Photo by Jaques Garnier

The Politics of Composition in a Context of the Destruction of Experience

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Non-place Manifesto

By: Dr.  Massoud Binandeh

Sine, November, 2016.

Human beings have thrown into the world, and this thrownness has directed our life towards discovering the residence of language and the rootlessness of discourse, discourse that has demarcated our life as linguistically-defined. No conflict with this definition has arisen and there is no zero-point where the process of life is thought to have begun; rather, mankind has always lived in a rich context of language which has no certain and no final destination to which this process aims. This ontological condition is itself tied to a linguistic, epistemological status, which means that the emotions and consciousness of man as a social being has been defined within a lingual framework – thus, all riddles and complexities of human life are rooted in the dominance of language and a baseless, endless state that characterises the human-being, i.e. as inexorably thrown into the world. Language is not the residence of any entity or trans-historical, metaphysical truth, except for the human being. Thus, language is an Athos, representing man – it is impervious to the nothingness of reality. These concepts are constructed through language and the rhythm and syntax give them a certain, exclusive meaning.

Dr. Massoud Binandeh

The history of metaphysics has shown that these relationships have always been interpreted and read differently in one way or another: language functions as the source, residence, and cause of all phenomena (and the effects of phenomena) creating and giving them meaning and significance. Language and mythological, classical thinking have castrated and monopolized both the freedom and salvation of language in an exclusive manner. They have formulated a dynamic mechanism in the form of an exposed, disciplined and bordered framework manifested in the form of two main phenomena: ‘centre’ and ‘repetition’. These two phenomena have not only dominated the world of literary and artistic craftsmanship, but they have also functioned as a written force to both delineate and organise social and political figurations in accordance with their own perception of truth and ideology. The history of human generally, and Kurdistan in particular, has been affected by this ontological fundamentalism directed towards a truth-power and an authoritarian policy which has produced a disastrous history through the reproduction of sanctity, fear, and violence.

Despite all the native and detrimental consequences, the process of modernity has eroded the red lines of critical thinking and has challenged the claim to authoritarian, truth-based discourse through introducing fundamental social, political, and economic changes. Social relations, which have provided the necessary context for the innovative creation and interpretation of artistic and literary traditions, declined and this, in turn, caused the disappearance and deterioration of what can best be called original literary works. When the rules that comprised the once exclusive space-time context of literary and artistic exposure started to falter, making artistic objects more publically accessible, the sacred aura and sublime origin of artistic and literary works was bid adieu.

The destruction of experience – the primary function of which is a threat placed on the human to confront a sort of anthropic condition and absolute vacuum (passive nihilism) – signifies the destruction of all those formulations and conventional values which allowed the creation and interpretation of literary works to arise. Interestingly, these conditions established a new traction for regressive movements – that is to say, those movements which covet a return to a certain past state haunted by the illusion of the dominance of a centre and the promise of a second life under the shadow of controversial, hostile nihilism.

The negative, endangering dimension of this unbearable nihilism produced a positive perception of active subjectivity in the heart of the individual. What therefore was deemed a radical damage at the onset of the issue turned into a precious opportunity for reconstructing and reproducing values and standards in a novel, modern way. Modernist artists managed to configure the severe shock of the destruction of experience and meaninglessness in new artistic forms and stabilised the boundless energy and power of unbridled Faust and consequently new chances within artistic, rhetoric and aesthetic poetics.

The ultimate goal of this decline was a fundamental divorce of and a break from those traditional values and principles which had brutally scarified real human life under the spell of illusive, Platonic ideas which marginalized human polyphony and various social requirements through the application of a cruel contrapuntal force. The destruction of experience provided the critical opportunity for the subject to acquire the chance of revolt, expression and a new consciousness to ruminate the realm of both being and the universe. Concepts of reason, language, time-space, rights, power, knowledge, artist, aesthetics, etc., were reconstructed in the light of a modern reflexive sense of style and meaning and, accordingly, an entirely new identity and significance was created for humans. All these liberalisations of thought and language, which seemed to be directly related to social and political changes, emerged paradoxically in a context of monopolistic forces, such as a repressive Leviathan government, the dehumanizing duress of bureaucracy, inequality through capitalist systems of government, and centralizing the hegemonic position that culture-industry occupies.

