The Maniac, the Fatalist: Chaotic Emanations of Middle Eastern Thought

Friday, January 8, 2016: 11:10 AM
Crystal Ballroom A (Hilton Atlanta)
Jason Mohaghegh, Babson College
This paper undertakes a creative mapping of “manic” and “fatalistic” trends in the recent evolution of Middle Eastern literature and philosophy, deciphering the particularized gestures of various authorsfrom the region as they embark upon a little-known history of chaotic writing. In an attempt to both explore and then surpass the paradigms of psychoanalysis, existentialism, and post-structuralism, this paper calls forward a subterranean archive of Middle Eastern writers whose vast experiments with manic and fatalistic visions provide us a detour beyond the walls of modern subjectivity.

This strange nexus between mania and fatality thereby allows us a rare insight into the chaotic potentials of the postmodern era itself, tracking an epochal impulse from enchantment toward catastrophe, obsession, frenzy, rage, and euphoria through the different lenses of individual Iranian, Arab, North African, and Turkish authors. In essence, what are the personal derangements, myths, stories, and legends that one tells oneself about oneself in order to become a dangerous chaotic phenomenon? What would suffice is nothing less than a catalogue of toxic, “insane” reinventions of identity in an always already insane world, guided forward by those who claim alternative titles, missions, lineages, and stakes in the destiny of existence.

In this way, the paper compiles an intricate network of samples (including works from Nazim Hikmet, Mahmoud Darwish, Amal al-Jubouri, and Ahmad Shamlu) that examine how one convinces oneself to follow an outsider compulsion, the deceptive architecture of thought that one must build around one’s own self-image in order to transform into a deviant or threatening grain of sand, the mesmerizing costume of fictions and powerful untruths that perception must wear in order to overthrow the regime of the real.

<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation