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Which clippings match 'Jingoism' keyword pg.1 of 1
16 JANUARY 2013

Call to Order: the subordination of the matter to the light of the form

"The French poet and filmmaker, Jean Cocteau, is usually given the credit for the title by which the neoclassical revival of the 1920′s and early 1930′s is known. Le Rappel a l'ordre or the Call to Order summoned the civilized world to its senses. These were the very organs, you will recall, that had been ripped away by a shell fragment in Dix's Skin Graft.

This 'call to order' actually had its roots in French wartime propaganda. The virtues of France's Latin–based civilization were ranged against the Teutonic brutalism of the Germans. Before the war, néoclassicisme had languished like a discarded stage prop. In 1918, with the 'Huns' surging for a second time toward the gates of Paris, Cocteau and others summoned the cultural icons of Greece and Rome to join the Allied ranks. That year, Cocteau published a book, Le Coq et l'Arlequin, which he revised and renamed in 1924 as Le Rappel a l'ordre. The message was the same, without the 'us versus them' jingoism of the war: civilization must look to its ancient past to regain its bearings and enhance its vitality.

Cocteau's thesis found an appreciative audience in many circles, including the United States. According to French writer Jacques Maritain, 'what makes the purity of the true classic is … a subordination of the matter to the light of the form.' The discipline and dedication of the artist would admit only the essential elements of art into the work being created, excluding anything that would 'debauch' the senses of the viewer."

(Ed Voves, 4 October 2010)

TAGS

1920s19241930s • ancient past • brutalismcall to orderchaos and classicism • civilized world • classical formcreative fundamentalism • cultural icons • debauch • enhance vitality • essential elements of artessentialismGermanGreek • Jacques Maritain • Jean Cocteaujingoism • light of the form • neoclassical • neoclassical revivalneoclassicism • neoclassicisme • nostalgiapurity • regain bearings • return to order • revival • Romanromanticism • senses of the viewer • Teutonic • Teutons • true classic • us versus them • wartime • wartime propaganda • World War I

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
18 FEBRUARY 2009

Reconsidering the Rushdie affair: free-speech, censorship and 'The Satanic Verses'

"The history of modern Iran provides a dramatic illustration of the fallacy represented by the modern jingoism of 'better our imperialism than theirs'. For the two forms of imperialism are actually intimately related. By forcefully imposing Western values on Muslim states we are merely creating the ideal conditions for the very form of Islamic imperialism we most fear. At the same time, by maintaining an attitude of almost complete insensitivity in relation to The Satanic Verses we are feeding the cruel fundamentalism we seek to oppose. For the continued prestige of the novel in the West is itself a source of cultural humiliation for countless thousands of Muslims both in this country and elsewhere.

Most ironically of all, by persisting in their intransigent support for Rushdie's novel, Western liberals are demonstrating not their strength but their weakness. For it is by having the courage to correct mistakes and misjudgments that cultures ultimately demonstrate their strength.

In this respect Salman Rushdie's reflections on his own possible fallibility are highly significant. In his essay 'In Good Faith', he writes: 'Would I have written differently if I had known what would happen? Truthfully, I don't know. Would I change any of the text now? I would not. It's too late. As Friedrich Dürrenmatt wrote in The Physicists: 'What has once been thought cannot be unthought.' '

The flaw in this argument is that the quotation from Dürrenmatt addresses a quite different problem from that which is at issue. It is quite true that 'what has once been thought cannot be unthought' but thoughts are not words. They are essentially private and the fact that we cannot 'unthink' them is irrelevant to the Rushdie affair. For it is one of the conditions of human freedom that we can choose whether or not to voice in public the thoughts that we have in private. And having once chosen to commit our thoughts to speech or to writing we remain free to have 'second thoughts' – to revise, change or even completely repudiate what we have already said.

It is, indeed, almost a precondition of successful human relationships that we should remain free to withdraw or apologise for remarks which have proved hurtful, to 'unsay' things which we have already said and to put right mistakes or misjudgments. To place ourselves in a position where we are unable to do this is a sign not of liberty but of rigidity. Indeed, when Rushdie claims that he cannot alter or withdraw what he has written, he appears to invest himself with the infallibility which traditional religious believers normally ascribe to their gods and their divinely inspired prophets. It is just such delusions which lead to the monolithic and terrible certainties of scripture. By implicitly applying a scriptural doctrine of inerrancy to his own secular writing Rushdie has come close to making a novel – a human fable – into something as rigid and dangerous as scripture itself."
(Richard Webster, 1992)

TAGS

censorshipcultural sensitivityethics • free-speech • Friedrich Dürrenmatt • fundamentalismimperialismIranIslamIslamophobiajingoismMuslim • Richard Webster • Salman Rushdie • Satanic Verses • scripturetradition • unsay • unthought

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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