Determining the necessities of the social and historical realm has created a context, indeed a movement, of intellectual and artistic liberation – the never-ending dialectic and conflict of these forces thus manifested in the form of objective modernization and subjective modernism which have both functioned as the main impetus for progress and change. The modern romance of development and progress has always expected this paradoxical situation, and this dialectical conflict has never been supposed resolvable through a trans-historical synthesis; rather, it gave birth to a trans-historical individual and a society free from any symptom of adherence to tradition and cliché.

The modern subject, despite understanding the tragic situation of the paradoxical cycle of defeat and destruction, is never disappointed and never deceives itself with the fantasy of an eternal future and the nostalgia of a past eternity. The contemporary subject manages to create within a state of impossible innovation and tries to fulfil free-will and gain mastery over itself, regardless of cruel systems and structures. Therefore, it experiences life in the heart of the impossibility that is death, and it represents human misery and loneliness (loneliness here characterised as a failure) in literature.

The concept of power is by nature mixed with bio-politics; and thus, the boundaries between biological life, civil life, law and violence is removed as a result of this integration, i.e. human life is boiled down to the bare structure and loses its authenticity under the domination of this apparatus. Consequently, modern politics takes the form of Awarte (exception) politics, in which learning and the force of law is realised through suspension and cessation, a halt which sustains the shadow of death and violence against people beyond law and lawlessness. Thus, artistic and literary modernism is activated within the cracks and crevices of such an apparatus, a space more extended than commodified, usurped identities where any break from the ‘real state of affairs’ and ‘the fantasy of image’ are prevented through sustaining ‘the state of potentiality’ and the continuation of the organic relationship existing between ‘body and image’ within the industry of propaganda and pornography. Thus, art neither surrenders to stereotyping the real world through representation and mimesis, nor does it rely on the conservative slogan of ‘art for art’s sake’. Furthermore, it not restricted and passive against selfish and self-censoring circles of solipsism. Rather, it represents itself in the form of a mere gesture by way of it revealing the meaninglessness of meaning and boiling down language to its very naked structure. This isn’t, of course, political art and literature, which claim to be political through donning political masks, but the politics of art and literature – both of which having the potential to both resisting and introducing a new chance into market dictatorship and the bio politics of violence. Only a poetic with a political gesture, which reveals and suspends ideological discourse and constructed identities through a means without an end and furthermore revealing the essence of language, can function as the critical force of  the contemporary era.

Although the Kurdish community has been, historically, marginalized and prevented from adapting to scientific innovation and the progress of modernization more broadly in a totally unique strategic way, powerful contemporary modernisation beams have covered all aspects of our world and the process of universalisation has thrown us into an unequal and breath-taking field of competition. If we move into the orbit of old classic order, remaining ignorant of the profundity of a catastrophe which has happened long ago, and perpetuating our naïve and optimistic stance according to the logic of ‘whatever comes, comes’, we will share a partnership in the vicious disaster of history and thereby drown in a Sisyphus-like destiny. We will ultimately forfeit our present and future destiny, allowing it to metamorphose into a disastrous narrative.

Without doubt, every society declares its manifesto in historical trends and reveals its meaning within, on the one hand, unwritten action, and on the other, written works. Although this enthusiasm and ferment is constantly marginalized and rarely heard, it has never stopped its attempt at reaching people’s ears. The present manifesto, as well, is a further attempt to give space to all those critical, responsible individuals who have deviated from the right way thereby revolting against the straight path – a manifesto advocating unrealised politics of composition and the art of failure against the power and the presence of blackmail, propaganda, and capitalist appropriation. This manifesto prefers to be deemed guilty along with truth rather than be rewarded in its compliance with deceit and falsity. Composition, here, implies all fields in which the practice of radical thinking and contemplation are realised: thus, the spectrum of composition covers a range wider than all genres and intellectual, scientific, and artistic scopes (including philosophy, sociology, politics, aesthetics, etc.). This non-place manifesto, in addition to appreciating the necessity of modernisation and the deepening of literary and artistic changes, foregrounds the necessity of the development of progressive individuals and modern mentalities in the realms of politics, culture and society. Moreover, it believes that the classic, degrading politics which has symbolised the dominance of the ancient, traditional, communal, familial, geographical locational and masculine forms of power structures is no longer able to establish drastic changes within the Kurdish production mode. Furthermore, it also cannot pave the ground for the democratisation of art, literature, and politics and the activation of the internal mechanism of Kurdish community. Thus, the politics of composition, as an attempt to say “no” in a context of ‘saying’, surrenders to that fatal contradiction which has openly cried a desire for life and stood against the policy of saying yes; saying too much; resorting to holiness; relying on clichés; speaking  repeatedly: speaking cowardly; and speaking without thinking. According to the provisions of a non-place manifesto, radical politics in the realm of contemporary thought, art, and literature is the same as the politics of different composition. With the aforementioned delineation kept in mind, the aims of a non-place manifesto are thusly:

