Keshavarz - Footless Journey

Keshavarz - Footless Journey - ,k’ESHAI/APZ— Foo...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–10. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
Image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 4
Image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 6
Image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 8
Image of page 9

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 10
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: ,k’ESHAI/APZ— Foo 72.1555 foagA/E)’ CHAPTER 3 The ”Footless” Journey in ”Nothingness” The Power of Illogical Tropes Mystical Poetry as Paradox In the mysterious and paradoxical universe of poetic discourse “mysti- cal poetry” is by far the most perplexing paradox itself. By its very exisw tence,-it promises to express the inexpressible.'l It employs words to be— moan the inadequacy of words, and in volume after volume it celebrates silence as the true indication of attaining to the mystical goal. This affinity with coexisting opposites in mystical lyricism may well be rooted in, one might even say a textualization of, a larger paradox: the life of the mystic itself. Most mystics live paradoxically in that they attempt to combine complete devotion to God with commitment to mundane daily matters.2 On an intellectual level, the ability to come to terms with the incongruity of paradox usually results in a more polyvalent vision than one subscrib- ing to the unacceptability of contradiction.3 While recognition of paradox has produced tangible results in areas such as set theory and mathemat- ics, the poetic impulse it can create deserves special attention. In Rumi’s case, standard logical arguments carry little weight where the mystico- poetic experience is concerned. This is not so much because love and ra- tionality are incompatible, as we are often told, as because the ”wooden leg” of the ”logicians" lacks the agility and the courage to transform the funeral procession of words into the effective whirling of poetry.4 Here, the productive instability of paradox not only textualizes the instability of mystical experience and expands the poetic horizons, but it disrupts the anticipated flow of the narrative. Through the disruption, paradox creates obstacles that the reader has to acknowledge and negotiate. Thus the reader remains aware of the urge to participate instead of drifting into dreamy inaction at the rhythmic flow of the ghazals. Finally, though rarely mentioned, paradoxes are fun,5 not so much be- 32 THE "FOOTLESS" JOURNEY IN “NOTHINGNESS” cause they shock and keep the reader awake but because they provoke him to search for a solution. This is a search valued not for the end it achieves but for its own sake, much like the “thirst” Rumi values above the thirst-quenching ”water.“ Good poetry is also fun, among other things, because it motivates the reader to explore, and in exploration there is anticipation. This anticipation, which is at the heart of the poetic impulse in the Divan, is frequently detectable: O singer with a face bright as moonlight! tell us what you heard. We are all worthy of yOur trust; tell us what you saw. 0 my king! 0 my garden of joy! tell us what you found in the sanctuary of our souls, tell us. (D, 22452172) The intensity of anticipation is often emphasized through repetition in refrain of words denoting expectation, such as bargfl, burgtft (tell, tell) in the following example: 0 the one superior to all! tell, tell; 0 commander at the time of war! tell, tell. 0 the moon everlasting! the royal cupbearer! O the speaking soul of all, tell, tell. You are the direction to which all pray, the flame of the candle [around which all gatherl; Tell the tale of them all, tell, tell. You are full of ruse, O giver of wine to the intoxicated! Reveal the secret of the rose garden, tell, tell. (D, 2246:1—4) Rumi employs the power of illogical tropes to expand poetic horizons and achieve the above-mentioned effects; or, sometimes he simply em- ploys the device as a “semantic reenactment" of the larger paradox of the human predicament.7 Let us first look at the use of paradox in the literary tradition in which Rumi's poetry is rooted. The Use of Paradox in Medieval Persian Literature Exploring the tradition in which Rumi works reveals that poetic use of paradox is not a prominent feature of medieval Persian ghazalfi Despite the lack of systematic