A skeptical posture is fine and well, today we must, like Hume, fight passionately for sound sense and reason. We must be warriors of tolerance, calling to arms our reason, our compassion and our sanity. Our leaders should show the way. US President Barack Obama, for starters, needs to rediscover the magic of his early presidency, the ability to draw millions of supporters, as he approaches its twilight.
In India, Narendra Modi, who was chief minister in Gujarat at the time of horrific revenge killings against Muslims in , can resonate beyond the borders of his country by deploying his charisma in a major gesture of Hindu-Muslim reconciliation. Calling for such acts of reconciliation and inspiration is not to say military strikes are a bad idea, but suggest that the ultimate battlefield may also have to include the theatre of persuasion.
Otherwise another group of extremists will simply pop up somewhere else. We must be warriors of trust. Our adventure of globalisation has the ability to yield such riches— material, cultural, spiritual and intellectual— or founder under the weight of intolerance and hate. Courtesy: YaleGlobal Online. Joji Sakurai 09 October Joji Sakurai International Opinion. Post a Comment.
Next Story : New Silk Roads. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store. The Thrills Of Jihad. More From Outlook Magazine. The Mystery Of Ratna Bhandar. More From Website. More From Blog. What Should India Do? It corrects the false conceptions the Occident has somehow formed concerning paganism and certain natural religions, and it underlines with burning emotion the splendor and forever immediate poetry of the old metaphysical sources on which these religions are built.
Artaud refers to paganism: old metaphysical sources rejected by Christianity. Paganism in Islamic State ideology is considered sinful. He accuses the Shiite; considered the worst of enemies of IS Baghdad government in charge at the time of this statement of being guilty of apostasy. However, what Artaud and IS are both trying to accomplish, is to bring about a state of purity of man, going back either to metaphysical sources, in the case of Artaud, or to holy scriptures, in the case of Islamic State.
The important element both ideas have in common is the incorporation of the fear of destruction as a liberating force in the existing societal structure. The ideas of Antonin Artaud, in their original conception, were nihilistic. The ideal of a life where all hypocrisy that flows forth from the act of civilization is brutally discarded in favor of a deeper, divine nature. In a very similar way, Islamic State adheres to the creation of a world-encompassing Islamic State that rejects any form of civilization other than the historical version of the Caliphate, a jihadist state that is governed by the purest form of Islam [xlix].
In conclusion we can say that Naji proposes three objectives for a media apparatus. Although the first goal — imposing the idealism of the rational and sharia law — closely resembles an Artaudian ideal, it should be stressed that Artaud envisions this source as far more naturalistic and chaotic. The second objective shows striking similarities with Artaudian ideas: the act of liberation through cruelty; a necessity in the deconstruction of a faulty or hostile order. Now these two visions seem to contradict each other.
We find this asserted more than once in the different volumes of the IS glossy Dabiq. But the Dabiq quotes make it equally clear that the IS fighters are aware of their own weaknesses or should at least be aware of them. What seems quite clear in all cases is that both need the hand of the divine to realize their utopian goals and as such they show a striking similarity. Plying the traditions of the avant-garde and bourgeois movements, Artaud set out to project an awakening experience onto his audiences.
Secondly, Artaudian theatre wields an agitating rhetoric meant to break the barriers between an audience passively watching and the play at hand. Firstly, there is the specific imaginary relying, heavily on the war-narrative, depicting combat, brutality and victories achieved by Islamic State. It is reminiscent of the rhetoric used in Artaudian fashion — the performance either being a threat to and provocation of a supposedly hostile audience, or acting as a liberator for those who are oppressed by societal structures, motivating the audience to sympathize with Islamic State and thereby also serving as a recruitment tool.
As Jannarone observes, Artaud in his rhetoric uses the trope of shock as an instrument of punishment rather than provocation [liii]. In contrast to avant-garde dramatists, and Brechtian theatre for example, the aim is not to challenge the audience into political and intellectual engagement. On the relative distance of the audience in relation to the performance, a similarity can be observed between the behavior of modern audiences and the avant-garde audience. The avant-garde movement reacted to this phenomenon and fought audience conventions by either shock or reason [lvi].
A strong similarity can be observed when we compare this to contemporary 21 st -century pre- and post-social media audiences and their ability to interact with a performance. It becomes apparent that, although Artaud also seeks to break down the barrier between a bourgeois audience and the play, he utilizes the audience to performance relationship in a one directional, non-dialogical way.
Even though Islamic State media are intended to actively stimulate engagement and deliberation, the rhetoric of Islamic State itself can be considered to be non-dialogic as well, using as it does Islamic scripture as a foundation for IS actions. In conclusion we can say that the audience to performance relation in Artaudian theatre and IS media shows parallels on the subject of rhetoric. Furthermore, the hierarchical structure used in Artaudian theatre to assure dominance over the audience finds a parallel through the use of non-dialogical rhetoric in IS media.