  1. Dethroning meaning from its historically transcendental, sacred position and restoring it to its true origin; i.e. the territory of ordinary language.
  2. Rejecting any kind of logos or meta-linguistic, non-referential experience derived from a pre-lingual continuum and applying language as a means of an expression and transmission of ideas.
  3. Negating a classical perception of reason and logic which emphasised two concepts of centre and repetition and was consistent with teleology, the dominance of the author, a singularity of truth, and monophony in its prevention of polyphony and pluralism within the context of the text.
  4. An attempt to break away from raw, realistic experiences and romantic illusions and expand the range of expression and creation.
  5. The break with omniscient figures and unifying reason which, as patriarchal subjects, imposed their authority on the field of the text and had a saying in all normal and critical points of the text and narrative.
  6. Negating any call for the interrogation or the impeachment of the reader and audience as full, consistent, controlled, and subordinate subjects and developing an indeterminate process that creates audience identity.
  7. Negating sanctity and transparency of the text, norm, and character and deconstructing totalitarian and trans-textual propaganda through the implementation of analytical, critical and assessing practices.
  8. Deconstructing the conventional mode of Kurdish writing and paving the way for the emergence of iconoclastic texts of poetry, story, and other fields; in other words, passing through the politics of tranquillity and security of composition, which roots in conservative regulations and evades any possible sort of inconvenience of turbulence.
  9. Transitioning from the politics of identity which is tied with a traditional desire of dominance and centrality and has caused hermeneutic single-mindedness, out-datedness, and conventionality and moving towards fluidity and indeterminacy of identity which emphasises freedom of action, multiplicity of definition, and pluralism of interests in a context of various national, sexual, and social interests.
  10. Going back to the central role of the reader not as a passive, static consumer of meaning, but as a powerful, reasonable figure who fills the gap and the empty spots of the text with rich imagination and reconstructs the text in numerous new ways during the process of reading.
  11. Insisting on the fact that the existence of a text continues through the practice of reading and evaluation and, thus, criticism is the last stop to finalise the life of a text and develop realised potentials of a text.
  12. Emphasising the freedom of imagination, explanation, and interpretation in a creative and critical process. In other words, expanding the concept of criticism and figures of speech from being merely academic towards various fields of sociology, psychology, cultural studies, linguistics, semiotics, and political thinking.
  13. Resisting and opposing the foolish desire of composition which tends to simplify complicated aspects of concepts, theories, and techniques in a crude way presented as an optimistically superficial solution for all fundamental conundrums of being.
  14. Foregrounding the role and position of language in the process of writing in such a way that it substitutes the unchallenged role that the reader’s mentality plays; thus giving birth to a written text.
  15. Developing the experience of translation in such a way that native language is awakened and experiences new narratives under the spell of another language.
  16. Transitioning from artificial boundaries of writing and criticism and setting out to create chaos within repressive order and the rule of the common text in such a way that any expression or novel narrative paves the ground for freer and broader rules and disciplines.
  17. Achieving the fact that the practice of innovation and creation neither follows a cause and effect relationship nor gets its legitimacy from ultimate objectives: thus, creation is based on the principle of the dominance of the self and according to the requirements of the composition itself.
  18. Negating essentialist, unregistered rules of ‘beauty’; i.e. transitioning from aesthetics as the cause and goal of creation towards a contradictory variety of aesthetics which are viewed not as role models of creation-closure, but as infrastructure and a product of this process.
  19. Resurrecting a kind of art and literature – the creation, reception, and interpretation of which establishes the possibility of unparalleled new horizons. Put another way, denying a single authoritarian reality and opening the possibility of multiple realities and a supernatural plan.
  20. Trying to plan and re-read the history, literature, and the politics of the Kurdish community in the mind of the people themselves in such a way to enable us to transcend a master-slave dialectic and a slave-like composition, and thereby presenting dynamic movements within the realm of language and history by considering universal issues.


Image is by Jacques Garnier