extremism along with extremism’s own otherings. Al Aswany in an interview speaks of how the character of Taha arose from his acquaintance with young fanatics whom he had come to know through running a seminar for them in downtown Cairo over a ten-year period, and he states: ‘I felt that, faced with a certain injustice, anyone could become dangerous, a terrorist because he had lost the dream of his life’ (Al Aswany 2008). While it is accepted that there is no standard route to becoming a terrorist, it is interesting to note that there is a certain pattern of institutional rejection or failure to make the grade. For example, Michael Adebolajo (one of Lee Rigby’s killers) had to leave Greenwich University for insufficient performance, Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a college drop-out and Manchester attacker Salman Abedi dropped out of his business management course. Anders Breivik was ruled unfit for military service and while he failed to make it to university he went on to sell fake diplomas, also developing an obsession with war games (the military sphere he was excluded from). I will attempt to contextualize this further in the next chapter. Having made a case for the significance of chronic disappointment in the conversion to extremism, I wish now to scrutinize the mechanisms of this through the workings of what may be termed ‘pariah elitism’. In The Yacoubian Building, while Taha comes to see the modernity he once had faith in as being corrupt and inauthentic, this would not have occurred if he had not seen modernity as the means of spiritual redemption in the first place. The falsity of his position is that he considers the state of being raised up, elected over others, appointed, chosen, to be a case of spirituality when it is surely more accurately a case of narcissism. Furthermore, he may be said to confuse an all-embracing principle with a hierarchical and singling out one. When he turns to the Islamic fundamentalists on the campus, it is with the force of transference, which is to say that he seeks to transfer the hopes for appointment onto religion. As he comes to be more embroiled in the fundamentalist movement through various events, the leaders of the fundamentalist movement manipulate his desire for appointment. He is lead to believe that he is God’s chosen person, the appointed and anointed one. In other words, the condition of disappointment becomes in itself a spiritual qualification, a state of being special or being chosen. Or, the disappointed condition becomes itself an elitist one. What I am proposing, with respect to terms originally suggested by Bernard Lazare and popularized by Hannah Arendt, and subject to further elaboration by Gabriel Piterberg in The Returns of Zionism

(Piterberg 2008), is that Taha becomes neither simply a pariah or outcast nor an arriviste parvenu, but a kind of default combination of these positions. I would like to name this default position as being that of a pariah elite: an elite of pariahs. Ultimately, what underlies this is a structure of interpellation, to be addressed further on. What is at stake in this psychologically may be said to be a loss of faith in humanity or extreme distrust which leads to the formation of separatist movements whose mission seems to be a spiritually elitist one, a case of leading the way in redeeming a failed modernity. In Being Arab, Samir Kassir writes: ‘The denunciation of the Western “crusade” has for them [the adherents of radical Islam] the merit of confirming the superiority of the victims; all the latter have to do is claim their victimhood and ascend to paradise’ (Kassir 2006, 12). I am in sympathy with Kassir’s critique since it accords with what I am addressing in terms of pariah elitism. However, I do not think that pariah elitism is simply a question of Islamism. Pariah elitism is also operative in forms of Zionism, as touched on, as well as in certain cases of postcolonial authoritarianism. The question of chronic disappointment and the pariah elitism it can lead to is one that preoccupies Al Aswany more widely. In fact, as he explains in the preface to Friendly Fire, it is even his starting point as a writer. There, Al Aswany gives an account of a friendship he had with someone who suffered a breakdown and went mad due to the inability to make something of his life. Al Aswany writes: On the one hand, I sympathized with the trials of one blessed with authentic talent who harbors great hopes only to see them all dashed. On the other, I felt that in all fields Egypt was losing major talents and forces, such as Mahmoud, through tyranny and corruption. Had Mahmoud been born in a democracy, whose citizens had access to justice and nurturing, he would have had a different fate in both art and life. (Al Aswany 2008, xix) The friendship with Mahmoud that Al Aswany speaks of is given as the inspiration for his first piece of fiction, ‘The Isam Abd Ali Papers’. In this story, Isam turns his disappointment in an Egyptian society that does not nurture its talented and ambitious youth into a form of pariah elitism. That is, he becomes an outsider obsessed with turning his pariah status into an elite one and in this story what is made explicit is that this entails a yearning to break into a designer-style modernity that the West is seen to embody. Isam’s form of pariah elitism leads him to assume the separatist fantasy of his own radical superiority that entails his eventual divorce from reality in a mental breakdown. This question of the intense disappointment produced by a social situation in which it is impossible to achieve anything is also a preoccupation of other Egyptian writers, not just Al Aswany. For instance, it is a predicament that runs through Khaled Al Khamissi’s work Taxi that is a collection of his fictionalized conversations with fifty-eight Cairo taxi drivers. In Taxi there are many anecdotes concerning conditions of poverty and the obstructive nature of the society in which the drivers find themselves. For instance, one driver complains: I don’t really understand what the interior minister, before he goes to sleep, thinks he’s doing to us. Does he realize that we’re educated, well-brought up people, and how much

our parents suffered to educate us? Does he realize we’re abused by policemen on the street? When his head’s on the pillow, does he realize we’re done for and we can’t go on and we’re going to explode? He ends his diatribe by stating, in frustration but with some humour, ‘I really feel we aren’t human beings, we’re old shoes’ (Al Khamissi 2008, 130). That is, the feeling of being constantly crushed issues in the sense of living discardable existences. This sense of discardable existences is echoed by other taxi drivers Al Khamissi engages with. For instance, we are given the following exchange: ‘Do you know what I say human beings are like in the eyes of the government?’ ‘No’, I said. ‘Human beings in Egypt are like dust in a cracked cup. The cup can easily break and the dust will blow away in the wind. […] Human beings in this country are flying dust, with no value.’ (170) What is of interest in the context of this chapter is that there are arguably only two cases, among the fifty-eight taxi drivers profiled, in which the condition of chronic disappointment leads to assuming a position of violent extremism. One young man of about twenty-five is reported as stating the following: ‘You know those kids who blew themselves up in al-Hussein and in Tahrir Square?’ he said. ‘Those kids are top notch. Don’t believe they’re terrorists. They’re a bunch of poor kids who saw where things are going, I mean, they saw things properly and they realized that death was much better than this son-of-a-bitch life we lead. […] The story that they were part of an Islamist group and that there was a girlfriend involved, that’s all lies.’ (194) These suicide attacks are not therefore seen as ideologically motivated, motivated by belief, even as ideology is applied in the attempt to give meaning to psycho-affective structures that arise from lived realities. Rather, what seems to be at stake is an act of bearing witness to the very fact that people are being made to feel that their lives are discardable. It becomes a case of throwing lives away in order to make the point that lives should not be thrown away. In an article entitled ‘Dying for Justice’, Fethi Benslama examines the phenomenon of contemporary Islamic martyrdom in the form of suicide attacks and he observes that in Arabic the term for ‘holy warrior’, mujâhid, and term for martyr, chahîd, come from different roots. The term for martyr is related to the term for witness or spectator, and it therefore carries a sense of passivity differentiating it from the notion of jihad. Benslama further observes: It is clear that in Islamic discourse the two terms ‘mujâhid’ and ‘chahîd’ do not coincide until the 1980s … around the middle of the 1980s an important event took place … the invention of a new term that did not exist before and did not have any currency during the fourteen centuries of the history of Islam. … Based on the root ‘ch.h.d’, the term ‘istichhâdî’ will be forged. […] It is a question of the substantive by which the one who

carries out the suicide attack will be designated. To put it differently, what is invented through this name is ‘the candidate for martyrdom’. (Benslama 2009, 19) Benslama’s interpretation of this is that there is a movement from the martyr as one who is killed to the agency of one who kills at the same time as being killed. What I wish to add to these interesting observations is that the unprecedented new emphasis on candidacy for martyrdom implies that it is a role that requires a special election, a state of being chosen, which is a case of pariah elitism. Certainly, Benslama understands that candidacy for martyrdom becomes a question of authorizing suicide attacks as a means of sanction or absolution and through the personal motivation of dying a meaningful death. He concludes his article by stating: What comes before the cause wants to orient death, trace a trajectory of meaning for it, give it a site, a destination, a place. In short, it wants to refer to death, which amounts to giving it a name. For this name, people kill, kill themselves, and kill each other, as if the worst would be a death for nothing. (22) It may be added that to die for a name is unintentionally self-instrumentalizing and dehumanizing, and it is this that risks meaninglessness. That said, Benslama’s above pronouncement – ‘as if the worst would be a death for nothing’ – seems curiously detached from the circumstances in which utterly meaningless deaths, deaths that should not happen, are to be protested against. That is, if Benslama is implying we should accept a meaningless death as an ordinary death divorced from political or sacred causes this would be understandable. However, what he does not take into account is the way in which the suicide attacker may be protesting at the callous squandering of human lives, for example, in Iraq or Beirut or Palestine. Put another way, if Benslama’s notion of meaningless death is akin to someone being run over by a bus, that is one thing. It is quite another thing if you are bearing witness to the meaningless deaths of those who are being bombed and persecuted as if their lives counted for nothing. In an Egyptian context, Amal Treacher Kabesh writes from a psychoanalytic perspective: Being dispensable can lead inexorably to the emotions of humiliation, shame and indignity. Egypt is an honour-based society with all the meanings, values and ways of being that accompany the injunction to think of, and care for, other human beings. Humiliation, shame and anxiety are felt profoundly if material conditions hinder or make providing economically for the family impossible. (32) Capitalism erodes this social dimension of human existence in promoting care of the self over care of the other. The insight is that our sense of self-worth is bound up with altruism and that it is an error therefore to look for affirmation of this altruistic desire within the egobased forms of capitalist recognition. The important point is that the question of disesteem is not merely a narcissistic one but one that pertains to having an ethical role in society. I will discuss this further in relation to Palestinian contexts further on. While Al Aswany and Al Khamissi address the sense of despair in the era of Mubarak, the

fiction of Mahfouz shows how the chronic hopelessness may have begun with the Infitah or Open Door policies of Sadat that broke with Egyptian socialism in the cause of supposed modernization. Sadat’s programme caused those who could not compete in the scramble for self-betterment to fall by the wayside and in Mahfouz’s novella The Day the Leader Was Killed we are introduced to families thus affected. In particular, the story revolves around a young couple Elwan and Randa who have been engaged for eleven years and desire very much to marry. Although they are employed by a government ministry their wages are a pit tance and insufficient for them to move out of their respective family homes. Knowing this, their boss at work, Anwar, contrives to oust Elwan and marry Randa himself, as he succeeds in doing with pressure from Randa’s family on her to wait for Elwan no longer and with Elwan himself persuaded to make way to give Randa the chance of a marriage. However, the marriage with Anwar fails due to the fact that Anwar fills the house with drunken businessmen every night. The climax of the story is one of parallel murders, that of President Sadat by an Islamist and the murder of Anwar by Elwan to revenge the shabby treatment of his sweetheart Randa. That the story ends with this synchronicity of two violent acts demonstrates that Mahfouz is writing a kind of state of the nation allegory as is also signalled along the way. The firstperson narration of the tale is shared by three of its characters, Elwan, Randa and Elwan’s grandfather Muhtashimi Zayed. The grandfather is a gentle Sufi figure preparing for his death, full of memories of the past. He says of the 1952 revolution: For how long will I go on yearning for inaccessible miracles? When will I be able to point to the oppressor and slap him down, relieving the world of his evil ways? In fact, the experience has proved to be a failure. We were unable to deal with it for what it actually is: a great blessing. Rather, we soiled it through treachery, egotism and betrayal. (Mahfouz 2001, 64) The grandfather, having worked all his life as a teacher, is unable to leave his grandson anything. As for Elwan, his inability to marry signifies the sense of no future for the young and Elwan speaks of his dashed hopes in terms of wounded pride and alienation from the nation’s history (55). Sitting in a cafe after he has left Randa, his thoughts race: ‘Open bribes at top voice. The confiscation of lands. And who will cause the sectarian rifts to open up again? […] New banks. What do eggs cost today? […] He’s nothing but a failed actor. My friend Begin; my friend Kissinger. The uniform is Hitler’s; the act Charlie Chaplin’s’ (54). ‘My friend Begin; my friend Kissinger’: this appears to refer to the tragic farce of Sadat’s leadership with his ingratiating of himself to America and Israel, while it is in keeping with the postcolonial and Arab critique of politics as theatre addressed in previous chapters. As for Randa, she finds that her marriage to Anwar entails her acting as hostess to what she calls ‘a wretched stream of men’ (72). Anwar tells her: ‘Our real future is in the private sector, in the intelligent gamble which enables a person to move up from one class to another. So spare no efforts to make them feel at home!’ (72). Randa’s response is: He sees only his own ambitions in this world, and those are his sole concern […] I soon

experienced an inconsolable sense of disappointment. I had sold myself for nothing. Or maybe things are even worse than that. I am ashamed to confess my disappointment. (73) Randa’s sense of shame and disappointment may be seen as speaking for a prostituted Egypt as a whole, and she proceeds to divorce Anwar. Although she makes the reason for the divorce public, there appears to be a further secret that she confesses to Elwan alone. The scene of this confession is rather strange since we are not relayed what she says and are given only Elwan’s reaction which is, ‘The bastard!’ and then, ‘It’s beyond one’s wildest imagination’ (88). Given that Anwar absents himself when Randa entertains his drunken friends the inference is perhaps that she was expected to grant them sexual favours while it is also hinted that Anwar is gay (82). This humiliation of Randa would explain the rage with which Elwan kills Anwar on the day that Sadat was killed, 6 October 1981. Sadat’s first name is of course Anwar, so Mahfouz quite brilliantly communicates how the terrorist assassination of Sadat can be understood in terms of the disappointment, shame and anger of people like Elwan and Randa, a generation constantly frustrated in living decent lives and without any sense of hope in its future. Like Elwan, Randa is said to suffer from ‘wounded pride’ (82). Mahfouz also peppers the novella with references to revolution as if that might be an alternative. For instance, the grandfather reflects: ‘Why am I being flooded by the past cascading upon me like a waterfall fuelled by the power of an active volcano? The cheering of the Revolution echoes anew; total independence or violent death’ (63). It seems that the stark options are permanent revolution or outbursts of terrorism.

Traumatic shame and humiliation in Palestinian literary discourse In the Palestinian context, Ghassan Kanafani’s work is extremely sensitive to conditions of chronic disappointment and the instrumentalization of human beings, and it constitutes a sustained protest against the treatment of human lives as discardable. This is very noticeable in Kanafani’s Men in the Sun, a story of the pointless deaths of a group economic refugees, while it is to Kanafani’s more enigmatic novella All That’s Left to You that I will turn since this work presents us with a quasi-allegory in the manner of Mahfouz’s text which indeed echoes the earlier novella in a number of respects: Kanafani’s text appearing in 1966 and Mahfouz’s in 1985. Like Mahfouz’s story, All That’s Left to You is narrated in a stream of consciousness style by three narrators, a man called Hamid, his sister Maryam, and the Desert, as a mystic presence given a voice. If Mahfouz were influenced by Kanafani’s novella, as I believe is the case, then the Sufi grandfather in his text would be the counterpart of the Desert in Kanafani’s text. In fact, Rasheed El-Enany comments of the grandfather: ‘He probably stands for the atemporal, all-encompassing character of Egypt’ (El-Enany 1993, 93). Moreover, All That’s Left to You engages with some of the same emotional terrain as The Day the Leader Was Killed and, as I will argue, it too strikingly ends with two murders enacted in synchronicity. All That’s Left to You unfolds somewhat like a Greek tragedy. It is a family drama where everything has in a sense already happened, so we retrospectively piece it together as we wait

for the fated denouement. Jacques Lacan maintains that Greek tragedies begin just before their endings (Lacan 1992, 272), and Kanafani says of his story that it is written to tell itself in one burst (Kanafani 2004, xxi), an epiphanic revelation. As for the story, we learn that Hamid’s sister Maryam has had an affair with a man called Zakaria whom she has had then to marry since she is pregnant with his child. Hamid experiences his sister’s behaviour as highly shameful, where we also learn that Hamid detests Zakaria for an earlier act of treachery. That is, the characters are all refugees in a camp in Gaza, having had to flee from Ja ffa, and Hamid is burdened by the memory of Israeli soldiers visiting the camp to arrest someone called Salim. In this incident, when the Israelis ask the Palestinians to identify Salim, threatening to kill them all if they don’t assist, Zakaria breaks rank, seemingly volunteering to aid the Israelis, at which point Salim steps forward to identify himself, thus relieving Zakaria of completing the act of betrayal. Salim is then taken away and shot. For Hamid, his disgust at his sister’s marriage is not only due to her being a ‘slut’ as he calls her but due to her marrying a cowardly sell out, ready to collude with Israeli soldiers. On an allegorical level, Maryam could be equated with Palestine, where the men see her as ‘a fertile land’ (13). In this respect, Zakaria possibly represents one Palestinian trajectory, that of accommodating the occupation. The novella actually begins with Hamid leaving the camp to try and find his mother in Jordan, traversing the Negev Desert to do so. Thus, Hamid, unlike Zakaria refuses to be complicit with Israel’s domination of the land, but his only option seems to be exile and a clinging to the past (as in the search for maternal origins). As far as Maryam is concerned, her dilemma is that aged thirty-five she is tired of waiting for the right suitor and fears that her fertility will amount but to a wasted life, in effect, barren. Her thoughts are, ‘How can Hamid possibly understand? For all his wonderful manhood he was my brother. He hadn’t come to see how important the passing of time was; but to me it was death announcing itself at least twice daily’ (18). Her position is very similar to that of Randa in Mahfouz’s novella, since both characters are forced into unsuitable marriages as alternatives to lonely, unfulfilled futures in thrall to static pasts. The structure of All That’s Left to You is predicated on two axis, one diachronic and one synchronic. In his preface, Kanafani explains that along with the three human characters in the text, Time and the Desert are also characters. In the story, Time is reduced to being an empty stretch of waiting, the counting of successive moments, marked by the chimes of a clock in Maryam’s house and the ticking of Hamid’s watch that he abandons in the desert. It is written, ‘It wasn’t long before the watch went crazy. Abandoned in its exile, it went on ticking to itself, building up that impenetrable barrier that madmen erect between themselves and the world’ (21). Put another way, time that is only time, in being divorced from life, has utterly no meaning (see Moore-Gilbert 2014 for the Palestinian treatment of time more widely). Diachrony and synchrony are linguistic terms, put forward by Ferdinand Saussure to identify two approaches to the study of language: a historical one of how language evolves over time and a horizontal one of all the elements of a language at any one time. Influenced by Saussure, Roman Jakobson analysed the diachronic axis in terms of the selection of

linguistic elements and the synchronic axis in terms of their combination. In Kanafani’s novella, the two axis are not linguistic so much as existential where the Desert is a matter of a pantheistic co-presence or living spiritual reality outside of Time (the synchronic axis with Time as the diachronic). What the novella implies is that the trauma of the Nakba has served to completely dislocate historical temporality from the sacredness of coexistence. (For a wider consideration of the novella’s Nakba significance see Nashef 2019.) Temporality thus just becomes the lonely carrying on of people who have ceased to connect with each other in any genuine way. Meanwhile the Desert continues to watch over the people in an all-knowing manner even as they are oblivious to its eternal presence. For instance, the Desert says of Hamid: ‘He seemed totally dejected and crushed, and he’d strayed a long way from the road […] I wished I could say something to him but I’m committed to silence’ (26). In the Desert Hamid encounters an Israeli soldier who is lost. They fight and Hamid wins, tying up his opponent. They are unable to communicate as neither speaks the other’s language, while Hamid discovers from the soldier’s identity papers that he is from Jaffa, Hamid’s hometown from which he was ousted. He also seems to recognize the soldier as Salim’s killer. He therefore has the opportunity for avenging both the Nakba and Salim’s assassination, but he hesitates to act, although he has a knife he has appropriated from the soldier. This encounter in the desert is played out against Maryam thinking of Hamid, recalling his pressure on her to abort her baby. At the same time she is visited by Zakaria who also pressurizes her to have an abortion because he does not want another child having already had several with his first wife. This brings the story to its climax in that Zakaria violently threatens Maryam with a divorce if she does not abort their child while she feels its developing life stir in her belly. With this, it is she who grabs a knife and stabs the abusive Zakaria in the groin, pushing him into a wall that drives the knife in deeper as he collapses in his streams of blood. The dramatic ending is fairly clear with respect to Maryam and Zakaria, but less clear is what happens to Hamid as his narrative is spliced into Maryam’s in the final moments of the tale. Bashir Abu-Manneh’s interpretation is as follows: ‘The violent act is life-affirming and brings freedom. But it too is attenuated by a refusal to act in the same situation. […] Hamid’s refusal to kill the Israeli soldier whom he holds hostage in the desert […] . In All That’s Left to You, the violent emergence of the new Palestinian is symbolized by Maryam and not by her brother’. (Abu-Manneh 2016, 82). Dania Meryan offers a different reading in stating, ‘Hamid, after a long struggle with his fears, succeeds to finally confront and disarm the soldier from his weapon. The collective voice is heard towards the end of the novel as Hamid decides to head back home’ (Meryan 2016, 29). This is because Maryam hears Hamid’s footsteps in the air after she has killed Zakaria. In my view, what happens at the end of the novella is that Hamid kills the captive Israeli with the knife he has taken off him at the very same moment that his sister knives her husband. The killings are synchronous with each other as in Mahfouz’s story. The text marks the difference of its speakers through assigning fonts specific to each: normal for Maryam and bold for Hamid (and italics elsewhere for the Desert). Just as Zakaria strikes Maryam,

the narrative takes this form: With its long glowing blade, the knife flashed in front of me. [Hamid] There it is, on the table. I came bouncing off the wall towards it, like a rubber doll. My fists grabbed the knife. [Maryam] I felt it plunging into him as we collided together. [Hamid] He gave out a long moan and tried to draw back, but the blade twitched again as he closed over mine, convulsed around the ha ndle. [Maryam] (46) So, Hamid sees his knife (in the bold section), as Maryam sees hers lying on the table, and each seem to stab at the same time. It is as if the separate stories have converged into one in the single burst Kanafani’s preface speaks of. On one level, we could surmise that brother and sister kill their oppressors in a moment of synchronicity and unity, this signifying a way of breaking out of the inertia of the post-Nakba years through the collective taking up of an armed struggle. Indeed, liberation struggles are often in the name of brothers and sisters, a case of displacing hierarchy in favour of horizontal coexistence or the side-by-side struggle. And yet, Kanafani’s text is more complicated than this. For instance, it might also be that Hamid imagines that he is killing Zakaria as his sister carries out the deed. When Hamid meets the Israeli soldier, he is a complete stranger, described as a ‘phantom spirit’. Without them being able to communicate, Hamid says aloud, ‘You can’t remain an apparition for ever. We have to find for you a name and a purpose. […] By the time they find you with their dogs and their flares, we’ll have finished creating you, and then killing you will have some sort of value’ (35). That is, to kill someone about whom you know absolutely nothing is both like trying to kill a ghost and shockingly abstract. So, Hamid first begins to imagine the soldier as the one who may have shot Salim while by the end of the novel the Israeli possibly fuses in his mind with Zakaria, the brother-in-law Hamid truly hates. It is as if Hamid cannot kill cold-bloodedly but only if his enemy is the very one who has wronged him. At the same time, the question arises as to how Hamid has perhaps made a scapegoat of Zakaria, projecting his hatred onto him in an evasion of his truer feelings. Earlier in the text, Zakaria’s supposed betrayal is described in quite an ambiguous way, with the incident narrated twice. The first time we are told ‘Zakaria rushed out of the straight line and threw himself on his knees, hands drawn to his breast, and began shouting. Slowly, hesitantly, the guns were lowered as the officer strode forward and kicked Zakaria’ (11). The point is that Zakaria at first seems to be taking the blame himself to save the others, gesturing to himself as the wanted man. Moreover, when Salim then declares himself and is arrested, he is said to cast a look of gratitude towards the Palestinians, as if they had been trying to cover for him. Thus, we don’t really know if Zakaria intended to act as a traitor at all. The second time the incident is narrated Salim this time is not observed to have a look of gratitude but instead one of ‘searing contempt’ for Zakaria. We are also told by Hamid: ‘His face was scored with the indelible pride of a man who knows he’ll die in public for a cause that commands respect’ (28). However, this pride is set off not merely against the supposed

shame of Zakaria but against the shame of Hamid himself. We learn that Salim had the day before tried to recruit Hamid as a freedom fighter to avenge the death of his (Hamid’s), father at the hands of the Israelis during the siege of Jaffa. Hamid is thus exposed to his own shame at having accepted his father’s death so passively. Not only this, soon after the incident, Hamid expresses to his sister his fear that it ‘might be my turn tomorrow’ (29), while she can think of no reason why they would kill him in that he is not a guerrilla like Salim. Hamid’s response is telling: She probably meant to reassure me. She didn’t realize she was burdening me with more shame. […] Why kill an insignificant person, who could be left to carry on his meaningless life, to live and die cheaply right there? (29) It is clear that shame involves a sense of worthlessness for Hamid. I would like to suggest that the sense of shame goes back to the Nakba, and thereby to cross-reference All That’s Left to You (1966) with Ethel Mannin’s Nakba novel The Road to Beersheba (1963). While we know that Hamid has been affected by the trauma of the killing of his father and their flight from Jaffa, we are given few details as if the events remain unspeakable. In Mannin’s novel, the Nakba is described in detail particularly through the character of Boutros, a Palestinian father figure. Boutros registers, ‘The panic and the terror, the dehumanising, the deliberate degradation imposed upon them … as though to take their country, their homes, their land, every material possession was not enough, and they had to take from them their human dignity. And from many of them their lives’ (31). Mannin’s novel recounts specific acts of dehumanization, and it is clear that the Israelis justify their dispossession of the Palestinians through treating Palestinian lives as worthless. While this is in of itself humiliating, the sense of shame does not merely derive from this. What particularly torments Boutros is having to witness the humiliation and suffering of others without being able to do anything about it. Mannin writes: He was aware of the woman who sat near him under the olive trees with the dead baby at her breast as he had been of the woman who with a wild cry had flung her living baby into a gully, unable to carry it further – unable to go on being a human being, demented by suffering. He had been aware of the old people who finally collapsed and who lay where they fell and were left there to die, the crowds going past them and over them like the unheeding chariot wheels of some Roman circus. (931) It is possible that the deepest sense of shame comes not from being humiliated by an enemy but from the inability to protect your fellow beings from terrible suffering and from being reduced to the isolated struggle for your own survival. Certainly, this is how Primo Levi discusses the shame of the concentration camps in which Jews were reduced to individually battling for their own survival, unable to aid each other. Levi maintains that those who were ‘saved’ were the most selfish, the most intent on looking out for themselves (Levi 1989, 63), while Mannin imagines the Nakba as an ‘each-for-himself struggle for survival’ (31). In the light of the above, the wounding of trauma entails a rupture from the life of the

collective (symbolized in Kanafani’s novella by the Desert) and the feeling of each as utterly abandoned in this world. The sense of shame pertains to the collective in that we have a sense of the value of our existences through co-existence. In her reading of All That’s Left to You, Nancy Coffin notes that Hamid’s response to Salim has a personal significance as far as Kanafani is concerned, Kanafani writing in a letter to Ghada al-Samman that his feeling when confronted in Gaza with men who die for their cause was one of ‘overwhelming shame’ (Coffin 1996, 109). In All That’s Left to You, Hamid exhibits symptoms of having been traumatized. He has repeated flashbacks to the assassination of Salim, but as indicated this is because Salim has prompted him to think of why he has not avenged the murder of his father. When Salim is killed and his corpse is being carried away, Hamid notices, ‘his bare arm slid out and dangled between two blood-sodden coats’ (39), and the vision of this connects with the vision of his father’s bloodied corpse when brought back to the house, as follows: ‘He was wrapped in two coats, and one bare arm swung loose from his side’ (19). This in turn connects with another memory Hamid has of glimpsing a moment of intimacy between his parents, noticing his father’s brown arm around his mother’s white waist. That is, the arm is for the embrace of another, and the dangling arms of the corpses signify their abandonment and the loss of a human embrace. What is striking about the refugee camp existence in All That’s Left to You is how cut off the characters are from each other, a matter of the novella’s title. Brother and sister fail to communicate and understand each other, the brother hates his brother-in-law, the brother-inlaw wants his wife on his own terms and the wife wishes to keep the child the men in her life wish her only to abort. Human ties are diminished to the most minimal. Salim’s mother says she does not know where her son has been buried, ‘my reason for living, all that was left to me’ (39). This she has lost. Hamid says he does not know where his father is buried, a secret only known to his mother, ‘all that was left to her’ (39). What is there left for a community to inherit? It is as if what has been buried is the capacity to continue loving or to love again. It may be said that Hamid fails to confront his feelings of loss, worthlessness and shame, thus his fixation with Zakaria is that he has found someone to blame instead of himself in a form of disavowal: ‘I am not the shameful wretch who lets people down, he is.’ If so, he is as guilty as he presumes Zakaria is in sacrificing another to save himself. Moreover, Hamid and Zakaria are equally sexist in their attitudes towards Maryam. Both men alike assume they possess jurisdiction over her body and the right to insist that she abort the baby she is carrying. Hamid also projects his sense of shame onto his sister, calling her a ‘worthless cow’ and ‘nothing but a slut’ (17). Hamid also sees Zakaria as having usurped his privileged place in his sister’s life, while Zakaria expresses a kind of jealousy of the baby Maryam is carrying in that he says she’ll become a walking ‘milk bottle’ (40) and her body will no longer cater exclusively to his need for pleasure. What I think that Kanafani is exploring is how the Palestinians have absorbed and been sucked into the dynamics of the Nakba inflicted on them, particularly the dynamics of usurpation. Earlier I suggested that the novella shows the community to have become

disconnected from the synchronic dimension of existence, that which allows for the side-byside relations of people standing with each other. With only the diachronic axis left, there is no possibility of sharing the same space because the structural logic is one of selection, substitution and deferral. That is, it is a case of one after the other, and never together. Hamid says of his life: ‘All of it deferred, all of it irrevocably deferred’ (39). He perhaps feels that his life is not his to live, a life usurped. That this has to do with Israeli occupation is brought out in his encounter with the lost Israeli soldier, whom addresses with the words, ‘So what is there left for us and between us, you silent, angry apparition? My life and your death are intermeshed in a way neither of us can untwist’ (41). Usurpation imposes this either/or dialectic in which one can only substitute for the other, and it is this that enforces vengeful violence as the only possible trajectory, the elimination of the one who stands in the way of you living your life. In the novella, the Desert offers the yet unknown alternative to the above predicament. The Desert is given to us as a consciousness that watches over Hamid knowing more about him than he knows himself while Hamid instinctively yearns for unity with the Desert. The Desert knows that Hamid is a man who has lost his way in life, stating, ‘I’ve given him everything my untamed nature can afford, and without knowing it, he’s gone astray’ (12). The Desert may be seen as Hamid’s unconscious and as such speaks of his desire for reconnection with the life of the whole. The Desert says, ‘Outlined by that last ray of light, kneeling there, his hands folded on his thighs, he looked like someone that had been projected soundlessly into my depths, with the same dignified calm as the now vanished beam of light’ (26). This sounds like a kind of mystical epiphany and certainly the Desert is given a religious significance. The Desert is given to us as eternal, all-embracing and the source of all our feelings. The last thing the Desert says is: ‘Love and silence. Violence and anger. And before and above everything: submission’ (41). I think that ‘submission’, or surrender, may be a reference to the meaning of Islam. In the context of the novella, and in terms of the Desert’s spirit, it seems to be a matter of acceptance of the way things are in the knowledge that we go astray, allowing for the fact that we do not fully know ourselves or others. It is this that allows for the renewal of empathy. Returning to the novel’s ending, the synchronized dual murder (if that is what it is) may be read in poetic terms as a moment of telepathic understanding between brother and sister. For example, Hamid perhaps finally understands his sister’s fight to have a child and she perhaps finally understands her brother’s hatred of Zakaria as connected with the Israeli soldier(s). The novel is also given a religious dimension in referencing the Sura of the family of Imran, ‘Ali Imran’ (as noted by Ahmad Harb 2004, 87). That is, Maryam is the name in the Qur’an for Mary whose guardian is Zechariah. A couple of points can be made with reference to this. First, in this Sura, Islam differentiates itself from Judaism in accepting the Christian religion, allowing for the coexistence of religions. Secondly, although Isa or Jesus is not seen as a divine being within Islam but as a prophet, the Sura speaks of the inception of Isa’s life as divine as Adam’s life was too. The implication is that lives are God-given or Allah-given. The Sura also speaks of those who were ‘evicted from their homes’, towards whom mercy

shall be shown. Just before the lost Israeli soldier appears in the Desert, Hamid says, ‘I could believe that the flat sand-hill in front of me, suddenly made distinct by the light [of a flare], might conceal a demon, a man or a prophet, or some indefinably mysterious creature’ (31). The novella suggests that we have the potential to be all these things until we cast people into certain roles determined by our projections. The ending of the story is similarly open ended in that its synchronicity allows for the coexistence of differing interpretations. Together with the possibility of Hamid killing the soldier, the suggestion is that he is killed. He speaks of being se t upon by barking dogs, and it is an ending very similar to that of Mannin’s novel. Mannin’s character Anton has finally decided to join the freedom fighters and is wandering astray in the dark of the hills when he finds ‘a dog coming at him, with a fearful commotion of barking that seemed to reverberate through the hills’ (256). In Kanafani’s text, it is written, ‘A dog started howling, and before long the noise was coming from all directions’ (49). Mannin speaks of a ‘din’ as her character is gunned down by Israeli soldiers while Kanafani’s speaks of a ‘roar’. It may be that he kills the lost soldier at the moment of his capture to be killed in turn as his last words, the last words of the novella, are: ‘and hammering with cruel persistence into my head. Remorseless. Pounding over him, and the bulk of his death heaped there. Pounding. Pounding. Pounding’. This could be the description of his own death as he is gunned down. At same time, this takes us back to the story’s opening – the story beginning with its ending – with Hamid lying on ‘the flesh of the earth’ feeling the earth breathe into him and hearing in it a ‘mysterious pounding’ sound mounting. That is, the moment of his death comes across as union with the beating heart of cosmic life. In the opening sequence, he thinks of his lost sister and his lost mother, and he says to the Desert, ‘I’m forced to choose your love. You’re all that’s left to me’ (6). What is striking about this ending is that it creates space for all his tumultuous emotions. He can void his shame as rage in a revenge killing. He can learn to empathize with his sister. He can affirm the value of the maternal. He can give himself to love. He can unite with the divine. Diachronically, we would need to choose a single trajectory or direction and that perhaps entails going astray in playing out a singular tragic destiny to its end. Synchronically, however, every possibility brings with it another possibility and another possibility. As a number of critics note, All That’s Left to You is not exactly a social realist novel of commitment. We could say it has that as a possibility, but it is also a psychological work of trauma and also a poetic text of the sacred. Moreover, like Mahfouz’s work of alternating stories, it may be seen in terms of the maqāma. In fact, I have attended in detail to the dynamics of the synchronic and diachronic in Kanafani’s novella because of how they pertain to the poetic realism that is significant for the expression of the Arab uprisings as will be explored in Chapter 6, while other novelistic uses of poetic realism will be considered in Chapters 7 and 8. Interestingly, Wen-Chin Ouyang reads Kanafani’s novella as a qasida, that is, as an ode or poem (Ouyang 1998). While All That’s Left to You grapples with shame and wounded pride, Kanafani is preoccupied more specifically with chronic disappointment in other works of his. In a story

