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Onomadopean

 

Visite de Hamid Dabashi à Amir Parsa

ISBN: 2-85446-282-3, 03/00, 11×18, buy Retin-A 64p., 65F

Collections “Visite à”

English

Hamid Dabashi, Chairman of Middle East Languages and Cultures at Columbia University in a conversation with Amir Parsa. With a valuable series of insights into Parsa’s aesthetics and philosophy, the book sheds light on the originality, depth and attraction of this young writer’s body of work.Collusion of onomatopoeia and paean, the title is dedicated to the  nomadic life, while acting as a nomadic chant itself.

Français

Collusion de ‘onomatopée’ et de ‘pean’, chant de triomphe, le titre ici est dédié à la vie nomade, tout en étant un chant nomade.

Dans ce movement de création d’une oeuvre radicalement novatrice, l’éminent professeur Dabashi declare avec humour, érudition et sensibilité “se laisser prendre par la main pour un voyage vers” il ne sait où, mais qu’il devine dense en même temps qu’agréable, voire jubilatoire. Amir Parsa témoigne de son travail qui n’est ni “écriture sur”, ni “réflexion sur”, mais attitude visant à une perception nouvelle du monde, à une relation autre.

Excerpt

hd I mean, if we say for example that, at best, the fiction of Salman Rushdie is the fiction of someone who is getting back at colonialism, it’s post-colonial, this fiction is far ahead of that, because the subject is not at war anymore with colonialism. In that, in some way, Emancipation has occurred, and now, the journey has begun. But when I say begun, so, here we are at the beginning of a journey, and then I realize No, I’m at the beginning of the journey because I just started reading it…

ap Right right…

hd And… there’s… something… there’s, how can I say, there’s a confidence, an assurance in the narrative, that you have been there… That, you’ve gone to the end, and then, somehow you have retrieved it and now, you’re carrying me with you. As a result, when I say for example that in this fiction, in this narrative, when I say emancipation has started, I say to myself that no, it’s started for me

ap And all of that you feel imposed in the text?

hd Not imposed, it’s an invitation. Even the invitation is like this… For example, you’re in the middle of a journey, and then I’ve been privileged. Somebody’s kind of taking me under their wings and saying hey, don’t go, we’re going to get there…

(Pause)

hd Another thing I wanted to talk to you about was language. Then I saw that more important than language is space… The spaces created, I mean, they’re so… strange! strange in a positive way… Because this is the space of no space I mean, it’s true that there’s Q__abad. There are several signals, like for example, Babol, like Q__abad, like Eblis, there are cues, but these cues are even less than in Kafka. In your work there’s even less than Kafka, and these are the little signals of spaces, where you see what space you’re occupying, but the definitive thing, it’s a space entirely unto itself. The things that come to my mind, are one, ‘Buf-e-Koor’ of Hedayat, and most of Kafka’s works, and they, they have their own spaces… Kleist too, I don’t know if you know Kleist…

ap I do a little, but…

hd Kleist too, has something like this. It demands, it generates and it enlivens its own spaces. I mean, when I’m reading your work, I feel like I’m in… where am I… Am I in Iran, am I in Europe… I’m nowhere! But this nowhere, it has its own topography… Because I, I suffer a lot from mysticism…Mysticism bothers me a lot, when I don’t know where I am… But this didn’t happen to me at all with your book, there is a quest, there is a journey, there is a… but it demands and it generates its own material topography, and I’m very happy with it and I’m very… I mean, I’m absolutely convinced that this is an event.

ap Wow…

hd It’s not an event in French language or English language or Persian language, it’s an event in the aesthetic world. Or even aesthetic, after reading Heidegger, one is… aesthetic not in learning that you theorize it…

ap It finds its own unnamed thing…

hd Right. It’s an event in Art. It’s not an event in philosophy, because philosophy… where is philosophy going… It’s not an event in literature, because literature is now collapsing, and nobody knows…

ap If I said it’s a something in a something, without knowing what the somethings are, How would you feel about that, instead of event in art… You can’t know for sure because even with that …

hd Right… All the categories are collapsing, but, in that it is an event. You see, after this event… when I first started, I thought it’s an event in language, as in now we don’t know anymore if it’s English, Persian, is it visual, narrative… But now, I don’t know anymore… All I know is that it’s an Event, but when I say art… something I read, this essay from Heidegger, ‘Reflections Concerning Technology’, which says that we, now, have aestheticized art, meaning, we don’t look at works of art anymore without asking, all right aesthetically what does it mean, and then, he returns always, and I don’t agree with this, but always returns to Greek art, and then, the ‘Greeks when they were looking at art’ they didn’t aestheticize it, they looked at it as an event of art… Art , when I say, is this, in this meaning, in that you suddenly are faced with an event that has radically put into question all the categories, but the categories are not conceptual, are not epistemic, they have not created a new philosophy, it’s changing the categories…

ap But isn’t that epistemic itself, that work…

hd No… No, it’s not epistemic… It’s not epistemic, but it’s not aesthetic either, that’s why I say work of art, it’s a work…

ap Right right… Okay…

hd It’s a work… Work, meaning, the making of this knife is a work, and that you can cut things with it, and that all the theorizing about art, and all the abstraction from art has diminished from art, because it has taken from its materiality, it has taken it to a realm where it says, okay, now we have had our diner, we have had our revolution, and this is when we go to pray… This de-aestheticizing of art, in fact, is bringing its materiality back to it, you give it back, and you put it back in reality. Aestheticizing is making it unreal… when I say bringing it back in reality, it’s because I don’t want to separate it from revolution, life, bread, knife, demonstrations in the streets…

ap That’s right…

(Pause)

hd So, what comes to mind is, how did you get to this point?!

ap (Laughter)

hd I mean, did you write your way into it, did it come to you… I mean, this, to me, is the result of a labor, not that it’s belaboring…

ap (Laughter) Well…this… this is the result of… First of all, I’ve been writing since I was three, three or four or five years old. Stories, aphorisms, poems in Persian, you know, all Iranians are poets right… So from that time until now, a disposition, sort of a disposition, the sort of writerly disposition that any writer anywhere has… But in addition, the result of experience in life… The result of an attitude toward life in that experience, that generates many things… In that there’s not too much despair, there’s laughter, and all these words that are not enough again. But there’s an attitude there. But all the time there’s also a theoretical bent that overrides. But the expression is not enough again, I know I go over that all the time but it’s a useful term here, but just the fact that you want to overcome certain genres, certain forms, certain categories, and linguistic ways and habits and conventions, that’s always been there. A disposition then, that needs, fetishizes almost, perpetual ‘dépassement’. Now where that comes from exactly, one can’t really know… In terms of the languages, the whole complex of living with these languages, and then to take it further a certain relationship with these languages that cannot be divorced from the socio-political reality through which each of the languages and the world act upon the other and make the other: but things here very very complicated… And total cultivation basically, based on what one knows, and what one thinks one knows about one’s self and what one is doing, of the craft, the process. Cultivation, I mean, at every level of the shebang, as in, read what, how to read, and this that I read, what to do with it, where to walk, how to see, how to look at people, how to listen, when I’m sitting at a table, talk, not talk, this lady sitting over there reading her book look at her or not, all of this is cultivation of what we can call art, that one knows is there, one knows there’s something there, you know a lot of things, but you don’t know exactly what you know… A very important thing, for example, is to have lots of different methods and cultivate them, which… Habits and methods, and the methods can even go into creating those habits, and the habits also generate methods so that they’re complementary all the time, and I try to generate many kinds of… scription. So that the different methods create different types of works. For example, for form and content to become One, I think one has to create new methods of doing, that will then create new works. The new work is what’s important, but the new methods, again from the way you read to the way you observe, is what create a particular work. I do many kinds of things like that, sometimes knowing the content or the direction, or the work within which all will take shape, sometimes not…

hd You know how much just what you’re saying here, how much freedom there is…

ap And for the past however many years… I can say that everything has been on the creation and the completion of this… From walking, observing, circulating, a total system of observation, circulation, notation, revision, reconsideration, recreation, and that make the idea of life and art being same, make it silly, a little, because it is so indisputable, it’s not even, one can’t say I’m drowned in my work or I am really concerned, or I’m working on this or that, because it’s all… One.

