By Amir K. Khiaban No. 50
An important distinction between good and bad art is that bad art 'tells', while good art 'shows'. A bad poem says, "I am in love", but a good poem recreates the feeling of being in love through the use of poetic metaphors. It doesn't say, "I'm in love"; it writes:
"Woe, blade, do not scar my cheek through neglect,
Oh, hand, do not disturb the serenity of my hair,
And do not shame me, Oh, heart!
the drunken you, without having drunk a drop;
The moment of meeting is close."
Kafka, in his novel Metamorphosis, does not state that humans lose their humanity in a capitalist system. Good art does not 'tell'; instead, with the help of literary metaphors and artistic creativity it creates an atmosphere, in which it shows this metamorphosis of humans. When Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning, he realizes that he has been transformed into a [giant] beetle. Kafka does not speak of the alienation of the human relations in the twentieth century cities. He shows Gregor's relations with his family. When you finish reading the book, you are shaken. Its impact sticks in the deepest corners of your soul, and you carry that effect with you forever.
The art that tells assumes for itself a passive audience. Good art, however, activates the intellectual and sensual powers of the addressee. Art that tells is a finished product, ready to be digested by the consumer. Art that shows involves the audience in the outcome of the construction of the meaning. The addressee is not a mere observer, but a participant.
2. Social Research
The unearthing/understanding of social realities is possible with the help of research. An important phase of research is the operationalizing stage. We cannot reach reliable conclusions with a mere idea. A social researcher who is investigating the role of the educational system in the [formation of] definitions and structures of gender roles, in order to test a hypothesis and in order to get closer to the social actuality, must operationalize her/his research. Hundreds of pages of presenting ideas and conceptualizations do not complete the task of research. For example, the researcher studies through the textbooks used in the elementary school years, and through a close investigation of the illustrations/photos, shows that women are usually portrayed doing house work and other family-oriented activities, etc., while men are seen engaged in social activities, free actors, independent and dominant.
Or else, you want to investigate the living conditions of workers. You must operationalize this research. One researcher may prepare a survey and, with the aim of scientific sample-taking from the intended community, go to the workers and collect the needed information, and analyze and explain it. Another researcher may go to a working class neighborhood and live there for several months and note his/her observations, and then based on those, attempt to analyze and explain the findings.
In order to proximate the social truth, we must repeatedly travel back and forth between the level of the abstract and understanding and the level of concrete reality and facts. Producing ideas alone does not lead us to social truth.
3. Revolutionary Politics
Revolutionary politics is poetic and committed to the truth. Bad politics says, "People, you must revolt!" Revolutionary politics shows people that, to live free and equal, a social revolution is needed. Bad politics says, "People, Moussavi and the reformists cannot lead you in the direction of a democratic society." Revolutionary politics, however, shows how and why the interests of one faction of the power elite -- though possibly different from the interests of the current dominant faction -- are not equal to the interests of the people. Revolutionary politics shows that reformists' politics and strategies are alien to social and political freedoms, and that their aim is not social justice. Revolutionary politics 'shows'. Bad politics says: People, separate your ranks from those defending the ancient regime, from the representatives of the great world powers and those who contribute to your oppression and exploitation. Revolutionary politics shows that people, in order to attain freedom and to build a people's governance, must form their own massive front independent of this or that ruling faction, or independent of the interests or likings of this or that imperialist country. Bad politics says Islamic Republic is capitalist, so it must die. Revolutionary politics shows people that the economic policies of the rulers are designed to protect the interests of the wealth hoarders and the powerful, and shows too that a free society is a society in which the ownership of the means of production and sources of wealth are not in the hands of a few, but one where collective ownership over the sources of wealth has been established. In bad politics, bad politicians speak badly, and the people are the audience. Bad politicians carry out the political acts, they are the actors/initiators, and the people are the observers. It is possible that the people hear what they say, and even believe in them, but this belief can only help in bringing the particular politician to power, and cannot help in the popular sharing of power [by the people].
In revolutionary politics, people are not an audience. People are actors. Their decisions, their thinking and their actions are the parts that complete the revolutionary politics. They themselves, from what revolutionary politics has revealed before their eyes, gain awareness and become involved in determining solutions, tactics, and what-is-to-be-done's. The social revolution for which the revolutionary politics seeks a path is not one of replacing ancient rulers with modern ones. It is, rather, a new system of rule based on the collective power of the people, and the people matured in the fires of social struggle are the citizens and the creators of it.
Bad politics remains on the level of ideas and hypothesizing. 'Long live freedom!' 'Long live social welfare!' 'Long live people's power!'
Revolutionary politics, however, operationalizes these ideas. [It shows] what practical steps are necessary in order to reach freedom, social welfare and justice. Bad politics says Islamic Republic must go. Revolutionary politics seeks those practical forms and methods, which can be put to use, and which are capable of overthrowing the Islamic Republic in reality and establishing a people's governance.
Bad politics says that the available media are not free and reflect the interests of the ruling elites. Revolutionary politics proposes practical plans, in which free media can take form and the people's real voice cannot be censored.
Bad politics raises merely the pictures, images and symbols of people's struggles, and rallies the people around them. Revolutionary politics, although not neglectful of symbols and signs, focuses its concentration on operationalizing the ideas from which those signs and symbols receive their justification.
Iranian society is experiencing immense developments. The society has passed an era and is experiencing a new birth. The tunes sung these days in the world of politics have no proportionality with the immensity of this era. Both the reformists' politics and that of the available political parties and organizations, like a bad poem or a weak tract, will not remain in the memory of time. The society is in need of a new revolutionary politics and is working to develop it.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
by: saeed valadbaygi at 11:02 AM