entitled ‘In My Funeral’ (Kanafani 2004), we are presented with a male narrator who has been diagnosed with a disease that will kill him before he has had an opportunity to live his life and attain the beloved of his desires. It would be possible to read this story allegorically as being about the Palestinian predicament of living and dying without any sense of hope in the achieving of desired goals. The following is an edited version of the male narrator’s thoughts on living his life as a death sentence: What was the hope when I was convinced of a prospectless horizon? What youth? Yes, what was the good of a youth that had never been kindled at all? That had never been lived at all? … Can you realize what it is like for a young man to discover in a few moments that labors of his past have been futile? … The dreams I had nurtured within me were no longer mine to possess, and everything of my past, present and future was coated with a viscosity that emitted a putrid smell. … For a few moments, I regarded myself as privileged amongst the thousands to be afflicted with a chronic illness. It seemed a unique elevation, a rare medal to be worn as a decoration inside my chest, where I could hear it reverberate with the beating of my heart. But the truth was something else. (55) What is succinctly shown by Kanafani in this passage is not only the nightmarish horror of the terminated potential of an unlived life but also how this affective realization leads to the human need for a sense of election to redeem the suffering, what he calls: ‘a unique elevation’. Earlier I cited Kassir’s critique of the valorization of victimhood as a badge of superiority; while Kanafani understands the human need for such, he too indicates the inauthenticity of such a ploy, his protagonist admitting: ‘The truth was something else.’ With respect to ‘victimhood as a badge of superiority’, I wish briefly to turn to a work by the Egyptian novelist Bahaa Taher entitled Love in Exile. In this novel, a father living in Europe finds that his son whom he has left behind in Egypt has turned to embrace Islamic fundamentalism, which leads the son to adopt a high moralism against his father. The father then confronts his son in the following amazing passage: The only books you read now are those that prove to you that you are right and the others are wrong. But beware, Khalid! Beware, because all the evils that I have known in this world came out of that dark cave. It begins with an idea and ends up an evil: I am right and my opinion is better. I am better, therefore others are wrong. I am better because I am God’s chosen people and the others are goyim. I am better because I am one of the Lord’s children whose sins are forgiven and the others are heretics. Better because I am a Shiite and the others are Sunnis or because I am a Sunni and the others are Shiites. Better because I am white and the others are colored or because I am progressive and the others are reactionary and so on ad infinitum. (Taher [1995] 2008, 210) In his recent work, Benslama, possibly with respect to critiques of his earlier position (Massad 2007; Rooney 2009) together with insights derived from his therapeutic practice, puts forward the notion of the super-Muslim (echoing the Nietzschean übermensch). Herbert Csef, in summarizing Benslama’s arguments states that as far as radicalized youth are

concerned, Islam promises them a ‘superiority’ whereby they are ‘now one of the better Muslims and can look down on people who are beneath them’ (Csef 2017). I wish now to engage with a different sense of the meaning of the word ‘appointment’ that I have been discussing in relation to ‘disappointment’. ‘Appointment’ is a term we use not only as a question of selection and election but to signify potential dates and times when we might meet up with each other. In the previous chapter of this book, I turned to the work of Ayman El-Desouky which draws attention to how certain Egyptian writers are preoccupied with the workings of what is known as amāra. Among the lexical definitions of amāra considered in this research by Ayman El-Desouky, the following are particularly suggestive: amāra as sign or mark ‘to show the way in a waterless desert’, ‘an appointed time’, ‘evidence of good faith’ (21). In a sense, you can only meet with someone if you are on a level with them: avoiding hierarchy because you are on the same level, and avoiding deception because you are on a level, interacting in good faith. What I now want to suggest is what the desire for appointment in the elitist sense – the sense of being special and chosen – conceals and represses is the desire for appointment in the sense of meeting with each other. The real appointment for the disappointed of the earth may be said to be in the revolutionary square as opposed to through pariah elitism. In The Yacoubian Building, Taha attempts to reclaim self-worth and overcome his sense of humiliation through spiritual election that justifies his act of terrorism. In The Day the Leader Was Killed, Elwan acts out of his own wounded pride to avenge Randa’s wounded pride. In All That’s Left to You, Hamid projects his own sense of shame onto others while Salim goes to his death with a sense of self-righteous pride. Fanon’s work is of significance here because Black Skins, White Masks examines the blockages to a way forward while Wretched of the Earth presents an alternative vision to the sense of impasse. In Black Skins, White Masks, Fanon engages with the lack of self-worth and the disappointments entailed by a colonialist structure of interpellation. However much the colonized try to prove their worth they are always held back and refused recognition. In Wretched of the Earth, Fanon rejects getting sucked into this structure of interpellation in favour of a re-socialization of desire through revolutionary solidarity. Regarding Fanon’s position, the problem of violence remains, for Fanon sees violence as both cathartic and also potentially necessary to the transformation of society, as discussed with nuance by Erica Burman (Burman 2019). However, in terms of this chapter, acts of violence can be understood as desperate and angry bids for attention. The perpetrator, who has been denied recognition and treated as worthless, assumes that the only way to achieve recognition is through forcing others to notice them. While acts of revolutionary sabotage may be clandestine, acts of terror aim for spectacle or to compel attention in some way. In this respect, they remain caught up mimetically in the elitist-pariah structure of recognition/non-recognition that compels them. The alternative is the revolutionary structure of hailing and welcome that has been introduced in the previous chapter and that will be further elaborated on the sixth chapter. All I would note here is that the texts I have engaged with in this chapter entail this mutual

interpolation, answering to each other in their own ways over shared concerns, serving to revolve the possibilities and to keep them possible. Moreover, the writers of these works clearly use their art as way of indicatively drawing attention to the despair of others in their societies. This is true not only of novelists but also of Arab hip-hop and trip-hop artists such DAM and Boicutt among many others. Finally, I would like to propose a certain distinction between humiliation and shame. Regarding the concentration camps addressed by Levi, it may be said that it is the Nazis who are shameful in humiliating the Jews through dehumanizing them, rejecting a common humanity. However, it is when the humiliated are unable to stand by each other that humiliation can lead to shame. Moreover, the desire to overcome humiliation can lead to projecting humiliation onto others, shamefully so. That is, while humiliation is a matter of being stripped of dignity, shame is more a question of the failure to uphold a collective ethics. The two conditions dovetail with each other without being the same. Levi’s delineation of the shame induced by the concentration camps is something widespread. Other research I have carried out on the 1982 siege of 1982 Beirut indicates that Israeli PM Begin may have been motivated by shame (as his family were Holocaust victims) enacted out as a deferred revenge on the Palestinians (Rooney 2013b). Osama bin Laden maintained that the reason for 9/11 was Beirut 1982, where the Israeli planes bombing Beiruti buildings that go up in flames and smoke comes to be replicated by planes flying into American skyscrapers going up in flames. It is as if the message is: you who shamed me into being a helpless witness of my people’s suffering are to be shamed in turn into being similarly helpless witnesses of your people’s suffering. And, of course, the humiliated and ashamed American reaction to 9/11 was the bombing of Iraq. While the attempt appears to be the off-loading of shame from one group to another, the shame remains in that it is shameful to humiliate and dehumanize others because you cannot bear your shame. In conclusion, I will make a few points. First, it is surely important to protest against the conditions of chronic disappointment but without this turning into pariah elitism. That is, I am troubled by Benslama’s implication that meaningless deaths need to be accepted, and in the final chapter of this work return to the significance of the martyrs. It is necessary to resist such a state of affairs but it is a question of the form this resistance should take. And here it seems to me that literary writers, as well as hip-hop rappers, play an important role in bearing witness to chronic disappointment without condoning the potentially resultant acts of violence. Rather, it is a matter of understanding how certain trajectories take shape. Secondly, the real challenge seems to be one of attempting to meet up with each other towards a much needed new universalism, as affirmed by Evelin Lindner (2017) in her work on dignity. Intellectuals need to assume responsibility for this, and here I’ll give the final words to Samir Kassir when he states: ‘If we could address the protagonists of “the war on terror” or the “jihad against the crusaders” in academic terms, that ought to be the watchword for a new universalism’ (85).

5 Cults of pride and cultures of right-wing populism It is an argument of this book that while radicals tend to respond to conditions of dehumanization with a demand for universal human dignity, extremists tend to respond to a felt lack of self-worth or experiences of humiliation and rejection with a demand for honour or pride on the part of those who feel marginalized. My question is whether the second (extremist) position might eventually be understood to be a misinterpretation of the first (radical) position: the assertion of pride as a misinterpretation of the need for dignity. While in the next chapter I will explore the revolutionary significance of dignity and its poetic expression, this chapter will consider various ethnic and religious pride formations – White Pride, Muslim Pride, Hindu Pride, Zionist Pride – through exploring what their cultural expressions and signifying practices may have in common.

From humiliation to pride In his book Talking to the Enemy: Violent Extremism, Sacred Values, and What It Means to be Human, Scott Atran anthropologically explores a number of extremist groups, especially the Bali and Madrid bombers and the Taliban. He argues that ‘the global political conflicts that today’s religious reformulations inspire don’t represent a clash of traditional territorial cultures and civilizations but rather their collapse. The jihad, for one, is much more about global youth culture than the Koran or restoring the defunct caliphate’ (474). He further asserts that this collapse is due to the rejection by young people of the selfish materialism of secular cultures, while in both the preface and the epilogue to his book he stresses that what is really at stake is the quest for esteem. For instance, he writes: ‘Especially for young men, mortal combat in a great cause provides the ultimate adventure and glory to gain maximum esteem in the eyes of many and, most dearly, in the hearts of their peers’ (x). Thus, it is not the political or religious cause as such that matters so much as what I term ‘psycho-affective’ factors. From Atran’s accounts, it would seem that what is especially motivational is the desire for recognition of spiritual worthiness from a fraternal community as well as in the eyes of the world. Evelin Lindner in her book Honour, Humiliation and Terror states, ‘Clashes of civilization are not the problem, but clashes of humiliation are’ (xlixi), and she describes clashes of humiliation as ‘violations of worthiness’ (Lindner 2017, 63). Lindner also distinguishes between ‘honour humiliation’ and ‘dignity humiliation’, where the former concerns deranking and the latter dehumanization. She considers that honour pertains to what Anitai Etzioni calls ‘normative paradigms’, thus being a question of hegemonic norms and social codes (85). She further argues that while these can be rigid and destructive, honour can also

be a matter of socially learnt forms of integrity. If I may suggest an example of Lindner’s distinction between honour and dignity, when a prominent man is revealed to be a sexual molester, he suffers honour humiliation (de-ranking) where his victims suffer dignity humiliation (dehumanization). While Lindner’s clarifications are very helpful ones, a further inflection may be put forward. She considers honour to be a matter of collectivism (as shame is), in contradistinction to the dignity of the individual. In considering pride politics, what comes to the fore concerns the ego but as aligned with a group formation. This could be considered in terms of collective narcissism where the pride in question is a matter of identity politics. That is, the desire for authenticity that Atran addresses is not really a question of a return to traditions of honour, but a case of identity politics being problematically invested with desires for honour and authenticity. In contradistinction to this, dignity concerns instead our common humanity, where the desire is for decency, in the terms discussed by philosopher Avishai Margalit (1998) and by Farhad Khosrokhavar (2016), and not for recognition in terms of esteem or glory. The Muslim Brotherhood case of Sayyid Qutb illustrates how the turn to extremism entails questions of pride in identity. While Qutb was in America his work Social Justice in Islam was published in Egypt in 1949 (Qutb 2000). In this work, Qutb tries to align Islam with Western Enlightenment values, identifying the following Qur’anic values: emancipation (tahurrur wijdānī), human equality (musāwwa insāniyyeh) and social solidarity (takāful ijtimā’ī). This suggests that in setting off for America, he was seeking some kind of accommodation between Western democratic culture and Islamic legacies only to find himself rejected by white America and posited as a civilizational inferior, according to both Ellen McLarney (2011) and Robert Siegel (2003). That is, his experience seems to have been a deeply humiliating one, leading him then to posit America as a spiritually inferior civilization and to cultivate Islam as an identity (this differing from his earlier philosophical position). With his wounded pride, he becomes caught up in the dynamics of what he contests: a clash of pride in identities? As quoted by McLarney, Jonathan Raban’s analysis of Qutb is that his ‘critique of a morally bankrupt West is like T.S. Eliot’s vision of spiritual ruin’, something ‘disconcertingly familiar’(2011, n.p.). Where Eliot’s crusader ethos may be considered in terms of ‘white pride’, as I will discuss, Qutb’s position appears to be one of Muslim pride, precisely formed in response to white American pride.

White pride and its musical jargon As discussed by Futrell, Simi and Gottschalk (2006), white pride movements rely very much on music to promote their ideologies and movements and so I will focus on this musical selfexpression with particular reference to the seminal British band Skrewdriver, described by Futrell, Simi and Gottschalk as the ‘godfather’ of white power music (2006, 282). White pride songs often posit white men as beleaguered victims struggling to redeem their ‘waste lands’ from their current degradations. What the degra dations supposedly consist of is

conflated with what supposedly causes them: a combination of uncaring capitalist modernity and the immigration of supposedly inferior races. The objection to a de-humanizing capitalism is understandable, and is shared by the left, but what is less clear is the way in which migration is blamed for capitalism, rather than the other way around. It could be that there is a potentially rational fear that immigrants are prepared to work for lower wages creating unemployment for a small number of white native men, but far beyond this, the mood of these songs entails a strong sense of wounded pride and honour, and a desire to restore a former mythic state of imagined glory to the nation. That is, there may be an inferiority complex to be redeemed. There is evidence of a kind of chiasmatic inversion in which white men (backed by their female supporters) seek to maintain that it is not Europeans who inferiorize non-Europeans but the other way around. Accordingly, it is the immigrant who is bizarrely configured as the colonizer as white men struggle to make good some ill-defined injustice that stands to be repaired (see Ahmed 2004, 43; Martín-Lucas 2019, 133). As already mentioned, Skrewdriver is an early white pride band of this type: one of reverse psychology. It began in the UK as one of the founding white pride bands in the 1970s, veering from punk to rock and heavy metal, and it remains a popular source of racist anthems. What is strange about Skrewdriver’s songs is that they try to sound as if they represent anti-colonial national liberation struggles, a white pride trait touched on above, as in these lines from the tellingly entitled ‘Free My Land’ from Hail the New Dawn (1984): ‘I stand and watch my country today./ It’s so easy to see its being taken away.’ It is as if the liberation struggles of racially oppressed black people were a source of envy for these white men who mimetically seek a liberation struggle of their own, somewhat reminiscent of the way the American Revolution took off from the revolt of slaves (as discussed in Chapter 3). What lends some credence to this is that at the outset of their career Skrewdriver (then called Tumbling Dice) were known for doing cover songs of groups like the Rolling Stones whose music is heavily indebted to African-American music. One of the Rolling Stones songs covered by Skrewdriver is ‘Paint it Black’, where Skrewdriver keep the music but change the lyrics to make the music carry an overall message of ‘we want it painted white’. In the case of a group like Skrewdriver, there seems to be an anxiety that liberated foreign men together with liberated women (feminists) stand to leave ‘poor white men’ behind in the stakes of accomplishment, the white men belatedly having to posit their own freedom struggle. One possible interpretation is that the masculinist and racist ideology of white pride is founded upon a need to hold back and shut out those secretly surmised or feared to be of potentially greater abilities. Not only do the far-right wish to shut out foreigners, they often wish women would go back to submissive roles in the home, pandering to male needs and bolstering the male ego. However, beyond this, it is a case of how men find themselves losing former privileges in the context of late capitalism. In the introduction I spoke of how the dialectics of capitalism serve to impose what may called a logic of detainment on nonelite groups. Whereas this used to be particularly a case of holding back or preventing the advancement of women and foreign men, it is as if some white men find that they too are

now pushed into this space of detainment with the growth of neoliberalism. Thus, the white masculinist objection might be heard along the lines of: ‘I am not the second-class citizen, those backward others, especially the migrants, are.’ The men who are increasingly shut out from former privileges obviously fail to link arms with underprivileged women and migrant workers in a common cause. Instead, they struggle to assert their difference from inferiorized others once more. Thus, in tandem with what appear to be anxieties over status, the white pride movement appeals to a lost superiority associated with mythic ancestors who could still lay claim to some kind of spiritual power. The title track of Hail the New Dawn contains these lyrics: Comrades, the voices of the dead battalions, Of those who fell, that Europe might be great Join in our song, for they still march in spirit with us And urge us on that we gain the national state The sentiment is not dissimilar to Ezra Pound’s ‘The Return’ (obviously more eloquent in its expression). Pound’s fascism is based on a denunciation of capitalist modernity coupled with the fantasy of a highly romanticized or poeticized pre-capitalist masculinity. This male modernism of the attempt to claim the mystical for the hyper-masculine militant was precisely what Joyce wrote strongly against in Ulysses with his satire of nationalist pride and Celtic Dawn poetics, his affirmation of the body and its needs and his embrace of the foreign immigrant, the Jew. The heroic spiritual ancestor figures are in white pride movements associated with what is imagined to be a kind of lost fantasy-animism or paganism, vaguely celebrated in the chthonic magic of earlier Celtic, Viking and so-called Aryan cultures: a time when men are imagined to have had supernatural powers and heightened aliveness. Related to the theme of ‘the spiritual ancestors’ is the theme of resilience against the odds combined with a celebration of martyrdom. While many political movements call for solidarity and steadfastness, this form of resilience belies its seriousness in framing itself in trite and clichéd terms, as may be heard in ‘The Showdown’ from Skrewdriver’s Live and Kicking (1991), as follows: We fight for freedom, we fight to win The colour of our uniform is the colour of our skin We’ve got the power, we’ve got the pride When we get the unity, it’s alright! The above serves to offer key slogans of white pride: liberty (again), equality as homogeneity (whiteness as uniform) and pride or honour. Yet it is a case of liberty, equality and dignity as exclusively and jealously owned and guarded, as a fraternal club, a white brotherhood, which again renders the supposed sincerity as insincere or hypocritical. It is a case of National Socialism for an ethnic elite as transpired not only in Nazi Germany but in apartheid South

Africa with its Afrikaner Broderbund (Brotherhood). The mimicry of the radical slogan of liberty, equality and dignity is reverse-copied into the contortion of: elitism, exclusivity and pride. What is significant regar ding the irrational dynamics of extremism is that the mimetic copy is that which is offered as authentically owned. Moreover, what is initially posited in terms of universality is turned into the possessive privilege or privileged possession of a selfpromoting group. There is a complex intersection between the exploitation of economic anxieties and the exploitation of masculine insecurities in the construction of white supremacy ideology. Powerful white men encourage lower-class white men to blame immigrants for supposedly stealing the entitlements the white men have worked for. This accords with the capitalist disavowals of doppelgänger politics: ‘We capitalists are not the thieves, those foreign men are.’ Along with this, there are even less avowed anxieties around the status of masculinity in play, as I will begin to explore. I will turn now to the extremism of Anders Behring Breivik, who was and perhaps still is very much in sympathy with white pride groups – though favouring Islamophobia as more up-to-date than anti-Semitism – before briefly going on to consider some of the music that inspired him. According to Joe Stroud in an article entitled ‘The Importance of Music to Anders Breivik’ (Stroud 2013), Breivik was not really a lone wolf, as the media tried to depict him as, in that he identified with certain right-wing racist communities and particularly derived a sense of inspiration from music related to them, such as the music of Saga, a Swedish white nationalist female singer who performs Skrewdriver covers. It should be added, though, it was to inward-turning fraternal communities he was drawn, calling himself a Knight Templar of Europe as well as inscribing his guns with reference to Norse gods such as Odin. It may be noted in passing that medievalism appeals to both ISIS and white pride groups. Regarding Breivik’s styling of himself as a Knight Templar and latter-day crusader, this is part of a widespread cultural imaginary, one of crusader knights in search of the holy grail of spiritual redemption, as will be indicated further. A source of relevance to Breivik’s obsessions is Joséphin Péladan’s L’Androgyne, a short novel that explicitly explores the relationship between wounded masculinity and the Knights Templar organization. I first came across L’Androgyne ([1891] 2018) in undertaking doctoral research on ‘The Androgyne and the Double in Literature’. When I ordered it up from the Bodleian library stacks in Oxford, I was informed that it was a banned book that had to be read under certain conditions. That it was a banned book a century or so on from its first publication made me wonder if it contained particularly shocking material. When I read it, however, I could find nothing in it that explained to me why it was banned. It is merely the story of a young androgynous boy, the androgyne of the title, who admires from a distance a young girl of his age whom he identifies with and who is being primed to become a member of the Knights Templar on reaching adulthood. Given this, the trouble with L’Androgyne seems to be that it broaches the apparently taboo topic of male puberty as a break with childhood androgyny. I think the above is relevant to Breivik for the following reasons. Photographs of him as an

adolescent show him to be quite pretty and androgynous, contrasting markedly with the photographs of him as a balding, beefier older man, cultivating a hard warrior-like masculinity. Breivik complained in his manifesto that he grew up in too feminine an environment, dominated by his mother and by a cultural pro-feminist leftism. In reaction to this, he clearly developed a huge need for narcissistic compensation in building up a glorified hyper-masculine image of himself which photographs leading up to his rampage show him as having massively invested in, him posing in a series of heroic uniforms: from an action-man soldier with gun to a general festooned with medals (where as touched on in the previous chapter, Breivik was turned down by the military as presumably constituted a severe disappointment). While the media focused on Breivik’s terrorism as an attack on liberal multiculturalism, I don’t think it is an accident that those he targeted were adolescent youth (Rooney 2011b). Underlying Breivik’s narcissistic hyper-masculine bravado is probably resentment over the loss of his youth. One reason for terrorist attacks is to attract attention, and Breivik’s attack may be read as demand for recognition of a forgotten ancestral (or just adult) ideal of masculinity that he was fixated on parading. The dream of godlike masculinity, of charismatic men with supernatural powers, of wizardmen, magic warriors, of roaming knights in enchanted forests and other exotic landscapes constitutes a widespread fantasy aesthetic repertoire from Arthurian Legends to PreRaphaelite brotherhood to the fantasy fiction of William Morris to Lord of the Rings to the Harry Potter series. Not to forget Wagner and the European versions of mythic heroism. There is nothing wrong with this fantasy genre as sheer escapism, as ‘day-dreaming’ (the kind of daydream in which the ego is always the magical superman hero) in terms of Freud’s rather lowbrow explanation of creative writing (Freud 2001a). The problem, however, is when the fantasy is taken to be a reality. Breivik could apparently not tell the difference between fantasy and reality, no more than Nazi Germans could in their spectacular selfmythologization. One of the main traits of extremism is its literal-mindedness that is not simply a denial of reality in favour of fantasy, but a strong drive to authenticate an ideal or a fantasy that has arisen through the loss of what it symbolizes. What is interesting to note is that far-right puritanism, from the Nazis to the neo-Nazis to Islamic extremism, often rejects the artistic avant-garde, in favour of a different kind of aesthetic self-positing. The Islamic State, for instance, bans the teaching of art and literature in schools, but at the same time ISIS pay much attention to their self-image: their black uniform and flag, turbans and beards, propaganda videos. In spite of the rejection of shirk, ISIS is a glamourized brand, choreographed, theatrical and highly ritualistic. Knausgaard in his reflections on Nazi Germany writes of how all German citizens were turned into soldiers and he comments: ‘Everyday reality was thereby elevated and made significant, not by its interpretation in art … but by the direct and un-mediated reshaping of reality itself. Hitler turned Germany into a theatre’ (Knausgaard 2018, 616). I will discuss Knausgaard’s views in more detail further on. For the moment it may be noted that the desire

for authenticity becomes perverse when it manifests itself through trying to turn a fantasy into a reality that can only be an artificial (theatrical) reality. What is at stake in this performative mode concerns what is formulaic and literal (as opposed to essentialist). For instance, Khaled Abou El Fadl characterizes Islamic (particularly Wahhabi) extremism, as follows: ‘In this paradigm, one often encounters a simplistic attitude that assumes that the Qur’ an and Sunna are full of formulas, and that the only thing missing in the equation is the will and determination to apply the correct formula to the appropriate problem’ (Abou El Fadl 2005, 154). Similarly, the alt-right deploys memes that either cue reactions in formulaic ways or try to establish themselves as truths through the banal repetition of truisms. Breivik’s tastes in music are for the sentimental, the nostalgic, the self-pitying, the stirring or rousing and the sublime (not only Saga but Helene Bøksle). I would say that this amounts to a musical version of what Adorno spoke of as a jargon of authenticity (discussed in Chapter 2). In this, there can be an element of schmaltz, a Yiddish term for molten fat, that has the slang meanings of corny, maudlin and florid. Breivik was particularly inspired by ‘Lux Aeterna’, chosen as the theme music to render his killing spree ‘cinematic’. This piece of music, by Clint Mansell, was used to advertise the film Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers while interestingly it was first composed for a film about compulsive, self-destructive addiction, Requiem for a Dream. As a piece of music, it builds on a tortured minimalism with an increasingly rousing pulsating orchestration and full choir. The monotonous repetitious minimalism has an obsessional quality to it, banging on and on, while the full orchestral build up sets off this ‘tortured’ side with a grandiose will-to-sublimity. In listening to the music, what it seems to say as it builds is: slash, slash, slash, slash. It is as if its masochistic beginning turns itself over into a sadistic omnipotence. While earlier I concentrated on Skrewdriver, white supremacist bands are many and their so-called hate music draws on a variety of sources and styles, often in a retro way (such as the alt-right’s contemporary use of 1980s synth wave offered as fash – that is, fascist – wave music). The music that Brenton Tarrant chose for his killing spree of Muslims in Christchurch (in 2019) included the psychedelic rock song ‘Fire’ (1968) by The Crazy Arthur Brown band, mainly it seems for its opening lyrics, ‘I am the lord of hell fire’. While this song in itself is not racist, when I looked it up on YouTube just after the killings, I found that those also looking it up were typing in the meme ‘remove kebab’. The origin of this meme is tied to a Serbian folk song recorded by militant supporters of Radovan Karadžić (this song also being on Tarrant’s play list). The folk song is kitsch in its presentation, soldiers singing in the pretty countryside, while the music, dominated by an accordion, is jingly and catchy in a trite, schmaltzy way. It is very saccharine ‘pastoral innocence’ for a song calling for ethnic violence seemingly against Bosnian Muslims. The ‘remove kebab’ meme came about because someone produced a very parodic, satirical version of the song’s subtext in appending to it deliberately mindless and badly spelt racist drivel. However, white supremacists failed to understand that the joke was on them, and took up the ‘remove kebab’ meme as their own in all seriousness. In response to Tarrant’s killings, the song had many further ‘remove kebab’ comments added to it including: ‘Even our

ancestors were removing kebab, the Templars are our kebab removers.’ The website of the folk song with comments appended has subsequently been removed by YouTube for violating its policy on hate speech. The schmaltzy song without comments can still be traced under the title ‘Serbia Strong’. While the song may be considered rather trite, there is nothing wrong with its banality as such. Rather what is disturbing is when the song’s banality of innocence is used to promote and sanction violence. This is not Arendt’s ‘banality of evil’ but Adorno’s ‘jargon of authenticity’. That is, it is not a case of evil conflated with the ordinary but of the ordinary (the innocent) as a disguise for evil, sanctioning evil as if it were goodness. It concerns the irrationality of evil. Clement Greenberg in his 1939 essay ‘Avant-Garde and Kitsch’ famously maintained that the modernist avant-garde constitutes a resistance to kitsch populism (Greenberg 1965). However, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, the poster poem of modernism, concerns the very sense of tortured masculinity and compensatory pride that can be found in the cultures of white pride. Accordingly, The Waste Land may offer some insight into puritanical right-wing crusader or jihadist psychic tendencies. This is particularly with respect to how the poem draws on mythologies of the ‘holy grail’ quest, of which the Parsifal legend is one version. The internet provides a popular platform for frank debates on the Parsifal figure where the figure is read as an expression of the hurdles faced in early manhood. For instance, Richard A. Sanderson states: ‘How many young men come to this same point as Parsifal in their youth? Seemingly, every young man experiences a wounded-ness to his masculinity at the time of puberty; a sexual Fisher King wound, one could say?’ (Sanderson 2019) Sanderson further elaborates Parsifal’s wound in terms of the difficulties of adapting to virility in a world where men are given no guidance and left to find their own way, as they experience feelings of shame, emptiness, confusion and crisis. I would add that in extremist movements older men sometimes instrumentalize the masculinity anxieties of younger men to political ends. Eliot confesses to having written his poem in a crisis of profound depression, endured when he was thirty-three. It is interesting to note that, among significant intellectuals, he is far from being alone in having a breakdown in early manhood, although I will not explore this here. In brief, the problem I am trying to address is that it seems to be a taboo for men either to mourn their lost boyhoods or else to retain femininity when you are only supposed to be proud of being a manly adult, as masculine as possible. In that becoming a man is a bodily experience, the sublimation of it is sought through spiritual quests. The Waste Land is a poem that projects a dislike of modernity onto women, foreigners and the working class as somehow debased while the protagonist denounces bodily lusts and yearns for spiritual redemption as an escape from his own body. At the same time, however, Eliot offers the figure of the sex-changing Tiresias as the poem’s central persona, along with the poem’s other motifs of sex changes that may allude to puberty as a sexual crossover. Interestingly, the alt-right has adopted the Egyptian frog-god Kek as a mascot where Kek is a sex-changing god. It is also noteworthy that the alt-right should adopt a god from an Arab land, while they claim to be fighting for the freedom of the oppressed land of Kekistan, as if in envious

mimicry of jihad. The Waste Land is a cryptic poem that draws on many sources: one yet to be recognized source is Gilbert Murray’s Hamlet and Orestes (Murray first presenting this work as a lecture in London in 1914 that Eliot se ems to have attended). In Hamlet and Orestes, Murray argues that certain tragedies explore a masculinity complex that can be found in the Golden Bough myths (a major source of reference for The Waste Land). For Murray what is fascinating is the recurrence of sagas in which women characters represent Mother Earth, while male characters usurp each other in the manner of the seasons. The mother figure is both seen as fickle, acquiring new suitors, while also constituting that which endures unlike the men who are cast aside as if superfluous. Murray suggests that the misogyny of Hamlet and Orestes is a matter of their resentment over their fear of abandonment in relation to the feminine (Murray 1914). I would add that this is further a question of what cannot be admitted, such as pride over masculinity seen as under-valued, as but one among other considerations in that the question of abandonment is a complex and multifaceted one. Jay Frankel, in the context of studying authoritarianism and the contemporary far right from a psychoanalytic perspective, considers how people come to submit to the strong man phenomenon (Frankel 2015). He draws useful attention to Ferenczi’s distinction between initial traumatic events and follow on ones where the original trauma may be worsened by a subsequent sense of abandonment. For example, if a child receives abuse from one parent and on looking for help is not believed or supported by the other parent the original trauma is greatly added to with the further shame of the abused child finding him- or her-self unvalidated and even treated as causing the situation. In brief, Frankel’s work shows how the abused, with their sense of justice and credibility disavowed, may feel that there is no remedy for their feeling of abandonment other than through identifying with the oppressor or strong man. Thus, the sense of maternal abandonment that Murray raises may further pertain to trauma for which there is no one willing to bear witness or act as an alibi. While the specificities of particular cases need to be taken into account, questions of abandonment and loyalty are certainly often in play in the formations of authoritarianism and extremism.

Parsifal and wounded innocence Hamlet is faced with a crime of fratricide, as opposed to patricide, and masculine pride entails restoring the honour of the brother-wounded brother. While in Hamlet, the question of justice pivots on revenge, in Parsifal the alternative question of mercy or compassion arises, certainly in Wagner’s interpretation of the legend. Wagner went so far as to claim that white men have a consciousness of suffering that other races do not have and that the blood of their suffering is the source of a healing compassion for the world (Bell 2013, 126). What Wagner omits of the Parsifal legend is its very telling connection to the Christian/Muslim encounter against the backdrop of the crusades. In one of its early versions (Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival), Parsifal is the son of a knight who rescued a Muslim woman Belakane, Queen of Zazamanc, and had a child with her called Feirefis (the piebald), then returning to Europe to father Parsifal. Like Oedipus, Parsifal knows little of his origins,

and is brought up in the woods away from the world of men but his quest to enter the wider world brings him to the castle of the wounded Fisher King, his uncle. In brief, there are two lessons that attach to the Parsifal legend. First, Parsifal encounters Feirefis, and they fight until Christian Parsifal and Muslim Feirefis discover they are brothers. One message is that in the fraternal wars of religion, it is that the enemy-other is but a man’s self-estrangement from his own masculinity (brotherhood as a man’s relation to his manhood). Put another way, when men fight each other over masculinity problems their ethnic enmity is an illusion. Second, when Parsifal comes to the castle of the wounded Fisher King and witnesses a procession of a bloodied lance, a candelabrum and the grail, he fails to speak in that he has been brought up not to ask questions. So, he leaves the castle unenlightened to pursue a warrior’s path that brings him no fulfilment. He yearns then to return to the castle and a spiritual hermit takes pity on him and guides him back. Thus, he meets with the Fisher King again and this time asks his question that is: ‘Whom does the grail serve?’ In some versions, the mere asking of the question instantaneously restores the Fisher King, while in others an answer is given: ‘The grail serves the King.’ Either way, the miracle is the sudden restoration of vitality to the Fisher King. This message is also pacifist, set against the warrior culture of the knights, as I will explain below. I think that the imagery of the procession Parsifal witnesses in the castle may be interpreted as follows. The candelabrum signifies illumination; the bloodied lance signifies wounded masculinity; and the grail signifies a healing femininity. Whereas earlier Parsifal says nothing when faced with wounded masculinity, seeming to disavow it, in coming finally to pose his question, he no longer ignores the spectacle of suffering. As such he is able to experience compassion, and this is what the grail is. Whom does the grail serve? Compassion serves the wounded, and it is this that heals. It is as if the Fisher King’s wound entails a loss of fellow feeling that can only be restored by fellow feeling. In religious terms, God cannot attend to those who disavow suffering through spiritual pride but can attend to and relieve those who avow their suffering. This is the opposite of spiritual pride in that the spiritual is here humbly in the service of those who need it and will come to the bereft if they are not too proud to admit their need. Thus, the ‘femininity’ of the grail is not an essence (and not idealized innocence) but a reconnecting power that thus cannot be inward-turning. What is really wounding is bravado because it prevents the wounds from being healed. The necessary trajectory is from self-pity to compassion and care for others: salvation coming through awareness of a world of others in which we all variously suffer. In an article on the popularity of the films The Matrix and Fight Club among far- right men (especially between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five), Yiannis Baboulias argues that these films are taken to glorify hard and mean masculinity at the expense of following their trajectories. He writes that ‘both films end in pretty much the same way: the main character is redeemed by integrating his alter-ego and crucially, through love of what in theology might be called the divine feminine’ (Baboulias 2019). This resonates with Parsifal in that the

redemption from militant pride is through feminine compassion or mercy. While Wagner ignores the Muslim subplot of Parsifal, a production of Wagner’s opera at the 2016 Bayreuth Festival (directed by Uwe Eric Laufenberg) sets it in today’s Iraq with a finale that brings Christians, Jews and Muslims together in a pan-religious v ision.

Muslim pride In 2015 the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (later re-named as the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change) issued a study of extremism entitled ‘Inside the Jihadi Mind: Understanding Ideology and Propaganda’, based on a detailed study of the propaganda of Salafi–jihadi groups. Among what arises from this study is the key significance attributed to tawḥīd interpreted as ‘one God, one state, one ummah (the global Islamic community)’. What the authors fail to discuss is that tawḥīd is here interpreted in terms of singularity as opposed to the unity of coexistence. It is noted that tawḥīd is set up against shirk or idolatry, without any reference to the fact that idolatry is rejected across monotheistic faiths, such as Moses on the worship of golden cows, Christ on the worship of wealth, not to forget Marx on commodity fetishism. What the study also notes is the importance of the nobility of jihad in the ‘propaganda’ that is said to often present it ‘in chivalric terms with pictures of fighters on horseback, or with references to Saladin’ (Comerford, El-Badawy and Welby 2015, 6). Yet nothing is said in this essentialism of ‘the jihadi mind’ about the fascination on the part of European men with knights, Vikings, mediaeval crusades, part of a much wider culture that extends, for example, to works such as Lord of the Rings, as discussed. What is shared here is the notion of a spiritual enlightenment located in a lost past, generating nostalgic and escapist fantasies of redemption as opposed to contemporary forms of camaraderie. The Blair Foundation also says that ‘the Salafi-jihadi mind’ is preoccupied with honour as a means of overcoming humiliation and with turning a sense of shame into the disgrace of the other. I have already traced this as a common manifestation of reaction formations, including white pride. While the Blair Foundation report attends to questions of humiliation, also at stake is the question of the prevalence of depression among young men across cultures. For example, jihad has been advertised as ‘a cure for depression’ in a video broadcast by British jihadists in Iraq (Milmo 2014). What is the cure though? Although Atran suggests the desire is for esteem, I think that probably, more unconsciously and more significantly, the desire is for the re-connection and fellow feeling that comes through fraternal bonding, especially when individuals are socially disaffected and may have experienced forms of rejection or abandonment. Where the question of depression connects with capitalist societies is that capitalism erodes the sense of being part of connected communities. The desire for connection is why the ethic of friendship is so important in the extremist groups that Atran studies: he finds repeatedly that male friendship is central to the dynamics of the groups he focuses on. As I will address further on, the problem is one of how fraternity as comradeship is configured in the exclusivist terms of male bonding.