hd Right…

ap So that’s what I’ve been doing for, actually, for the past thirty years…(Laughter)

hd Thirty years, right…

hd That’s why I said art is important. Are you an American author, are you a French author, are you an Iranian author, I don’t think any of these categories works. I mean, you’re right, if you want to exit the U.S., and enter France, they will have to see your passport, citizenship, picture.

ap And if you have your Iranian passport, you’re going to suffer the consequences.

hd Exactly, so I’m not saying that those don’t exist, but is this art real, but how do I categorize it, I cannot categorize in a vacuum, that’s why I say new, new, those things have shattered in the world of art, there’s always a prophetic aspect to the works of art, for things that are happening, and institutions, and you know…

ap The only thing… I think you’re right, the only thing I would say though, is I want to go back to when you said Kafka and Hedayat may have exhausted, and that they become historical…

hd No, when I said it… I see your point, I’m not, I’m not happy with the implication of what I just said, maybe I’m exaggerating because I think we’re at the threshold of a new…

ap No, I think the only thing I would add is there is a certain part of every work that communicates at a particular time, but I think there are very definite parameters of a literary work that actually make it go across…

hd So maybe Kafka and Hedayat may have exhausted themselves for certain kinds of questions and conversations, but not…

ap Right right, but I think you can decontextualize, socially, works of art, in that, the particular nature, the dynamic of a work with its audience, and in the case of a book it’s a reader, impose certain types of, I mean the language itself, and the narrative, and the flow, and the expectations that are generated and then met or not met, impose certain types of effect, on the reader of a book, on the audience for a film or theatre, that allow them to be decontextualized.

hd And even…As much as I have gone through your book, there is a… there is a … pregnancy, you follow… A sort of permanent pregnancy, in the narrative event…

ap Permanent pregnancy?

hd Right, and it’s not like it’s not, it’s delivered, but when the baby is delivered, it is not that pregnancy no longer exists, but at the same time, there is a kind of virginity, a… a pregnant virginity…

ap A genuine Christ! (Laughter)

hd There you go, there you go… (Laughter) That is… I don’t believe in the Immaculate Conception, but it is virgin in the sense that you feel you are on terra incognita, the parameters of this territory are not charted; but it is pregnant because it is suggested and it remains suggested that okay now, now I got it and go on, and this repetition of I got it I got it I got it, fine, then you go back and see another kind of layer. If this occurs within one reader, one historical parameter, then, forget about the rest… In a way I’m happy you’re changing your last name, because at least it will mean that, I hope, you will have many many serious readers…

ap But so much of that also depends on industry, and the social dynamics that govern books being out, publishers, dissemination…

hd You’re actually the best candidate, because now you would have been published in France, you’re the best candidate… The notion of the French concern about culture… this notion of protective, we discovered Amir Parsa, we launched him, will give a prerogative over interpretation… Ultimately at this point, one cannot know whether they will help you or harass you know, as an artist, I don’t know… But you see, if you have the disposition, this attitude and whatever happens becomes material for you, but again, I can’t help thinking, how is Le monde going to react, how is Libération or whatever going to react to this, because it shatters categories and the first question is, the chief editor, what editor is he, or she, going to give this to?

ap That’s right…

hd The social, political, literary, poetic…

ap And which one, which book?

hd Exactly… As a result this is the fate of all counter-categorical art that has happened, and all great art to some extent, like Picasso, and even within one form of creative performance, it has happened, forget about L’opéra minora and this and that, and… so the other dimension of let’s get an Iranian reaction to this, I don’t know if this is an Iranian conversation…

ap That’s right, right, can you imagine an older Iranian scholars, who you know very well…

hd Yes, yes, yes…

ap What they’re going to…

hd It’s a horror, this man’s crazy…

ap (Laughter)

hd Throw him out! (Laughter)

ap But he’s already out! (Laughter)

hd (Laughter)

ap He’s already out! Let’s report him to the police, he lives in the section of town that’s nasty and… I’m… (Laughter)

hd (Laughter)

ap This is the fun part of it.

hd Yes, yes…

ap So the…

hd No, they will leave you alone, they will report me to the police! He’s an impostor, get him out of here!

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