This becomes most evident in the citations of Islamic scripture used in their media outlets. Finally, a parallel can also be observed with regard to the anticipation of crowd behavior. The opening sequence of Although the Disbelievers Dislike It [lxi] , shows a blue world map centering on Iraq and Syria. A bright light can be seen spreading across the globe: a metaphor for the political influence of Islamic State.
It can be argued that the color of the world map — blue — is a metaphor for the divine, symbolizing the power of the idea of a world created by a deity with the intention for it to be an earthly paradise for its followers. The camera subsequently moves over Rome, China and the United States. Although the implication of this scene is twofold — a display of ambition and a call for action — the suggestion is that Islamic State will eventually spread across the entire planet. The male voice in the background of the clip sings a religious chant. This segment with the narrative of the spreading of the Umma can be interpreted in terms of Artaudian theatre.
The scene is shown in a blue picture frame, reminiscent of Western news reports, suggesting both divinity and objective value. During this segment, the narrator gives a historical overview of the emergence of Islamic State in the past decade, -with arguably subjective elements added. This scene offers a sense of historical relevance, victimhood and a legitimization of the IS cause [lxix]. It also serves to underline the legitimacy of the leader of Islamic State, caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. At , an iconic image is used of an armed militant carrying the banner of IS, walking along local scenery somewhere in the Caliphate.
The image, showing the militant in profile, bearded and dressed in black attire, portrays an idyllic version of the caliphate warrior. The scene, as was already observed above, is visually reminiscent of the famous picture of American soldiers raising the flag on the island of Iwo Jima during the Second World War.
It should be noted that during this interlude the proscenium used in the first half of the scene has disappeared, as if to suggest a strong distinction between the past and the present, underlining the factuality of that which has passed, and emphasizing the reality of Islamic State having settled itself upon the world stage. The scene continues with a speech by caliph al-Baghdadi [lxx].
The narrator continues to comment on the images, now shown [lxxi] without the use of a proscenium. This element can therefore be said to be Artaudian in goal, but not Artaudian as an instrument in the play.
The third segment shows the execution of twenty-two Syrian army captives. This scene is arguably the most theatrical element of the entire video Although the Disbelievers Dislike It. Starting at They are walking in double file, one soldier escorting one prisoner, the latter with their heads bowed down, as in submission to the sons of Islam. At , the camera angle changes, now showing the barefoot prisoners walking beside the soldiers.
This shot emphasizes the relation of power between the prisoner and his escort, soon to be executioner. He is dressed in the stereotypical outfit of militant Islamists [lxxv] , whilst his fellow soldiers are wearing conventional military outfits. During frames , several different camera angles are used, either focusing on the surroundings of the olive grove, or on the faces of the young IS fighters. At , the line of IS fighters walk past a crate filled with army-style combat knives. The action slows down dramatically while the executioners pick up their weapons; the inserted sound of sharpening knives adds intensity to the scene.
They are fully aware of their role as actors and act accordingly. At At their feet, there are three prisoners, kneeled down obediently. If you listen closely during this segment you notice that the original sound must have been dubbed over and the new recording inserted later in the audio track. At the minute mark, there is a dramatic focus on the Nusayri prisoner at the feet of Jihadi John, followed by a close-up of an executioner warming up his hands and knife.
For 45 seconds, there is a buildup of dramatic tension, with shots alternating between Nusayri soldiers, IS fighters, and knife play. There is little audible sound, while the tension builds, and extra attention is drawn to the images shown. For ten seconds, we hear the sound of a heartbeat, heavy breathing, and camera shots alternating with a black screen. These are effective techniques to build up dramatic tension, culminating in the horrible act about to take place.
From to , the gruesome execution of the twenty-two captives is displayed. After the execution has taken place, the atmosphere of the scene changes dramatically. It shows the calm hands of the executioners and their bloodstained knives at , with only the sound of gushing winds in the background. The camera pans to the corpses of the Syrian men, decapitated, with their heads on their chest facing the camera.
This segment is considerably Artaudian, as it is not merely theatrical, but also staged as an event led by an authoritative figure, using a rhetoric akin to that of the words that rang through the Jarry Theatre. Looking more closely at the scene, starting at , we see the twenty-two prisoners walking in an orchard, heads bowed down next to their executioners. With the camera focusing on the Islamic State soldiers, we witness a duality of those who are about to die, and those who will go on living — the conquered and the conquerors.
It is reminiscent of the Artaudian disposition of the actor and the inanimate representation of the figure often found in his theatre, signifying the mediating force between the visible world and the invisible world that Artaud sought to uncover. The execution itself, starting at , is obviously of vital importance in a comparison with the theatre of Cruelty. During the execution, the audience is no longer being addressed; there is no longer a call for action or engagement. The execution serves as a punishment [lxxx] rather than a provocation; the audience, whether enemy or potential ally, is in shock, and profoundly affected by what it has witnessed.