Regarding the above, the Blair Foundation report fails to distinguish between politically adapted misreadings of Islam and psycho-affective states. In doing so, it produces this essentialist notion of a ‘jihadi mind’, while failing to see that the combination of romantic nostalgia, knightly chivalric codes and an obsession with ‘honour’ are equally true of other pride movements. In fact, it argues that such traits constitute an ideology specific to strands of Islam. While different identity politics groupings may share pride as a motivation, the question of Islamophobia entails complex psychological projections. In considering American Islamophobia, Walter A. Davis in a CounterPunch article writes: A terrible envy underlies Abu Ghraib, one that has been working on the psychotic register of the American psyche since 9-11. Islamic fundamentalists have something we lack. They are willing to die for their religion. We can have only one response to such an affront. They must be forced to violate their religious beliefs and to do so as part of a perverse ritual. (Davis 2004) In the instance of anti-Western extremism, it is often a case of a racist or racialized reaction to racism. Thus, a different instance of such psychological projections can be found in the reactions caused by the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo. These cartoons may be understood to act as a form of trolling, that is, a deliberate attempt to provoke a strong reaction of distress, outrage or rage. The cartoons at stake repeatedly offload onto the figure of Mohammad the Western cartoonist’s own pornographic and sado-masochistic fantasies. When the Muslim response was that this defilement of their religion was offensive to them, Charlie Hebdo persisted with yet more provocative material. The psychology of this is like that of an abuser trying to victimize the person they are in a relationship with, typical patterns of abuse being the constant need to put the other down, ignoring or silencing reasonable responses, making out the blame is that of the other or that the abuse is somehow mutually apportioned. What the abuser seeks is to pull his/her target into his/her script getting them to react in the desired way. Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were not seeking polite requests to desist from their cartoons but to elicit loss of control on the part of their targets. This is because what they appear to find funny is not their images in themselves but seeing others genuinely upset by them. It is a sadistic, bullying mentality whereby Charlie Hebdo can get high on something like ‘Scored! Gottcha! Really got to you! Ha, ha!’ Beyond this, it is also a matter of trying to reverse the positions of aggressive abuser and victim for the desire is to elicit an aggressive response from the victim. (‘You are the aggressive one, not me.’) Regarding the above, while the reactions to offensive cartoons on the part of Muslims, ranging from flag burning to acts of terrorism, may be understood, at least to an extent, as an expression of Muslim pride, this is due not to a sense of primary shame but to a situation of being drawn into a structure of abuse. In an article on the Charlie Hebdo attackers, Angelique Chrisafis interviews Malek Boutih (a French socialist MP) who maintains that the attackers grew up in a part of Paris considered a ‘social dustbin’, not only as a question of poverty (in an area of 40 per cent unemployment) but as a question of being treated as human garbage,

not having your humanity recognized, and Chrisafis adds: ‘Boutih felt republican values – the cherished liberty, fraternity, equality – just weren’t applied there; that the state had been absent’ (Chrisafis 2015). Accordingly, another politician in the article maintains that the violence against Charlie Hebdo was a bid for recognition. What I am arguing is that this is an inter-subjective structure that is almost classically Hegelian in its violent master–sl ave dynamic of projections and counter-projections. While identity pride is a reaction to a sense of inferiority or of being rendered inferior by others, there are quite differing circumstances that trigger this. That said, it is paradoxical that while a sense of wounding or rejection may lead to reactionary separatism what underlies this may be the desire for fellow feeling. The leader of ISIS spoke of the IS as ‘A state where the Arab and non-Arab, the white and the black man, the easterner and westerner are all brothers. … Syria is not for the Syrians, Iraq is not for the Iraqis. The Earth is Allah’s’ (Cockburn 2014, 10). While Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s statement sounds like a cosmopolitan one, the assertion of brotherhood presents this as a politics of fraternity. The messages are very mixed. In fact, as I will go on to indicate, fraternities of pride support each other transnationally, implying that what is at stake is especially masculine pride. In such a world, while men are stereotypically warriors (supposedly fighting for their self-sufficiency) women are stereotypically mothers, mother-wives or concubines (having no role outside of basic male dependency on them). My speculation is that in that the desire for compassionate relations might be seen as weakly or soppily feminine, that is, in terms of conservative gender ideology, this comes to be offset by hiding this desire behind the warrior or strong man image. The screen image, in more than one sense of the term, serves to deny the underlying emotions. In ‘Nikes in Nineveh’, Sadia Abbas explores the hypocrisy of how Daesh presents itself: blowing up representations of the sacred such as statues or shrines, the group yet seeks to advertise its own claims to represent the authentic through slickly produced images and videos. Drawing on Žižek, Abbas says that Daesh, insisting on its relation to the real, contradictorily stages the real through ‘theatrical spectacle’ (Abbas 2018, 299). Similarly, Charlie Winter, unearthing the Islamic State’s media guide, Media Operative, states: ‘The authors repeatedly call upon media operatives to transmit “to the simple people a true picture of the battle without exaggeration and with no lies” to “paint a brighter picture” of the jihad without dwelling on any one issue’, this resulting in ‘rose-tinted’ utopian propaganda’(Winter 2017, 16). This propaganda – of grazing livestock, sunsets, soldiers with kittens – replicates kitsch gated community imagery, the ownership of fake paradises.

Hindu pride Breivik writes in his manifesto: ‘It is essential that the European and Indian resistance movements learn from each other and cooperate as much as possible. Our goals are more or less identical’ (Breivik 2011, 1475). Referring to this statement, Amana Fontanella-Khan in a Guardian article, dwells on the strong support for Trump among the Hindu far right (Fontanella-Khan 2016).

In a Caravan Magazine article entitled ‘My Seditious Heart: An Unfinished Diary of Nowadays’, Arundhati Roy writes: ‘Although the idea of India as a Hindu Rashtra is constantly being imbued with an aura of ancientness, it’s a surprisingly recent one’ (Roy 2016). Roy goes on to explain that the myth of Hindu purity was politically manufactured in a context of ‘a loose coalition of endogamous castes’ in order to secure a Hindu political majority against the Muslim population. Postcolonially speaking, it becomes a case of colonizing the popular liberation struggle for an elite, as Modi (much like Trump) seeks support through promising capitalism for ‘the folk’. Roy writes: Of late, the RSS has deliberately begun to conflate nationalism with Hindu nationalism. It uses the terms interchangeably, as though they mean the same thing. Naturally, it chooses to gloss over the fact that it played absolutely no part in the struggle against British colonialism. But while the RSS left the battle of turning a British colony into an independent nation to other people, it has, since then, worked far harder than any other political or cultural organization to turn this independent nation into a Hindu nation. (Roy 2016) Thus, Hindu nationalism, contra its ideology, is not a return to a former greatness but a much belated power grab. Moreover, it appears significantly linked with a sense of shame on the part of those who were too cowardly to join their fellows in resisting colonial oppression when it mattered, leading then to a retrospective colonization of the liberation struggle – that is, the pride at stake implicitly derives from shame or dishonour. I was first introduced to the political force of Modi through Rakesh Sharma’s documentary film, Final Solution (2003). Final Solution, filmed in Gujarat over 2002–3, treats of the response to the Godhra Train burning which issued in the massacre of hundreds of Muslims by Hindutva supporters. The first part of the documentary, titled ‘Pride and Genocide’, reveals the atrocities suffered by Muslims, especially women, and one of the disturbing things is expressions of furtive enjoyment on the faces of the perpetrator youths as they recall what they did as they were sanctioned by older men like Modi to carry out sadistic acts against women. The second part of the documentary, featuring Modi’s political campaign, ‘Mandate of Hate’, provides evidence of how the massacre was not an act of spontaneous vengeance for the train incident but had been cynically orchestrated through manipulations of Hindu communal pride. This ideology idealizes a spiritual Mother India that is specifically the possession of Hindu men while actual women are subject to rape and humiliation. Alka Kurian in a study of South Asian cinema comments that Sharma ‘follows Modi’s Pride Parade crisscrossing the length and breadth of Gujarat’ and continues: Following Modi’s chariot are loudspeakers blaring party leaders’ speeches and militant religious songs glorifying the BJP and the saffron colour. … A group of villagers in colourful clothes perform a folk dance and little girls, dressed in their best finery, shout out Modi’s welcome. And Modi, thus deified, valorised, and sanctified, waves on, smiling.’ (Kurian 2012, 78)

The scene in the film described above has a similarity with a scene in Fosse’s film Cabaret (1972), depicting the rise of Nazism. The scene in question takes place in a beer garden visited by Nazi campaigners who put forward a young blond boy to sing the song ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’. Stirred by the picture of innocence the boy presents and by the saccharine patriotism of the song’s lyrics, older German men accompanied by their families join in, belting out the song with force and rising to their feet. The camera catches the expression of a very old man who remains seated. It is an expression of disgust and condemnation. The slightly schmaltzy song of rousing innocence and idealism has been taken up by neo-Nazi groups such as Skrewdriver and Saga who treat it as a German folk song when ironically its composers, John Kander and Fred Ebb, are Jewish. Of course, Nazi Germany offered nationalism in atheist form, but its idealization of angelic German purity constitutes a sham, trite version of spirituality. In Sharma’s film, there is a scene that demonstrates the dubious exploitation of religiosity. Kurian writes, ‘Apart from Modi himself, Sharma’s documentary shows a battery of public speakers unleashing this politics of hate. Speaking passionately in front of a large audience, Acharaya (Spiritual Master) Dharmendra of VHP urges people to raise their arms with clenched fists that can smash the jaws of national traitors’ (81). Added to this are the visual effects of the scene. We see Dharmendra draped in homespun white cloth, like Gandhi only unlike Gandhi he is very chubby and has a long, feminine grey bob. This makes him appear vaguely camp while he sits upon a red throne adorned with an ornate silver frame. Signifiers of spiritual humility clash with the bling-bling theatricality, replicating the irrationality of a spiritual guru preaching mindless brutality. As Kurian and others point out, the Hindu far right’s campaign to get India back for the Hindus takes place in a context where the Hindus are by far in the majority, and so the selfpitying stance of themselves as marginalized and displaced is certainly a post-factual manipulation, one similar to that of white pride movements in which white men present themselves as if they were an especially oppressed minority. Kurian writes: ‘What the khakishorts-clad RSS Hindu celebrant is looking for is not Hinduism but a modern and secular Hindu state. Ironically, then, religion too has come to the rescue of “secular political mobilisation and statecraft”’ (90). That is, Modi’s neoliberal agenda needs something to disguise the fact that it is not in fact a socially minded policy for the poor and thus religion is drawn on to counter the failures of secularism so that these are not seen for what they are: the failures of capitalism. As I have argued, neoliberalism is not compatible with true nationalism in that the neoliberal elite act as the colonizers of their own countries (Rooney 2018). Haffner, writing of the rise of Nazi Germany at the time this occurred, offers the following pertinent observation: ‘They [the Nazis] have treated Germany like a conquered land, a colony to be used and abused without consideration, to be exploited to the full’ (Haffner 2005, 49). The right-wing mantra ‘I want my country back’ actually means I want it all to myself, or her all to myself, like an Oedipal mother in a way. On a group level, it becomes a case of Freud’s Totem and Taboo, the brothers who rise up against a father because they want his women

(their mothers, that is) for themselves. There are certain similarities between Modi and Qutb in that both men present themselves as ascetics, repressing their sexual desires while maintaining a strong dependency on the maternal. Eliot too was an ascetic rejecting his first marriage, while Breivik also rejected sexual relationships. Another figure here to take into account is Theodor Herzl who is noted for his adult dependency on his mother and he too rejected his wife. This could be thought of in terms of a Hamlet complex, Hamlet idealizing a warrior image of strong masculinity, sending Ophelia off to a convent while fixated on his mother, whom he wants to be a ‘pure’ mother. What if the Oedipus complex really concerns men who unconsciously do not wish to grow up as adult men, staying with the mother and killing the ‘foreign’ father figure for this reason?

Zionist pride In Herzl’s Old New Land, there is a reference to its Jewish protagonist as an Ophelia figure because he lets too many things disgust him, seeking a pure sanctuary, if not a nunnery (Herzl 1902, 9). Moreover, the Zionist project is very much staged in the novel as a rejuvenation miracle, making the old new or young again: a wasteland redeemed. Octave Mannoni (1956) implies that the psychology of the colonizer is one of a refusal to grow up where the colonizer has the fantasy of installing himself among those natives he sees as children (see Landry and Rooney 2010). Thus, colonies serve as fantasies of Neverland or childhood regained, Oedipus as Peter Pan. In Herzl’s novel what is also striking is his protagonist’s relation to women. He falls in love with a woman who gets engaged to someone else only to meet her again many years later in the Zionist colony or colonized Palestine, and he expresses amazement to see that the sweetheart of his youth has actually aged, as if he were disavowing his own capacity to age. The aim of Zionism to create a new Jew is arguably a question of pride, even one influenced by German white pride. For instance, Jabotinsky states: ‘Our starting point is to take the typical Yid of today, and to imagine his diametrical opposite … because the Yid is ugly, sickly, and lacks decorum, we shall endow the ideal image of the Hebrew with masculine beauty. The Yid is trodden upon and easily frightened and, therefore, the Hebrew ought to be proud and independent’ (Waxman 2006, 25). Herzl says much the same in the following, We have known him for a long time. … A type, dear friends … the dreadful companion of the Jew, and so inseparable from him that they have always been mistaken one for the other. The Jew is a human being like any other … the Yid on the other hand is a hideous distortion of the human character, something unspeakably low and repulsive. (Herzl 1897) In the introduction, I speak of doppelgänger politics and these statements fit into a Jekylland-Hyde paradigm. What is further interesting is that they indicate the dynamics of racist projections in a colonial context. Mannoni maintains that colonialism is based on an inferiority complex, so that colonizers in asserting their racial superiority are actually

compensating for secret feelings of inferiority. Fanon in turn explores how the colonized then internalize the inferiority projected onto them. With respect to the figure of the double, it is mortality that is projected onto the abject other. The double, however, in trying to escape death actually comes to personify the death drive. Freud speaks of the death drive as a drive to restore an earlier state of things, and in Mannoni’s terms this would be an idealized childhood. What Herzl does in Old New Land is to create a secondary world (as a fantasy to be literalized) to compensate for a deeply painful world in much the way that Tolkien does in Lord of the Rings. Jenny Turner in a detailed, nuanced and insightful reading of Tolkien observes that having been traumatized by events in his life, especially his terrible experiences of war, Tolkien writes out of a kind of death drive. Turner states: A stripe of hardship, flight, terror, is always followed by one of safety, plenty, hospitality. To read The Lord of the Rings is to find oneself gently rocked between bleakness and luxury, the sublime and the cosy. Scary, safe again. Scary, safe again. Scary, safe again. This is the compulsively repetitive rhythm Freud writes about in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), and which he links to the ‘death instinct’, the desire to be free of all tension for ever. (Turner 2001, n.p.) Turner adds: ‘It’s less Scott of the Antarctic, more a contemporary cookbook, with that sickly, narcissistic over-emphasis on eating for “comfort” and “shutting out the world” ’. Turner singles out the character of Frodo as a Fisher King – “‘It is gone for ever,” he says’ and ‘I am wounded, wounded; it will never really heal’ – and she comments: ‘Frodo’s sufferings are wonderfully evocative of the self-pity and self-mythologization that tend to come with depression.’ Turner believes that this melancholy sentimental idealization arises out of feelings of powerlessness that are compensated through fantasies of political power elided with sheer will power, the magical ability to make things happen. Herzl’s novel, written out of a sense of humiliation, powerlessness and despair, similarly constructs a fantasy haven of security in which will power serves to make fairy tales come true, Herzl famously concluding his novel with the assertion, ‘It is no fantasy if you will it.’ The utopian world that Herzl creates is sanitized and simplified and borders on kitsch. Turner, referring to Andrew O’Hehir’s description of Tolkien’s work in terms of Great Weird Boy Books, states: ‘Another characteristic shared by the authors of Great Weird Boy Books is that their novels, with their silly names, their silly self-contained systems, their silly selfregarding theories, hover on the edge of kitsch.’ Shlomo Avineri states that ‘Altneuland suffers from sentimentalism that borders on kitsch’ (Avineri 2013, 168) and Palestinian writer Anton Shammas says of Israel that its one accomplishment has been the spread of the Hebrew language, ‘The rest, albeit spectacular at times is a moot, sometimes a very lethal one grounded on plastic and kitsch’ (Shammas 1989, 10). I do not wish to say that everything that is kitsch is offensive for kitsch can be fun and amusing. The kind of kitsch that is troubling, however, manages to combine the sentimental with the sinister and the cosy with the lethal. It is a form of kitsch that, for all its seeming

desire to console, is unsettling and uncanny. This is because while the aesthetics of kitsch may appear trite what needs to be appreciated is how this may be symptomatic of the attempt to deny or ward off the unspeakably traumatic. This sense of the uncanny is one that I experienced on a visit to Jerusalem where by chance I was on a minibus that got lost in an Israeli settlement on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The streets and the houses were all the same, impeccably and monotonously, and apart from passing cars there were no signs of life in the neighbourhood that came across as airbrushed and sterile. Perched on a hill, the settlement nonetheless felt claustrophobic, due in part to the minibus circling around it with a sense of no exit. It was a settlement in the sense of closure as if it had arrived completely finished and thus as a self-referential establishment. It was this that was unsettling or unhomely. Perhaps the sense of a home you cannot leave is unhomely, an inhospitable home like living in a hospital, or like being locked into childhood forever. Turner writes of Tolkien’s world: ‘It’s a closed space, finite and self-supporting, fixated on its own nostalgia, quietly running down’ (Turner 2001).

Black pride and gay pride There are black pride and gay pride movements that can be separatist, aiming to build their own self-sufficient, self-protecting simulacra worlds. However, for the most part, black pride and gay pride movements are not like the white pride, Hindu pride, Muslim pride and Zionist pride movements examined so far. The extent to which this is so depends on not getting drawn into the politics of hatred that stand to be contested. As far as black pride is concerned, there is a tension in its history between those who advocated non-violent integration through civil rights, such as Martin Luther King, and those who advocated segregation and violence. In Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? King states: In the final analysis the weakness of Black Power is its failure to see that the black man needs the white man and the white man needs the black man. However much we may try to romanticize the slogan, there is no separate black path to power and fulfilment that does not intersect white paths, and there is no separate white path to power and fulfilment, short of social disaster, that does not share that power with black aspirations for freedom and human dignity. (King 1967, 54) What is important about King’s statement is that it shifts the discourse of pride to one of dignity, and whereas the discourse of pride often stresses the self-sufficiency of the identity group in question, what is crucial to King’s perspective is that dignity is not self-referential but a question of mutuality. Furthermore, the chances of dignity do not seek to realize themselves through nostalgic recuperations but on a horizontal plane in the present. As I will explain more fully in the next chapter, it is dignity that is the goal of the radical left in contradistinction to the reactionary resentments of far-right pride. Malcolm X differs from King in his initial embrace of the Nation of Islam, promoting a reverse discourse in which whites are demonized instead of blacks and where Malcolm X

wished African–Americans to build their own separate society. This is not unlike the Islamist attempts in Egypt to build an alternative Islamic capitalism. However, according to his biographer Marable (2011), Malcolm X came to modify his position after his Hajj to Mecca, which gave him an experience of oneness with all his brothers and sisters across ethnic and national boundaries. Of course, there have also been the instances of feminist and/or lesbian separatist communities, and Monique Wittig’s novel Les Guérillères (19 69) offers us a fantasy of extremist female warriors in a self-sufficient community. However, feminists have not seriously or literally taken Wittig’s novel as a blueprint for an epic war against men to establish a new society. Wittig’s work is rather read as a cultural intervention, an imaginative exercise in supplementing a history of heroic male epics, but as such its writing back is characterized by features of a reverse discourse. In a way that may or may not be intended, it mirrors a crusader-jihadi ethos in a de-familiarized manner through the substitution of female warriors for male ones. While Les Guérillères is critical of the masculine ownership of women, it reverses this in a female appropriation of masculine militancy. But as said, it may be just a tradition of epic writing that Wittig seeks to give a new twist to. While it is not literal minded, on a psychological level it creates a fantasy world to shore up feelings of feminine disempowerment (without being maudlin in the way of Lord of the Rings in that Wittig’s warriors are more mock-Homeric in style). It is rather a strange book because it seems to internalize a sexist view of women as inferior, as its founding premise, which is then countered through having women mimic a male pride discourse in a sisterhood of noble warriors. Beyond the above potential instances of separatist distrust of others, what is at stake is that gay pride and black pride movements tend to be more about inclusivity than separatism and scapegoating. And their signifying practices tend not to be morbidly sentimental and kitsch so much as carnivalesque. Lesley Ferris in writing on carnival art offers a case study of Clary Salandy, a London-based carnival artist originally from Trinidad. Salandy explains, My original motivation for becoming involved in carnival was my realisation that in England carnival was considered trivial and kitsch. These words came from my art teacher. How do I convince her that she is wrong? (Ferris 2012, 136) The freedom of the carnivalesque is precisely that it ditches the dominant value judgements. Rather than getting pulled into hierarchies of power and their norms, as kitsch does, the art of the carnival does its own thing without a superego. It does not create simulacra worlds of emulative pride but turns the world upside down through mocking and refusing snobbish values. Against normativity, eccentricity is celebrated; against false pieties, irreverence is revelled in; against petty bourgeois pretentiousness, the ‘low life’ is celebrated. The confusion with kitsch may come from a misreading of the camp and burlesque aspects of the carnival. If kitsch takes itself very literally and seriously as offering a ‘truth’ that fails to convince as such, camp conversely uses artifice to point to truths often through knowing humour as well as being honest about its artificiality. If kitsch is hypocritical, camp unmasks

the hypocrisy, not in a moralistic way but as a joke. Camp might be seen as an art of avowal, often through humour, as opposed to the nostalgic and sentimental disavowals of kitsch. Earlier, I offered the ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’ song in Cabaret as an instance of Nazi and white pride kitsch. In the film, this would-be angelic self-image of the far right is set off by the decadent world of Weimar cabaret. Apparently, according to Steven Belletto, some critics read this decadence as symptomatic of Nazi Germany (Belletto 2008, 611). However, it is actually its very antidote as the cabaret pervasively satirizes and ditches Nazi culture, as Belletto is aware of. He notes how the Emcee of the cabaret subtly works to redefine beauty in a world of stereotypical Nazi aesthetics, ‘Here life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful. Even the orchestra is beautiful.’ Belletto ponders that the beefy women of the orchestra could be called beautiful, if conventional standards of femininity are not upheld (627). However, the joke is that the orchestra is actually composed of men in drag. What is beautiful has nothing to do with standardization, but the acceptance of all manner of self-expression. What is beautiful is the creativity of this. The Sally Bowles character, a cabaret singer, is the antithesis of the pure German youth. She affects worldly sophistication and bawdiness in a camp manner, but it is a kind of artifice in that we see that she is not a brittle creature at all but touchingly trusting, emotionally open and empathetic. The song she sings at the end of the film is the exact counterpoint to ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’. The men in her life having left her, she takes to the stage to sing: ‘What good is sitting alone in your room?/ Come hear the music play./ Life is a cabaret, old chum,/ Come to the cabaret.’ Belletto sees this as a problematic retreat from the political world into aesthetics, but it is life-affirming in the face of the death drive of fascism. What Butler says of revolutionaries, as explored in Chapter 3, is actually much truer of extremists than revolutionaries. That is, she writes as one of those who fail to differentiate between radicalization and creative radicalism. It is the extremists who theatrically seek ‘a space of appearance’, in craving recognition or esteem due to feelings of inferiority, humiliation or shame (as well as possibly out of other narcissistic structures). It is the extremists who treat of the body as ‘unspeakable’, as they find its maturation hard to accept. It is also extremists who give up on debate and use the body as a means of protest, most spectacularly in suicide attacks. Moreover, it is extremists who especially stand in need of confronting their wounded feelings, their vulnerability and fear of abandonment, as opposed to the defences of pride. In the next chapter, I will show how the revolutionary dynamics of dignity differ from this. Coming back to Knausgaard’s analyses of fascism in his My Struggle, the last volume of his confessions being devoted especially to the implications of his borrowing of the title of Hitler’s autobiography, it is worth noting that Knausgaard himself has difficulty in distinguishing between extremism and creative radicalism. For example, in writing about revolutionary violence creating its own reactionary containment, he says: ‘This is what happened in France in 1789; in Russia in 1917; and in Germany in 1933, the difference being that the revolution in Germany was not simply a class revolution from below’ (765). What happened in Germany was not a genuine leftist socialist revolution but a right-wing

nationalist identity pride movement with the aim of making Germany great again. The problem with Knausgaard’s position is that in his distaste for bourgeois liberal capitalism the only alternative he considers as a possible alternative is that of far-right extremism. It is also why he sees art as aligned with the death drive, failing to consider how creativity might be aligned with forward-looking left-wing values instead. Knausgaard is honest in recognizing the psychological appeal of the far right to him. He states: ‘Hitler’s youth resembles my own, his remote infatuation, his desperate desire to be someone, to rise above the self, his love for his mother, his hated of his father, his use of art as a space of great emotions in which the I could be erased’ (833 0). Indeed, the emotion that most dominates Knausgaard across his autobiography is shame. He obsessively draws attention to his deep sense of shame both existentially and as repeatedly emerges out of his experiences in life. It is this shame he feels he needs to transcend in achieving public esteem in the eyes of the world, and his literary ambitions are directed towards a persistent need to be validated through elevation over the mere ‘banal’ masses of contemporary modernity that he despises. While the analysis of shame and humiliation in My Struggle is indeed significant, what Knausgaard fails adequately to grasp is the irrationality of fascism. Thus, in positing his identification with Hitler as just cited, he equates the ‘desperate desire to be someone’ with rising above the self and the erasure of the ‘I’ without any pause for reflection on how contradictory this is. Knausgaard maintains that when the Breivik shooting occurred he identified for the first time with the Norwegian people and, most strangely, he argues that this enabled him to understand how German nationalism worked in Nazi Germany. He asks: ‘How did I feel such a strong sense of belonging?’ And he surmises, ‘Only afterwards did I realise these must have been the same forces that reside within the we, that came over the German people in the 1930s. That was how good it must have felt, how secure the identity’ (811). What is irrational about this is that Knausgaard equates the anti-fascist opposition to Breivik (who targeted the left-wing youth supporters of immigration for lacking nationalist priorities) with the rabid nationalism of Nazi Germany. ‘How secure the identity’? Without being able to examine Knausgaard’s work in detail here, it is notable that he does not only confess his own sense of shame but that he repeatedly exposes the shame of others he knows, arguably denying them their dignity (certainly from their point of view). It is as if the masochistic position of shame is thus turned around into the sadistic need to see others shamed or wounded, as is a repeated facet of pride movements. In fact, in that the shameful entails feelings of the unbearable, what is shameful gets transmuted into shamelessness: shamelessness as the refusal to feel the shame that you feel. (Beyond this shame-pride formation would be the question of psychopathology as the lack of any empathy for others where psychopaths prey on empathetic others to exploit them.) Steven Connor’s essay ‘The Shame of Being a Man’ (2001)1 is a very nuanced and thoughtful exploration of its subject that implicitly serves to challenge Knausgaard’s sense of authenticity. Connor maintains that if you confess to shame then you are not really ashamed

in that true shame is both masked and bottomless. That is, it is in the very nature of true shame to resist exposure. Thus, the demand that people expose their shame, humiliation and vulnerability would potentially only add to the distress when pride drives would be better tackled through conferring dignity. The states of distress require a respect for the privacy, intimacy and sensitivity of others. Knausgaard repeatedly equates public display of vulnerability with the truth of authentic being, ‘bare life’ (846), but we have to reckon with how this might pander to sadomasochistic drives as well as voyeuristic-exhibitionist drives in the fantasy of gaining absolute access to others. Knausgaard believes that the failure of fascism lies in its remoteness (841). Certainly, the Nazis turned their empathy inwards so they could feel only for certain fellow Germans and not for others. However, I think that the perversions of fascism do not concern remoteness so much as obscenity where obscenity is the failure to maintain a distance. Fascism (like torture) wants nothing of the other withheld or secret or distanced. If fascism arises through a fear of exclusion, it seeks the absolute availability of others to its needs. In addition, Abbas writes: ‘Faisal Devji has argued that Daesh is obsessed with transparency and the will to live entirely on the surface’ (Abbas 2018, 294). Ironically, this would imply unveiling. Interestingly, Connor considers the experience of shame in terms of being deprived of interiority and subjectivity so that the self just becomes a body where shame is somatically registered in an exposed way. As also noted by Connor and as already touched on, shame can coincide with or tip over into shamelessness. One consideration here is that someone who is treated as socially unacceptable, especially if repeatedly ostracized or shamed, may come to think of themselves as then outside of and exempt from the social norms that are expected of others. The figure of the double further demonstrates how self-alienation is at stake in shame. For instance, Jekyll sees Hyde as disgustingly shameful while Hyde is shameless, entirely without shame: these being two sides of the same being. The alternative to the obscenity of fascism or of extremism is the decency and dignity of honouring what does not belong to you of the other and in subsequent chapters I will draw attention to how a caring, respectful or solicitous distance, rather than remoteness, is entailed in this. Finally, while in the previous chapter I examine humiliation as an effect of neoliberal and neocolonial societies, the recognition of ‘authenticated identities’ is hardly the solution to this. The reason for this is because while disrespect may be interpreted in narcissistic terms, the real affront is not to the ego but to the soul. I would say that dignity humiliation, to use Lindner’s term, occurs when someone, anyone, is treated as a body or a machine without a soul. The kind of pride addressed in this chapter may be said mistakenly to read identity pride in ontological terms when pride should pertain rather to achievements, there being nothing wrong about pride in achievement. Beyond this, in an increasingly secularized world, we can see how what used to be thought of as religions come to be thought of in terms of ethnicity and the nation state. Islam is a religion, there being Muslims of many nationalities, and yet there is a frequent misuse of the term ‘Muslim’ so that it refers not to a believer but to

someone of foreign ethnic origin. Similarly, Hinduism is a religion, one of India’s several religions, but Hindus are coming to posit their religion as if it were the predominant national identity. Th is transference of religious or spiritual values onto the nation state is a form of idolatry, at stake also in the Jewish nationalism of Israel. Christianity tends not to be treated as an ethnic identity, where instead of this the Western far-right spiritualize and worship the mythical ‘white race’. In the first chapter, I discussed how fascism is bound up with treating the state and ethnicity in religious terms. The resurgence of the transference of spiritual values onto ethnicities and the nation state suggests what is needed is greater religious literacy.

6 The poetics of karāmah or why the Egyptian revolution was a poem When Mubarak was deposed, one of the after-effects was that on the interior walls of public buildings you could notice these differently coloured rectangular shapes – blank bits of wall not of the same colour as the wall surrounding them – that constituted the traces of the official portraits of the leader that had previously been hung up everywhere. Thus, there was this oddity of so many markedly unmarked spaces where once images of the leader’s face had been. What is thought-provoking about this visualization of the absence of the portrait is that it serves to bring into consciousness both its original ghostliness and how the image of Mubarak may have been a kind of cloning effect that the revolution had seemingly managed to erase or displace. The cloning effect to which I refer may be thought of in terms of commodity fetishism, and there is a passage in Hamlet that reflects on kingship in these terms. It occurs when Hamlet is considering how boy actors are all the popular rage; usurping the place of adult actors when paradoxically the boy actors will themselves be usurped by their own popularity (as boys) when they become adults. Hamlet then reflects that this might not be so strange if one considers how the images of leaders are worshipped. He states: It is not very strange. For my uncle is King of Denmark, and those that would make mouths at him while my father lived give twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats apiece for his picture in little. ’Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out. (Hamlet, 2. 2. 300-305) Thus, the people bad-mouth Claudius when he is not the king, and then when he becomes the king, although he remains the same flawed person as he was before, the people inconsistently yet devotedly worship his serially produced picture. What exactly is being worshipped? As Marx says of commodities, the illusion would seem to be one of auto-origination, a selfconjuring act. The king-position is thus always the usurpation of the origin whereby it takes the form of an authorial or dictatorial template for infinite copies of the usurper (the one who claims the king-position). In patriarchal terms, it is the case of a father-god apparently able to reproduce himself or to act as the sole source of reproduction. In this, idolatry, capitalism and dictatorship are linked by a performative logic of mechanical or mimetic reproduction. Regarding Mubarak’s portrait, it is a case of the dictator as an imposter god so that what the revolution unmasks in removing the portrait is that the king’s a thing and ultimately nothing (a blank space).

Revolutionary currency The first part of this chapter is structured according to a juxtaposition of two visual summaries of the Egyptian revolution in order to address its dynamics with reference to an aesthetic understanding of such. Once this has been put forward, I will discuss why the Egypt revolution has been considered to be a dignity revolution. The first visual summary has already been put forward: the taking down of Mubarak’s portrait. The second visual summary is a case of selecting from one of the many images of Midan Tahrir. Among the many images that could be discussed here, the one that I have chosen is the photograph reproduced here by Omar Robert Hamilton of Tahrir Square cinema (Figure 2). What we see in this image is a crowd watching a film with the Mogamma building, built in 1949, behind them. The films screened in Tahrir were of the revolution itself, a citizen journalism displacing the cinema of movie star celebrities. The reason that I have chosen this particular image is because it evokes an essay I now wish to turn to, namely, Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Work of Art in the Mechanical Age of Reproduction’ (Benjamin [1936] 2008).

Figure 2 Tahrir cinema. Photograph: Sherief Gaber, Mosireen.

