Voices for Non-violence in the Muslim World:Nouri Gana

Nouri Gana, a professor from UCLA in the Departments of Comparative Literature & Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, was the second speaker in the series held by the Consortium of Strategic Communication. His speech was a literary analysis of Arab poetry titled “Three Arab Poets and a Critique of Violence.”

The poets he focused on are Nazir Qabbani, Mahmoud Darwish and Adunis.

Here are the main points Gana made:

-Redemption from violence is as utopian as redemption through it
-Current warfare is discontinuous with colonial violence which with contemporary war structured around
warfare and violence foundation, but incumbent to discriminate carefully between structural currency and historical grievances
-Notions of justice and forgiveness
-War is a war for meaning of words
-Narratives of universal war displaced into Biblical and grand narratives of irresolvable conflict between Islam and Judaism over Palestine
-Colonial instigators, violence in Iraq and Palestine, make the unjust violence look inevitable, ceaseless
analysts given into easy sanctioned displacement
-Making sense of war through narrative ambivalent and arguable, though laudable
-Lyrical artistry of poetry offers to represent unrepresentable, Adorno risks making unthinkable thinkable, barbarism of writing poetry after Auschwitz
-“poems have become like salt in our mouth”
-Poet Nazar Qabbani’s wife, Balquis, died in Iraq, says poetry impossible after her
-not an elegy, melancholic act of dissidence, refusal to mourn
-Adunis: fatique, where do we go?
-Mahmoud Darwish-wrote after Operation Desert Storm “The Horse for the Stranger”to absence Iraqi poet
-Persistent critique of global imperialism, impossibility of poetry
-Nature of implied death of other, death toll of Iraqis hidden, no American casualties
injustice of death and unjust death
-“Poetry resists by affirming fragility of human soul”
-Elegy becomes strategic mourning, claims dignity of otherwise disposable right
-Worst thing for dead to be expunged from memories, as long as poem doesn’t substitute death of person it sets out to preserve
-Not unjustified for saying poetry can’t exist
-Real danger of poetry and narratives of war and violence, mental incoherence, rationalizing into history, like war in Iraq
-Poetry reenacts violence, is violent nature of representation, digs the grave it wants to protect
-War on Iraq, or any violence, was waged against poetry and arts in general
-Poetry seen as pitiful failure, best understood as empowering
-Darwish asserts regardless of end results, poetry doesn’t need a podium, like bread need not announce itself to the hungry
-Judith Butler:nonviolence not peaceful state; it is a social and political struggle to make rage articulate and effective
-Is poetry still necessary, pertinent when city and people under siege? How can a writer find words for this language?
-In the margin of militancy, poetry becomes driving force of struggle against colonial violence

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