Not Signed-In
Which clippings match 'Self-reflection' keyword pg.1 of 1
27 APRIL 2013

How and when Muslim societies will move away from seeing violence as a resolution to human conflict

"This week the minaret of one of Syria's most beautiful mosques was destroyed in the northern city of Aleppo. The Ummayad mosque established in 715 was rebuilt in 1159 after being damaged by a fire and then built again a century later after the Mongol invasion. The oldest surviving part was the minaret and both the State forces and the rebels accuse each other of its destruction. Lying in the Old City, the mosque is a Unesco world heritage site but has become part of the wider devastation of Syria's rich cultural heritage; a Crusader castle and Roman ruins in the ancient city of Palmyra have also been damaged.

However sad this physical destruction of history and art is, it should matter less to us than the recent reports that some 70,000 lives have been lost in this terrible civil war with hundreds of thousands more displaced. This is a war which is gradually ripping the country apart but about which the rest of the world doesn't seem to know what to do. Yet there is a different poignancy to the loss of a country's artistic and cultural past. It is these visual artifacts, building and ruins which speak to us of a country's history, its collective memory, the love and passion of the people who make a piece of land into a nation state. That so many Syrians are now killing each other and destroying ruins and religious sites poses the disturbing question, what exactly is still held sacred in so many part of the Muslim world?

A couple of weeks ago I returned from a short break to Istanbul. The area surrounding the majestic Hagia Sophia and the Blue mosque is also a Unesco world heritage site, tourists wander freely, the buildings stand sublime, the contested past of the place breathing its religious spirit into a refashioned, modern and vibrant city. But I wonder whether the preservation of history is only meaningful in countries where there is the preservation of peace, where people can enjoy the ordinariness of life, where there is order and purpose and we have the luxury of self reflection.

Earlier this week the former Met commissioner sir Ian Blair said societies choose what kind of violence they will tolerate. Looking across to so many part of the Islamic world where there is civil war, state violence and individual acts of terror, I wonder how and when Muslim societies will move away from seeing violence as a resolution to human conflict. When God is great is uttered as people and buildings are blown up what kind of God have so many created in their hearts and minds? The destruction of the minaret is not just a physical destruction but a tragic metaphor for a nation's soul."

(Mona Siddiqui, 26 April 2013, BBC Radio 4: Thought for the Day)

Fig.1 At left, the damaged Umayyad mosque in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria, on Wednesday 24 April 2013; at right, the view of the mosque with the minaret intact on 6 March 2013. (AP) [–of–iconic–syrian–mosque–destroyed–in–fighting].



1159 • 715 • Aleppo • ancient city • architectural feature • artistic past • BBC Radio 4 • blown up • Blue mosque • building and ruinscivil warcollective memory • Crusader castle • Crusadescultural heritagecultural heritage sitescultural past • destroying • destructiondevastationgod • Hagia Sophia • historic preservation • history and art • human conflict • Ian Blair • individual acts of terror • Islamic mosque • Islamic world • Metropolitan Police • minaret • Minaret of the Bride • Mona Siddiqui • Mongol invasion • mosque • Muslim societies • Muslim world • order and purpose • ordinariness of life • Palmyra • physical destructionpreservation • preservation of history • preservation of peace • religious sites • Roman ruins • ruinssacred • self reflection • self-reflection • state violence • SyriaThought for the Day • tragic metaphor • Umayyad Mosque • UNESCO • UNESCO World Heritage site • violencevisual artefactswomen in cultural theorywonders of the ancient world • world heritage site • world heritage sites


Simon Perkins
25 FEBRUARY 2011

Wild Strawberries: falling backwards through memories

Ingmar "Bergman's restless mind wouldn't even leave him to rest during a brief hospital stay, which is where he wrote the script for one of his earliest forays into the nature of age, memory and self–reflection. The core of the film had come to him the previous year while driving through his old hometown of Uppsala, past his grandmother's house. His fertile imagination wondered how it might be if he could open the door and step back into his own childhood, and from this kernel grew Wild Strawberries. In Swedish the title of Smultronstället has deeper meaning than just referring to a wild strawberry patch, it has a colloquial sense of a place invested with personal or sentimental value, often undervalued until it returns to memory in a nostalgic fashion. Which is precisely what the lead character of Isak Borg experiences throughout the film, falling backwards through his memories, attempting to make sense of his life in his final years. It's not an unusual thing for a Bergman film to be filled with casual slips between reality and dreams/memories, or to be populated with characters whose role is to aid our protagonist on his/her internal quest, but the lead character is not what we might envision in Bergman's work. Isak Borg is not a cruel man, but his self–centred cynicism and rampant egotism set him apart from the majority of other Bergman leads. But he needs to be such a vaguely unlikable character for the audience to experience the full impact of his self–realisation, dragged through a series of memories and forced to confront his continuing failures and inadequacies. A loveable, upright character would not have been able to supply so much powerful redemption in the final reel."

(Craig Andrews, Media Resource Centre)



195735mmacross timeanalepsischildhoodchronological timecircular narrative structuredreamfilmimaginationin the mindIngmar Bergmaninternal quest • Iris Cinema • Lund Universitymemory • Mercury Cinema • nostalgiapastpersonalself-realisationself-reflection • Smultronstallet • SwedishSwedish filmmaker • Uppsala • Wild Strawberries (1957)


Simon Perkins

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