The argument of Benjamin’s essay is that the mechanical reproduction of art, in particular, photography and film, may serve to advance an anti-fascist revolutionary consciousness, one implied to be Marxist. Benjamin maintains that while fascism aestheticizes politics, using mystique and distraction to disguise the actual workings of oppression, the mechanical reproduction of art militates against this in a number of ways. The two most relevant points made by Benjamin for the purposes of this analysis are as follows. First, Benjamin considers that the mass reproduction of the artwork destroys its aura, where for Benjamin this magical aura is accounted for in terms of the artwork’s origination in religious ritual and its subsequent repositioning as an object of veneration in terms of its exhibition value. The exhibited artwork may be said to constitute the repression and

forgetting of art’s origins in religion, while the original spiritual significance is transferred to the artwork itself. Improvising with Benjamin’s ideas, we would say that the artwork instead of pointing to a sacred source of origination points to its source in a gifted human originator. Benjamin suggests that exhibition value confers uniqueness on the artwork, that is, it is as if it were a one-off work of genius and as such not reproducible or transferable. Therefore, the mechanical reproduction of art destroys its aura in asserting the reproducible over the unique. Second, the revolutionary significance of this for Benjamin is the way in which this frees the masses from assuming the role of mystified worshippers. He maintains that the viewer is afforded critical agency and moreover that any viewer may assume the place of the maker of the work of art. Whereas Roland Barthes’ position is that the death of the author is the birth of the reader, for Benjamin the death of the author releases us from being merely readers in that for him, the death of the author as a function of singularity leads to the birth of multiple authors not governed by any logic of singularity. Benjamin does not use the term ‘singularity’ but it is strongly implied that it is this that is being overthrown in the democratization of art for revolutionary purposes. Walid El Hamamsy and Mounira Soliman quote Tahrir-based engineer-turned-artist Hatem Abdel Razak as declaring, ‘this revolution made artists out of all of us’ (El Hamamsy and Soliman 2013, 251). I think that Benjamin’s theory has much significance for the Arab Spring that brought to the fore a multiplicity of grassroots activist artists, ordinary people as such, but I would also suggest that h is reasoning is not quite adequate to the Egyptian revolution. If we look at Omar Robert Hamilton’s photograph, I think we could say that it conveys to us precisely the aura of the revolution, as opposed to the eclipse of the aura. In fact, there are many images of the revolution that are notable in conveying this aura. Before considering this more fully, it is worth giving some consideration to Adorno’s critique of Benjamin’s thought-provoking essay. In brief, Adorno takes issue with Benjamin over whether capitalist modes of production can be used to revolutionary ends, where he has more faith in the high art work, as singular or autonomous in its lofty alienation from the collective (Adorno 2007). Adorno’s position is implicitly Kantian in that for him it is particularly individual autonomy that can be pitted against submission to authorities. At this point, there are three interpretations of Hamilton’s photograph that may be advanced: a Benjaminian one, an Adornoan one and one other, beyond these two positions. First, from Benjamin’s assumed perspective, we would see an audience of revolutionary activists watching film clips, made by anyone who has a camera to hand, these clips being the current trawling of the revolution in the process of its collective making, being thus able to assess the progress, as well as setbacks, of the day or the times. What this audience would presumably be absorbing and reflecting on is the critical revelation that it is not rulers who make history but the people who do so. The aura of Mubarak as leader of the nation would disappear in the light of the labouring masses and activists as the dynamic forces of history. Second, from Adorno’s assumed perspective, an ever-cynical one, what we would be seeing in this photograph are the ineluctable processes of commodification. No sooner is the

revolution under way than it is being recycled: history as mere entertainment, the revolutionary actors being turned into celebrities. For Adorno, it would be a case of the revolution being digitized so as to be fetishized as part of a new culture industry. What I would like to say is that there are no doubt aspects of both of these visions variously entailed in the Egyptian revolution and beyond. That is, the revolution has exposed the aura of the dictator as a sham, as mere glamour and has revealed the historical dynamism of the people themselves. Equally, there has been a certain culture industry serving to commodify and cash in on the coolness and the pathos of the revolution. More broadly, this is a case of claiming the Arab Spring for the agendas of the secular West, critiqued as mistranslation by Sarah Hawas. Hawas states: ‘In the case of Egypt, US and other western media, along with academics and civil society at large, entertained the performance of this particular revolt and engaged in their own particular translations, employing a politics of the intelligible to translate and in doing so, domesticate or adopt the revolution’ (Hawas 2012, 283). A third reading of the photograph is one that would not deny its magic. While a Benjaminian reading of the photograph would entail mere de-mystification and an Adornoan one entail a re-positing of the power of commodity fetishism, there is a genuine aura, precisely an aura of what is genuine or for real, still to be accounted for even as you cannot quite account for the effect in that I think one of the interesting things about this photograph is that you cannot actually locate the aura it conveys. The aura is not just in the crowd of onlookers, faces aglow as if from a strangely shared moment of miraculously timed personal illuminations. Illumination takes place in the onlookers, we can see that in their expressions, but it is with reference to an external source of illumination that we take to be the cinema screen showing scenes of the revolution. And yet, as viewers of the photograph, we cannot ourselves see the screen, while we can see what the viewers in the photograph cannot see because they have their back to it, namely, the brightly lit Mogamma building of the earlier revolutionary moment, 1952. The point to be made is that the non-locatable aura – made evident by the photograph but in ways that escape its framing – is utopian. The utopian is precisely that which does not take place, so that you could locate it here or there. It concerns what cannot be contained. That is, a possible message of this photo is that the spirit of the revolution, both specific to it and not specific to it, cannot be located through being framed. Its currency overflows any bank or embankment, or else it constantly flows onwards. In fact, revolutions are likened to rivers, poetically speaking. Jacqueline Rose points out that Rosa Luxemburg speaks of revolution in these terms: ‘It flows now like a broad billow over the whole kingdom, and now divides into a gigantic network of narrow streams; now it bubbles forth from under the ground like a fresh spring and now is completely lost under the earth.’ (Rose 2011a) In his story concerning the Syrian uprising, ‘The Thieves’ Market’, Ossama Mohammed offers the refrain: ‘Oh river, do not flow away, wait for me to follow you’ (Mohammed 2014, 18). This also pertains to Auden’s riverine view of the poetic, discussed in Chapter 1. However, it is a matter of what is too oceanic to be merely canalized as the ‘overflowing’ imagery of Luxemburg makes clear. When the revolution started to unfold in Cairo, I wanted very much to be there in its midst,

but since this was not practical (while I also believed that this was Egypt’s moment), the one thing that made me feel a part of it from a distance was writing a poem about the momentous happenings where the impulse was both one of avowing the revolutionary dynamics and one of hoping to communicate their inspiration further. In short, it was a case of: this is something that has to be carried on, to be relayed, to be kept going. Obviously, lots and lots of people felt the same way, given the many poems, the many songs, the many paintings and so on, that bear witness to the revolution across all kinds of borders. The poem I wrote ends with the lines ‘To wrong-foot the rigid with rhythm, / To become a living human poem’ (Rooney 2013a, 199), because I wished to say that the real poem is the revolution, but where also, if the revolution is the gigantic poem, anyone can connect with it wherever they are through their much littler poems. Returning to the photograph, what I think that the Tahrir cinema audience may be registering is the seeing of themselves as a living human poem: we see they see themselves as the artwork being screened. That is, beyond seeing themselves as historical actors, they may be seeing that the division between art and life is artificial; such divisions as but framing effects, it being rare for such moments of illumination to occur. For Benjamin, the aura of the artwork is a matter of its fixed location – it is unique in that it can only be found in one place, the place in which it is exhibited. But the aura that interests me is of that which cannot be fixed in location nor fixed in time. For this reason, it would be possible to make the strange statement that the Egyptian revolution has not taken place. If that were a statement offered by a postmo dernist it would mean that the revolution constituted purely a spectacle, an illusion of digital media, a trick of the virtual: however, something else is intended by such a statement in this context. Attempting a clarification, it may be proposed that utopia is not a vision of the future so much as the persistence of something we take to be surpassed when, in actuality, it has not been surpassed because it has never taken place in the sense of an accomplished event that can therefore enter the past. It concerns the existence of that which cannot simply present itself objectively which in affective terms may be said to concern a faith in the feeling that we can always be together, even when we seem to be separate and divided. Or what is ongoing is a collective consciousness that escapes the logic of finitude and of singularity. So, here, the removals of Mubarak’s portrait do concern the marking or noticing of a particular unmarked space: lots of little reminders of utopian windows, as if you could see through walls. However, there is one particular occasion of a portrait removal ceremony in post-revolutionary Cairo that is rather disconcerting. It concerned the removal of a very large portrait of Mubarak that presided over the Egyptian cabinet office that was followed by the erection of the framed presentation of the name Allah in Arabic. Where Mubarak was, now Allah will reign? One problem with this takes us in the direction of Salafi and Wahhabi Islam, where the shahada is re-interpreted along the lines of: there is no earthly leader, God is the only leader. Additionally, however, to position God as the successor to Mubarak demotes God to being a head of state whose authority is unchallenged. The incident of which I speak was filmed and put on YouTube, but it has now been edited so that the YouTube

version shows the removal of the portrait without the framed name of Allah being put in its place. Presumably, this is because the problematic implications of the substitution were realized. Benjamin’s argument, while seeming original because of its fresh and urgent engagement, is actually part of a long philosophical tradition that can be traced back to Plato at least, a lineage of debate concerning the very relation between origin and copy. In fact, this may even be considered in terms of philosophy’s origins as the displacement of religious communal practice. In brief, this philosophical tradition of origin and copy, cause and effect, genius and imitation, is not the only possible one, and Tahrir Square has seemed more intelligible to me in terms of non-Western philosophies that are aware of what I call the lateral dimension or horizontal axis, as discussed in earlier works of mine on liberation struggles (Rooney 2000; 2007). In brief, in liberation struggles it is clear that hierarchical relations are challenged by side-by-side relations of solidarity, sometimes spoken of in terms of a brother–sister struggle against oppressors. Furthermore, the coming to the fore of this lateral or horizontal front entails a collective consciousness that is experienced as reality. That is, the consideration is that this collective awareness concerns what reality is, given that it is ultimately the unity of being that is real. As discussed in my earlier works, the form of expression that is particularly apt for this sense of reality is poetic so that the literature of liberation struggles is expressed in animist (non-dualist) or poetic realism. I will go on to explain this in more detail while first providing some philosophical orientation of a basic nature. First, the revolution greatly problematizes the cause-and-effect logic of temporal determinism. More suitable for its dynamics is a notion of dependent co-arising. In Buddhism, this is the concept of pratītyasamutpāda, particularly as explicated by Nāgārjuna. In Nāgārjuna’s arguments, cause and effect cannot be posited discretely where not only does a cause give rise to an effect but the effect gives rise to the cause at the same time (Nāgārjuna 2013). Regarding the Egyptian revolution, it has widely been noted that it was a leaderless revolution, in that sense, anarchic. However, as Jack Shenker (2017, 252) and others note, that does not mean it had no leaders and no organization. Indeed, there were activists who took various initiatives from Wael Ghonim’s ‘We Are All Khaled Said’ campaign to Asmaa Mahfouz’s video blog rallying cry, among many other mobilizations. Thus, in some respects, the co-dependent arising was a matter of discrete initiatives joining up to ever-greater cooperation, operating in concert (to use Arendt’s phrase). However, this is an inadequate understanding of the concept dependent co-arising for it would merely imply a group of actors causing the revolution. More radically, the question would be: Did the revolutionaries give rise to the revolution or did the revolution give rise to them? In Chapter 3, attention was drawn to how the revolution utterly transformed Egyptians according to their own accounts. In that respect, the revolution gave rise to the revolutionaries. The point is that with the logic of dependent co-arising there is no temporal duality of cause and effect, just the mutual arising of the two: revolutionaries gave rise to the revolution at the same time that it gave rise to them.

In Buddhist terms, those of the Middle Way, the principle of dependent co-arising entails sunyata (emptiness) through the insight that phenomena have no independent inherence and are thus ‘empty’ (not exactly non-existent but without any essence that would grant them the status of being phenomena), this also bearing on the concept of anatman, the self as no-self. However, this is not the direction that I wish to take this discussion in. Rather, sticking to the experience of the Egyptian revolution, in the dependent co-arising there was certainly selflessness to be observed. For instance, revolutionaries put others first in their attentions and also bravely risked their own lives for the sake of the revolution and of Egyptian people as a whole. However, strikingly, the revolutionaries did not thereby feel themselves to be nothing (empty) but on the contrary had the sense of finding who they truly were, the unique value of each one affirmed, these dynamics being those of karāmah, dignity. I would say that this was because individuals are nothing in themselves only as individuals but acquire their unique value through the wider whole, meaning through their co-arising. The African concepts of unhu and ubuntu are of relevance to this where a person is a person because of other people. This is of crucial significance to understanding the revolutionary concept of karāmah (dignity) in an Egyptian context, as I’ll come to, through first elaborating poetic structuration. Before I discuss the poetic, two further considerations concerning the horizontal unity of being need to be mentioned. Philosophically speaking, if revolution is an overturning, in my view what it overturns is the subjection of being to time. Secular post-metaphysical thinking in the West always posits being in terms of time, but this is by n o means a necessity. The horizontal axis of coexistence is not temporally diachronic and can, for example, be thought of in terms of an horizon of perpetual anticipation and possibility: what of the past does not become past. As collective coexistence, this is a matter of consciousness or awareness. Where Freud posited individual consciousness accompanied by the unconscious, my argument is that the unconscious is but the repression of collective consciousness. I do not mean by this the Jungian collective unconscious (an irrational concept in my view). Rather, either you have individual consciousness as the denial of collective consciousness or you have collective consciousness as an awareness of the unity of being that is irreducible to temporality. Just as Freud said there’s no time in the unconscious, the collective consciousness is timeless too. What I am saying is that there is not just one axis, one of time, that somehow contains being as but spectral in that you cannot say time ‘is’ (as confirmed by Einstein and widely argued by Derrida). Instead, there are two axes, the temporal one of deferral and the horizontal one of unity of being, and it is these two axes on which the poetic (in my sense) depends, though which it is woven.

The revolution poem There are very different conceptions of what constitutes poetic expression, and it should be pointed out that the Egyptian revolution was not poetic in the predominant terms of the Western postmodernist conception of poetry. In order to clarify this, I will offer a consideration of Roman Jakobson’s account of the poetic function. Famously, Jakobson’s

definition is as follows: ‘The poetic function projects the principle of equivalence from the axis of selection into the axis of combination’ (emphasis in original, Jakobson 1960, 358). For Jakobson, the poetic function is offset against other functions of language pertaining to the addressee, addressor, the message, the context, the contact (channel of communication) and code (system of communication). In order to explain Jakobson’s definition, I will improvise with a rough example, based on long-ago structuralist discussions of his work. That is, I am simplifying the technicalities of Jakobson’s essay to communicate an overview. Let us say then that the axis of selection consists of a menu offering the following options: Starters: hummus; taramasalata; gazpacho Mains: moussaka; salmon; nut roast Deserts: mousse; baklava; strawberries Now let’s say that the selected meal from the menu corresponds to the message composed on the axis of combination. If the context determines the message and the context of the meal is given as summer, the combined dishes of the menu might be gazpacho, salmon and strawberries (as a suitable meal for a hot day). If the emphasis is on the addressee whom you are choosing a meal for and whom you know is vegan, you might come up with the following selection and combination: hummus, nut roast, strawberries (a meal fit for my friend the vegan). However, if you wanted to propose a ‘poetic’ combination you might go for taramasalata, moussaka and baklava. That is, the rhythmic and rhyme equivalence between these words would determine their selection for combination. Or you might choose hummus; moussaka and mousse as an alternative poetic message based on the assonance and alliteration. That is to say, for a poetic message in Jakobson’s sense, the selected words are combined according to sonic and rhythmic equivalences that may be found among them as words. Jakobson’s basic point is that with the poetic function the message draws attention to itself through being particularly self-referential so that the linguistic medium assumes a primacy over the other functions. The emphasis on the very language of the message tends to obscure the other functions so they might seem vague or ambiguous. Jakobson’s definition appears extremely influential in a Western modernist and postmodernist context where the linguistic self-referentiality of poetry is prized greatly over the poet-addressor (the lyric/emotive ‘I’), the poetic context (its scene of reference) and its audience. With the postmodernist scene of language poetry (in the broad sense), language is seen to generate its own meanings, although this rather blocks communication in the normal sense producing an opaque kind of poetry. For example, this is the start of a poem by Keston Sutherland: The new fathom item A-Z mercy spree unsmothers afresh re donkey spirit sprezzatura fit or agog for a relapse, a slipped pin up assent to purpose marked down see hence vertical shark loans in purveyance-arrest … . (Sutherland 1998)

Although the language of the poem is very self-referential and draws attention to itself in the absence of other functions (a sense of who is addressing whom about what), the language is not a musical one as regards the rhythmic and sound patterning referred to previously for reasons I will explain. My point for the moment is that the linguistic self-referentiality of Western experimentalism tends to be very different from the popular avant-garde expression of the Arab Spring. I would like to suggest that Jakobson’s formal and formulaic approach to the poetic serves to linguistify the poetic, as I spoke earlier of a linguistification of the sacred with respect to Heidegger and Arendt (Chapter 1). This is because his two axes of selection and combination are indeed linguistic where I wish to suggest that this serves to dismiss and replace the priority of the horizontal axis (being) and the temporal axis (time) that I spoke of earlier. The kind of poetry of significance to my concerns attempts to put into words what is not yet in words as concerns the collective consciousness and unity of being, or holistic awareness, that I have suggested the horizontal axis pertains to. This is a case of voicing the timeless in the temporal medium of poetry. Moreover, Jakobson’s substitution of linguistic axes serves to invert the axis of synchronic being (the horizontal) and the axis of diachronic temporality. That is, the temporal medium of the poetic message is rendered by him as a synchronous space of combination, as opposed to temporal deferral. Given that the horizontal axis concerns the sacred, the effect of this is a fetishistic worship of words or language. That is, instead of poetry as praise of the real – life, creation, the divine (depending on the context) – poetry becomes worshipful of itself. With poetry of the real, as opposed to language poetry, you begin with a sense of the ‘all at once’ but obviously you cannot express the ‘all at once’, the lateral simultaneity, all at once. So, you begin with a chord-phrase (or a note or an image) that immediately suggests a chordphrase (etcetera) that goes with it and these two (chord-phrases) suggest a third, these three, a fourth and so on. The poem is an accretive creature though is always attuned across itself to what connects with what according to a sense of the underlying unity, its anticipatory source and its palpable silence. The musicality of the poem lies in the relation of its staggered parts to the all at once. One part calls forth all the others. I am in agreement with Daniel Barenboim when he states of the playing of a piece of music: I believe that when all things are right on the stage – when the playing, the expression, everything becomes permanently, constantly interdependent – it becomes indivisible. And this is the mystical, because this is the same idea of religion, of God: that there’s suddenly something you cannot divide any more. (Barenboim and Said 2003, 156) In the kind of poetry being considered, there is the holistic desire to produce a connection on a subjective level between addressor and addressee with reference to a context, existential or metaphysical. (For Jakobson’s formalist poetic function it is the message that counts, rather than addressee, addressor and context, whereby the message is somewhat emptied of meaning becoming words as words.) In his book Poetry and Politics in the Modern Arab World, Atef Alshaer introduces his subject with the observation that:

poetry has been a force of timeless and universal value. … Through it and with it, religions are founded and constituted; truths discovered; entire edifices of visual and psychological perceptions formed, with consequences ranging from peace to war to truce to love to inner euphoria to infinite serenity. One fundamental value of poetry is that it renders visibly alive both the silent and the unconscious alongside the spoken and the conscious. It brings to life an entire picture or perception of human reality, even if an ephemeral one. (Alshaer 2016, 1) Alshaer’s book shows how in an Arab context, ‘the silent and unconscious’ may pertain to a sense of collective destiny, where the poet has an important role with respect to calls for resistance, resilience and renewal. What is at stake in this is not that poetry can act as a substitute for the political but that it can act as a mode of guidance concerning what the political may lose sight of. It is like the relationship of Tiresias, the seer, to Oedipus or to Creon: the vertical position of the leader has its blind spots that the horizontally aware visionary can awaken us to. More broadly, poetry in this aspect is able to look out for the well-being of the collective (tribe, nation, humanity at large) through modes of address such as warnings, rallying cries, prophesies and so on. In Arab culture, poetry has long had this role of historically and ethically attuned guidance of the community. Coming back to Ayman El-Desouky’s concept of amāra discussed in Chapter 3, he writes, ‘The question of amāra is a question of the production of signs, verbal and visual, and of narratives that originate in a deeply shared social condition, signalling shared destiny, and speaking to that condition, not representing it, with both speaker and addressee fully present’ (El-Desouky 2014, 107). In the light of Jakobson, what matters here is the simultaneity of speaker and addressee and their shared context. Instead of focusing merely on the linguistic medium, what distinguishes the poetic here is that it aims not to privilege a single function of communication but to keep all the functions in play. Regarding how speaker and addressee may be present to each other, this can be through a live gathering, say in the city’s midan. However, this is not necessarily so, in that it is also that poetry has the magical ability to make present again (like Proust’s madeleine). For example, a poet can put into a poem a state of feeling so that whenever and wherever the poem is read, the original state of feeling is released from it. Regarding a prime instance of this in the context of the Arab uprising, Abou el-Kasem Chebbi’s poem The Will to Live while composed in 1933 was yet felt to be fully present to the re-awakened revolutionary spirit of 2010–11 in Tunisia, also leaping across borders to Egypt and beyond. In Egypt, earlier popular songs, such as those by Sayyid Darwish, became fully present again in Midan Tahrir with bands such as Eskenderella bringing back the work of earlier vernacular poets (Valassopoulos and Mostafa 2014, 652). In an article on the Tunisian revolution aptly entitled ‘A Revolution of Dignity and Poetry’, Mohamed-Salah Omri begins by drawing attention to a statement made by Syrian playwright Saadallah Wannous, as follows ‘I used to dream of a poem which ends in a street demonstration’ (Omri 2012, 137). (The poem I wrote around the Egyptian revolution mentioned earlier actually begins with ‘To gather with poets in Qasr El Nil/ To compose the coming of revolution’, before going on with ‘To take to the streets/ To take the streets/’,

although I did not know of the statement by Wannous.) Omri goes on to discuss Tunisian poet Mohamed Sgaier Awlad Ahmed, ‘an unavoidable figure in the history of Tunisian culture – particularly the culture of protest and resistance – for the last 30 years’ (139). Awlad Ahmed is a radical poet, both opposed to authoritarian (neoliberal) rule and to Islamism, for he constantly mocked what he saw as the false pieties of the Islamists in Tunisia. When the Tunisian revolution broke out, he established the Poetic Central Command of the Revolution, for he believed ‘the Tunisian revolution is a work of poetry’ (Omri 2012, 147). In Al-Wasiyya (2002) he offers an indication of his own poetics: And how do you write? With my toes … With my toes, I tap on the soft earth Without a prior rhythm Like a wild horse As soon as a rhythm is formed or the wings of an image grow letters drop on the page. (Quoted by Omri 2012, 158) As indicated previously, the poem begins with anticipation (like a horse pawing the ground) as suggests a rhythmic phrase or an image that serves to generate the whole of the poem. The concluding line of this poem is: ‘I am the horizontal’. The poem d efies the verticality of line breaks as if it could be spread out on a lateral plane. In a 2011 interview Awlad Ahmed states: ‘They are writings which will continue in the same pace if in future a minister or head of government wanted to play the role of a vertical god on this horizontal land’ (Omri 2012, 153). Omri observes very aptly that Awlad Ahmed, as well as Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, ‘saw poetry as a living being and life as a poetic project’ (164). As I suggested earlier of the Egyptian revolution, the dividing line between art and life is erased. It is necessary to explain that this is not at all in the sense of the poetic utterance serving to bring about or enact what it is says. This would constitute a self-reflexive autoliteralization of language performing itself. Rather, poetic composition and life in its creative aspect are one in that they partake of the same dynamic of registering both the horizontal axis of unity of being or collective consciousness and the temporal axis of existence. I would add that when it comes to mystical consciousness all time consciousness evaporates so that you only have an awareness of the unity of being, hence mysticism as a state of awareness that is timeless and mute. However, the poetic consciousness weaves between the sacred dimension and the temporal one. Even so, one of the things that can happen to you when you are creating something (be it a piece of music, a poem, an art work) is that you lose all sense of time, and also the same thing can happen to you when you receive the art piece in question. The mode of this is perhaps pure anticipation. (Listen, for example, to Michael Nyman’s ‘Time Lapse’.) Regarding the Egyptian revolution, I asked revolutionary artists whether they saw the

revolution as a poem to crosscheck my perception with theirs. In particular, I put this question to Ahdaf Soueif and to Ahmed Haddād, and both affirmed that the revolution was a poem for them too. This was not just because many revolutionaries expressed themselves through creative compositions – not only poems but songs and murals, and strikingly inventive posters, aphorisms and jokes – but also because the whole of the revolution with its freeing up of collective consciousness was a poem. It was because it was a poem that it generated poems. This collective consciousness replaces subject–object relationships with the lateral relationship of equal subjects (actually subjectivities or living spirits) standing side by side: I and other I; I and all the other Is. This is not the face-to-face relationship of Levinas’ ethics with its emphasis on the otherness of the other, though it certainly does entail recognition of the soul of the other. In the side-by-side relation is something that Levinas does not seem to address, namely the shared feeling of solidarity. What constitutes unity of being is not just the sum total of entities brought together. It is what psycho-affectively binds one to another, the invisible feeling of connection. This is a matter of the transformative dignity of revolution that Egyptians speak of, and I wish therefore now to advance a poetic theory of dignity.

Karāmah As discussed in the introduction, dignity for Kant is a matter of individual autonomy whereby you emerge from childish dependence on others. As also discussed, for Qutb dignity is freedom from master/slave relationships, where for the religious Qutb this means there is only submission to God. However, revolutionary dignity may be said to be predicated neither on purely individual autonomy nor on submission to an absolute, vertically transcendental Other but rather on the basis of dependent co-arising. The psycho-affective states that bind the poetic collective may be ultimately a shared sense of the sacred, yet more indirectly (or, if you prefer, more directly) and mundanely it concerns freedom from humiliation through mutual acknowledgement, mutual trust and mutual care. Reem Abou-El-Fadl writes the following of the dynamics of dignity: ‘The celebrations of human solidarity rather than competition […] changed the self-image of many. […] As the popular chant irfa ask fo, inta masri (“raise your head up high, you are Egyptian”) indicated a rush of self-assurance and self-worth accompanied January’s protests. So did a rush of creativity’ (Aboul-El-Fadl 2015, 9). This was the antidote to the humiliation of the people through the authoritarianism of neoliberalism. Evelin Lindner, Linda Hartling and Ulrich Spalthoff write: Until 1757, the verb ‘to humiliate’ had no negative connotations, as it simply indicated that someone showed underlings their correct place within an accepted social order, based on honour and rank […] . The year 1757 marked the transition of the meaning of the verb ‘to humiliate’ in the English language from prosocial humbling to the antisocial violation of dignity […] . The old meaning of the verb ‘to humiliate’ was replaced by a new, much more negative meaning. Interestingly, this occurred just prior to the American Declaration of

Independence (4 July 1776), the French Revolution (4 August 1789), the emergence of the individuated self, and the birth of a growing awareness that the planet Earth is the home of one humankind. (Lindner, Hartling and Spaltoff 2011, 67) With these interesting observations, the assumption is that the emergent emphasis on the rights of the individual is progressively tied up with democratic secularism. Yet I wish to challenge this through raising the question of the doppelgänger formation of the subject that also arose at this time, in the eighteenth century. As considered in the introduction, what this formation displaces is the notion of the subject as a self with a soul. Instead, in the analytic of finitude, the will-to-singularity of the secular self produces the shadowy mortal accompaniment of the double: the self and its death. That is to say, the secular individual emerges as always shadowed by the mortification of its downfall in death. What is humiliating is the loss of the immortal soul, and thus the modern negativity of the verb ‘to humiliate’ might have arisen in this context of being stripped of soul. Capitalism, especially neoliberalism, offers us no progress in this regard. The Western Enlightenment ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity are inevitably betrayed by secular capitalism. This is because liberty is interpreted in terms of autonomy and selfsufficiency; equality becomes merely a matter of exchange value, the equivalence of units that can be substituted for other units; and fraternity becomes the identity politics of group narcissism (meaning that the collective is predicated on the principle of the ego ideal). The main reason for this state of affairs is the denial of horizontal collectivity in favour of the total subjection of being to time. I suggested earlier that the Egyptian revolution overturned this (at least, for its duration) in that the humiliation that the people had been subject to in being treated as mere mortal bodies or labouring bodies was cast off with the people getting back their souls: the leaders became the unworthy or precarious ones, not the people. I will now explain what this creative turn means for radical values. Liberty, equality and solidarity (a better term than ‘fraternity’) are not discrete conditions but actually co-conditions for each other. If liberty is liberation from the oppression of masters this is automatically a question of master-free equality. Liberty and equality further depend on solidarity where each one is not just in favour of their own freedom but the freedom of all. In a way, liberty, equality and solidarity are different designations of the same aspiration or expectation. What that means is that they are in a metaphoric relation to each other through dependent co-arising. The dependent co-arising may be instanced, as often is the case in liberation struggles, as follows: I am not free if you are not free; I’m not equal to others if you are not equal to others; I am not sustained if you are not sustained. It may also be proposed that liberty, equality and solidarity have a metonymic relation to the lateral unity of being. Finally, the condition of dignity may be said to issue from the co-arising of liberty, equality and solidarity. It is perhaps the term for that co-arising. Although I have drawn on the Buddhist notion of dependent co-arising, I wish now to consider dignity in terms of the uniqueness of each soul, as opposed to sunyata and anatman (while not going into the complexities of Buddhist philosophy). In this analysis, it is the exchange logic of capitalism that serves to posit beings as substitutable entities, as makes of

them empty things. The Egyptian revolution (and the Tunisian one) served to posit leadership as the position of the exchangeable with the people as not exchangeable. The axis of substitution may be said to be the diachronic axis: for instance, one generation replacing another. However, the synchronic or horizontal axis is not one of substitution. On this axis, each can be placed alongside each (with no usurpation), with a potentially infinite accretion. It is thus this alongside dimension that allows for each-ness or uniqueness at the same time that this living alongside is what constitutes the undivided (all together) unity. Moreover, the attempt to possess and enclose being in a singularity is an emptying gesture in that any being cannot be separated from the whole and still continue to be. In addition, the doppelgänger dynamic of usurpation is a death drive in that the attempt to claim the place of another cuts the usurper off from the indivisible life of the whole at their own expense. The word for dignity in Arabic is karāmah, and it is imbued with a sense of the sacred. Bani-Sadr and Shroeder write: ‘According to the Koran, everything created is noble and dignified (Koran 17:70; 42:7; 31:10). The dignity of each and every living phenomenon emanates from and is connected to intelligent life itself (Koran 21:26−27; 49:13)’ (Schroeder and Bani-Sadr 2017, 69). They also state: In Islam, human dignity increases as we honour each individual and encourage them to increase their own dignity. For this reason, it is stated in the Koran that there is no compulsion in religion. Religion is a method of ‘de-violentisation’, a way of removing the role of force from society and replacing humiliation with dignity. (69-70) Furthermore, they assert: ‘Before human beings assume any belief (religious or otherwise), they have rights and a responsibility to defend those rights, as well as those of any other person irrespective of belief, race, nationality, ethnicity and so on. In other words rights are not given to other people through agreement among humans; we are born with them’ (73). Dignity is thus a matter of our natality, given to us through birth, and not a man-made political construct. In fact, it is other to systems of power reliant on force and coercion. Significantly, a person who does not respect the dignity of others is the one who lacks dignity. Thus, dignity arises when you act for the equal liberty of others, supporting their freedom of spirit. This is what the Egyptian revolution was deeply about, as the Tunisian revolution had been before it. I would also add that this interpretation of natality differs from Arendt’s since natality is for her a matter displaying your uniqueness to others in the form of personal glory as opposed to acknowledging the sacredness of each life (that for the religious would be God-given). In discussing the dignity of the Egyptian revolution, Farhad Khosrokhavar writes: ‘Opting for dignity involves another type of recognition: the Hegelian logic of master and slave […] is replaced with one based on distantiation and peaceful reflexivity, putting into question the idea that the only way to save one’s honour is through the enemy’ (67). In Chapter 3, I speak of how the Egyptian revolution did not depend on hegemonic interpellation and instead on other forms of horizontal hailing and Khosrokhavar’s statement accords with that. Moreover, whereas the politics of pride entail being drawn into Hegelian circuits of recognition,

recognition through dignity provides alternatives outside of this entrapment. Khosrokhavar’s emphasis is on how dignity is aligned with peace, thus with the non-coercion and ‘deviolentization’ raised earlier. He specifically draws a distinction between the logic of honour that resorts to blood-letting to avenge humiliation and the way that the new social movements consciously reject such to base themselves peacefully on dignity (66). Also, while in the previous chapter I speak of humiliation in terms of the obscene disregard of distance, dignity entails the distancing that Khosrokhavar mentions. A way of understanding this is through allowing the other to be: the opposite of possessing them, erasing them, ignoring them or crowding them out. Khosrokhavar, noting that dignity is bestowed by God, also points out that ‘karāmah in the singular form means generosity, in particular towards guests and towards the poor’ (65). It is thus very giving, and ‘fore-giving’ in the sense raised at the end of the first chapter. That is, it is a giving that is in advance of any getting while it is also forgiveness as distancing yourself from being drawn into an abusive or coercive structure, another’s structure of fore-getting. This generosity is further a question of mercy, as Portia defines it in The Merchant of Venice: The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. (4. 1. 190–3) Similarly, to accord dignity to others blesses the giver with dignity. The Egyptian revolution was a very generous one in terms of how people treated each other (Prince 2014, 161). It was not just that they shared food and other resources but that this has been a much wider matter of the ethics of the newly improvised civil society. Reem Abou-ElFadl speaks of ‘the powerful notion of the “manners of the Square” (akhlaq al-midan), which were never laid out expl icitly, but were widely understood to include mutual respect, freedom from harassment, egalitarian co-operation, and self-sacrifice’ (Abou-El-Fadl 2015, 10). This is what makes for dignity, and I will now summarize its creative aspects. First, I have spoken about the indivisible relatedness of liberty, equality, solidarity, dignity, peacefulness, generosity and mercy (and this is by no means a complete series). This is a poetic way of seeing things because these various qualities are manifestations of an underlying unity and emerge as figures of it that are thus connected to each other. Thus, it is liberty as equality as solidarity as dignity and so on. This is how we can see the world through the aspect of tawḥīd. For instance, what here appears as ‘generosity’, there appears as ‘peacefulness’. Second, ‘the manners of the Square’ were not scripted, as Abou-El-Fadl says, and they were not set down. This is because they were creatively spontaneous and what is creatively spontaneous comes from the real or the for real (al-haqq). That is to say, people were genuinely in touch with collective consciousness, and it is this that can make spontaneous artists of us all in that creativity arises from co-arising and collective consciousness that yet honours each as each.

Third, the whole of the revolution was an ostensive sign. That is to say it indicated the kind of society that it would like to lead us towards. It was as if it flashed up from the future like a beacon and as if its beckoning was to say: this is what we would like to be heading towards (importantly without representing a final destination). The revolution had the aspect of utopian realism as opposed to utopian idealism. The latter offers an idealistic blueprint for a new society (often disastrous), while the former dictates nothing in opening up new possibilities of creativity through freedom of spirit, anticipation and hope. While I speak of creativity, this borders as indicated on the sacred, and there are revolutionaries that address the revolution as feeling sacred (as widely indicated in previous chapters). For example, Mona Prince writes: ‘Everyone chanted “Bless my homeland” from the depths of their hearts. Amen. There was a feeling of love and purity that reigned over the midan. The priest announced that there would be another sermon at 1p.m. and invited us all to pray once more’ (Prince 2014, 155). In an Arab context, it is sometimes said that it is not possible to bracket off religion the way that happens in a secular Western context. This is because religion concerns a way of life, a way of being in the world. However, this does not mean that politics should coincide with religion. Rather, I think that the Egyptian revolution, while of course political resistance in some ways, further showed that the political has its limits and has to be answerable to what is not only political. Omar Robert Hamilton says, ‘To be in opposition is the fate of the dissenter. To be in compassion. We would not, or at least I would not, hold on to power were it taken’ (244). A dignity revolution is about undoing coercive structures, and instead of being about taking, claiming and grasping power or sovereignty, it is about giving, receiving and acknowledging others; living generously. As Bahraini revolutionary poet Ayat Kormuzi states in a poem: ‘We don’t want to live in a castle, we don’t aspire to the presidency/ We kill humiliation and assassinate misery’ (Maarouf 2012). There is a particular kind of poetry and art that is especially relevant to the revolution. It concerns what in this book that I have called the darwish avant-garde and in poetic terms pertains specifically to sh’ir al-āmmiyya.

