Thursday, December 4, 2008

Listen To The Damned

The western world is scarcely aware of this overwhelming humiliation experienced by most of the world's population, which they have to overcome without losing their common sense and without being seduced by terrorists, extreme nationalists or fundamentalists. Neither the magical realistic novels that endow poverty and foolishness with charm, nor the exoticism of popular travel literature manage to fathom this cursed private sphere. The great majority of the world population - which is passed over with a light depreciating smile and feelings of pity and compassion - is afflicted by spiritual misery.

The problem facing the west today is not only to discover which terrorist is preparing a bomb in which tent, which cave, or which street of which remote city, but to understand the poor, scorned majority that does not belong to the western world.
- Orhan Pamuk, Listen to the damned

via wood s lot

"An ordinary citizen living in a poor Muslim nondemocratic country will, like a civil servant struggling to make ends meet in a former Soviet satellite or any other Third World nation, be only too aware what a small share of the world's wealth his country has; he will know too, that he lives under much harsher conditions than his counterparts in the West and that his life will be much shorter. But it does not end there, for somewhere in his mind is the suspicion that it is his own father and grandfather who are to blame for his misery. It is a great shame that the Western world pays so little attention to the overwhelming sense of humiliation felt by most people in the world, a humiliation that those people have tried to overcome without losing their reason or their way of life or succumbing to terrorism, ultranationalism, or religious fundamentalism. ... It is not enough for the West to figure out which tent, which cave, or which remote city harbors a terrorist making the next bomb, nor will it be enough to bomb him off the face of the earth.; the real challenge is to understand the spiritual lives of the humiliated, discredited peoples who have been excluded from its fellowship.

Battle cries, nationalist speeches, and impulsive military ventures achieve the opposite ends. . . . If a destitute old man on an Istanbul island can momentarily approve the terror attack on New York, or if a young Palestinian worn down by Israeli occupation can look with admiration as the Taliban throws acid into women's faces, what drives him is not Islam or this idiocy that people call the war between East and West, nor is it poverty; it is the impotence born of constant humiliation, of a failure to make oneself understood, to have one's voice heard"
- Orhan Pamuk, Listen to the damned

via Politics, Theory & Photography

ed note: My response is here.

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