Silence in Middle Eastern and Western Thought
The Radical Unspoken
Routledge – 2013 – 230 pages
Routledge – 2013 – 230 pages
Presenting an engaging reflection on the work of prominent modern Iranian literary artists in exchange with contemporary Continental literary criticism and philosophy, this book tracks the idea of silence – through the prism of poetics, dreaming, movement, and the body – across the textual imaginations of both Western and Middle Eastern authors. Through this comparative nexus, it explores the overriding relevance of silence in modern thought, relating the single concept of "the radical unspoken" to the multiple registers of critical theory and postcolonial writing.
In this book, the theoretical works of Georges Bataille, Maurice Blanchot, Gaston Bachelard, Antonin Artaud, and Gilles Deleuze are placed into a charged global dialogue with the literary-poetic writings of Sadeq Hedayat, Ahmad Shamlu, Nima Yushij, Esmail Kho’i, and Forugh Farrokhzad. It also examines a vast spectrum of thematic dimensions including disaster, exhaustion, eternity, wandering, insurrection, counter-history, abandonment, forgetting, masking, innocence, exile, vulnerability, desire, excess, secrecy, formlessness, ecstasy, delirium, and apocalypse.
Providing comparative criticism that traces some of the most compelling intersections and divergences between Western and Middle Eastern thought, this book is of interest to academics of modern Persian literature, postcolonial studies, Continental philosophy, and Middle Eastern studies.
‘Displaying an enviable intimacy with French thought on the one hand (Deleuze, Foucault, Blanchot) and twentieth-century Iranian poetics on the other, the author manages to do something quite extraordinary: from a non-Western perspective, he radically calls into question the time and place of the ‘postmodern’. If ever there is a book to make names of modern Persian literature such as Akhavan, Nima, Shamlu and Hedayat as familiar as Bataille and Guattari, it will be this one.’
Ian Almond, Georgia State University, USA
‘To call this work a tour de force is accurate but also unfaithful to the very tone and flesh of Mohaghegh's arguments, which resist facile syntheses and idle submission to the idol of difference. He instead begins and remains with silence and productively dwells in its Continental and Middle-Eastern trenches…Rebuking univocity, each silence defies a border. Committed with these thinkers to resisting the bordered self and imperial lines of demarcation, through a careful, learned, and unique reading of these texts, Mohaghegh assembles a paradoxical poetic unison not across borders but to cross out the very notion of borders.’
Farhang Erfani, American University, USA
Part 1: Silence and the Outside 1. The Poetics of the Unspoken: Disaster, Exhaustion, and the Outside of Language (West) 2. Eternity’s Wager: The Wanderer, the Insurrectionary, and the Counter-Historical Moment (East) Part 2: Silence and the Dream 3. Scathing Imaginaries: Abandonment, Forgetting, and the Night-Dream (West) 4. The Aesthetics of the Unreal: Agitation, Sabotage, and the Fragment (East) Part 3: Silence and the Body 5. Disciplined and Innocent Bodies: Power, Masking, and the Visionary (West) 6. The Captive and the Exile: Vulnerability, Sensation, and Desire (East) Part 4: Silence and Experience 7. The Excessive and the Formless: Delirious Writing (West) 8. Paradox, Ecstasy, and the Catastrophic Mind: Apocalyptic Writing (East)
Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Babson College, USA. He is the author of The Chaotic Imagination: New literature and Philosophy of the Middle East (2010) and Inflictions: The Writing of Violence in the Middle East (2012).