Sh’ir al-Āmmiyya Noha Radwan writes: ‘Shi’r al-āmmiyya, a form of modern Arabic poetry written in colloquial Egyptian Arabic (āmmiyya), is a poetic movement that began in the early 1950s’ (Radwan 2012, 1). Radwan’s book provides an in-depth consideration of three of the leading figures of this movement: Fu’ād Haddād, Salāh Jāhin and ’Abd al-Rahmān al-Abnūdi. What I wish to do here is draw attention to certain definitive aspects of the poetics at stake in keeping with the concerns of this chapter. What is striking about the colloquial poetry in question is how non-dualist it is in spirit, this being a question of the musical indivisibility discussed earlier. While the movement is popular and folkloric in its orientation it is also experimental and innovative. While it is oral in its delivery it is also literary in its sensibility. It can combine an affirmation of the sacred with irreverence, especially directed at false pieties. Often the speakers of the poems put

themselves forward as unafraid to do so and stand out while at the same time they speak as one of the people: the address manages to be individual and collective at once. In his poem, ‘Dīwān al-Arāgūz’, Fu’ād Haddād speaks as an everyman comprised of the differing personae of the people: I am a newly hatched shaykh an Abu Zayd clown And a Guha muscleman I am an Egyptian who with brains has conquered brawn. (Radwan 2012, 87) According to Radwan, Abu Zayd refers to an epic hero and Guha to a folkloric figure. At the same time, this literary heritage remains a living revolutionary potential. Salāh Jāhin (considered the poet of the 1952 revolution and beyond) speaks in ‘The Defence Speech’, as an everyman figure who defends himself from the hegemonic forces of society that are automatically poised to judge him without him being aware of any specific charges. Jāhin writes: My words are neither deep nor foolish. Simple Simple, like the clothes of the helpless barefoot poor Simple, like the friend’s name on the lips of a friend. (Quoted by Radwan, 148) The speaker of the poem goes on to state that although his words are simple, they are also powerful: ‘Powerful, like the cry of a drowning man’; ‘Powerful, like a threatening glare.’ The basic, workaday consciousness yet has the poetic as its mode of consciousness, and the poem is also in the ‘defence of poetry’ genre. Significantly, the scene of judgement in the poem is within a dream so it is the dream (the unconscious as collective consciousness) that speaks out and evades its oppression on the part of the superego forces of society. In al-āmmiyya poetry, the distinction between art and life is challenged. This is notable in a poem entitled ‘From the Notebook of an Unknown Man’ by Fu’ād Qa’ud. The poem begins: Yesterday before I slept my father’s portrait left its frame and walked along the wall While the speaker tells the image to go to its place, it leaps about the room before flying away through an open window. The speaker closes his eyes to this and goes to sleep and the poem ends with the following lines: and when I woke in the morning I sold the empty frame

to the rag-and-bone man. (Quoted by Booth 2001, 261) As Marilyn Booth suggests (261), we could see the poem as referring to a presidential portrait (arguably Nasser, or if not, Sadat, since the poem was written between 1962 and 1976). It is thus a subtly revolutionary poem, one that correlates with the taking down of Mubarak’s portrait discussed at the outset of this chapter. Although it also implies that the leader is tired of being cut off from life as a figurehead, challenging the art/life distinction. This is similar to Iraqi poet Adnan al-Sayegh’s poem ‘An Episode from the Homeland’ (1999) which begins: ‘The statue of the president was really rather bored/ and so it climbed down from its golden pedestal’ (Milich 2012, np). The humour in both poems offsets their serious challenges to state authority while the topsy-turvy and gentle logic of the poems is that the freedom sought will release authorities from their own confinement in the fixity of the idol (see also Sakr 2013). While poems challenge masculine authority figures, femininity is often affirmed. This is notable in the poems of Ahmad Haddād (son of poet Amin Haddād whose father is Fu’ād Haddād). Both Amin Haddād and Ahmed Haddād participated in the 2011 revolution, and here are some lines from Ahmed Haddād’s ‘The March’: May I love you, You Egyptian woman walking amidst the march, Dark or fair, you are the colour of the revolution: Ahead of you are green and enlightened pathways. Vicious with the enemy, Soothing the angry, Amidst the danger you chant ‘peaceful, peaceful.’ You, kind and stubborn, You, free as a martyr, Your anger is a new poem, Your laughter is a song. (Haddad 2012, 42) This is the revolution poem with men and women as its poets. Dignity is a frequent theme of the revolution’s poetry and its songs. Hamza Namira’s song ‘Insan’ (Human) addresses human dignity, karāmah insaniyah, in the terms discussed in this chapter, in particular, the giving, generous, bestowing sense of dignity. The lyrics are: When he laughs all of God’s creation laughs When he’s happy he makes everyone else happy A human being who has a dream and an aim He’s always giving away everything he has And he doesn’t own even his own spirit

Inside his heart and in the depths of his eyes He carries hope, sunrise and life. (Namira 2012) The Egyptian revolution – simple and profound, humorous and serious, aesthetic and very real, down to earth and spiritual – was and will always be a beautiful revolution. As Mazan Maarouf states: ‘Even the death of a poet cannot silence his throat, as his words jump from mouth to mouth, floating on the breath of the protestors … how can they stop a poem?’ (Maarouf 2012) Since the revolution, the counter-revolutionary forces have attempted to reassert their immortality as invincibility and to make the people superfluous again. Thus, Mona Abaza asks, ‘How long can disposable humanity remain disposable?’ (2016, 236) At the same time, she also draws attention to how those who support the military government do so out of fear that what happened to Libya or Syria could happen to Egypt. If Egypt had successfully established an anti-authoritarian, anti-neoliberal, feminist and pro-Palestinian democracy, what would have been the reaction of very right-wing states such as Israel or Saudi Arabia? The fear is understandable. One of the big businesses of the Egyptian army is real estate, and the world of the rich is the gated community world. Abaza quotes the following advertisement for ‘La Vie en Vert’ compound in New Cairo: In Palm Hills we dream of the return of love and beauty … and clear enjoyment … and the return of mercy to our heart … and the dream of the return of culture and the arts … . And enlightened thought … . Palm Hills for construction … the return of the Egyptian spirit. (Abaza 2016, 234) This is a shameless, obscene neoliberal appropriation of the revolution, one that claims for gated communities themselves the retrievals of creative radicalism. That is, the decolonization of the sacred effected by the revolution is re-colonized. Abaza quotes other advertisements that gush, ‘Pay a seven years installment to be in paradise … Choose a worthy life in a gated compound … You deserve a more beautiful life…’ and ‘You deserve a decent life’ (236). This is part of the capitalist ‘linguistification of the sacred’ and the colonizing of radicalism in ‘discourses of authenticity’ that this book has examined and contested. Of course, there is nothing spiritual, ethical, creative or radical about the upscale gated community world. It consists of merely the faked authenticity of w hat may be termed ‘emulate pride’ (the spirit of the ghost in Hamlet) that can but be kitsch in a depressing drained-of-life manner. Abaza writes: These horrific grotesque larger-than-life villas of the nouveaux riches, glued next to each other, filled with fake quasi-Roman columns, and – noblesse oblige – jammed with flowered wrought iron gates, replicating everywhere, make me say time and again melancholic. It is a sin that these villas fill up all the space that could have surrounded them with gardens or greenery. Then, just a few kilometers before I reach the campus, there is the surreal Future University with its kitsch pseudo-Roman construction. Kitsch following

more kitsch seems to be the destiny of so called ‘modern’ New Cairo. (241) As Richard Jacquemond has observed, much post-revolutionary art in Egypt is highly satirical, Jacquemond noting that satire is a moral genre (Jacquemond 2016). The gated community paradise of ‘decency’, ‘beauty’ and ‘art’ stands to be sarcastically shown up as vulgar, ugly, culture-less. While creative radicalism continues to flourish in Egypt, along with this there is a growing interest in Sufism that I have both witnessed in Egypt at gatherings and heard about from friends. Revolutionary aesthetics demonstrate in a burlesque manner that the purchased paradises of the indecent ones are a joke, while they are able to do so out of the very sense of what is true and real. While neoliberalism will no doubt continue to produce and rely on extremism as its other, attempting to deflect blame from itself, it is necessary to stand by creative radicalism as the truly viable alternative in terms of political critiques that demand accountability, the upholding of social solidarity (not based on identity politics) and the support of creative cultural expression that affirms the values of universal decency and dignity.

7 Figuring the sacred in martyr art The following message of Egyptian revolutionary Alaa Abdelfattah stands as a suitable epigraph for both the previous chapter and this chapter. He urges: Get rid of the experts and listen to the poets – we are in a revolution. Ignore reason and hang on to the dream for we are in a revolution. Beware of caution and embrace the unknown for we are in a revolution. Celebrate your martyrs. In the midst of the ideas, the symbols, the stories, the performances, the dreams; nothing is real except their blood, and nothing is certain except their immortality. (Soueif 2012, 190–1) While the previous chapter engaged with the poet-revolutionaries and attended to the reality of the dream, this chapter will offer an exploration of the signifying practices involved in different kinds of martyr art. This exploration will begin with a close reading of Elias Khoury’s novel White Masks that considers the representations of the martyr in sectarian Lebanon before going on to consider the martyr art of the Egyptian revolution.

A broken maqāma Elias Khoury, widely considered to be one of the foremost writers of his generation, is often described as a postmodernist or modernist novelist. For instance, Edward Said asserts that Khoury, in going beyond Mahfouzian realism, has forged a ‘fundamentally postmodern literary career’ (Said [1989] 2007, xvii). I disagree with this definition of Khoury’s aesthetic and also with the privileging of a linear model of literary history whereby one phase is seen to surpass another phase, even as this is the dominant approach for Western art. In contestation of such frameworks, my intention is to make a case for Khoury as a writer in tune with what I have been expounding as the revolutionary darwish avant-garde. In Chapter 4, I draw attention to the modified uptake of the maqāma form by novelists such as Mahfouz and Kanafani, and in this chapter will address White Masks in the light of this tradition. White Masks is composed of a short story cycle where each story contains yet further stories within it. Overall, the stories are presented by a narrator who has had to take a job as a travel agent due to not being able to find a position in line with his degree in politics and who, out of boredom with his job, becomes a self-appointed detective with the mission to unravel the reason for the murder of Khalil Jaber, a man of no seeming significance. The narrator is something of a trickster figure in that while he is not actually a detective to begin with, it emerges that his assumption of the role of a detective is also a pretence. His main role is to act as the one who invites ordinary members of the community to step forward with their stories. Etymologically, the term maqāma is derives from ‘to stand’ in order to address

assemblies (maqāmat). Thus, the darwish narrator is not so much an author as a receiver and relayer of the stories of others (which is how Mahfouz also positions the writer). As various members of the community present their stories, we become witness to how Lebanese society has been disgracefully ravaged by civil war. This social reckoning is akin to the satirical dimension of the maqāma, but with a significant difference. While in Khaled Al Khamissi’s Taxi, the stories of the taxi drivers offer a scathing, outraged and often funny exposure of the state of the Egyptian nation, in White Masks this kind of insouciant and confrontational approach is impossible in that it can be said that the comic and satirical dimensions of the māqama are necessarily muted in the context of traumatic civil warfare. The māqama cannot function quite as it should due to what war makes unsayable where the unsayable also makes for war. Whereas Jeffrey Sacks argues that the novels of Arab writers are marked by the loss of the māqama tradition, implicitly as the capitalist loss of communal societies (Sacks 2007, 47–8), Khoury’s novel does not mark the leaving behind of the māqama in a world subject to capitalist globalization but how civil war presents the urgent challenge of retrieving and reconvening a sense of the collective, thus not relegating the maqāma to literary history. Dalia Mostafa claims that Khoury and other Lebanese writers ‘insist on bringing back to memory the traumatic experiences of the civil war’, and writes that in his study al-Dhākirah al-Mafqūdah [The Lost Memory], Khoury himself states that his fiction is intended to eradicate amnesia. He observes that the Lebanese civil war was the experience of losing or eradicating memory. […] For example, in his article ‘Death of the Author’ [Mawt al-Mu’allif], Khoury goes on to argue that memory resembles a broken mirror, which reflects a fragmented and shattered reality. (Mostafa 2009, 215) Khoury’s maqāma The Journey of Little Gandhi (Rihlat Ghandi al-saghir) has as its epigraph the following from the Sufi philosopher Ibn ‘Arabi: ‘A face is only one, yet when it is seen in many mirrors, multiplies itself’ (Khoury 1994). Sonja Mejcher-Atassi argues while Ibn ‘Arabi’s meaning is religious, with saints reflecting the divine unity beyond them, Khoury transfers this to ‘the secular realm unmasking the idea of unity as an ideological construct to negate the existing plurality’ (Mejcher-Atassi 2012, 167). This is in accordance with the view of Khoury as postmodern. However, it may be argued that Ibn ‘Arabi’s statement can be accommodated in both spiritual and secular ways. You can say that the divine unity of being has many (metaphoric or metonymic) reflections or that the divine is reflected in each being, and you can also say that humanity is one while humans constitute many different instances of this humanity in common. You could see it holistically: the individual human within a wider circle of all humanity within a wider circle of the sacred. This is other to the Western version that is diachronic: the sacred (expressed in oral poetry) surpassed by the social (social realism) surpassed by the self-focused individual (modernism onwards), l ike a narrowing funnel. Actually, the structure of the maqāma is itself cyclical and not linear, each story as a fragment of the wider story the smaller stories co-construct. While Khoury maintains he is not religious while valuing religious texts and spirituality

(Khoury 2018), his focus is on the sacredness of human life regardless of whether this is supported by a wider religious sense of the sacred or not. Although he is concerned with the shared destiny of the community (the maqāma orientation), the fact that civil war shatters the collective horizon means that the world in fragments may no longer reflect anything (no whole, no face). Thus, Khoury’s works do have aspects of the Western Absurd tradition (Beckett, Kafka, Camus) in terms of forms of alienation. However, this is not in the existential sense of man-all-alone but specifically with respect to the particular sociohistorical context of how, as Khoury observes, ‘With the civil war language became meaningless’ (Khoury 2019). So, my starting point for a reading of White Masks (Khoury [1981] 2013) is that it is a maqāma that has to contend with the conditions of the maqāma having broken down. The first story of the cycle is that of the deceased’s wife, Noha. From her we learn how their son Ahmad, a successful young boxer, joined up to fight with the Lebanese Armed forces, seemingly out of a sense of idealistic duty although we are told he returns from his training ‘rifle slung over his shoulder, all puffed up with pride’ (19). Thus, he fights out of a certain conflation of manliness with militancy. Although his father Khalil is initially dismissive of political involvement since he regards the militia as the pawns of foreign powers, he reconciles himself to his son’s conscription especially when Ahmad starts bringing home money and war trifles such as rings and bracelets. In this way, within a few pages we are warned that the war endeavour is not exactly noble. Noha goes on to relate how Ahmad is killed and proclaimed a martyr. While she and Khalil sincerely grieve for him, Khalil finds consolation in ‘the posters plastered all over the walls in the neighbourhood’ (21) carrying the inscription ‘Ahmad Khalil Jaber, Hero and Martyr’. Noha finds consolation in the martyr’s stipend they receive that she insists is ‘not dirty money’ but ‘our due’. Although their grief may be sincere, there is something disturbing about how the proponents of war buy off qualms over the sacrifice of human lives through offering celebrity and money. Also problematic is the complicity of Ahmad’s parents who go along with what they are offered as compensation for their son’s death. After three years go by, we learn that Khalil is distressed to find that Ahmad’s martyr posters, damaged by the weather, cannot be reprinted, things having moved on for the orchestrators of the conflict. Subsequently, all of a sudden, Khalil has some kind of breakdown that initially takes the form of him locking himself in his room and refusing to eat. The neighbours start to gossip about his breakdown and a spirit medium turns up to say that Khalil has been possessed by djins and that they have to acquire a cat, presumably so that the djins can jump from Khalil into the cat. The main concern of the spirit medium is the hundred liras she requests to purchase a suitable cat. That is, she is exploiting Khalil’s breakdown. The cat then acquired seems sickly and dies while Khalil goes on to develop an obsession with erasing his son’s posters and the news reports of his death as well as with painting over family photos. Later on, from other stories in the volume, we learn that Khalil also takes to the streets to take down martyr posters and whitewash walls. One reading (possibly the prevalent one) of the above is that Khalil, unable to cope with the

death of his son, undoes his memorialization thus refusing a due mourning process, this symbolically standing for Lebanon’s amnesiac erasure of the war. However, I think this evident reading, while not necessarily wrong, is insufficient in the light of other details that emerge both in the opening story and across all the testimonies. Khoury’s statements on literature addressing amnesia (as referred to previously) encourage such readings of his work but I think White Masks gives the ‘amnesia diagnosis’ another turn of the screw. When Ahmad is killed, we are told that although Khalil remains himself, his hair went white overnight. Thus, whiteness is associated with not just the whitewashing of sorrow but conversely with deep grief. We are also told that the cat, while initially black, starts to turn white. If Khalil is possessed, it concerns this white grief that the cat becomes a vehicle for too (given its voodoo role). When the cat dies, it is dumped on a rubbish tip. This parallels the fact that when Khalil’s tortured corpse is found, it is on a rubbish tip. We are told that the cat dies without having been given a name. When Khalil is undergoing his breakdown, Noha observes, ‘he seemed totally absent … his face … that’s not a face’ (33). That is, Khalil is not simply someone who erases the dead, he is himself in the place of the erased faces. This is made clear at the end of his wife Noha’s account when she states: After he died, I threw everything away. I scrubbed the room, with soap and water and had it whitewashed. But it still smells, and that frightens me. No, I don’t go in now. You can go in if you like, but I won’t. (42) Through this, we are invited to consider that Khalil represents what the community cannot bear to confront of itself. What exactly? For a start, that it stinks. The smell, referred to across the novel, is initially the smell of the cat (of the animal body perhaps), while the smell also becomes that of blood and the decomposition of corpses. It is a society that reeks of death. Moreover, what the society cannot confront of itself is its own breakdown. While Noha and others conceive of Khalil’s breakdown as an embarrassment that alternatively attracts ‘prying eyes’ and averts the gaze of those who don’t want to know, his crazed state is the insanity they suffer from in spite of their disavowals of the fact. While Khalil is the one supposed to be guilty of disavowal (the initial reading), he is beyond this the disavowed. The second story in the book, delivered by Ali Kalakesh, an architect and social activist, develops the theme of the putrid corruption and madness of the society as a whole. It begins: What is happening to us is very strange. … One wonders if it is the result of unexplained mental disorders. … No one is able to control all the crime. … It has grown into an epidemic, a plague devouring us from within. … I suppose that is what is meant by social fragmentation in civil conflicts. (43, ellipses in text) Ali gives us one account of the criminality of the society throug h relaying the story of three youths who set out to rob an elderly Armenian doctor whom they end up killing, one of them also raping and killing his sixty-five-year-old wife. Ali presents himself as a man who cares about the state of society and the people around him but when he finds Khalil Jaber hanging around his neighbourhood like a tramp and urinating in public, he shows no sympathy. He

shouts at him: ‘“Why do you rip the posters from the wall? Is it your job? You are nothing but a pervert, aren’t you?”’ (70) He also reports Khalil to Comrade Ayyash who alerts the neighbourhood police. When Khalil is murdered, Ali’s reaction is contrite where he says rather irrationally: ‘I didn’t know he was the Khalil Ahmad who would be murdered and whose picture would be in all the papers. I swear, had I known, I would have taken him in’ (72). What is hypocritical about this is that Ali’s ostracism and reporting of Khalil may have actually caused Khalil’s demise, while certainly contributing to it. When Ali first sets eyes on Khalil he says, ‘I don’t think he said anything to me, it was just his mouth quivering’ (57). This callous phrase, ‘just his mouth quivering’, is followed by, ‘Climbing up the stairs to the apartment, I didn’t give him another thought’. So, he turns a blind eye to someone who is evidently suffering and, for all his self-image of a man concerned with the state of society, he is unwilling to assume responsibility of any kind. The last words of his narrative add to this perception of a ‘shrugging off’ attitude, as Ali says: ‘What can we do? It was God’s will!’ (72) Fatima, the next speaker to address us, is the servant of a rich family and married to Mahmud, mother of seven children. When the war breaks out they are forced out of the Christian suburb of Achrafiyyeh and forced to become the guards of a property of the rich family who flee to Europe for refuge. Mahmoud befriends one of the fighters, a blond student who tells him, ‘We are fighting for the revolution, for the sake of change … for the sake of the poor … for people like you who have nothing’ (90). Mahmud observes, ‘“But why are you hell bent on dying? If you just went home and they did the same, there wouldn’t be any war”’ (90). Mahmud later witnesses the blond youth being gunned down by a sniper. We are given to envisage him dying with ‘blood spurting everywhere’, and this description recalls an earlier description of the slaughter of a ceremonial sheep ‘when the blood spurted out and spattered everything’ (87). The way the blond youth is described also recalls the earlier description of Ahmad, Khalil’s martyr son since the youth also has ‘an assault rifle dangling off his left shoulder’ (89) while his dead supine body is said to be ‘almost shrivelled now, khaki trousers shrunken’ (91). The deaths of the martyrs are not depicted in terms of heroic masculinity but in terms of pathetic and pitiful diminishment, nonetheless seen tenderly. Unlike Ali, Fatimah is someone who interacts with Khalil on a human level. She cooks food for him and she listens to his account of himself, garbled as it is while we understand Khalil has come to identify himself with his son since he speaks of himself as the boxer his son was. As this self-imagined boxer champion, he tells Fatimah he no longer likes to appear on TV because it is suffocating being kept within the confines of the box frame of the TV. The fact that he seeks to step out of framework that makes him appear as if he were a heroic fighter seems telling, while it resonates with a vision of Fatimah’s when she sees the Virgin Mary (whose maternal spirit she values) step out of the portrait frame. (This further resonates with the emptying of leader portraits discussed in the previous chapter.) Khalil-as-Ahmad erases the space between himself and the dead and in doing so challenges the ways in which martyrs are represented by the culture. Fatimah notices that he tears down not just martyr posters but also the adjoining posters of advertisements. The implication is that the martyrs

are indeed the poster boys glorifying or advertising war when their actual deaths are like the slaughter of ceremonial sheep. Khalil speaks to Fatimah of how he dreams of white sheets. This is how his yearning is conveyed: ‘First the bed has to be painted white, then we put a white sheet on it, cover ourselves with a white bedspread, and go to sleep. We must pull the covers right up over our eyes, so that all we can see are tiny white speckles of light.’ He tells her he is going to buy a sheet and sleep in it with Ahmad by his side. (98) The way that I read this strangely moving passage is that the martyr is freed from the frame of representation and thus does not appear as an object of the gaze like a figure on a TV screen or poster. The martyr, under the white sheet like a shroud, cannot see. Even so, he ‘sees’ through the gauze of the sheet not a visible world but atoms of light. Removed from visibility, separated from the objective world he yet rests in a subjective state of awareness alongside those who love him. The title of Khoury’s novel in English is translated as White Masks, but the Arabic AlWujūh al-bayḍā’ more literally translates as ‘The White Faces’. The white faces are, I think, the faces of the dead, all the dead (the actual dead as opposed to their images). In Khalil’s vision, the dead are white faces and white hands in a white world on the other side of the sheet or the dividing line between the phenomenal world and wherever the dead are. They may be invisible spirits or white souls, perhaps, or the white of the erased face behind the fragments, depending on whether you are a believer or an atheist. The next story concerns Zayn ‘Alloul, the rubbish collector who discovers Khalil’s corpse. Through Zayn we receive stories of bullies and heroes and of how sadism and corruption has become routine. This chapter adds to the sense of the breakdown of Lebanese society – a society that cannot confront itself – as it casually victimizes a man for openly having a breakdown. In the next story we meet Fahd Badreddin, a character whose narrative has a bearing on Khoury’s own story. That is, Fahd, like Khoury, joins the Lebanese Joint Forces (a left-wing alliance) to fight against the Phalangist forces, and like Khoury he experiences a blast that damages his eyesight. Despite his commitment, we learn that Fahd is sceptical of the value of martyrdom. He speaks of an incident on snowy mountain slopes where a skirmish leaves a comrade of his severely injured. In order to get help, he has to leave his comrade in the snow but he promises his friend that he’ll return, that he won’t be abandoned. However, when he re-joins his unit he is told that it is too dangerous to rescue the fallen comrade in the snow because it is enemy territory. First Lieutenant Omar declares, ‘He’ll be a martyr to our cause’; ‘He’ll become a war hero and live forever in the glory of martyrdom’ (179). Before Fahd leaves his friend in the snow, he observes, ‘His face was the colour of chalk, white as the snow’ (177). This is the actual face of the dying man, drained of blood, a white face in the white snow. Although it is the reality, it will n ot be shown on a poster. Khalil’s effaced white faces seem closer to the truth than the glorified images of the dead.

When Fahd suffers the blast that injures him, he feels as if he had died. He then hears the voice of a woman as if through cotton wool (as if through a white sheet) and he is transported to a hospital in France where he has to lie with his eyes bandaged (eyes under a white sheet). Although he has lost one of his eyes the other recovers and is dressed with white gauze. This episode serves to re-inflect Khalil’s vision of lying under white sheets with his martyr son (telepathically or as if Khalil is imaginatively connected to the experiences of others). If your eyes were bandaged with white gauze, you not knowing if you could see again, perhaps you’d try to open your eyes, and maybe, like Khalil in his dream vision you would see pinpricks of light through the gauze. These pinpricks of light would therefore be a sign of hope for a future recovery. When Fahd returns from the French hospital to Beirut, he takes off his dark glasses and ‘the city glistened white’. The glistening light is also associated with the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, as follows: Lying in bed and picturing my mother’s face, I saw it crumple as she embraced me. Like the streets of Jerusalem, old Jerusalem, with its warren of narrow alleys and painted crucifixes everywhere, its processions of bishops and clergy, and the Holy Sepulcher glows with light […] in my mind’s eye I could see that light. (161) The face of his mother thus dissolves into a redemptive white light, say, white face, both visible yet invisible. It is a little like Fatimah’s vision of the Virgin Mary stepping out of her frame, escaping the way she has been framed. While there are glimmers of hope that are blindly sensed on the other side of the bandages of war, a hope for a city of mercy and peace at least (associated with the feminine in a context of considerable masculine violence), Fahd yet finds himself back among new recruits strutting about with their guns and he notes, ‘They don’t know what it means to die, how terrible it is. They talk about it as if it were something beautiful. But death is terrible’ (169). So, it is they who are the truly blindfolded. Fahd also finds himself approached by a couple of trendy Lebanese film-makers who want to make a film of his war experiences, and he is given the following script to read out (though I offer a briefer version): My name is Mohammad as-Sayyed. … We are fighting to preserve the independence and unity of an Arab Lebanon, for the liberation of Palestine, and against the forces of imperialism, Zionism, Fascism. … Many of my friends have died. I held them in my arms as they breathed their last with the chant of freedom on their lips. (170) This is White Masks at its most satirical for this is a bogus testimony, belonging to the mere ‘discourses of authenticity’ examined in the second chapter. Fahd is of course not this Mohammad, and he abandoned his comrade to die a lonely death in the snow along with many unburied corpses. Because his rendition of the fake script is said to be ‘wooden’ by the director, he is told to inject his performance with emotion, though it is staged emotion: ‘You have to do a little acting’ (171). It is the script of course that is wooden, being just empty clichés, relying on the conscript/actor to animate it. This enables us to see that soldiers or

freedom fighters are also obliged to animate or give their lives to carbon copy cut out roles, performing the scripts given to them, instrumentalizing themselves for a cause. Khoury reveals the performative logic of war as its blindness. Fahd breaks with the film project when he is told that the film-makers want to film his glass eye. He refuses to be made a spectacle of, framed in that way, as would amount to the sensationalizing of his suffering and the turning of him into a kind of anthropological object deprived of his dignity. One of the film-makers, a woman called Samar, tries to persuade Fahd of the lofty importance of her documentary that will publicize the crimes of the enemy. He points out that the Palestinian and pro-Palestinian fighters are also guilty of atrocities. While Samar is only concerned with the Tall al-Zaatar massacre in which Christians killed Muslims, there were also massacres of Christians such as the Damour massacre. Samar, however, believes that only one side can possess the truth and argues that the ‘truth must serve the revolution’. Fahd counters that ‘“the truth must serve the truth”’ (180). The filmmakers are guilty of instrumentalizing those they purport to care about in that they want to only give themselves a revolutionary image through banal tropes of leftist fashions. Coming back to the question of martyr posters, are they too part of the performative script of militant ideology? The novel controversially serves to pose that question. Do the portraits airbrush or whitewash the actual suffering? Can the pictures of proud young men in their khakis convey the stench of human blood and of rotting, unburied bodies? What is the relationship between the picture of the martyr and those who are slaughtered or maimed or driven mad by the fighting? Obviously Khoury believes that the dead should be remembered. The question is rather one of how they should be remembered. From Fahd we learn that the Joint Forces, particularly under the auspices of a legendary freedom fighter for whom his memories of torture are but a ‘film of white gauze’ (201), bring Khalil in for interrogation for his crime of defacing martyr portraits representing ‘our heroes’ and ‘precious’ pictures to their relatives (206). It is a sensitive question in that the proud images do console the mourners, but the problem is that this is what enables the war to carry on and on. Since Fatimah was beaten up during her interrogation in connection with Khalil, it is possible that the torture wounds inflicted on him are through this interrogation in turn, although nothing is proven. The irony of the arc of the novel is that once Khalil’s corpse is discovered, Abu Jassem proclaims him a martyr, saying ‘Khalil Ahmad Jaber sacrificed his life for the revolution’ (233). Is it rather that the militants sacrificed his life to dismiss his subversive acts and preserve the image of the revolution and out of compensatory guilt over his brutal murder make him a martyr? Khalil is finally deemed to merit even bigger posters than his son Ahmad, and ironically warrants the biggest marble tombstone in the Martyr’s cemetery (235). White Masks was initially banned by the PLO. However, its target is really fratricidal Lebanon. What is at stake is not merely mourning the dead but how the Lebanese cannot confront their own guilt over the loss of lives, especially their complicity in the sacrifice of ‘their own folk’. A major motif of the book is how individual characters feel abandoned by

those around them, their nearest and dearest, or how they feel haunted by those they have failed. Character after character testifies to how alone they feel. When Ali speaks of ‘a plague that is devouring us from within’ (43) this can be defined as the total breakdown of trust in the society and in sociality. Religious and political groups feel unable to trust each other. Then within neighbourhoods, neighbours start distrusting each other. Trust breaks down within families; husbands and wives cheat on each other or fail to support each other, parents fail their children, children abuse their parents. Comrades desert each other on the battlefield. More than this, people then start not being able to trust even themselves. When the youth rapes the elderly Armenian woman, he does not know why he does this, he just does it; he can no longer trust his own behaviour. Not being able to trust others seems to take away your own capacity to be trustworthy. The narrator of White Masks doubts his own trustworthiness in his ‘Provisional Epilogue’, not exempting himself (perhaps because self-exemption often equates with disavowal in the book). I do not think this can be seen as postmodernist game-play around an unreliable narrator but needs to be seen in the context of the very real concerns of the novel over serious historical conditions. The epilogue begins with the statement: ‘This is no fairy tale.’ The narrator goes on to say that he cannot reveal the murderer or murderers of Khalil for basically two reasons. One is that nobody knows the truth. The other is because, as the narrator has known all along (whereby his self-election as a detective is itself a pretence) a cover-up has to be maintained: ‘Had they known, they would not have told me, and had they told me I would not have divulged anything’ (239). Regarding the first position of no one knowing the full story, it can be seen as indicative of how a great many disappearances and deaths that occurred during the Lebanese civil war remain shrouded in mystery. Regarding the second position, it is that people know what happened but secretively so. (It is like the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in that people know who did it but they are too scared to say so openly.) In the broken society of White Masks, it is the community as a whole who are responsible for the ostracism and killing of Khalil as they refuse any responsibility for what he goes through. More generally, civil war is a kind of negative dependent co-arising in the collective abrogation of responsibility, in effect, a collective refusal of the collective spirit. In a way, this (refused) collective spirit is what Khalil comes to stand for in the manner of an inversion. In terms of the society around him, he is to be scapegoated as the one who fails to uphold the social spirit of proper memorialization. Yet, in actuality, others project their own failures of fellow feeling onto him while what accrues around him is a latent yet real (as opposed to ideologically conditioned) sympathy for the white faces of the dead (be they white souls or merely erased beings). As traced, the novel establishes almost telepathic connections between certain of its characters, Khalil, Fatima, Fahd, indicative of an underground sensibility of those intuitively synchronized with each other through the empathetic imagination in touch with the truth. At the same time, in spite of the disavowed realities, the novel does suggest a particular chain of responsibility for Khalil’s death: he is shunned by the neighbours, he takes to the

streets, he is reported to a local militia and he is hauled in for an interrogation that descends into the torture that leads to his death. In that no one can say the obvious, what ought to be a community of the bereaved becomes a community of the concealers, thus they are the ‘white masks’. The translated title has a point. What Khoury writes of in White Masks has a universal dimension. For instance, during the Iraq War, many British soldiers were killed and photos of them, looking proud in their uniforms, were displayed in newspapers extolling the nobility and bravery of the war heroes. Never mind that the Iraq War was hardly a noble cause but generated by the paranoia of Israel with the complicity of America and the UK, an American president looking for scapegoats and a British prime minister with a narcissistic saviour complex. Never mind the accounts of the soldiers who spoke of being forced to carry out atrocities and who, if they survived, returned broken in body and/or mind. Never mind how war veterans spoke of their abandonment on their return to their societies, thousands of them committing suicide. As said in White Masks, the truth is for the truth. Before going on to discuss the martyr art of Mohammed Mahmoud Street in Cairo, I wish to relate a personal encounter with the martyr posters of Hizbullah in Lebanon when I first was taken on a visit to the Beirut suburb of Haret Hreik. When we entered the suburb, it felt like entering another country, so different was it to the suburbs of Beirut that I had been in (Hamra, Ashraffiyeh, Mar Mikhail). In particular, as we turned into a highway there were all these martyr posters, huge and hoisted high on poles paced at regular intervals, one after the other. It was an awe-provoking sight but also a somewhat eerie one, in an other-worldly, slightly uncanny way. Partly, it was like crossing over into the land of the dead, as if you could enter a deathscape. And yet, at the same time, the scene looked like a procession of men, mainly young with bright expressions, just setting off to war, dutifully offering to serve the cause. In 2000 Elias Khoury collaborated with theatre artist Rabih Mroué on a performance project entitled Three Posters that revolves a martyrdom video by Jamal al-Sati, versions of which were discovered in the archives, one selected to be re-shown to prompt a discussion around suicide videos and martyr posters. The project consists of three parts: Mroué’s actor impersonation of a fighter, the film of al-Sati and a filmed interview with Atallah, an important figure in the Lebanese Communist Party that set up the original mission. In the video, the production values are not high and al-Sati’s rendition of his script is faltering. While Western audiences thought they were being asked to view ‘a terrorist’ of our times (the show leaving the West for this reason), beyond this conditioned response the video actually serves to play on the sympathies of the viewers because its inability to establish a slick professional façade is what makes us see al-Sati as an ordinary human being who has stumbled into a role he is ill-suited for, a party set up maybe. The heroic martyr façade crumbles and we see the fallible human being whom we can relate to. Some audiences apparently found Mroué’s theatrical performance made him a more convincing ‘terrorist’ than al-Sati, this showing up that being a ‘terrorist’ is but a convincing performance, deadly as it is. That is, on the one hand, a terrorist is a human being, and, on the other hand, a

terrorist is the political performer or actor of a role. In a later project entitled The Inhabitants of Images (2009), Mroué explores the digital manipulation used in Hizbullah’s photoshopped images of the dead. The Tate website comments: ‘Like Three Posters, The Inhabitants of Images is pre-occupied with the reanimation of the dead in a culture that links pre-modern cult rituals with the most advanced forms of image production. […] In the digi tal afterlife the faces of the dead are cloned ceaselessly across media’ (Elias 2015). What Mroué reveals is the way that the series of Hezbollah martyr posters is produced, that is, through grafting of the head of each martyr on to the same generic body, and he accordingly points out that there is a parallel between these digitally decapitated heads and the foundational martyrdom of the Shia religion, that of ‘Ali’s beheading in the battle of Karbala. The Inhabitants of Images intriguingly recalls a scene in Khoury’s White Masks when Khalil tries to cut and paste family photos, although I believe Khoury imagines this scene before photoshopped martyr images started to be produced. Khoury writes: ‘He painted the face over in white and then cut off the head with scissors. Then he gathered up the severed white heads, shuffled them, and combined each head with one of the decapitated bodies’ (38– 9). The ostensible reason Khalil does this is that these decapitated figures represent guilt over the disappearance and murder of one of his colleagues. The images vaguely function like voodoo dolls as suggests the logic of a figure that stands in for another. As argued previously, White Masks presents Khalil as a scapegoat figure who is subsequently, after his sacrifice, raised up and turned into a glorious martyr. This is a particular dynamic of martyrdom that of course repeats itself. In Totem and Taboo, Freud (2001c) speaks of how a mythic hoard of brothers rise up against their father and kill him only to feel guilt over their act and thus later raise him up as a ritual or totemic object of veneration. Hamid Dabashi in Shi’ism: A Religion of Protest (2011) discusses Freud’s Totem and Taboo in relation to the martyrdom that establishes the Shia religion. However, his significant insight is that whereas in Totem and Taboo it is the father figure who is sacrificed and mourned, with the Shia religion it is the son figure that comes to establish a permanent role of revolutionary defiance. This serves to bring out a parallel between the Shia religion and the Christian one, with Christ as a martyred revolutionary son. In ‘The Repressed Event of (Shi’i) Islam’, Farshid Kazemi (2019) puts forward a very striking argument, noting the relevance of Dabashi’s arguments for a study of Iranian myths in terms of a reverse Oedipus complex centred on the killing or sacrifice of sons (as opposed to father-killing), as also explored by Iranian psychoanalyst Mahmud Sana’i. In response to this Kazemi raises the question of the place of the revolutionary female and quotes the following from an unpublished paper by Mahdi Tourage: ‘The male remains the agent of history through whom the originary sentiment of collective guilt gives rise to communal possibilities of defiance. […] Men may defiantly sacrifice themselves in protest; women must sacrifice themselves in obedience to men’ (76–7). Kazemi goes on to consider ‘the revolutionary Iranian Babi female poet, mystic and philosopher, and martyr Fatima Zarrin Taj

Baraghani (d. 1852), famously known as Ṭāhirih (the pure) Qurrat al-‘Ayn (solace of the eyes), who enacted one of the most radical acts in the history of Iranian Shi’ism through the removal of her veil during a conference of Babi notables’ (77). Kazemi argues that what is shocking about her act is not so much the sight of the unveiled Qurrat al-‘Ayn. Rather the taboo concerns the ‘unveiling of her voice and speech’ (79), as resulted in her being put to death. It is said that Qurrat al-‘Ayn spoke poetically and fervently in the language of the Qur’an, ending her speech with the words: ‘I am the blast of the trumpet. I am the call of the bugle’ (80). The implication of the female revolutionary act is that it disrupts a history of father–son martyrdom. That is, while the father-martyr is set up as a god or idol, and is then usurped by revolutionary sons, these sons stand to become worshipped idols in turn. The danger with confronting this structure is that the woman-martyr might herself usurp the place of the idol. The feminine revolutionary position is that freedom of spirit cannot be colonized by anyone: the possessive act of claiming it is always its ruin. Equally, the divine cannot be made the property of any dynastic cult. The outcome of the Babi movement was the founding of the Baha’i Faith that upholds the universality of humanity and strives for the ending of religious divisions. However, the religion is not free from cultish aspects in following Baha’u’llah who proclaimed himself to be the messiah prophesied by Babi. Coming back to Kazemi’s argument, what is most striking about it is that he suggests that ‘the point of trauma in the historical unfolding of religion lies more at their end than in their beginning, at the point of the traumatic emergence of the new’ (82). Thus, the trauma for Judaism is the displacement of patriarchal religion by the son religion of Christianity while what is traumatic for Christianity is the advent of Islam. Islam does not regard Christ as God and nor does it posit God as a father. It is as if religions are set up to deny a trauma that eventually re-surfaces, such as non-ownership of the divine. Regarding Hizbullah, broadly speaking, it has enjoyed a reputation for its brave revolutionary credentials especially in its defiance of Israeli militancy, although the party lost credibility in its support for Assad. Dina Matar writes of Hassan Nasrallah that his support for the Syrian regime in the context of its brutality ‘served to dent his image as a “genuine” charismatic leader who reiterates and speaks to his people’s concerns’ (Matar 2014, 180). She also notes that whereas Nasrallah previously stressed Hizbullah’s status as a non-sectarian Lebanese national party, he has since invoked his Shiite lineage with reference to its most significant religious figure, Nasrallah claiming: ‘We are the Shiites of ‘Ali bin Talib who will not give up Palestine’ (180). Thus, what emerges is less of a revolutionary break with the past than a commitment to a heritage of martyrdom. The topographical experience of seeing the Hizbullah posters in Southern Beirut, mentioned previously, was one of seeing exactly a procession where the martyrs were represented as coming one after the other without any lateral or side-by-side simultaneity. There was only a diachronic axis with no synchronic or horizontal axis. At the same time, as you drive past the martyrs, moving forwards, they flow instead in the opposite direction, like an endless recession into the past, each martyr following the martyr before him back to the

original martyr. This is not unlike a dramatization of what Freud calls the death drive, defined by him as the compulsion to repeat an earlier trauma in the desire to return to an earlier state of things. Freud calls the earlier state of things ‘original death’ (Freud 2001b, 38), but more accurately it would be what precedes the first martyrdom. This could be a state before the division of Islam into sects or considered otherwise in terms of a condition before the severing of the lifeline. I will later return to what it means to consider trauma in this light. Presumably the political message of Hizbullah posters is that they have an endless supply of young men lined up willing to sacrifice themselves for the eternalization of the group. While the actual experience of the fighters may be different from this (say, involving camaraderie in the present), the problem is with the ideological representation of martyrdom. It’s like the right-wing community in Rhodesians saying ‘Rhodesians Never Die’ or the ‘Thousand Year Reich’ in Germany. What becomes sacred is but the temporal endurance of the party in that the question of the immortality of the soul can hardly be determined by an organization or a dynastic club. The epigraph to White Masks relays Al-Absheehi’s account of the confession from the skull of a Yemeni warlord to Christ as follows: ‘I lived one thousand years, sired one thousand offspring, deflowered one thousand virgins, defeated one thousand armies, and conquered one thousand cities! But all of this was like a dream, and he who hears my tale not be deceived by the world.’ The account ends: ‘And Jesus, peace be upon him, did so passionately weep that he fainted.’

