Skip to comments.Theodore Dalrymple: Wrapping Islam in Europe’s Mantle [Europe and Turkey]
Posted on 10/28/2005 10:12:48 AM PDT by Tolik
An artist asks: Should Europe want Turkey; should Turkey want Europe?
The power of art to shock, not in the trivial sense of drawing attention to an artists craving for notoriety, but of making us acutely and uncomfortably aware of the ambiguities and contradictions of the human condition, remains undiminished. All that is required for an artist to exert that power is imagination, talent, intelligence, and seriousness of purpose.
A photograph exhibited at the Istanbul Biennial by the Turkish artist, Burak Delier, captures the existential dilemma confronting both his own country and Europe with brilliant precision. It shows a Muslim woman, heavily veiled, with only her eyes, her eyebrows, and some of her forehead uncovered. Her eyes, however, are wide open and express surprise, shock, fearor perhaps even disdainful amusement. Her veil, though, is not of the usual black fabric: it is made of the European flag, dark blue with its circle of yellow stars studded across her chest and round the back of her head.
Aesthetically pleasing, this image shocks because of its manifold layers of meaning, visible almost at once. To a European worried by the increasing presence of Islam on his continent, of course, the first layer would be a warning of further infiltration, even of a demographic takeover, by what he might consider an alien and retrograde way of life. It would be a warning that the refusal of political correctness to recognize deep underlying realities will lead to complete and spineless capitulation to Islam.
But the image also expresses exactly the opposite fear: that a refusal to embrace Turkeythe one Muslim country, after all, to have experimented seriously with political secularismwill drive it into the welcoming arms of the Islamists. In that case, the European flag covering the young womans head would represent not liberation from the veil but the precondition or provoker of its adoption.
As for Turks, what would the image mean? A secular Turk, wishing to see Ataturks legacy strengthened rather than weakened or abandoned, might worry that, paradoxically, accession to Europe, with all its politically correct doctrines and legal protections, would encourage the Islamists in Turkeys midst: for they would then be able to invoke the European Unions anti-discriminatory legal apparatus to promote their regressive wishes.
On the other hand, an Islamist Turk might see in the image a terrible warning: the womans expression, which could be a triumphal smirk, means that, draped in the European flag, she is about to throw off the veil once and for all, beyond any possibility of its re-adoption.
There is no final, or indubitably correct, meaning to this most startling (and graceful) of images. Its ambiguity, however, is not caused by any lack of intellect of the artistquite the reverse: it is caused by the ambiguity of life itself. Above all, Burak Deliers photograph reminds us that history has to be lived forwards, not backwards and with hindsight, and that the openness and uncertainty of the future is both the hope of human existence and the price we have to pay for our freedom.
|The Expense of Spirit, 25 October 2005|
|Wrapping Islam in Europes Mantle, 24 October 2005|
|You Must Be Healthy, 20 September 2005|
|Further Feminist Foolishness, 29 August 2005|
|Ethical Pornographers?, 26 August 2005|
|P*ss Off, Copper, 26 July 2005|
|Mixed-up Malaysia, 21 July 2005|
|Ibsen and His Discontents, Summer 2005|
|Colbert vs. Smith?, Summer 2005|
|In the Asylum, Summer 2005|
|Flower of Evil?, Summer 2005|
|Missing the Point, 2 June 2005|
|Thomas Friedman Mismeasures Tony Blair, 3 May 2005|
|Squaring Circles, 29 April 2005|
|Blairs Banana Republic?, 19 April 2005|
|High and Low, Spring 2005|
|The Roads to Serfdom, Spring 2005|
|Welfare-to-Works New Thrust, 3 February 2005|
|Britains Sham Unemployment Drop, 28 January 2005|
|Sham Diversity, 19 January 2005|
|Trying to Offend, 5 January 2005|
|Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics, Winter 2005|
|The Specters Haunting Dresden, Winter 2005|
|A Murderesss Tale, Winter 2005|
|Why Theo Van Gogh Was Murdered, 15 November 2004|
Thanks for the list ... some I've missed!
Had I been the artist, I would have chosen a subject with light blue eyes and otherwise of obvious European descent, to attract attn to the fact that Euros themselves will shortly find themselves smothered by the blanket of Sharia.
Life's ambiguity, the constant pull of the ying and yang. Our hearts are a battlefield, the battle between the true and the false, and resolution is hard to come by.
Bump for the morning
Hullo fello Freeper
Would you please add me to the Dalrymple ping list?
I try not to miss Theodore Dalrymple's articles. But this ping list is not just "Dalrymple ping list". It is more general for outstanding articles written by different people. You can see the links to articles I pinged to on my page. Please, let me know, if you still want in.