studies concerning the use of this literary device, THE POWER OF ILLOGICAL TROPES 33 a cursory examination reveals its scarcity. It is not surprising that the rhetorician Rashid al—Din Vatvat (d. 1182) referred only to al-mutadfidd as the form of paradox used in the literary discourse of his time. In his Has dfl’iq alrsihr ff daqa’iq alashi‘r, the earliest existing compendium of rhetori- cal rules in Persian poetry, Rashid al-Din devotes two pages to paradox. Significantly, half of the examples he quotes were not selected from gha- zals.g Shams-i Qays, the author of the next standard manual of rhetoric in the early decades of the thirteenth century has nothing to add to Rashid al-Din’s contribution. He calls the device mutabaqah, and the art of juxta- posing contrasting things he calls ashyfi’.‘° Modern scholarship on classi- cal Persian literature shows no more awareness of paradox as a poetic device. In her latest exploration of Persian poetry, Annemarie Schimmel is even briefer than Rashid al-Dfin and Shams-i Qays: she devotes one paragraph to “the stylistic form tadfidd.” The single example she quotes is from Anvari.11 Generally speaking, criticism of Persian lyric poetry has largely been limited to a chronological enumeration of lyricists. The norms and con- ventions of the ghazal, the main vehicle of Persian lyric, except for broad formalistic features such as the number of lines and the rhyme patterns, remain unexplored.12 In the absence of hard data, a brief detour into the works of some medieval master lyricists to examine their interest in para- dox is illuminating. A small random selection of ghazals composed by predecessors and contemporaries of Rumi exhibits an almost uniform use of paradox and its variations. Khaqani Shirvani (b. 1121—2), described as “the master of panegyric qast‘dah and no less of the ghazal,” is one of the poets whose efforts are supposed to have given the ghazal its ”final classical form."13 The first twenty ghazals in his Divan do not show an extensive use of paradox. There are a handful of mutadfidds (contrasts) built on the interplay of op- posites, and one instance of a more complex paradox describing the be- loved as residing in the fan (the vital core of life) and yet being its enemy.“ Awhad al-Din ‘Ali Anvari (b. 1126), another poet associated with the de- velopment and independence of the ghazal, was not enthusiastic about the usefulness of paradox, either. Well-versed in all the sciences of his time and praised for the fluency of his panegyric poems, he was best known for the pungent sarcasm that pervaded his work.” An examina- tion of the first twenty ghazals in his Divan reveals a moderate usage of mutadridds, mostly adding a touch of humor to his down-to-earth love complaints. He does not seem to have been aware of or interested in utiliz- ing other possibilities that paradox can bring to literary expression.“ Nizami of Ganjah (b. 1141) was acknowledged as the unrivaled master of romance. He left 1,200 fresh and vigorous verses in the form of ghazals, x—. 34 THE “FOOTLESS” JOURNEY IN "NOTHINGNESS" though his prominent standing as a storyteller overshadowed his contri- butions to the genre}7 He is an interesting example for our purpose be- cause of the unanimous recognition of the quality of his lyricism and because, like Khaqani, there is an air of intentionality about his craftsman- ship in using literary devices. The first twenty ghazals in his Divan, how- ever, exhibit a pattern very similar to those of Khaqani and Anvari, with a slightly higher occurrence of mutarlrtdds.” A near contemporary of Rumi, Sa‘di of Shiraz (b. 1213719) is generally recognized as the ghaznl-writer par excellence.1g Among other skills, a nat- ural blending of literary ornamentation with simplicity is a prominent feature of his work. The first twenty ghazals in the Divan of Sa‘di show an unprecedented number of mufarlrtdds, incomparable both in variety and complexity to those used by the other writers mentioned here. In the fol- lowing typical example, he utilizes contrasts (night/ morning, Solomon/ Sheba, anger/ contentment, peace/ enmity, and hope/ fear) to accentuate poetic impact: 0 fresh breeze of sabai greetings! You arrive from the abode of my love. 0 caravan of the night! what did the morning say to you? O Solomon’s bird! what is the news of Sheba? Is my love still angry? Or there is hope she may be content [with me]? [O breeze of satin]! have you come in peace? or in enmity? Should I approach her in fear or in hope?20 However, apart from the use of contrast and the occasional inversion of commonly used tropes (e.g., the prey seeking the lasso instead of attempt- ing to escape in ghazal 10), Sa‘di does not make use of other variations of paradox.