Martyr art of the Egyptian revolution Turning now to the Egyptian revolution, it is noteworthy that Alaa Abdelfatah (quoted at the outset of this chapter) stresses that the reality of the martyrs needs to be distinguished from stories, symbols and performances. In Lacanian terms, the martyrs are aligned with the real and not with the symbolic or the imaginary orders of representation. In this respect, the martyrs do not die for a cause that transcends them. They do not die for a symbol, or totem, for a religious brand, for the nation state, for a political party, even for the fantasy of a putative better society in the future. In the Egyptian revolutionary context, the martyr is rather one whose life should not have been sacrificed in abiding by the true and the real. Here, it is the sacrifice of human lives, the unwanted abandonment of fellow human beings to a sacrificial fate that constitutes a violation of the sacred. Of course, there is more than one reading of martyrdom in the context of the Arab Spring, as reflected in the essay collection The Afterlife of the Arab Spring (Mittermaia 2018). My particular interest is in how the Arab Spring may have retrieved a meaning of martyrdom that runs counter to its ‘death drive’ orientation, or the compulsion to sacrifice lives for an original cause, even inaugurating the originating cause and a chain of causality that implies dynastic replication, a regime (rule) and its regiment. With the orientation established thus far, what will be now explored is the difference between the martyr posters considered in the Lebanese context of civil war and the mural art of the martyrs of the Egyptian revolution. For the purpose of clarification, I will use the term martyr murals as distinct from the martyr posters already discussed. In an earlier article on

the murals, I argue: ‘Revolution is an overturning, and what was over-turned may have been the desacralization of human lives by neoliberal capitalism and the police state’ (Rooney 2017, 43). What the martyr murals in Mohamed Mahmoud Street accordingly showed was the sacredness of the individuals that had been killed. They acknowledge the value of the very lives lost as opposed to awarding symbolic capital for lives sacrificed. While the soldier posters bestow an aura of pride and bravery on their subjects, the martyr murals have a different kind of aura. Although the murals of Mohammed Mahmoud Street may be based on photographs, they are often individually painted and the hands-on dimension of the work reveals it to be produced with care in the emotional sense. There is a striking inter-subjectivity established between artist, mural subject and audience through the flow of affect. The artist views his subject with tenderness and compassion and what we see in the expression of the martyrs is also tenderness and compassion and this in turn engages the fellow feeling of the viewer. In the painting of Alaa Abdel-Hady, a medical student, his eyes, framed by his glasses (attracting our focus), look out us directly with a very sincere expression, seeking an open encounter, as he is depicted with a smile ready to break out (Figure 3). Or, in the painting of Omar Salah, a thirteen-year-old, sweet potato seller, we see a face lit up with youth and an expression that is sad, hopeful and beseeching, his eyes also engaging us directly, while an outline of white paint around him accords him a halo of light (Figure 4). The mural martyrs glow with a radiance that is both specific to them and not specific to them. On the one hand, this concerns the uniqueness of the life that has been lost, each irreplaceable being. On the other hand, it is a matter of the dignity that we confer on each other: the compassionate gaze of the artist reflected in the tender gaze of the martyr, to be reflected in turn by the sympathetic viewer.

Figure 3 Martyr portrait of Alaa Abdel-Hady, fifth-year medical student. Photograph: Caroline Rooney.

Figure 4 Martyr portrait of Omar Salah, thirteen-year-old sweet potato seller. Photograph: Caroline Rooney.

Between the martyr poster and the revolutionary mural, there are certain fine distinctions that make all the difference. In Mroué’s work, attention is drawn to how the posters serve as animations of the dead. It is as if what lives on is the image itself. With the murals, there is a different sense that its images are alive where this is because, as argued, they are painted soulfully in affirming the soulfulness of those who have died. I would now like to briefly consider the question of fetishism in relation to martyr art, firstly in capitalist terms and then in animist terms. Capitalism has to begin with a certain decapitation in that the head (capital) is severed from the body. This decapitated head (capital) is set up as the origin that is capable of cloning itself and the commodities it produces are not whole beings, entities, but things that resemble such like dolls or puppets. These non-beings are actually the mere images of bodies or bodies of images, and they are also headless, as in the mindless puppet controlled by strings. The fetishism at stake with these image-things is that they are considered to be alive. The copy or perfect likeness is treated as if it were ‘the real thing’. This kind of fetishism is ver y literal minded. I would add here that the structure of the army also presumes a kind of decapitation. Armies severe heads from bodies in that the head of the army gives orders that the soldiers obey like headless or effaced puppet-commodities. In this way, the body of the soldier is treated as a mechanical body, an instrument-body or automaton. Regarding animist fetishism, generally speaking, it is not that the image-thing is worshipped in and of itself. Rather, the fetish is a sign that is capable of mediating spirit beings or states of spirit. This is much closer to how art may be understood. Art is not just the production of representations, imaged likenesses. It conveys living states of consciousness.

For example, an artist may be affected by something around him and put his response into the artwork so that others receiving the artwork are affected in turn. Art conveys and relays states of awareness. I am arguing that art can act as a conduit of real life without usurping it through substituting the image for life. Thus, the consideration is that the mass-produced poster may be somewhat drawn into the commodity circuit of reproduction while the mural art work acts as a fetish-sign in the animist sense that I have outlined which is poetic and not literal. What is further relevant to this consideration is the distinction between the idol and the icon that is addressed in religious discourses. In brief, the idol constitutes that which appropriates worship for itself in place of the divine whereas the icon directs attention to the divine in serving as a pointer, a bridge, a signpost, that is, as an ostensive sign. The icon does not usurp the divine but points to it as an elsewhere. In his fascinating study, Between the Icon and the Idol: Human Person and the Modern State, Artur Mrówyczyński-Van Allen aligns the idol with the modern state and argues that Western totalitarianism may be understood to be a form of idolatry. He writes that the idol ‘directs the human gaze towards itself, and offers access to the divine without the necessity of donation, without distance. The idol is the deified self’ (Mrówyczyński-Van Allen 2013, 126). The terms ‘donation’ and ‘distance’ are crucial for the icon as opposed to idol. Mrówyczyński-Van Allen maintains that while Russian or Eastern totalitarianism resorted to the idol of the state, as in the German case, Russian intellectual culture, influenced by the Orthodox Church, continued to provide a home for ‘the theology of the icon’ as bound up with the search for the living truth. Drawing on the intellectual tradition, he explains that in Russian there are two words for the truth pravada and istina, the former concerning truth in the abstract sense and the latter concerning truth as a vital and experiential relationship where the recognition of the truth leads to the seeker becoming truthful and through this feeling alive (132). The icon concerns the sense of istina. Mrówyczyński-Van Allen also argues that Russian writers served to articulate the conscience of the nation, stating, ‘Before the altar of the idol that devours its own children, these figures were capable of donation, of offering their lives, and, in this way preserving the truth of their being’ (138). He also explains that the Marxist ideology of the revolution does not exactly coincide with the nature of its collective spirit. It seems that the Russian revolution had a soulful side as in my reading of the Egyptian revolution. Obviously, Marxism counters the fetishism of capitalism with atheist materialism, and does not dwell on how the collective involves a sense of the sacred. That said, I find that it is easier to align Marxist thought with a sense of the sacred than it is to align the religious humanism of the German philosophical tradition with such in that while Marx rejects the divinization of man he affirms the social bonds between people. For instance, he is against how ‘Feuerbach resolves the religious essence into the human essence’ while he goes on to state that there is no singular human essence in that ‘its reality is the ensemble of human relations’ (Marx and Engels 2014, 177). However, as a materialist he sees that what he calls ‘religious sentiment’ is merely an effect of the practice of social bonding rather than a question of the unity of being beyond this. In the case of those who are

religious the sense of the sacred in the social would point to and be dependent on the source of the sacred beyond this. In keeping with how the revolution returned the sacred to the people, the martyr murals appear as icons. Apart from the halo and radiance effects already discussed, some of the mural martyrs appear with the wings of angels. Angels are messengers and both the martyrs and the murals of them in turn serve as signposts towards a certain truthfulness upheld against the idolatry of the state. In the light of White Masks and its treatment of the painting over of martyr posters, one of the interesting things about the murals in Egypt both during the revolutionary period and after it is that they were frequently painted over. Sometimes this was by authorities, but it was also by the street artists themselves as they painted new phases of the revolution. This indicates that it is not the image as image that matters but what it conveys, namely, what it communicates between people, such as bonds that are not images but actual states of spirit as fluctuated at different moments of the revolution according to its structures of feeling. Revolutionary art is also that which is, in a way, unfinished in the sense of that which does not complete its production as a product that can be assigned to the past. This is because the revolution is unfinished. The constant re-drawing of the revolution signifies that it cannot be captured as such, and it cannot be freeze-framed. Its creativity, being of the real, is irreducible to its representations. Ammar Abo Bakr calls the walls of the murals ‘our newspaper’ (Boskovitch 2013). The walls functioned as a noticeboard for ostensive signposting and guidance. ‘You erase and we paint’ – a slogan of Abo Bakr and other arts activists – means in effect that while the officials can remove images they cannot take away the possibility of those images and other images being created afresh. It is not that the images themselves are permanent but that the ability and will to create and re-create them is unstoppable (without exterminating the entire community that gives rise to them). In addition, it is a case of how no amount of official whitewashing can erase the truths and realities that the images point to. With the standardized martyr posters there is a sense that one fighter may take over the place of and so stand in for another fighter. How does this compare with the Egyptian assertion of: ‘We are all Khaled Said’? In the former case, the logic is one of exchange value. Considering ‘We are all Khaled Said’ Amira Mittermaier suggests it can be read as: ‘We are all ordinary Egyptians and have been mistreated for too long. Or: we are already dead, have been killed by the state, over and over again. Or, alternatively: We are not afraid of death: we are willing to die if it will make a difference’ (Mittermaier 2018, 2). Khaled Said was brutally killed by the police allegedly for petty crime but possibly because he had material on drug deals by the police, and in my view the political message of aligning with him was a refusal of the state’s attempt to divide the population into wastrels that can be thrown away, on the one hand, and fearfully docile ‘good’ citizens, on the other hand. It is a matter of calling the bluff of the state in that if everyone aligns as an outcast in solidarity with the state’s outcasts, then the state is challenged to treat all of its citizens as outcasts, an absurd situation, or it is a case of granting that ostracism fails to work as such when everyone joins with the outcast,

refusing to allow the outcast status. It is not that revolutionaries act as substitutes for prior martyrs (taking their place), but that they add themselves to the martyrs in refusing to be divided from them. The logic is one of accretion and not substitution. The poetics of the revolution may accordingly also be seen as accretive. The art of the past was placed alongside the art of the present, for instance. The protesters in Tahrir Square crafted endless posters, sign-works, banners and so on that added to each other with no sense that these productions were in competition with each other or displaced each other. Rather, they supported and confirmed each other. Do the accretive logic and poetics of the revolution depend on understanding the role of the martyr in terms of a dynamic of witnessing as opposed to a dynamic of self-sacrifice? To witness can be to avow the undeniable, to testify, to confirm the truth of another and so on. Thus, firstly, the martyr is indeed on the side of the real. Secondly, what is at stake is the relaying of truths through chains of receptivity. Here, acknowledgement is accretive in that every act of witnessing requires a further witness who is capable of bearing witness in turn. In his article ‘The Ambivalence of Martyrs and the Counter-Revolution’, Walter Armbrust states: ‘The martyr inconveniently asks “who killed me?” And true revolutionaries also take up the case, also asking “who killed them”, in the hope they can beat the false patriots out of the fog’ (Armbrust 2013). What has to be kept going is not the suffering, obviously, but the acknowledgement of it in keeping with an ethics of accountability. Mosireen’s street film The Martyrs of the Egyptian Revolution (Mosireen Collective 2011) is a collage of the brutality inflicted on the people by the Egyptian army. With the film we witness the shooting of revolutionaries with live ammunition, seeing their blood gush onto the pavement. We are taken into the mortuary and hear the cries of the bereaved. We are shown both dead and injured bodies and the lack of human feelings on the part of the security forces. We see a policeman dispose of a dead body on a rubbish dump. Accompanying this footage is the soundtrack of a beautifully sung nashīd. While there is no whitewashing of how the matryrs died, the song has the same effect as the mural paintings in that it honours the souls of the martyrs who are not the bodily lumps of flesh and blood that the brutality of the army seeks to reduce them to. Both the film and the murals bear witness to the violence suffered by the people, protesting against what would reduce them to mere bodies, and they bear witness to the people as a community determined to stand with each other. In the film, a mother comments that every person in Tahrir is Ahmed, her martyred son. At this point I would like to engage with Dabashi’s arguments around suicidal martyrdom in Corpus Anarchicum, as a means of trying to refine the overall concerns of this chapter. Dabashi, in arguing against both the demonization and glorification of suicide bombers, persuasively encourages us to understand the phenomenon of suicidal martyrdom as symptomatic of how global capitalism as an amorphous entity shifts from territorial sovereignty to a biopolitics of the disposable body. He thus maintains that ‘suicidal violence is the last proclamation of the death of the state and its monopoly of physical force’ (Dabashi 2012b, 183). Considering the Orientalist dynamics of this, he further states: ‘The selfexplosion of the Muslim body is the final denial of the Western self its supreme Other. The

West became the West by looking at itself in the speculum of its Islamic Other’ (195). Thus, the destruction of the Other-body causes the crashing down of the self-privileging ideological structure. This seems to me to accord with what in this book I refer to as doppelgänger politics, as I will explain further. Using again the Jekyll-and-Hyde paradigm, the suicide bomber could be seen, in the light of Dabashi’s analysis, to be the Mr Hyde figure that refuses to be the unwanted side of Dr Jekyll. While Jekyll wants to be rid of Hyde (creating him to be the bearer of what he cannot bear of himself) it is also the case that Hyde, the lawless ‘terrorist’ or ‘anarchic body’, seeks to be rid of Jekyll who denies Hyde his freedom to be himself. First, what is illuminating about this doppelgänger paradigm in this instance is that Jekyll’s will to separate from Hyde conditions Hyde’s will to separate from Jekyll. What this means is that the suicidal dynamic at stake (one of severing the other) is in fact a mutual one. Moreover, the very reason that this is a suicidal dynamic is because neither Jekyll nor Hyde can survive the separation from each other in that they are effects of the same indivisible entity: if one kills the other they instantly kill themselves. Secondly, what is significant is that the whole Jekyll-and-Hyde structure entails a thoroughly phantasmatic duality, one that does not exist in reality, paradoxically brought about by the will-to-singularity of Jekyll. The violence is all too real, but what it derives from is a fantasy structure, as Dabashi indicates. If Jekyll is the West, then the disavowed self-loathing of the West creates a fantasy enemy to be the bearer of this, while the Muslim other steps into this structure of what may be termed negative interpellation, taking on the role of the terrorizing Hyde to be free of the projections only through suicide (self and other killed in one blow). Dabashi, in considering the suicide bomber as symptomatic of the West’s own crisis, sees this as the end of the Western Enlightenment, what for Foucault becomes the episteme of ‘man and his doubles’. Whereas the suicidal doppelgänger logic is one of separatist selfsacrifice, this displaces the revolutionary iconic emphasis on unity and donation: giving to others instead of sacrificing the self. While the dynamics of suicidal martyrdom entail mutual severance, the revolutionary situation inverts this structure into distanced co-belonging. Put another way, the double denies co-dependent arising (the revolutionary dynamics explained in the previous chapter) in favour of competing drives for singularity that thus preclude sharing a space in respectful acknowledgement of the place of others. Mittermaier’s co llection The Afterlife of the Arab Spring, as mentioned, offers a further and very helpful anthropological study of martyrdom taking various cultural and doctrinal differences into account. There are, though, a couple of assumptions raised by certain ‘in passing’ instances in the work that I would hesitate over. One concerns the question of distinguishing true martyrs from false ones or authentic martyrdom from inauthentic martyrdom. I wish to clarify that this is not my concern in discussing militant and revolutionary martyrdom. For me, the question is a matter of all those whose lives should not be sacrificed, and this can include not just protesters but those brutally victimized as petty criminals or those young men who are recruited and instrumentalized by the state or militant groups to violent political ends. I am proposing that the more useful distinction is between

manipulative and propagandist portrayals of martyrdom and those that aim for honesty and the truth or at least understanding. That is, instead of deciding who properly counts as a martyr the alternative emphasis is on how the martyr is represented. Second, both Amira Mittermaier and Daniel Gilman raise concerns over the depoliticization of martyrdom in the Egyptian context. In ‘The Martyr Pop Moment: Depoliticizing Martyrdom’, Gilman is concerned with how ‘security personnel’ come to be treated as martyrs alongside the revolutionary martyrs as promoted by the culture industry. He argues, ‘These martyr pop songs and videos focus on pity for the dead, rather than sympathy for the protestor’s demands … to glorify the martyrs of a revolution can deracinate and in fact depoliticize their martyrdom’ (Gilman 2018, 119). Mittermaier concludes her contribution to the debate by saying: ‘The focus on martyrs and their stories runs the risk of becoming depoliticizing by shifting the focus from political demands to revenge, from social and economic structures to individual biographies, from arguments to images’ (Mittermaier 2018, 18). The question of depoliticizing martyrdom is a difficult one. While I share Gilman’s concerns over commodification and Mittermaier’s over vengeance (even as politics, not just individuals, can be vengeful over self-image), I would hesitate over insisting on the politicization of martyrdom, as I think White Masks certainly calls into question. One problem is that in a secular world, the political seems to have acquired the status of the highest good. It is as if politics is entrusted with the messianic role of redemption, that is, of justifying the sacrifice of lives through the achieving of political goals where the politicization of martyrdom seems bound up with the valuation or devaluation of the martyr or the sacrifice of lives. Ahdaf Soueif writes of the Egyptian martyrs (with I think the murals in mind): Their smiling, hopeful faces are everywhere. Our shuhada: Our Martyrs of the Revolution, who walked in peace and died before they could live the lives they dreamed of. Their song becomes our anthem. … If we tire or our hope dims, our optimism for a moment falters, we open our hearts and they come to us: their bright faces, their hopes, their lives, their parents, their children. (Soueif 2012, 39) This resonates beautifully with considerations of the iconic. The images of the martyrs (whether glimpsed on walls or conjured up mentally) serve as beacons, as reminders of and guides towards what is most real and what truly matters. The iconic figure is thus ostensive, a sign of the sacred. Within Orthodox Christianity, as already touched on, the icon does not usurp the place of the sacred but directs the viewer’s attention to the sacred, like an angelic messenger. In the above, while Soueif writes in English, her use of the phrase ‘open our hearts’ resonates with the Arabic expression inshirāḥ, as discussed by Charles Hirschkind in his consideration of Islamic cassette sermons (Hirschkind 2006, 118). The icon, like the cassette sermon, opens the chest or the heart towards the spiritual or the ethical. Anna Mittermaier’s impressive and illuminating Dreams That Matter demonstrates that understandings of the imagination, and the psyche in Egypt often depend on living spiritual

traditions, especially Sufi ones. In The Afterlife of the Arab Spring, Mittermaier shares with us an email sent to her by ‘Amr, a young Egyptian activist, as follows: Our choice is never to live or die – for that and all else is in the hand of God. … The withering of our body may continue either way, the decaying of our flesh and the deterioration of our corpse, however our choice is one for the soul. We do not choose whether to live or die, only how we choose to live until we return to our Maker. (19) ‘Amr’s statement is notable for how it distinguishes between the inevitable mortality of the self and the ‘immortal soul’. This challenges the Western configuration of the double discussed previously, namely ‘the self’ and its abjectly refused ‘mortal side’. The earlier configuration of the double (self and immortal soul) features more widely in Arab literature. For instance, Radwa Ashour makes use of it in Specters (Ashour 2011), as studied by my student May Sahib who draws attention to how Ashour redeploys the ancient Egyptian notion of the ka, the soul that accompanies the self, a concept also found widely in animist cultures. In Ashour’s autofiction, her biographical persona is shadowed by her spirit-being, Shagar, who acts as an ethical guide of conscience, duty, resilience, empathy and so on. Khoury in his fiction also deploys be-doubled characters, speaking of this in terms of ‘the dual’ (Mechaï 2018), the tense in Arabic that is used for ‘you and I’ designations. It is a little similar to Buber’s ‘I/Thou’ ethics, although here it is more a case of self and alter ‘ego’ (other self). In White Masks, there are numerous other self-effects, as touched on earlier: Khalil and the cat, Khalil and his son, Khalil and Fatima, Khalil and Fahd, even the narrator and Khalil. In Broken Mirrors, the two main characters are each other’s alter egos, as Alice and little Gandhi are in Little Gandhi. I have also argued elsewhere that while Emile Habiby’s narrator in The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist is put forward as a flawed everyman self, he has yet a series of soul figures (ka figures) that inspire and guide him including the men from outer space and the noble Saeed (Rooney 2014). When I first started to work on martyr art, this was through a performance piec e by Laila Soliman, No Time for Art, at the ICA (2012) in which each member of the audience was requested to read out the name and manner of death of a martyr. My martyr, so to speak, was Ahmad Issam Fathi, shot in the chest aged fourteen. The effect this had on me is that I felt twinned with Ahmad (Rooney 2017). In Omar Robert Hamilton’s The City Always Wins, there is a haunting scene where the protagonist closely bears witness to the death of a woman doctor during the revolutionary uprisings, and this has a twinning effect too in that a bond is forged between the protagonist and the woman through his deeply empathetic act of witnessing (Hamilton 2017, 113–15). I will end this chapter with a consideration of war trauma in that this will serve to readdress the loss that trauma entails. While analyses of trauma concentrate on the functioning of memory (since the victim of trauma fails to process the wounding event or events as belonging to the past), I think more attention should be given to how trauma entails severing the lifelines between human beings, denying our inter-subjectivity. I began to suggest this in earlier work considering the trauma of civil war and siege in Beirut (Rooney 2013b), where I

found that trauma is closely linked to failures of witnessing such as imposed complicity in human suffering and the betrayal or abandonment of others. There is a sense in which trauma could be defined as the ruination of ṣumūd (comradeship, standing by each other, togetherness). In a Vanity Fair article that investigates the dramatic increase of PTSD among America war veterans, Sebastian Junger (who suffered war trauma due to his experiences in Afghanistan) writes: ‘Oddly, one of the most traumatic events for soldiers is witnessing harm to other people – even the enemy’, a finding based on a survey carried out after the first Gulf War. Junger, drawing on a 2013 analysis carried out in Medical Surveillance Monthly, also reports, ‘Unmanned-drone pilots … have been calculated as having the same PTSD rates as pilots who fly actual combat missions’ (Junger 2015). The trauma thus has to do less with experiences of actual danger to the self than with damage done to the soul, in situations where the act of bearing witness in terms of fellow feeling is not able to function as it should. Junger also comments, ‘Any discussion of PSTD and its associated sense of alienation in society must address the fact that many soldiers find themselves missing the war after it’s over.’ Junger’s point can be validated by Max Arthur’s archival projects on the experiences of soldiers during the Great War, based on the letters of and interviews with these soldiers. While many speak of the futility and horrors of war, what is repeatedly affirmed is the value of the comradeship war enables. For instance, Harry Patch states: ‘I don’t think it is possible to truly explain the bond that is forged between the soldiers and his fellow soldiers’ (Arthur 2003, 265). He indicates, though, that is a bond based on mutual reliance. Private Clifford Lane states: ‘There is that feeling of comradeship which can’t be understood by anybody unless they were actually in the front line in the War. It was the sort of trust between men that rarely occurs’ (108). Junger argues that soldiers are not able to put their war experiences behind them because these experiences are not only negative but entail a sense of togetherness that is missing from the civilian lives that they return to. If the trauma victim is trying to restore an earlier state of things, this is surely not the painful experience (as in the Freudian paradigm) but the state before the event that serves to sever the lifeline of fellowship, and this ‘original state’ is the lateral dimension of the sideby-side relations between living beings. However, this ‘original state’ is not ever in the past and cannot be found there. It can only be reconstituted in the present through the renewal of trust and good faith between people. Khoury’s White Masks serves to question the ‘othering’ of trauma, that is, as unspeakably other to the stories of war-torn societies. This is a direction that contemporary Middle Eastern trauma studies have also promisingly begun to take up (see, for example, Parr 2018; El mougy 2018).

8 Equine messianism in Palestinian literature and art This concluding chapter follows the preceding chapter’s exploration of the figuration of martyrdom through considering the figuration of the redemptive. If creative radicalism is about co-belonging in a world ultimately not owned by overlords, this has to extend to considerations of the relationship of humans to other animals and to nature. Thus, I will consider how the figuration of deliverance and redemption in Palestinian literature and art is frequently in the creaturely terms of horses as well as donkeys. To treat animals in terms of the sacred is what monotheistic religions appear to be set up against: the outlawed sacred golden cows of Moses, the shirk that Islam bans. However, I wish to argue that in the religions in which animals are accorded a sacred significance, what is at stake is not literally a case of the worship of this or that animal. At the same time, the animal is not reduced to being a mere arbitrary religious symbol, having a value in itself that is analogous to but not identical with what it signifies. That is to say the animal, in the case of this chapter the horse or the donkey, is significant in terms of its connection to the reality of the sacred. While Freud’s account of totemism is patriarchal (Freud 2001b), totemism in animist cultures tends not to be. For a start, the animist totem is often a spirit animal. In animist cultures, the common perception is that nature is radically shared by all of its creatures. The spirit animal is therefore a token of hospitality, that is, the animal species willing to share its dwelling space with human animals. The totem is not a parental symbol but an ostensive sign of co-belonging. Often the taboo around the totem animal is that it is the animal that should not be killed or eaten, should thus be exempt from sacrifice. Thus, the spirit animal serves as a guardian spirit or spirit guide against animals and human animals as mere predators. Whereas the scapegoat is made into the focus of the exorcism of the group’s hostility, the spiritual totem is conversely the focus of the group’s respect for the lives of others. In the light of the animist version of totemism offered, where my aim is not an anthropological investigation but an illumination of how poetic figuration might work, the totem may be considered to have an iconic as opposed to idolatrous status. As examined in the previous chapter, the iconic status of the revolutionary martyr may signify our cobelonging in a shared world. One of the interesting things about the revolutionary murals in Egypt is that animal figures featured prominently, for instance, in the work of graffiti artists such as Ganzeer as well as in the work of Alaa Awad that draws on ancient Egypt’s sacred animal repertoire. In 2013, an exhibition for Egypt’s Caravan Festival of the Arts was mounted in which forty-five artists (Egyptian and international) were each given a fibre glass donkey, first sculpted by Reda Abdel Rahman, to paint and decorate in keeping with the exhibition’s

interfaith ethos of promoting peace and compassion towards an eventual auction to support Egyptian children living in poverty. Sara Elkamel in a newspaper article explains that the figure of the donkey was chosen as an emblem of peace and compassion in both Christianity and Islam, with both Christ and the second caliph Omar Ibn-El Khattab having ridden donkeys into Jerusalem. Elkamel also points out that it was also a colourful celebration of donkeys themselves that otherwise meekly roam the streets of Cairo. Of the exhibition’s reception, Elkamel comments: ‘No one has been this excited over donkeys in a long time’ (Elkamel 2013). Visually, what is striking is that while each donkey is humbly the same, each is utterly unique in terms of the style in which it has been decorated, bearing its own message or messages. The Caravan exhibition has a counterpart in Palestinian Asraf Fawakhry’s ‘I am Donkey’ mixed media series shown at the Made in Palestine exhibition at the Station Museum in Houston (2003). With this work, comic, poetic and wistful, what stands out is how the donkey signifies an obstinate ability to carry on through all the various permutations of the figure. This work, together with the Caravan exhibition, is a visual equivalent of the darwish aesthetic propounded in this book. Although the title of this chapter puts forward the term ‘messianism’, in terms of the material I will look at what is at stake is a question of utopian yearnings for deliverance that can be both hopeful and despairing. In order to explain this proposition, it is first necessary to sketch the ground or topos against which the utopianism in question may be perceived. As Palestinian writers and critics of Palestinian literature have established, recent Palestinian literature, that is, from the Nakba of 1948 onwards, has been impelled and interpolated by the felt necessity of inscribing in words a homeland that has been expropriated in actuality. As Clemency Schofield writes in her work on Palestinian literary nationalism: ‘However fiercely or distantly the vision of the homeland is maintained, it is undeniable that their dispossession forced the Palestinians to construct a powerful and inescapable narrative of their rootedness to the land’ (Schofield 2006). Ongoing ties to the land are thus asserted through inscription at the same time that the landscape is perceived as signifying the persistent traces of its Palestinian habitation and cultivation. Mahmoud Darwish in ‘Palestine as a Metaphor’ maintains that the land is not only the origin of poetry but also itself a synthesis of materiality and language, as discussed by Munir Ghannam and Amira El-Zein (2008). In the inscription of the land in literary works, what accrues is a metaphoric and metonymic repertoire of emblems. These emblems are both naturalistic and nationalistic, with the most significant one possibly being that of the olive tree. Olive trees signify Palestine as do orange blossoms, lemon trees and fig trees. This inscription of the land works in two directions for it is not only a case of laying claim to a particular location but of affirming the capacity of the land to articulate its identity. Here, the work of Irus Braverman (2009) strikingly addresses how the conflict between Israel and Palestine extends to a struggle over literal topographical inscription. Braverman brings to attention how the Israelis have systematically attempted to replace the olive trees of Palestine with the planting of European pine trees. The olive trees

are literally uprooted in what may be called a revisionary geography that accompanies revisionary history, and this revisionary geography serves to transform the appearance of the land so as to erase both Palestinian memories and a memory of Palestine. In this context, the iconic deployment of olive trees, orange blossoms and so on becomes mo re than a poetic embellishment for it constitutes resistance to actual erasure. The emblems that I have referred to, such as the olive tree and the pine tree, are a matter of contesting a topology in nationalist terms and the question now is whether this extends also to animals. It may be suggested that the animal equivalent of the olive tree in Palestinian discourse is the gazelle. What I wish further to propose is that the horse, in a selective study of Palestinian literature, does not come to acquire quite the same emblematic significance as the gazelle. Rather than constituting a symbol of national belonging, the horse seems to allow for a certain significance that is not really territorial and not even terrestrial. With this, we begin to approach the messianic. As regards Christian Messianism, the notable animal, apart from the lamb, is the donkey, the humble donkey that Christ chooses for his entry into Jerusalem. The Arab–Israeli novelist Emile Habiby in his novel The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist approaches the messianic significance of the donkey with a delightfully parodic humour. The second chapter of the novel is entitled ‘Saeed Reports How His Life in Israel was all due to the Munificence of an Ass’ and the narrator relates the following: During the fighting in 1948 they waylaid us and opened fire, shooting my father, may he rest in peace. I escaped because a stray donkey came into the line of fire and they shot it, so it died in place of me. My subsequent life in Israel, then, was really a gift from that unfortunate beast. Saaed’s saviour is then quite literally a donkey, and he goes on to reflect: You’ve no doubt read of dogs lapping up poisoned water and dying to warn their masters and save their lives. And of horses, too, racing the wind bearing their wounded riders to safety, only to die of exhaustion themselves. But I’m the first man to be saved by a mulish donkey. (Habiby 2003, 6) Just as the olive tree does not merely signify Palestine but may constitute Palestine signifying itself, the donkey does not just signify salvation but proves to be salvation itself. In addition to this mundane insistence, the donkey serves to connect Saeed to a placeless or utopian world, that of, what the novel calls ‘the men from outer space’ who are variously associated with learned Arab ancestors, the fidā’īyīn and the feverish creations of madness. Throughout the novel, Saeed identifies himself with donkeys and asses, where this identification manages to be both a sign of his election and a self-deprecating gesture pertaining to his minor, foolish and absurd status. It is as if he is special in not being special. Any grandiose or heroic transcendence that may be associated with messianism is drastically undercut, and in certain respects the novel may even be setting out to persuade us that any salvation that there may be resides in accepting the darkly comic helplessness of existence with pessoptimism.