It is a shock felt throughout the entire body, right down to the organs.
The heads of the executed prisoners are placed on top of their mutilated bodies. A small stream of blood is visible at , accentuating the visceral currency in which Artaud would offer his revelation. We see the Islamic State flag flying over regions whose jihadist groups swear their allegiance to IS, local militants active in Yemen, Libya and Algeria [lxxxii]. This obviously goes against the ideas of Artaud, as he abandoned the use of scripts in favor of production plans, thereby giving the actor the artistic freedom to represent the spirit of the text, rather than give a literal rendition of it.
Although the appearance in sound of al-Baghdadi again underlines the ominous presence of a strong religious figure in the play, the content of this segment is rather practical in nature and does not show significant parallels worth mentioning. This segment is stylistically very different from the preceding segments of the video and earlier videos featuring the executioner. This suggests that the scene was shot in Dabiq itself, and that the audience is being shown the landscape in which the prophesized battle at Dabiq will take place.
Eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive. Unlike the previous parts of Although the Disbelievers Dislike It is, the final segment converges widely from the characteristics of Artaudian theatre. The question we wanted to answer is whether or not the practical performance of Although the Disbelievers Dislike It compares to the Artaudian performance. Looking at the different segments, it is clear that the introductory segment does fit the Artaudian tradition.
The second segment shows strong resemblances, even though the theme of invasion is itself presented as a revelation by IS, rather than being used as a catalyst for theatrical revelation. It can be argued that this notion is not outside of Artaudian tradition per se, as the actual catalyst for theatrical revelation is presented in segment three, thus also making the theme of invasion a separate constituting element of the Islamic State narrative.
The third segment perfectly fits the Artaudian tradition, showing surprising parallels with the actual Theatre of Cruelty: the actors and their doubles, the biblical scenery of the orchard, an authoritative leader, and a cruel beheading scene that acts as a catalyst for theatrical revelation. The fourth segment shows no particular parallels with the Theatre of Cruelty, but it is clear also that it serves little dramatic purpose.
Theatre of Cruelty - Wikipedia
It merely affirms the narrative of the expanding Caliphate. The fifth and final segment constitutes a stylistic break with the previous segments and shows little resemblance to the Theatre of Cruelty; it is like an epilog, justifying once again the arguments for the Jihadi cause. Concentrating on the first three segments, we can conclude that there are evident and strong parallels between the IS video and the Artaudian theatre.
Chapter 5. As such, we have come to the following conclusions.
New theatre of cruelty demands civilisation's response
Abu Bakr Naji proposes three ideas behind the use of Jihadist media: To lend strength to the justification of Jihadism through rational thought and sharia law, to overcome societal structures through the power of fear and violence, and to incorporate destabilized regions into the Umma. Therefore we conclude that the ideas behind the Theatre of Cruelty and the Islamic State are indeed comparable.
The Theatre of Cruelty devised similar principles of audience to performance relationships in order to bring about a punishing, cruel and liberating experience for its spectators. The perception of the audience as a crowd is a fundamental element of the Theatre of Cruelty, and shows a strong parallel with the Jihadist use of social media, spreading their ideas through an online community as if it were a crowd. It is legitimate to conclude therefore that the audience to performance relation in the Islamic State media and the Theatre of Cruelty is comparable. The practical performance, as studied through the case of Although the Disbelievers Dislike It, shows strong similarities with practical elements in, and the actual performance of the Theatre of Cruelty.
The question that remains to be answered now is: what does this mean? What does the connection between the two tell us? The Theatre of Cruelty presents a fictional happening to reach ultimately an impossible absolute, an eloquently conceived state of the human ideal being. It was never realized, because crossing the barrier of the fictional would imply that real violence and cruelty is necessary to achieve that which is idealized, and would therefore automatically be halted by authorities one could even argue that such a dramatic revolt in the West could only and solely be executed in a — virtual— art or philosophical sphere.
The Islamic State is not constrained by such limitations. A more important consideration is that Artaud never meant to actually use real violence and cruelty to reach his goals. Violence and cruelty were meant to be virtual procedural effects to reach the dreamed ideal. See what hypocrites you are, condemning our cruelty, while enjoying your own fictional cruelty. The mirror Islamic State is holding up to us does make us aware that we are indeed enjoying violence as a fiction — as a fantasy. It is part of our culture and it would make us indeed hypocrites if we condemn the Islamic State for only realizing what we already advocate and enjoy in our own works of fiction.
It places us back on our feet, and we might ask ourselves if we should not reconsider the role of violence and cruelty in our Western body of fiction. However, there is another essential point: Violence and cruelty in Western media are fictional, but have long been subject of discussion. Is violent imagery not detrimental to children? Can people be incited to crime after seeing cruel and violent films and playing similar games? These are legitimate questions indeed. But do we need Islamic State to confront ourselves with these questions?
And what is the moral right of Islamic State to teach us this lesson?