“ Our brief exploration suggests the scarcity of paradox in medieval Persian ghazal. Other Varieties of Literary Paradox In contrast to the ghazal, the genre of rubrt‘f (quatrain), frequently asso- ciated with the poet/ mathematician ‘Umar Khayyarn (d. 1122), made ex- tensive use of paradox. Khayyam perceived the creation as the paradoxi- cal act of a senseless potter who made the “fine goblet” of the human body only to break it. This sinister outlook alone provided numerous occasions for the literary employment of paradox.22 Khayyam's rubrt‘fs are, thus, fraught with paradoxical assertions, such as the warning not to THE POWER OF ILLOGICAL TROPES 35 reveal nature’s most ”guarded secret": withered tulips do not bloom a second time.23 Long before Khayyam, however, the genre of rubfi‘t had found cur- rency among mystic poets. Purjavadi traces the circulation of a rubfi‘i‘ by Abfi al-Hasan Busti, the eleventh-century Sufi of Nishabfir, in later Sufi manuals, demonstrating the popularity of the genre and its smooth inter- textual transmission prior to Rumi's time.24 Abfi Said Abu al—Khayr (d. 1049), the mystic of Khurasan and a pioneer in Persian verse composition, also made use of paradox in his rubfi‘fs. Human infidelity and faith, the concurrent attachment and detachment felt toward this world, and the simultaneous absence and presence of the beloved are among the para— doxes he underlined: The world is a game in which losing is to win; The winning trick is being content with less. The world is the dice in the game of backgammon; It should be picked only to be thrown.75 The poet and mystic Ahmad of Jam (d. 1141), whose ghazals show pat- terns strikingly similar to those of Rumi, used paradox in his rubit‘r‘s to add a touch of sarcasm and achieve a satirical tone: Until a hair from your existence remains; The religion of self—worship, and the shop [in which to sell yourself], remains. You said you destroyed the idol of illusions; The illusion that you destroyed the idol remains!2° The brevity of the genre of rubd‘f added to the sharpness of such dou- ble-edged messages as the above and provided an excellent vehicle for the ironic impact that paradox creates. Although the ghazaf possesses dif- ferent formal features and generic conventions, rubrt‘z’s similar to those quoted above provided Rumi with fine examples for the adoption of para- dox for poetic use.27 Persian mystical prose written prior to Rumi’s time made use of para- dox, too. The words uttered by Sufis in moments of rapture known in Arabic and Persian as shafuhrtt or Shaffjfyfif are a case in point. Some of the best-known Persian shathfyaf were uttered by Abu Yazid Bistami (d. 875) and ‘Ayn al-Qudat Hamadani (d. 1131). In these utterances that, accord- ing to the Sufis themselves, ”overflew from ecstasy and seemed strange in speech,” the initiated confronted some of the most paradoxical aspects of their spiritual quest. Carl Ernst’s study of the shaflgfyfit identifies the /__. 36 THE "FOOTLESS" jOURNEY IN ”NOTHINGNESS" main topics as the duality of the self and God, transcendence of the cre- ated, and the significance of unknowing.25 It is in this paradoxical vein that ‘Ayn al-Qudat spoke of the true Muslim as the "infidel Muslim” and attempted to describe certain indescribable aspects of the sacred as the ”black light” or ”the light of lblis.”” In an account of his nocturnal jour- neys, Abfi Yazid related a mystical experience as follows: Intoxicated, I threw myself in all lands, melted the body on the fire of the divine jealousy in all crucibles, and galloped the horse of my yearning everywhere. I found no prey better than need and nothing better than despair. I saw no light brighter than dark and no speech more articulate than silence. I resided in the house of silence and wore the robe of forbearance. lt reached a point at which He found my inner and outer self cured of the malady of humanity.