In other Palestinian writing, horses offer a related yet different inflection to the parodic messianism of Habiby’s donkeys. A good example of this is to be found in Zaki Darwish’s story ‘Horses’. This story begins with a brief ‘Foreword’ that I will quote in its entirety: I have a special feeling for horses. I no sooner hear the word horse than memories wake in me, vivid and intense, like a wall blocking out all other pictures and thoughts. ‘What’s wrong with that?’ someone might say. ‘We all have particular memories of horses.’ (Darwish 1992, 428) And someone might also say: what is strangely compelling here is how the word horse has the capacity to erase all the rest of language or other languages. The word horse seems to trigger a wordless world of affect, and because outside of the citationality of language, a world of the unfamiliar yet real. After this brief foreword, words marking what are outside of and before all (other) words, the story offers us two separate anecdotes concerning horses. In the first of these, the narrator meets someone who tells him ‘“You’ve nothing but books and book learning. [...] But I once lost a real horse, a pedigree horse that I helped bring into the world one rainy wintery night”’ (429). So, in the manner of the foreword, the horse is set up against language in its reality, marking the entry into the world of something outside it, the storyteller being like a midwife or even surrogate parent to it, this horse. The storyteller tells us that his horse was of exceptional beauty (‘“I never knew a more beautiful horse”’) and that his horse offered exceptional freedom of movement, where he relates ‘“I galloped along the shore to Jaffa and to Gaza and climbed the mountains of Galilee on his back. [...] I jumped fences and went through ravines and valleys. He never once failed me”’ (429). This fidelity is stressed, the storyteller re-affirming: ‘“Through rain and summer heat and darkness, he never once failed me.”’ The next words in the anecdote are: ‘“Yet you killed him”, someone said.’ And the rest of the tale goes on to explain why. We are told that the killing of the horse took place during the 1936 rebellion against the British when the storyteller was fleeing on horseback from a planned attack by the British. In mid-escape, the horse is said to suddenly stop on coming across a mare in a field. As the horse refuses to move on, British cars start to arrive and the storyteller speaks of how he loses his temper with the horse and finds a piece of plough to strike him with in the neck. The blow proves fatal and the horse’s death is described in the following terms: The warm blood spurted over my face and chest. The horse first raised his head high, then raised its front feet, then, standing on his back feet, rose higher and higher. He was a sublime sight as he stood rearing between the earth and the sky. (430) What is so effective in this description is that the storyteller does not use the usual linguistic shortcut which would be ‘the horse reared up’. Instead, the unfolding stages of the action of rearing are given to us bit by bit which has the dual effect of making us visualize the staggered rearing up of the horse and of slowing the narrative down. And, from this slowmotion sequence, we arrive at a literal standstill, a strange cessation of time. The storyteller’s horse just remains suspended between earth and sky and while the owner flees, it is reported

that ‘the horse remained rearing up in the air till he lost his last drop of blood’ (430). In literary terms, in witnessing the sublime eternalization of the rearing horse, we may be witnessing the very moment of the creation of an icon. The literal horse metamorphoses into legend before our very eyes as we read, and the unpublished story crosses a threshold int o visibility. However, this recuperative literary formalization is offset by the sense that we are witnessing the marvel of that which has never happened before or since: a revelation too bizarre or rare for it to be accorded emblematic status. Unlike Saeed’s donkey in Habiby’s novel, the horse in this story does not die to save his human associate but is rather killed because he fails to save his owner from the approach of the British. To begin with, the horse is linked with the qualities of ṣumūd, that is, associated with resilience, loyalty, steadfastness and freedom. Resilience, loyalty and steadfastness may be regarded as synonymous, while what interests me is the yoking of this fidelity to freedom of spirit and movement. What I think that the anecdote implies, intentionally or not, is that the resilience of freedom of spirit cannot be co-opted for the sake of national struggles. It is not in the nature of the horse to take part in the battle between the British occupiers and their Palestinian adversaries. Although the horse refuses to take sides, as it were, affirming instead the inescapability of its natural desire for the mare, it nonetheless occupies a strategic juncture in the story. The horse’s Palestinian rider runs off in the face of the British but the horse remains. It remains rearing there between earth and sky as the miracle and soaring defiance of something that cannot be defeated. Whatever it is that cannot be defeated is against colonization and occupation, as the emphasis of a resistance, but it is not thereby for the patriotism of the other. The horse that arrives from the before-words also points towards the wordlessness of what is to persist after-words. Zaki Darwish’s story ‘Horses’ follows this anecdote with a second even stranger one. The second anecdote begins with the following: ‘Mustatafa al-Salih had never been known to lie, and had never prophesised anything that didn’t come true’ (430). We go on to learn of how al-Salih lost his leg when he jumped his horse from a great height into a British tank. The narrator states: ‘The horse was killed, flying over the back of the tank like a bird.’ His rider lies unconscious for three days, and when he is pressed to speak of his experience, it is said that radiance comes to his face from his heart and lights up the whole mosque while his features convey serenity. The thus illumined and perhaps enlightened al-Salih then confesses that he spent his period of unconsciousness somewhere ‘down there’ under the sea. In his strange sea-world he finds a cavern where he can breathe the air and where the sea is all lit up. He goes on to deliver the following account: A white horse appeared at the mouth of the caverns, peered inside for a moment, then went away. I was astonished: could horses breathe under the water the way a fish does? I could still see the horse. He had a great wound and the blood was pouring from him, so that the depths of the sea were tinged with it. (432) Sharks try to attack the horse but the horse assumes a ‘dignified pose’ and the sharks lick the wounds and this serves to heal them. We are then told: ‘From here a mighty progression of

horses rushed, horses of all colours. [...] And the strangest thing of all was how the sharks showed such friendliness to these horses, wiping away their blood and giving up the kingdom of the sea.’ In this second anecdote, the horse is destroyed when he is enlisted in the fight between national groups, and his death leads us into a wordless world that is a kind of utopia, a placeless place where blood is washed away, wounds are healed and the horse has the capacity to charm predators into peaceful coexistence. Equine messianism concerns this utopianism. Moreover, it is often associated with what I wish to call the marine divine. The marine divine is outside of time and space as we know it and concerns the infinite reconciliation of differences. In Naji ‘Allush’s poem ‘On the Shore’, it is written: ‘In the ample horizon / horses surge up and gallop, / a tender drizzle / of spraying foam / comes into my place of exile [...] It is / the ocean / coming ... It is the ocean coming. Fields of wheat and palm trees, / palm trees and wheat’ (Allush 1992, 110). The unstoppable horses bring the unstoppable ocean that ushers in a vision of ample land. In this unbroken, ongoing continuity, there is a certain indifference to differentiation, any difference inviting its inversion, and the poem ends with the lines: ‘Move on sea, / I am riding the untameable horse’ (113). In Fadwa Tuqan’s poem ‘The Sibyl’s Prophesy’ (Tuqan 1992), the poet affiliates herself with an other-worldly horseman (presumably a question of Palestine), and this riderly alliance is set up against what the poem speaks of as warring brothers in order to promise fidelity to something other than competing nationalisms. In terms of the foregoing, equine messianism, which is associated with the marine divine, does not seem to be a matter of territorial contestation and ownership. It serves instead to bookmark the trauma of dispossession without asserting re-possession. And, it eternalizes, in a moment of defeat, that which can never be defeated, a beautiful freedom of spirit and a loyalty across divides and differences. Equine messianism also requires pessoptimism. It is pessimistic or despairing because it concerns that which has no place, no land; ‘we’re guests on the sea’, writes Mahmoud Darwish (Darwish 1992, 155). And it is optimistic because being without place, it may be said to be wherever and forever. Finally, although equine messianism is visionary and spiritual, it is arguably not a matter of religion. In Elias Khoury’s The Journey of Little Gandhi, set during the siege of Beirut, a priest tries to explain little Gandhi’s vision of flowing green horses to him in terms of a vision of John the Baptist. Little Gandhi remarks, ‘“Send my best to John the Baptist”’ (Khoury 1994, 33). For him, the prophet is just any man or woman and the flowing green horses are just what they are, unreclaimable by priests and any other kind of interpreter. The horse is again the term for the elsewhere of reality and reality of the elsewhere. Furthermore, in Mai Masri’s documentary film Children of Shatila (1998), there is a scene in which a child from the refugee camp featured in the film rides a white horse in a way that signifies hope for the future. It is not the case that horses merely symbolize freedom of spirit in the Palestinian context but that they partake of it as ‘spirit animal’ guides. Michel Khleifi’s film Wedding in Galilee (1987) features a scene with a horse that establishes the horse as a bearer of liberation spirit. The film, set in 1948, is about how a Palestinian village wedding is permitted to take place

only on the condition that Israeli soldiers are present. During the wedding, the horse of the mukhtar (village headman) is released into a field that has been planted with Israeli mines to prevent its cultivation. Whereas the film shows the simmering tensions between the Palestinians and Israelis, the suddenly imperilled horse serves as a diversion in that the men have their attention drawn away from each other to the vulnerable animal. René Girard (1986) argues that the structure of aggression between rivals can be dissolved through a third party that serves as an alternative focus of catharsis for the aggression, that is, through a scapegoat. However, Khleifi introduces a significant variant of this scenario. In the film, both the Israeli soldiers and the mukhtar are shown to be very controlling, the men acting as overseers of what they see as their worlds. When the horse breaks loose into the minefield, both sides are in a position of responsibility to avert the danger faced by the horse, a beautiful Arabian mare. The Israelis fire their guns into the air to scare the horse out of the field. The mukhtar wants to run into the field to save the horse. That is, the Israelis express their masculine responsibility through violence and the Palestinian man through his willingness to sacrifice his own life, neither constituting solutions. Eventually, the mukhtar calls out to the horse and the horse responds to his voice, coming over to him. It is a pacifist moment in that what works is not actions that lead to the waste of life but the power of the spoken word. The diversion of the horse brings out that what underlies the controlling behaviour of the men on opposite sides is over-anxious protectiveness towards life, the bare life or feminine life that the mare both represents and is an instance of. What is shown is that the men inadvertently endanger the very existence of what they insist on protecting because their language of protection initially has but violence/victimization as its alternatives as opposed to a language of protection that would be life-nurturing. The horse (life force of the land) seeks only its freedom to be, and the humans absurdly get in the way of this with the potential violence of their controlling over-protectiveness. The saving grace does not reside in masculine codes of honour that equate protectiveness with possessive instincts but in the way the horse might dissolve animosity through creaturely communication. A fairly recent Palestinian novel (though long in the making) that addresses equine messianism is Ibrahim Nasrallah’s beautiful epic Time of White Horses ([2007] 2012). Reviewers and critics have variously received the novel as postmodernist, magic realist and historical realist and modernist. However, I see it as belonging to the Arab tradition of what I have been defining as the darwish avant-garde. The Western novelistic traditions from sociohistorical realism to postmodernism are marked by a secular and usually atheist consciousness. By way of recapitulation, the darwish avant-garde, while down to earth, is concerned with the spiritual, though not in orthodox or pious ways. It relates to what in an African context is the animist realism of liberation literature and in a South American context becomes magic realism although magic realism is concerned with the loss of animist nondualism. Overall, the aesthetic is one of what I call ‘poetic realism’ or a poetics of the real where the real is the sacred or the mystical. Spiritual texts, after all, rely on poetic expression. At the same time, what is really at stake is an earth-wise culture, from village paths to city

streets, that offers a non-capitalist form of citizenship that is alternatively global, at least potentially so. While Western aesthetic models are applied to Time of White Horses, it could be called a Palestinian Thousand and One Nights. It is a saga composed of a lengthy cycle of brief stories that are tragi-comic in nature like the pessoptimism of Habiby’s maqāma (a question of a certain sensibility). The stories are also parable-like or contain lessons in the manner of ethico-spiritual writings. Like Alf layla wa-layla, Time of White Horses embeds within its stories short poems, songs and aphorisms (Nasrallah being as much of a poet as he is a novelist). Moreover, the fact that Scheherazade narrates her stories to suspend a death sentence is also relevant to Nasrallah’s novel that spans three generations from the late Ottoman period to the Nakba of 1948. That is, it is as if Palestine has to keep itself going in story upon story to escape trickster-style the death sentence or culturecide threatened by the ever-expansive Israeli occupation. What is also striking about Time of White Horses is that it relates its spiritual messages through animals, particularly horses, in a fable like manner. The novel begins with this poetic line: ‘A perfect miracle had taken on flesh ...’ (3). This is the arrival of Hamama, an exquisite white mare. Her effect on a group of village men is as follows: In a half-stupor Hajj Mahmud said, ‘Do you see what I see?’ Hearing no answer, he turned toward the other men, only to find them tongue-tied with amazement. This resonates with Zaki’s story, discussed earlier, where horses defy words in their mystically related reality. However, beyond this apparitional moment, Hamama actually speaks to humans and can also understand what they say. There is a horse-human telepathy or empathetic communication throughout the novel. Amusingly, there is even a chapter entitled ‘Hamama Said Something!’ It turns out that Hamama’s arrival is due to the fact that she has been stolen for her beauty. Hamama has to be read poetically in that she signifies various spiritual states across the novel. Her arrival could be read as a portent of the novel’s ending, the Holy Land captured (stolen) by the Zionists. The first book of the novel is entitled ‘Wind’ with the epigraph of an Arabic proverb, ‘God made horses from wind, and people from dust.’ When it is realized that Hamama has been stolen, Hajj Mahmud identifies the mare as ‘a free spirit’. She’s also liberation spirit. Khaled, Hajj Mahmud’s son, states: ‘“There’s no protection for someone who does nothing to protect a free spirit.”’ He also says to the thief, ‘“Don’t you know that to steal a mare is tantamount to stealing someone’s soul?”’ (4). As discussed previously, protection is not a matter of possession but of allowing (saving) what is free in its being. It is this granting of dignity that honour really ought to be about. Hamama is eventually returned to her owners or guardians, while she and other horses come and go throughout the novel. There is a shape-shifting quality in human–animal relations as girls are referred to as ‘fillies’, humans turn into horses, and horses are treated as beloveds. When Khaled re-encounters Hamama (whom he associates with his dead wife), he

hears a voice say, ‘It’s her. It’s her’ (413), and she often has a restorative effect on him, as in the following: ‘Within half an hour, he began to feel life flowing through his veins again. He was still on his knees, but his chest was up against Hamama’s body’ (418). In the novel, the British are represented by a man called Peterson who appreciates the beauty of horses too but who is responsible for shooting them in accordance with his sadism, his need to own and control life. Khaled’s encounters with the British lead him to say, ‘The worst beast God created was the human being, and the worst beast human beings have created is war’ (439). Khaled, who becomes a freedom fighter, is killed in a skirmish with the British, whose violence is then followed by the ethnic cleansing carried out by refugee Jews that serves eventually to torch Hadiya, the village of Khaled and his community. Just before this, Hamama (actually her re-creation in a descendent) visits Khaled’s grave. The last paragraph of the novel begins: ‘The doves were flying away, covering distances she [Sumayya, Khaled’s second wife] never thought a bird whose wings were on fire could cover.’ This is poetically very condensed. On a literal level, the doves are flying away with burnt wings because the dovecote has been set alight. Yet the meaning of the name Hamama in Arabic means dove. This is something that can be heard in: Ha-ma-ma, Ha-ma-ma. It is the cooing sound of doves. The doves also relate as symbols of peace to the village, whose name Hadiya means peaceful. That the doves/Hamama have burnt wings suggests the figure of the Phoenix arising from the ashes. It is also said earlier in the novel: After the besieged [Israeli] army forces were informed they would be leaving, the three men were supplied with a single revolver and a password: ‘Hamama’. We would always use passwords that had the guttural ‘ha’ sound in them, since the Jews and the British pronounce it as ‘kha’. (610) Nasrallah puts in italics sources from oral accounts that document Palestinian history (for this is not a fiction). The fact that the British and the Jews cannot pronounce the name of the mystical horse (or of the doves of peace) means they cannot use the password, and this also reveals their spiritual ineptitude as colonizers (not knowing how to protect free spirits). Moreover, the iconic ‘Hamama’ is the perfect ostensive sign, the poetic password guiding the revolutionary community. Thus, while on the level of historical realism the ending of the novel is very bleak with the village in flames and its community all dispersed, on the level of poetic realism the message to those who can read its sign language is that deliverance and redemption remain possible. Earlier in the novel the writer Mahmud says, ‘Can you give me an ending without an ending?’ (542) While Karim Mattar sees the novel’s reconstruction of pre-Nakba Palestine as idealized and necessarily ‘mythic’ (Mattar 2014, 183), I think that another kind of realism, akin to animist realism, is at stake, that of the non-dualist consciousness of coexistence foreclosed by capitalism. As eco-activist Mazin Qumsiyeh’s work is concerned with, the colonization of Palestine is also an ecological Nakba. Qumsiyeh quotes Alon Tal, founder of the Israel Union of Environmental Defense, as follows: ‘“it’s a Zionist paradox. We came here to redeem a

land and end up contaminating it”’ (Qumsiyah 2004, 144; Tal 2002). In addition, in writing of Zionist mal-development from an ecological perspective, Joel Kovel observes: ‘Some day the world will recognize Zionism as a synonym for unsustainability’ (Kovel 2007, 122). In this respect, the concerns of Time of White Horses are forward-looking. Of course, the winged ‘horse’ suggested by the novel’s ending is also the Buraq in the Qur’an. I put ‘horse’ in italics because the Buraq is said to be between a horse and a donkey; Muslim friends have said to me that this is because Mohammed was too tall (unlike Christ) to be carried by a donkey while still a humble man (no ‘high horse’ for him). Although the Buraq is sometimes interpreted as a horse in particular contexts (Landry 2015, 185), the creature between horse and donkey is a mule, as in Habiby’s ‘mulish donkey’ (mentioned earlier), while Buraq is also between a horse-like creature and a bird. The Buraq is horse as mule as bird as wind as spirit as uplift as freedom as lightning passage to the divine. There are some who might say that the worship of horses in Time of White Horses constitutes shirk (or idolatry). Consider for instance the following scene of adoration of Hamama: ‘before his astonished onlookers, Tariq knelt down in front of her. With her evident permission, he grasped one of her front hooves and gently lifted it up. With her hoof in his hand, he kissed it tenderly’ (32). However, Hamama, for all her spiritual qualities, is not given to us as a goddess. Rather, she functions like the ka or spiritual twin discussed in relation to the dual in Arabic in the previous chapter. She is iconic rather than idolatrous in that she does not take the place of the divine but guides people towards it like an angelic messenger. Beyond the parallels with the Buraq and the night flight of Mohammed, there is a passage in Time of White Horses that is suggestive of the martyrdom of ‘Ali at the battle of Karbala. In his book Horse of Karbala (2001), David Pinault explores how Shia commemorations make much of ‘Ali’s white horse that returns riderless from the battle in a state of piteous dejection at the loss of its rider. In Nasrallah’s novel, Hamama also returns riderless and miserable from the battle in which Khaled is slain (462). As argued in this book, it is Islamism that tends to run into the shirk that it tries to run away from, and while horses are linked with religion in material considered in this chapter, the import is as follows. In the Holy Land that has been much fought over by religions asserting their rivalrous claims to authenticity, true salvation can only come from those who know how to enable the freedom and flourishing of life, not only in human forms. It is a sort of Sufianimist vision (as I would see it, while other terms would be possible). In the novel, the Israelis say, ‘“This is our land. The Lord promised it to us”’ (321). And the character Khaled says what is translated into English as, ‘All I want to say to them is, “I am not fighting to win. I’m fighting to preserve what is rightfully mine”’ (458). However, Nasrallah in giving a talk on his novel (Nasrallah 2013) translates this differently stating, ‘The hero says, “I do not fight to win. I fight so that my right is not lost.”’ Nasrallah immediately then glosses this as ‘I wrote and still wri te for the human’. That is, there is a difference between ‘rightfully mine’ and ‘my right’ where I read ‘my right’ both as human rights and as al haqq (what is right or real). I will explain this through an analogy. If someone

plagiarizes you, your objection is not that you wish to claim sole or private ownership of work you refuse to share (rightfully just your own). Rather, your objection is that you are being treated as if you did not exist, as if you were no one, erased and effaced. Khaled’s Palestinian case is not to rival the Israelis in sole possession of the land (aiming to win) but to resist the Israeli treatment of Palestinians as non-humans (non-beings) in the denial of the centuries that the Palestinians have lived in Palestine. There is a difference between fighting to claim exclusive rights and resisting usurpation. The former is tribal while the latter is a question of true universality. Nasrallah explicitly explains the universality of the struggle, saying: [Y]ou arrived to a conclusion that plainly stated: ‘we stand by Palestine, not because we are Palestinian but because Palestine is a daily test for the conscience of the world.’ You would be a defender of this cause even if it was to exist in the farthest spot on earth and even if you were not Palestinian. It became clear that our nationality is not determined by our passports but by the causes we adopt and defend. In Time of White Horses, there is a character called Sami who goes to study art in Cairo and falls in love with Egypt. Khaled is especially fond of him. It is written that ‘the pleasure he [Sami] took in drawing faces became a source of delight for everyone’ (440). However, he joins the revolution against the British mandate and is forced to destroy his drawings of fellow freedom fighters lest they fall into the hands of the British authorities (where Nasrallah himself has often faced censorship). We are told that Sami remains immensely nostalgic for Cairo, and that he would say to his comrades: It’s enough for me to sit in front of the paintings of Mahmud Sa’id and the statues of Mahmud Mukhtar. God, if only you could see his statue ‘Egypt’s Renaissance’! God, if you could see his statue of ‘The Peasant Woman’ or ‘The Khamasin’. God, if you could only hear Umm Kulthum and Abd al-Wahhab! (440) It is then said: ‘He would talk to them about all this as though he were telling the stories of The Arabian Nights, and when some men expressed their desire to visit Cairo he would say, ‘“Lots of things from there you can see here! The films are here, and so is Umm Kulthum. Rayhani and his band are here. The only thing you can’t see unless you go to Cairo is the Nile”’ (440). Erwin Schrödinger writes: ‘Sometimes a painter introduces into his larger picture, or a poet into his long poem, an unpretending subordinate character who is himself’ (Schrödinger 1999, 136). And the above could be read as Nasrallah’s signature sketch by means of a minor character or least his cameo portrait of an artist as a young man. What kind of artist though? Most clearly, it is a case of the Arab or darwish avant-garde. The Egyptian figures that Sami admires are artists known for their expression of popular liberationist aspirations. In particular, Mukhtar was inspired by the 1919 revolution and its leader Saad Zaghoul whom he knew and sculpted, while Umm Kulthum is strongly associated with the 1952 revolution and its leader Nasser (although Sami speaks of an earlier stage of her career, just as Nasrallah

anticipates in his novel, through Sami and his revolutionary comrades, the revolution of 2011). Mukhtar’s famous statue ‘Egypt’s Renaissance’ is of a sphinx beside a peasant woman who is raising her veil. This may be a reference to Mukhtar’s friend Hudā al Shar’arāwi, a prominent Egyptian feminist who took off her veil. Significant is the place of the dual or the pairings that emerge, ancient sphinx and modern woman, political leader and spiritual guide or soul of the nation (as Khaled and Hamama are paired). The point is that there is no supreme leader, as the leader is guided by another. The Egyptian image of the sphinx is also significant as a human-lion hybrid for the human-horse twinnings in Nasrallah’s novel. Mukhtar’s sculpture ‘The Khamisin’ depicts a woman breasting out the strong March winds known as khamasin or khamaseen. She is an emblem of revolutionary resilience, riding the wind (a strong motif in Nasrallah’s novel), almost as if she is sculpted by the wind. It is also that art is this revolutionary resilience, this creative radicalism, winged sphinx or winged horse. So, we have the stories of ‘the Arabian Nights’ and Days that keep on coming, outwitting the sentence of death. We have the drawings of us all that can be erased as but images but also redrawn since the sources of inspiration are endless (as in Sami’s repetition of ‘God’ to speak of all that inspires him). This art is not contained by borders, as Sami says – Egyptian art can be accessed from anywhere and inspire non-Egyptians. The time of Time of White Horses is not time as such. The Arabic word zaman means era, and I think it could be translated as duration, ‘the time during which something goes on being’. Thus, it concerns what continues to be, and is to be – can you think of an ending that is not an ending? – from the river to the sea.

Concluding remarks Adab and iqtibās An Unfinished Poem. A Home in Migration. The Egyptian revolution is not over. Who says it’s over? No-o-o, it’s not over, Like you can’t pour the wide horizon Into a funnel. You can’t tunnel, kettle it. It’s not over. It’s unfettered. It’s a rover. Check it here, and it’ll star elsewhere, Like the rally for Gaza in Big Ben square … In our thousands, in our millions, we stood With Palestinians. Christians, Jews, united Muslims, we were all still Egyptians. The Egyptian revolution is not over. It’s a home in migration. It’s a poem, in-completion. When the Arab Spring and particularly the Egyptian revolution appeared to have been thwarted by the forces of counter-revolution, I jotted down the above lines to remind myself that individual revolutions are not isolated occurrences. Rather each revolution is part of a wider movement towards true universality, which the political regimes of domination and exploitation keep trying to prevent. Since the initial Arab uprisings spread across North Africa and the Middle East to be met with violent oppression and forms of detainment, there has been a recent wave of further uprisings and not only in the Middle East. There has been the Sudanese revolution (2018–19) against the thirty-year rule of Omar al-Bashir with its slogan of ‘Just fall that’s all’, leading to al-Bashir’s deposition and a transitional cabinet. There has been the Algerian revolution of laughter or of smiles (2019) that took off when the decrepit Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his intention to stand for a fifth presidential term and that issued in Bouteflika’s ousting. As with the earlier Arab uprisings, the objection has been to leaders and elites maintaining what Arendt speaks of as the ‘immortality’ of political actors, especially when these actors merely perform themselves as leaders and fail to address the needs of the people offering only the neoliberal politics of deliberate socio-economic negligence. Along with the Sudanese and Algerian movements, there have been uprisings in Iraq (the

October revolution or 2019 Iraqi Intifada) and in Lebanon (October 2019) against the corruption of mafia-like or nepotistic governments where these uprisings offer a strong resistance to the divide-and-rule of sectarianism. In Lebanon, the popular uprising of literally millions of protesters brought people together across religious divides with a message of national unity strikingly enacted by the protesters forming an unbroken line throughout the country from Tripoli in the north to Tyre in the south. What we may be said to be witnessing in this twenty-first century movement of uprising upon uprising (not only in Africa and the Middle East but also in South America) is the collapse or at least very widespread discrediting of the neoliberal experiment. While the establishment media reported extensively on the first wave of Arab uprisings through framing them as bids for secular capitalist democracy, now that it is clear that the protest movement has values opposed to the inter-lacings of patriarchal capitalism, ethnic-religious tribalism and neoliberalism, the tactic of the mainstream press has been to report as little as possible on the later uprisings, especially given their huge support, as if the establishment pretence that they are not happening will make them go away, the typical neoliberal response being one of disavowal. However, it has to be said that the revolutionary movement does not really depend on whether the elites acknowledge it. One of the significant realizations to emerge from the experience of the uprisings is that the Hegelian master–slave dialectic of the battle for recognition is in a way obsolete or irrelevant as far as the protesters are concerned. That is, the people do not recognize the would-be masters as their masters, and do not seek replacement masters, while they themselves are not seeking hegemonic recognition from those who play at being masters. That is to say, the mechanisms of ideological blindfolding are no longer working. As debated in this book, the Arab uprisings have entailed a new or renewed consciousness of reality in a rejection of the ideological (see also cooke 2018). Anarchic forms of hailing displace hegemonic forms of interpellation, as the people are able to recognize each other as such without the mediations of authorities. Although the Arab revolutions share the radical values of other revolutions, particularly as regards the demands for liberty, dignity and social justice, they also pose an epistemic challenge as to how earlier revolutions have been interpreted. That is, they not only break with and reject late capitalism but also cannot be accounted for in the alternative terms of mainstream Marxism. For instance, Abdou Moussa El-Bermawy maintains the Egyptian revolution was not even ideologically socialist (El-Bermawy 2019, 131). More specifically, the uprisings of our times cannot be adequately accounted for in terms of the primacy of fraternity, class struggle and secular historical materialism, as I will go on to indicate more fully. As regards fraternity or brotherhood, this is a value to be found in the pride movements discussed in Chapter 5 that use religion or ethnicity to promote male bonding and vice-versa. In contradistinction to this extremist bolstering of the masculine (often accompanied by sexism and misogyny), women and feminine values have been at the forefront of the uprisings, notably in the Egyptian and Sudanese revolutions and especially in the Rojava

movement in Syria that I will address in more detail further on. True revolutionary momentum relies on women not being held back but entering into equal side-by-side relations with men. This goes beyond being a political tenet, for I would say that, instead of the repression or disavowal of the feminine, it is a fact that revolutions require the feminine beside the masculine. What has also emerged from the experience of the uprisings is that they are not simply working-class movements. For instance, a recent report on the Lebanese protests states: ‘Lebanon is facing an unprecedented historical uprising whose main object is the ouster of the ruling political class and which is led, unusually, by the middle and working classes, with urban civil society attempting to come to an accommodation with it and direct its demands’ (Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies 2019). The Arab uprisings have typically united the working classes and middle classes against what may be termed the oligarchy of rich and powerful elites. With this what emerges is the reconstitution of new forms of civil society the language of which is cultural as well as cultured in the ethical sense of conveying decent and civilized forms of social relations. This is a question of the changing role of adab in the Arab world, as I will elaborate. While traditional Marxism emphasizes a working-class brotherhood of man, this has not been the overall character of the uprisings, as indicated. In addition, they could not be said to be atheist in character and simply explicable in the materialist terms of either Marxism or biopolitics. As I have tried to show in this book the revolutionary overturnings have entailed a rediscovery of the spiritual and the sacred beyond institutionalized religion. In particular, they have rejected the neoliberal logic that reduces people to mere bodies as the oligarchs enact their ‘immortality’ in their gated community paradises. While the biopolitics of precarity treats the people as superfluous, the revolutionaries have shown that it is the leaders who are superfluous as ineffective and unwanted while at the same time affirming the sacredness of the lives of the people – lives that are both unique and conjoined. Revolutionaries of course defy the discourse of the master. They speak from the place that certain philosophers problematically posit as ‘mute’ or ‘unspeakable’ (as examined in this book in relation to the theories of Arendt and Butler). Arab creative revolutionary defiance expresses and communicates a transformation of consciousness that traditional Enlightenment paradigms cannot really account for, thus raising the question of how to understand the epistemic implications of the uprisings. The term ‘episteme’ is often contrasted with ‘doxa’ concerning the distinction between the transmission of true knowledge as opposed to the circulation of opinions or hearsay. In The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, Lacan attempts to convey the meaning of the term ‘episteme’ as follows: It is all about finding the position that makes it possible for knowledge to become the master’s knowledge. The entire function of the episteme insofar as it is specified as transmissible knowledge – see Plato’s dialogues – is always borrowed from the techniques of craftsmen, that is to say of serfs. It is a matter of extracting the essence of this knowledge in order for it to become the master’s knowledge. (Lacan 2007, 22)

Lacan further states: ‘Philosophy in its historical function is this extraction, I would almost say this betrayal, of the slave’s knowledge, in order to obtain its transmutation into the master’s knowledge’ (22). The philosopher that Lacan has most in mind is Hegel, as he makes explicit throughout his book where he denounces Hegel’s ‘absolute knowledge’ as ‘outrageous’ (23) and where he also speaks of ‘this extraordinary dirty trick called The Phenomenology of Spirit’ (171). It seems that the dirty trick of Hegelian philosophy is the theft of the other’s knowledge and the presentation of it as the master’s own in a way that serves misleadingly to fabricate the muteness of the serf. It is basically dialectics as plagiarism. In the introduction to this book, I quote Hegel as follows: ‘The European spirit opposes the world to itself, and while freeing of itself from it, sublates this opposition by taking back into the simplicity of its own self the manifoldness of this its other’ (My emphasis, Petry, 61). Lacan concludes that ‘the other side’ offered by psychoanalysis is to confront the master’s predatory discourse with its shame (180–3, 189). What has intrigued me in this study is seeing how both neoliberal discourses (such as the ‘war on terror’ one) and far-right pride discourses (especially white pride) attempt to appropriate radical values for a position of mastery thus betraying the revolutionary truth. What Lacan’s seminar of 1969–70 addresses (in an implicit response to the revolutionary events of 1968) constitutes a foreshadowing of Said’s Orientalism (1978) while Lacan’s critique of the epistemological is both broader and more abstract. What is implied in Lacan’s critique is in Robert Beshara’s apt terms what would need to become ‘decolonial psychoanalysis’ (Beshara 2019) although Lacan himself does not fully explore the question of whether it is possible to go beyond shame as the underside of the master’s discourse or of whether the knowledge of revolutionaries (‘serfs’) might constitute an alternative episteme to that of the master’s betrayal. It may also be added that there can be forms of the master’s discourse that may be more benign and helpful such as the attempt to provide a provisional overview from an individual perspective understood not to be universal. Beshara is mainly interested in tackling the fantasy formation of Islamophobia (as an extension of Orientalism), affirming Said’s emphasis on radical humanism that Beshara reads as an always thoroughly politicized humanism. While the uprisings studied in these pages certainly contain the orientations of radical humanism, they go beyond this in both indicating the necessary limits of the political and in their affirmations of the sacred that include the human within a yet greater planetary and cosmic unity of being. As explored across this work, the conflation of the sacred and spiritual values with the political has considerable dangers that I address particularly in terms of the linguistification of the sacred and the jargon of authenticity, the colonization of liberation struggles by political parties, totalitarian formations of political idolization, and the political instrumentalization of martyrdom. Put another way, the domains of the political and the sacred stand to be topographically differentiated so that each does not usurp the place of the other. If the Arab uprisings have had a liminal dimension, this suggests that they serve to intervene and negotiate between the political, on the one side, and the sacred, on the other side. That is, while neoliberalism tries to spiritualize the political and extremism tries to

politicize religion, the revolutionary dynamic resists these totalizing formations that are would-be singularizing ones. For this reason, part of the epistemic challenge is understanding how this revolutionary movement is irreducible to the political in being a broader question of civil society, as argued by Egyptian revolutionaries quoted in previous chapters. In this book, I have tackled the fantasy formation of Islamophobia through the figure of the double using the Jekyll-and-Hyde version of the figure as paradigmatic. Through this it is easy to see how the terroristic Hyde is a phantasm while at the same time Hyde constitutes a source of shame that Jekyll seeks to detach himself from (if it is not the sense of shame that generates the unspeakable Hyde). Even though Hyde is a fantastical figure there are those who find themselves interpellated into the worldly terrorist role in the playing out of doppelgänger politics. Beyond this, it is worth noting that the double arises through a will-tosingularity and logic of finitude where the self psychologically and ideologically projects its mortality onto the other (which explains how biopolitics is actually necro-politics). While I analyse the neoliberal–terrorist double in terms of extremist complicities, this study has had as its focus the need to differentiate extremism from creative radicalism. Thus, beyond confronting the affects of shame and humiliation, I argue that revolutionary dynamics offer the mutual conferring of dignity or karāmah along with the possibilities of the epistemic transmission of revolutionary truth through the poetic realism of the darwish avantgarde. The darwish avant-garde is elaborated through considerations of amāra or ostensive signification as a matter of the wisdom or knowledge that offers guidance for the community as a whole. Philosophically what is at stake is replacing the figure of the idol (such as the deified single leader or the deified political party or state) with an affirmation of unity of being that entails co-dependent arising and what may be variously seen as eco-socialist or Sufi-animist ethics. The alternative to the predatory or plagiaristic dialectic of the master’s episteme is a form of transmission that works through the dynamics of generous donation and welcoming acknowledgement. I will conclude through relating this consideration to contemporary notions of adab and iqtibās. As discussed in this book, the Arab uprisings expressed themselves through cultural forms at the same time that the expression of the uprisings proved ethically cultured in the sense of civility and decency: from good manners to generosity and caring solicitousness. In his recently published study, Leaks, Hacks, and Scandals: Arab Culture in the Digital Age (2019), Tarek El-Ariss strikingly argues that the cynical deployment and manipulation of adab (the ethics and culture of civility) by Arab nations (that is, by their political actors) has been accompanied by the ideological collapse of ‘the state as an egalitarian and transparent structure, and of Arab modernity as a cultural and national project embodied in the nationstate’ (23). Accordingly, El-Ariss explores how Arab digital counterculture has jettisoned the civility of adab for incivility, qillat adab (lack of civility). He maintains that the failure of states to interpellate their subjects in the old hegemonic ways means that instead, ‘we are witnessing the resurgence of the tribal, the sectarian, the vindictive, and the mythological both online (cyber-raiding, trolling, video games) and off- (the Iraqi invasion, ISIS)’ (23). ElAriss especially attends to hacking and leaks, scenes of exposure and scandal, as well as to

trolling, mud-slinging and the shaming of victims. Interestingly, El-Ariss sees this digital onslaught in terms of the return of jāhiliyya, that is, the ignorance or barbarity that Islam is set up against (as discussed in the introduction to this book). That El-Ariss links the digital ‘darkness’ to ISIS serves to suggest that it is a case of what might be thought of as cyberterrorism. While El-Ariss’s study is a fascinating one, I think that it raises a number of questions. In particular, there is a distinction to be made between disclosures of information that are put forward to enlighten the public for their social benefit (as does not differ that much from the practice of investigative journalism), and exposures and scene-making that are strongly antisocial in their intentions and/or effects. Informing the public of the nefarious deeds of corrupt governments is not the same as the antisocial sides of digital platforms, such as spying on ordinary people, hacking their computers to exploit or intimidate them, cyberbullying them, stealing their information or other material and exposing and shaming them. Obviously, what this pertains to are forms of criminality, toxic immorality and perversion. While the internet may have been initially conceived of as a forum for sharing knowledge and building communities, it has also become a theatre for creepy sadistic jouissance that finds its channels through voyeurism, exhibitionism, pornographic debasement, paedophile rings, predatory drives, hate-filled bullying, racist and sexist mud-slinging and so forth (and this of course extends way beyond just the Arab use of the internet and digital media). So, here is where we could indeed speak of a new incivility (or a new platform for incivility) and even at times barbarity, one that pertains to the sadistic acts of certain extremists including ISIS. While I agree with El-Ariss that Arab states have attempted to co-opt adab in order to produce it as a false civility and the hypocritical manipulation of morality, I think that the Arab uprisings served to retrieve adab for the people on the level of the streets and not just jettison it through qillat adab. The overthrowing of the doppelgänger formation of the subject has issued in a collective consciousness that does not erase the individual but rather supports their uniqueness through mutual respect. This collective consciousness expresses itself inventively through all manner of the arts as a renewal of adab in a new popular flourishing. Given the ‘jargon of authenticity’ used by political actors, this adab attempts to renew the possibilities of meaningful and trustworthy communication on the level of civil society. If the signifying practices of neoliberal extremism are kitsch, florid, over-sentimental and crass as the insincere appropriation of sincerity (widely examined in this book), the signifying practices of genuine popular culture are very different and take the form of what I term poetic realism. This differs somewhat from the social realism of the novel or the mimesis that offers a purportedly objective picture of society. Rather, the poetic engages with how people register and share their consciousness (psycho-affective and ethical, thoughtful and mindful) of their historical moment with a view to finding a collective way forward. It thus concerns how people are able to support each other through bearing witness, sharing needed information, remembering what needs to be remembered, caring for each other, being present for each other, rallying each other, guiding each other, uplifting each other’s spirits

and so on. The poetic is also non-dualist in that it makes use of a figurative language to signal the underlying unity of being. The renewal of adab, what I speak of in terms of the darwish avant-garde, is very creative and takes many forms while prevalent popular forms are the satirical, the carnivalesque and the festive (the festive as celebrations of the sacred). Official or ideological views of the real are contested from the position of the grassroots experience of reality or from a sense of what really matters. Moreover, what really matters is not only our human cohabitation but our urgent ecological responsibilities where certain Egyptian post-revolutionary art and literary works offer evidence of a new animist aesthetic. As a brief example, in the art works of Lamia Amee n and Hany Rashed and in the fiction of Hani Abdel Mourid (as discussed by Seymour-Jorn, forthcoming), the human form is combined with vegetative forms of life as if humans and plants are akin. Overall, the revolutionary perspective offers an awareness of reality in non-predictable and surprising ways. In the introduction I discuss how it is poetic knowledge that is presented as an alternative to jāhiliyya at the outset of Islam, and I would argue for the ongoing relevance of this where poetic understanding, while drawing on the cultural past, constantly shifts and reconfigures itself according to its circumstances. In Politicising World Literature: Egypt, Between Pedagogy and the Public, May Hawas puts forward a convincing combination of the methodologies of world literature and postcolonial studies. What I think is significant about the world literature orientation she addresses is that it affirms how adab ultimately concerns the universality of our humanity, which makes cultural dialogue and exchange possible. However, Hawas is aware of how histories of colonialism complicate and thwart the possibility of cultural collaboration on an equal footing or in an open manner, hence the need for politicized postcolonial approaches. In the light of my readings of the Arab uprisings I find Hawas’s reading of Taha Hussein’s concept of world literature appealing and relevant. Hawas summarizes Hussein as follows: ‘In a modern world, Hussein hoped that free democratic nations could produce cultural dialogue equally on a single platform. […] In addition to being a matter of critical standard, a global comparative also appeared to be a matter of having good manners, or perhaps social responsibility, of knowing how to give and receive cultural gifts.’ Hawas adds with her own emphasis: ‘World Literature necessitates the acknowledgment of debts and the offering of gifts’ (Hawas 2019, 195). Hawas’s formulation of Hussein’s sense of world literature strikingly accords with the dynamics of the Egyptian revolution and Arab uprisings more generally as analysed across this study. This is the transmission of truth, knowledge and understanding through donation and acknowledgement. As such it is the precise alternative to the colonizing dialectics of Hegel or what Lacan identifies as the plagiaristic betrayals on the part of the master’s episteme where the master claims and presents the truth of the other as his own. The kind of possessive appropriation that Lacan addresses is actually completely self-defeating and thus futile in that it destroys what it is driven to claim through the very act of claiming it. For instance, in revolutionary terms, if the master seeks to appropriate the other’s freedom of

spirit he destroys it through the very act of appropriation. Or, if the master seeks to colonize the generous spirit of the revolutionary for himself his lack of generosity destroys what he wants to steal. The master’s irrational impasse is the drive to own what he (as well as she) cannot own. What the act of plagiarism actually leads to is a work that cuts itself off from genuine transmission. This is because it fails to relay its sources of inspiration to inspire others in turn. It constitutes a self-regarding break of the circuits of passing inspiration on so that transmission by literal repetition (often what becomes jargon or theoretical platitudes) replaces the transmission of creativity. In her book, Hawas examines the strange relation between the work of Italian writer Andrea Camilleri and Egyptian writer Tawfik al-Hakim. Briefly, Camilleri refers to alHakim’s People of the Cave as a source of inspiration for a detective novel of his without Camilleri being aware of how closely his novel resembles another work by al-Hakim, Diary of a Country Prosecutor. Hawas introduces the notion of ‘iqtibās’ to reflect on this. Originally the term refers to the practice of quotation from the Qur’an, while its meaning as a term is ‘the process of lighting one’s fire with a live coal from another fire, or implicitly, taking “light” from “light”’ (126). It concerns how one sacred text or work of art may inspire another and, more radically, how different creative works may actually share the same source of creation. Hawas writes: ‘Iqtibās reflects the understanding that there is a hidden universality to how the human mind works’ (126). For this reason, it affirms the crosscultural imagination. In this book I have spoken of revolutions as art works that inspire each other transnationally, and Hawas’s introduction of modern or contemporary instances of iqtibās is very relevant to this. According to some Tunisians, the Tunisian revolution lit its torch from the Palestinian intifada while the Egyptian revolution lit its torch from the Tunisian one with Libyans, Syrians and Yemenis joining in too. More recently, the Sudanese and Algerian uprisings took their inspiration from these earlier uprisings, the Algerian one especially resembling the Egyptian one in its spirit of humour and wit. It was not that that the protests were merely emulating each other in turn as if from some ur-template that just got repeated. Rather it is that they partook of the same living spirit or spirits that they could detect in each other such as the spontaneous spirit of freedom, the spirit of defiance, the spirit of friendship across a distance and so forth. In Sudan, protesters turned on the lights of their mobile phones (to take photos I think) creating a sea of light while in Tripoli (Lebanon) protesters echoed this when they turned on the torches of their phones giving an impression of a galaxy of stars. The protesters were signalling their solidarity to each other in their groups yet they were also signalling to far away others. Inventively, the mobile phone lights acted as or were metaphors for the torches of inspiration that transmit the flame of revolutionary spirit. It is this creative transmission that is other to the master’s officially recognized episteme. Hawas states of iqtibās: ‘Had there been a divine source for this inspiration, then it would have been called revelation. For lack of the divine, it may be called plagiarism’ (126). However, in my view this is where world literature approaches need to be accompanied by

decolonizing ones that contest the appropriative or thieving dynamics of capitalism and the predatory drives of colonization. In the light of my previous discussion I would say that plagiarism is truly the death of iqtibās for it cuts off and stifles the sources of inspiration. If revolutionary inspiration is a crucial matter of the generous acknowledgement of the generous donation of the other, then this is starkly other to plagiarism as a self-aggrandizing and self-promoting refusal to acknowledge and thus share and transmit the lights or torches of inspiration. As I argue in this book, postcolonial leaders often try to colonize (claim for themselves) the liberation movements of their countries. What this colonizing or plagiarizing dynamic leads to is the setting up of ‘the glorious leader’, actually master of betrayal, while the creativity of the nation is frozen into the sterile repetition of the hollow political theatre of the templated liberation struggle. The politics of creative radicalism may thus be specified in terms of persistent resistance to forms of colonization and in terms of the practice of decolonization. Hawas quotes Hussein as stating: ‘the Arab world is influenced by the civility of the Koran which says: “If you are saluted, answer the salute by a better salute or return it similarly”’ (195). This is akin to the poetic hailing discussed in Chapter 3, and the revolutionaries waving their mobile phone torches across the world may be seen as saluting each other across the world. I would say that what I have been trying to do overall with this book is offer a salute to the inspirations of the Arab revolutionaries. In the latter stages of writing this book, I began to learn about the revolutionary unfolding of the new society in Rojava or North and East Syria. I knew, of course, that the Americans were reliant on the largely but not exclusively Kurdish forces from this area in the fight to put down ISIS and Islamic extremism. However, along with this, what was being deliberately not reported and thus repressed was how Rojava had managed to establish itself as a thoroughly workable revolutionary society with values radically different to those of the patriarchal capitalist West and East. In brief, it has constituted an experiment in minimizing political dominance through the setting up of an anarchist society that seeks to reconstitute the smallscale communalism of village life. As such, it would be hard to set up in societies that rely on centralized forms of governance where the co-optation of the communal ethos in question by a political party or by the state would risk falling back into the trap of dictatorial or totalitarian post-revolutionary tendencies (as Fanon well knew). While Arab citizens continue to face the challenge of reconceiving institutionalized politics in order to address how political institutions fail to engage with the nation’s needs, as importantly explored in the essays collected in Arab Spring (Mohamed and Fahmy 2019), the Rojava experiment yet has the capacity to inspire crucial grassroots social movements. What is striking about the North and East Syria revolution is that it argues that it requires a new epistemology and this has largely taken the form of what is called Jineologi. While Jineologi is translated as the science of women, more broadly it may be described as a sociology of freedom that depends on strong feminist and ecological commitments. In an online article ‘What is Jineologi?’(2018), Zîlan Diyar writes: ‘Jineoloji is a river finding its own way.’ That is, it is a form of understanding and body of knowledge that is not set in

stone but is capable of adapting to the situations that it finds itself in. What strikes me about the riverine analogy is that it resonates with the watercourse way of Taoism that I link to the poetic and revolutionary in various places in this book. It is important that Jineologi conceives of itself as a fluid form of social enquiry and study, for this presents it as an ongoing process, always open to further timely elaborations, as opposed to constituting a theoretical formation that only offers itself up for servile replication. While Jineoloji emphasizes the need for spontaneity and fluidity, what it is committed to resisting is patriarchal domination and extractive capitalism. In addition, the feminism at stake differs markedly from the kinds of liberal Western feminism concerned with the scripted performance of gender that have displaced what I call the feminine real.1 For instance, Diyar writes of how a belief in the living feminine can be traced philologically in ways that other or later cultures erase, stating: ‘When we look at Indo-European language groups we see that many words connected to the word life are feminine.’ In my earlier works I have argued for such perspectives against the grain of Western poststructuralist theories, identity politics and liberal feminism. For instance, in Decolonising Gender (2007) I argue that the feminine real is a crucial part of liberation struggles as a whole and in African Literature, Animism and Politics (2000), I explain how anti-colonial liberation movements draw on animist philosophies of spirit. This animist orientation is to be found in the Rojava movement, which explains why the movement has strong international support on behalf of First Nation groups as well as from Extinction Rebellion. Marcel Cartier, a hip-hop artist and journalist, explains how as a young Marxist materialist in search of a revolution he made contact with a Kurdish freedom fighter, Mehmet Askoy, who introduced him to the Rojava struggle. On connecting with this struggle, Cartier befriends a comrade who acknowledges Cartier’s surprised discovery of a magical feeling of collective spirit, as follows: ‘“We all say the same thing – that this revolution has a certain feeling to it that you just can’t explain. It has a spirit”’ (Cartier 2019, 14). According to Marcel Cartier, Jineologi holds to the belief that ‘everything and everyone is alive’ (58), an animist premise, while Cartier also speaks of the non-duality of Jineologi. Cartier comments that it is hard to convey the meaning of the revolutionary spirit in question given that it is ultimately experiential, noting: ‘It’s something you have to be a part of, something that draws people together and brings out the very best qualities of what it means to be human’ (14). This is similar to Al Aswany’s assertion (discussed in Chapter 6) that the Egyptian revolution was more of a human revolution than a political one. Coming back to the war on terror addressed in the introduction to this book, although the Rojava Syrians were responsible for the defeat of ISIS, they are as I write being subject to a military operation of possible ethnic cleansing (Cockburn 2019) being carried out by Turkey and called of all things, in the ‘jargon of authenticity’, Operation Peace Spring. (Since it is late autumn the hypocritical reference must be to the Arab Spring.) It is America that gave Turkey the green light for this operation, withdrawing its forces from the region and defending Turkey’s right to intervene, while this operation is serving not only to cleanse the region of what (as far as I can tell) seem to be its particularly committed democrats but to

reinstall Islamist groups that Turkey is sympathetic to. So, the ‘war on terror’ shows that the so-called defence of ‘our values’ (here American– Turkish ones) amounts to the defence of sexist, ethnocentric, neoliberal values an d reveals that the enemies eventually turn out to be the supporters of women’s liberation, participatory democracy and ecological responsibility. The fight against extremism has always masked the fact that the underlying war is often against the liberationists of creative radicalism be they in Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Lebanon, Chile or Bolivia, and so on (or so I hope). While I believe we cannot and should not get rid of what French philosophy calls ‘the subject’ (or what I myself would posit in terms of states of the individual as separated from the collective), this provision needs to be strongly counter-balanced with an affirmation of the possibilities of collective consciousness and with the realization that the alternative to ignorant barbarity is revolutionary adab or creative radicalism. Marcel Cartier, initially worried about his status as an outsider and onlooker on coming to Syria, recounts his being hailed into the Rojava movement: ‘From the moment I arrived, I was told “Welcome to our revolution. This is also your revolution now”’ (14). So, all who are attuned to this revolution, a revolution for humanity and for the future of our planet, can join in and feel included and salute the newcomers in turn. Welcome to our revolution. This is also your revolution now.

Notes

Chapter 1 1 As Jon Stewart explains, in attempting to correct misreadings of Hegel, for Hegel the term ‘divine’ is a term for rationality (Stewart 1996, 291). 2 I say so-called passive types in that the active/passive dichotomy is an abstract simplification. For instance, the contemplative life may involve receptivity as that which is not passive while active life may involve being driven into action by external or unconscious forces, thus as something not freely spontaneous. 3 The Nazis, it has to be said, targeted the religious (feminine Jews, of course with many actually women, and also Roma with their ‘unacceptable’ spiritual beliefs), poets and artists, and feminine men as homosexuals. On the one hand, fascism irrationally seeks to make femininity the property of masculinity, with this submissive femininity in the service of the man ideal, and on the other hand, for the fascists, those who are actually feminine outside of this self-perfecting structure are to be utterly dispensed with.

Chapter 2 1 Djebar speaks of that which is both dark and translucent in counterpoint to the whiteness that serves to obscure or blank out, this mainly being the whiteness of ‘Algerian white’. 2 Wedeen considers the Assad cult to be authoritarian more than totalitarian (44–5). However, I would suggest that totalitarianism is a form of authoritarianism that masks itself as such, presenting itself precisely ‘as if’ popularly supported. Interestingly, Wedeen argues that the cult has more of a hold in being ‘unbelievable’, in that you exert more power over people if you can get them to comply with what they do not hold true. (74) 3 Harass in her PhD thesis (2015), explores the use of oppositional terms for the same events. 4 In ‘“We Teach Life, Sir”: States of Siege, Youth and Filmed Testimony’ (2013d), Rita Sakr and I discuss how ‘Palestinian artists are able to reveal the gap between terminologies of conflict and a poetic language of human experience’ (2013d, 200), concentrating on the agency of youth. Our approach is echoed by Raja Shehadeh in Language of War, Language of Peace (2015) where he also looks at ‘terminologies of conflict’, and although he does not discuss Palestinian poetry or the agency of youth, he remarks in a strange aside, ‘Children and poets should be trusted more than politicians’ (130), as if he sees an equivalence between poets and children.

Chapter 3 1 Butler’s positing of the unspeakable can also be found in her unusual reading of Antigone. She maintains that Antigone is ‘not of the human’ and so has to appropriate the human language from which she is excluded (Butler 2000, 82). 2 If Butler encountered this article and mistakenly thought I was writing about the revolution as opposed to the time I spent in Cairo prior to the revolution, this may explain why she assumes the Egyptian revolution took place in 2009 and 2010. 3 I use the term ‘interpellate’ in terms of hailing or recruitment determined by power relations and ideology in a way that pertains to Althusser’s theory, while I use the term ‘interpolate’ to refer to forms of hailing, greeting, welcoming and acknowledgement that are not necessarily subject to hegemonic power relations. 4 The blurb for Antigone’s Claim has even been retrospectively revised since the Arab Spring to present it as the study of a ‘revolutionary’ when the work as first published entails no consideration of such, hence my critique of it over this very omission. 5 This is similar to how Dabashi sees the uprisings dispensing with the metaphysical polarities of the East and the West, discussed in the Introduction.

Chapter 5 1 It is worth noting that the phrase ‘the shame of being a man’ derives from Primo Levi who uses it in The Truce. Connor, however, responds to Deleuze’s re-workings of Levi’s considerations. Both Connor and Deleuze consider male shame to be a significant aesthetic impetus, especially for literature. Hania Nashef studies how shame and humiliation are central to the writings of J. M. Coetzee in The Politics of Humiliation in the Novels of J.M. Coetzee (2009) while the edited collection The Poetics and Politics of Shame in Postcolonial Literature (2019) offers a related consideration of shame in postcolonial contexts.

Concluding remarks 1 It should also be noted that there are strands of Western feminism, such as the work of Naomi Klein, that closely accord with the perspectives of Jineologi.

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Index

Abaza, Mona here, here, here Abbas, Sadia here, here Abdalla, Khalid here Abdelfattah, Alaa here Abdel Rahman, Reda here Abedi, Salman here Al-Abnūdi, ‘Abd al-Rahman here, here Abou El Fadl, Khaled here–here Abou-El-Fadl, Reem here, here–here Abu-Manneh, Bashir here Achcar, Gilbert here, here–here adab here, here, here, here–here, here Adebolajo, Michael, here al-Adl, Wassim here Adorno, Theodor here, here, here, here, here, here, here–here, here–here, here–here Ahmed, Mohamed Sgaier Awlad here Ahmed, Sara here Alaidy, Ahmed here Aljohani, Leila Days of Ignorance here Allam, Magdi here, here ‘Allush, Naji here Alshaer, Atef here, here, here, here Al Qaeda here, here, here amāra here, here–here, here, here. See also ostensive signs American Revolution here Amin, Samir here anarchic hailing here, here–here, here, here, here, here androgyny here, here, here, here animism here, here, here, here, here, here–here, here, here, here, here The Arabian Nights here, here Arab left here–here Arab uprisings Algeria here, here, here Egypt here–here, here–here, here–here, here, here, here, here–here, here–here, here, here–here, here–here, here Iraq here Lebanon here–here, here, here Libya here, here, here Palestine here, here Syria here–here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here–here Tunisia here, here, here, here–here, here, here, here Yemen here, here

Arendt Hannah here, here–here, here, here, here, here The Human Condition here–here, here–here, here, here–here, here–here, here, here, here El-Ariss, Tarek here–here Aristotle here, here, here–here Armbrust, Walter here Armstrong, Karen here Aron, Raymond here Arthur, Max here Ashour, Radwan here Assad, Bashar here, here, here, here Assad, Hafez here, here, here Al Aswany, Alaa here, here, here, here, here The Yacoubian Building here–here, here, here Atran, Scott here–here, here Atwood, Margaret here–here, here–here Auden, W. H. here, here–here, here, here Auestad, Lene here Austin, J. L. here–here, here authoritarianism here–here, here avant-garde darwish here, here, here–here, here, here–here, here, here, here, here–here postmodernist here, here, here Avineri, Shlomo here Awad, Alaa here Azmanova, Albena here Babaa, Suad here Baboulias, Yiannis here El Badawy, Emma here Baehr, Peter here Baker, Mona here Ball, Anna here Bani-Sadr, Abol-Hassan here Barenboim, Daniel here Barghouti, Mourid here, here, here–here, here–here, here–here Barthes, Roland here, here al-Bashir, Omar here BDS movement here–here, here Beiner, Ronald here Bell, Richard H. here Belleto, Stephen here Benjamin, Walter here, here, here, here–here Benslama, Fethi here–here, here–here El-Bermawy, Abdou Moussa here Bernard, Anna here Besançon, Alain here Beshara, Robert here biopolitics here, here, here, here, here–here, here, here Bohr, Niels here Booth, Marilyn here, here

Borossa, Julia here, here, here Boskovitch, Angela here Bouteflika, Abdelaziz here Braverman, Irus here Brecht, Bertolt here Breivik, Anders Behring here, here–here, here, here, here Buber, Martin here Buddhism here–here, here–here Burkhalter, Thomas here Burman, Erica here Bustani, Hisham here Butler, Judith here, here, here, here, here–here, here, here, here, here, here Calhoun, Cheshire here Camilleri, Andrea here carnivalesque here, here, here Cartier, Marcel here–here Césaire, Aimé here, here Chambers, Claire here Charlie Hebdo magazine here, here Chebbi, Abou el-Kasem here Chrisafis, Angelique here chronic disappointment here, here–here, here, here civility here–here, here–here, here, here, here civil society here, here, here, here, here, here creativity here, here, here–here, here, here Cockburn, Patrick here, here co-dependent arising/ dependent co-arising here, here, here, here, here, here, here–here, here–here, here, here Coffin, Nancy here Comerford, Milo here Connor, Steven here–here cooke, miriam here–here, here, here, here corruption of language here, here–here, here, here, here Csef, Herbert here culturecide here Dabashi, Hamid here, here, here, here, here, here, here–here Dalida (singer) here Dan Prize here, here, here–here Darwish, Mahmoud here, here, here Darwish, Sayyid here, here–here, here Darwish, Zaki here–here Davis, Mike here Davis, Walter A. here Derrida, Jacques here, here, here, here, here, here El-Desouky, Ayman here–here, here, here, here, here–here, here–here, here, here, here diachronic and synchronic axes here–here, here, here, here, here, here, here Dickinson, Kay here dignity. See karāmah discourses of authenticity here, here, here–here, here, here, here, here–here

Diyar, Zîlan here–here Djebar, Assia Algerian White here, here–here, here, here, here, here donation here, here, here, here–here doppelgänger episteme here, here, here, here, here, here politics here, here–here, here, here, here, here–here Eaglestone, Robert here Einstein, Albert here–here Eliot, T. S. here, here, here, here Elkamel, Sara here Elmarsafy, Ziad here, here Elsadda, Hoda here Elshahed, Mohamed here El-Enany, Rasheed here epistemic challenge here–here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here equine messianism here, here–here, here Ettinger, Elzbieta here extremism here–here, here, here, here–here, here, here, here, here, here, here–here Fahmy, Dalia here Fahmy, Ziad here Fanon, Frantz here, here–here, here, here, here fascism here, here, here, here, here–here Fathi, Ahmad Issam here Fawakhry, Asaf here feminine real here, here, here, here, here Ferris, Lesley here fetishism here, here, here, here, here, here, here Finkelstein, Norman here Firestone, Rueven here, here Fontanella-Khan, Amana here foreclosure here, here, here–here, here, here forgiveness here–here, here–here, here Forster, Edward M. here Fosse, Bob Cabaret here–here, here–here Foucault, Michel here, here, here, here, here Frankel, Jay here Freke, Timothy here French Revolution here, here Freud, Sigmund here, here, here–here, here, here–here, here–here Futrell, Robert here–here Gabler, Neal here Gad, Mostafa here Gaddafi, Muammar here, here, here Gandy, Peter here Ganzeer (artist) here

gated community advertisements here, here, here, here false paradise here, here–here fractal here, here, here Israel here, here–here Gaynor, Gloria here Genet, Jean here, here, here, here Ghali, Waguih, here Ghannam, Munir here Ghonim, Wael here Ghosh, Amitav here–here, here–here Gilman, Daniel here–here Girard, René here Giroux, Henry here Glover, Kaiama here Gottschalk, Simon here–here Gray, Heather here Greenberg, Clement here Gröndhal, Mia here, here Habermas, Jurgen here Habiby, Emile here, here–here, here, here Haddād, Ahmed here, here Haddād, Fu’ād here Haffner, Sebastian here al-Hakim, Tawfik here Halabi, Zeina G. here Halim, Hala here–here Hall, Catharine here Hall, Radclyffe here Hall, Stuart here Hamad, Suheir here El Hamamsy, Walid here, here, here, here Hamdar, Abir here Hamilton, Omar Robert here, here–here, here, here Hammad, Khayri here Hanssen, Jens here Harb, Ahmad here Harbert, Benjamin J. here Hartling, Linda here Hassan, Fekri here hate music here, here, here–here, here Hawas, May here–here Hawas, Sarah here, here Hayek, Friedrich here, here Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich here–here, here, here–here, here, here, here, here, here Heidegger, Martin here–here, here–here, here, here, here–here, here Hermeticism here, here, here, here, here Herzl, Theodor here–here, here–here Hilberg, Raul here–here

Hinduism here, here, here, here, Hirschkind, Charles here, here, here Holocaust here, here, here, here Honig, Bonnie here Hove, Chenjerai here–here, here–here, here, here–here, here humiliation here, here, here, here, here, here, here–here, here, here–here, here, here–here Hussein, Saddam here Hussein, Taha here Hyvönen, Ari-Elmeri here icon here, here, here, here, here, here idol here, here, here, here, here–here, here, here, here, here, here interpellation here, here, here–here, here, here, here iqtibās here Irving, Sarah here Islam here, here, here, here, here–here, here, here Islamic State (ISIS) here, here, here–here, here, here, here–here Islamism here–here, here–here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here–here Jaber, Yehia here Jabotinsky, Vladimir here Jacquemond, Richard here, here jāhiliyya here–here, here–here Jāhin, Salāh here Jakobson, Roman here–here Jammer, Max here Jaspers, Karl here Jineoloji here–here Joyce, James here Junger, Sebastian here Kabesh, Amal Treacher here, here Kahn, Yael Oren here Kalmar, Ivan here Kamal, Hala here Kanafani, Ghassan here, here, here All That’s Left to You here–here Kant, Immanuel here–here, here karāmah here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here–here, here Kassab, Elizabeth Suzanne here Kassir, Samir here, here, here, here Kazemi, Farshid here–here Kedourie, Elie here Kelani, Reem here Keraitim, Sahar here, here, here Al Khamissi, Khaled here, here Taxi here–here Khleifi, Michel here Khosrokhaver, Farhad here–here, here, here Khoury, Elias here, here, here

White Masks here, here–here, here King, Martin Luther here kitsch here, here, here, here Knausgaard, Karl Ové here, here–here Kontje, Todd here Kormuzi, Ayat here Kovel, Joel here Kraidy, Marwan here Kramer, Fritz here–here Krauthammer, Charles here Kunandi, Arun here Kurian, Alka here–here Kurze, Arnaud here Lacan, Jacques here, here, here–here, here Landry, Donna here, here Lazare, Bruno here, here Levi, Primo here, here Levine, Mark here Lewis, Bernard here Librett, Jeffrey S. here Lindner, Evelin here–here, here, here linguistification of the sacred here, here, here, here Lowkey (rapper) here Luxemburg, Rosa here Maarouf, Mazen here, here McLarney, Ellen here Mahasweta Devi here Mahfouz, Naguib here, here–here, here–here The Day the Leader Was Killed here–here, here, here, here Mandela, Nelson here Mannin, Ethel here–here, here Mannoni, Octave here Mansell, Clint here maqāma here, here, here–here, here Marable, Manning here Marfleet, Philip here, here Margalit, Avishai here Martín-Lucas, Belén here martyr art here, here, here, here–here, here, here martyrdom here, here, here–here, here, here, here–here, here–here, here–here Marx, Karl here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here Mason, Paul here, here Masri, Mai here Massad, Joseph here, here, here Matar, Dina here Mattar, Karim here, here May, Reinhard here Mechaï, Hassina here

Mehrez, Samia here, here, here, here Mejcher-Atassi, Sonja here Merit’s publishing house here Meryan, Dania here Milich, Stephan here Miller, Chris here Miller, Dana here Milmo, Cahal here Mittermaier, Amira here, here, here–here Modi, Narenda here–here Al-Mohaimed, Yousef here Mohamed, Eid here, here Mohammed, Ossama here, here Monnerot, Jules here Moore, Lindsey here, here Moore-Gilbert, Bart here Morayef, Soraya here Mosireen Collective here, here Mostafa, Dalia Said here, here, here, here, here, here, here El Mougy, Sahar here, here Mroué, Rabih here–here, here Mrówyczyński-Van Allen, Artur here Mubarak, Hosni here–here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here Mukhtar, Mahmud here–here Murray, Gilbert here–here muteness here, here, here, here–here, here, here, here–here Nāgārjuna here Naguib, Sameh here Namira, Hamza here, here Nashef, Hania here Nasrallah, Ibrahim Time of White Horses here, here–here Nasser, Gamal Abdel here, here, here, here Nasser, Mervat Abdel here Negm, Ahmed Fouad here–here, here neoliberalism here, here–here, here, here, here–here, here, here, here Netanyahu, Benjamin here–here, here, here Neumann, Michael here Nietzsche, Friedrich here–here Nini, Achinoam here–here non-dualism here, here–here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here Omareen, Zaher here, here Omri, Mohamed-Salah here Orientalism here, here, here, here German here, here Orwell, George here ostensive signs here, here, here, here, here–here, here, here–here, here, here, here Ouyang, Wen-Chin here

Pandolfo, Stefania here pariah elitism here–here, here, here–here Parker, Ian here Parr, Nora here Parsifal legend here–here Péladan, Joséphin here Pepe, Teresa here performativity here, here, here, here, here Petry, Michael John here, here Pinault, David here Piterberg, Gabriel here, here Pitkin, Hanna Fenichel here Plato here, here poetic fidelity here–here, here, here, here, here poetic realism here, here, here, here–here, here, here, here Popper, Nathaniel here–here Pound, Ezra here Pratt, Nicola here precarity here–here, here, here, here, here Prevent strategy here pride movements black here, here gay here, here–here Hindu here, here, here–here Muslim here–here, here, here–here white here, here–here Zionist here, here, here–here Prince, Mona here–here, here, here, here, here–here psycho-affective orientations here, here, here, here, here, here Puar, Jasbir here Pulkkinen, Tuija here Quirke, Stephen here Qumsiyeh, Mazin here–here Qutb, Sayyid here–here, here, here, here Raban, Jonathan here Rabea, Aly Hassan Amin here radical distrust here–here, here, here, here, here, here radicalism here, here, here, here, here radicalization here–here, here Radwan, Noha M. here–here Rank, Otto here revolutionary aura here–here, here consciousness here, here–here, here, here, here, here episteme here–here over-turning here–here, here, here, here–here, here, here, here, here, here Rojava movement here, here, here, here Rose, Jacqueline here, here, here

Rosenthal, Franz here–here Roudinesco, Elisabeth here Rove, Karl here–here Roy, Arundhati here–here Rubenstein, Richard here Rubin, Barry here Al-Rumaih, Haifa here Russian Revolution here, here Rustin, Susanna here Ruthven, Malise here El Saadawi, Nawal here Sabra and Shatila massacres here Sacks, Jeffrey here the sacred here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here martyr art here, here, here revolutionary values here, here–here, here, here Sadat, Anwar here, here–here Sahib, May here Said, Edward here, here, here, here El Said, Lena Meari here El Said, Maha here, here–here, here St Augustine here, here, here Sakr, Rita here Saleh, Ali Abdullah here Al-Saleh, Asaad here, here, here, here Salvatore, Armando here–here Sanderson, Richard A. here Schama, Simon here–here Schmid, Alex here–here Schofield, Clemency here Schrödinger, Erwin here, here Schroeder, Doris here Sethi, Anita here Seymour-Jorn, Caroline here Shakespeare, William here, here, here El Shakry, Omnia here shame here, here, here–here, here, here–here, here Shammas, Anton here Sharma, Rakesh here–here Shenker, Jack here, here, here, here Shepard, William E. here Shi’ism here–here, here sh’ir al-Āmmiyya here–here shirk here, here, here, here. See also idol Siddiqui, Sabah here Siegel, Robert here signifying practices here, here, here–here, here, here Simi, Pete here–here Skrewdriver here–here, here, here

Socrates, here Soliman, Laila here Soliman, Mounira here, here, here, here Soros, George here Soueif, Ahdaf here, here, here, here Souhami, Diana here Spaltoff, Ulrich here Spinoza here, here–here spontaneity here, here, here–here, here, here, here Stevenson, Robert Louis The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde here–here, here Stonebridge, Lyndsey here Stroud, Joe here Sufi-animism here, here, here Sufism here, here, here–here, here–here, here sumūd here, here–here, here superfluity here, here–here, here, here–here, here, here, here, here, here Sutherland, Keston here Suzuki, Daisetsu here Swedenburg, Ted here Taher, Bahaa here Tal, Alon here El-Tamami, Wiam here Taoism here–here, here–here, here, here Tarrant, Brenton here Thien, Madeleine here Tolkien, J. R. R. Lord of the Rings here, here, here, here–here totalitarianism here, here, here Towfik, Ahmed Khaled here transgender here–here, here–here, here–here transnational strata here Traubmann, Tamara here trauma here, here, here–here Tripp, Charles here Tsarnev, Tamerlan here Tuqan, Fadwa here Turner, Jenny here–here Tzu, Lao here, here, here unframing here, here–here, here–here unhu and ubuntu here, here utopia here, here, here–here, here, here Valassopoulos, Anastasia here, here, here, here Vatikiotis, P. J. here Veale, D. here verbicide here–here, here Volpi, Frédéric here

vulnerability here, here, here–here, here–here, here war on terror here–here, here, here Waxman, Dov here Wedeen, Lisa here, here–here Welby, Peter here Wilde, Oscar here Williams, Cristan here Williams, Raymond here Winter, Charlie here Wittig, Monique Les Guérillères here–here Woolf, Virginia here writers of conscience here, here–here, here, here–here Yassin-Kassab, Robin here Yeats, W. B. here, here Zamora, Daniel here Al-Zayyat, Latifa here El Zein, Amira here Ziadeh, Rafeef here, here–here Zielinski, Luisa here zoe here, here

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