“ Paradox as the Unresolved Duality in Love The brief examples discussed here underline the affinity between the mystical literature and paradox. The concurrent need for articulation and emphasis on unknowing may be one deciding factor in the employment of this device. The courtly ghazal-writer did not require the same expres- sive tool. He needed to display knowledge, artistry, and above all full control over the artistic medium of gltazal. In the example from Sa‘di, as in the works of the majority of the court poets, the superbly polished sonic surface encases carefully regulated poetic impulses communicated in conventionally “appropriate” moments. The result is a smoothness that creates an illusion of ease, as a master acrobat makes ropewalking appear effortless. Disruptive paradoxical expression is not necessarily in demand here. The mystic, however, sought in paradox a mirror for his own perplex- ity. Since the perplexity could not be clarified or articulated through ratio- nal argumentation, as Michael Sells notes in his study of Ibn ‘Arabi (d. 1240), "the language enacted and performed” the paradox semantically in the hope that the ”meaning event” would help the experience to be “apprehended.” By way of illustrating the point, Sells shows that in the writings of the Andalusian mystic, the semantic enactment of the identity shift from an ”ego-self" to a “divine other” reflected in the fusing of pronoun antecedents. In one example, the pronoun ”his" refers to God and Adam simultaneously in the way that the mirror of a polished human heart reflects the Divine at the same time. Here the paradoxical God/ human duality and oneness are not rationally explained but semantically apprehended.31 THE POWER OF iLLOGlCAL TROPES 37 In Rumi’s ghazals, we encounter semantic schemes similar to those used by Ibn ‘Arabi. To begin with, his ghazals are not addressed to courtly audiences and pursue different ambitions. This change of priorities may be deduced in many ways, including the change of the smooth ropewalk into a rough journey on the sea, to use a suitable metaphor. The con- sciousness of artistry, the pride in manipulation of literary devices, and the orderly march of words, which in Sa‘di’s work show everything is safely under control, evaporate. Together with the poet, we are at seaé and a stormy one at that. The reader is presented with more than the finest and most polished accomplishments of a poet who speaks to us from behind a half-closed door. It is more than a plea to admire the art- work, even more than a request to hear, understand, and empathize. It is a bold invitation to everyone to get on the same boat, as it were. This rough sea journey requires no less artistic skill on the part of the poet nor dedication on the part of the reader. However, it is less an exercise in leisure than a struggle not to be engulfed by the wild sea. Why should poetry not be so if its aim is to reflect the stormy journey through the sea of our real lives and the urgency of our struggle with its waves? In Rumi’s words: I said I shall tell the tale of my heart as best as I can; Caught in the storm of my tears, with a bleeding heart, I failed to do that! I tried to relate the event in broken, muted words; The cup of my thoughts was so fragile, that I fell into pieces like shattered glass. Many ships were wrecked in this storm; What is my little helpless boat in comparison? The waves destroyed my ship, neither good remained nor had; Free from myself, I tied my body to a raft. Now, I am neither up nor down—no this is not a fair description,- I am up on a wave one instant, and down under another the next. I am not aware of my existence, I know only this: When I am, I am not, and when I am not, I am! (D, 1419:1—6) From this vantage point, with the poet caught in the storm instead of commenting on it with aloofness, the malleable substance of love and the poetry that gives voice to it acquire new and changing roles. This poetry of love is not merely an appeal to the beloved to put an end to separation. It is action in the broadest sense of the term, action that may range from /, 38 THE "FOOTLESS" JOURNEY IN “NOTHINGNESS” singing and whirling to an outright declaration of war. Love, the unequiv- ocal basis for everything that finds expression in the Divan, is for Rumi itself a paradox. The contradiction inherent in the oneness of the two, the concurrent separation and unity of the lover and the beloved is a maze with no apparent exit. It is better expressed in the roughness of fighting a storm than in skillful ropewalking. The Divan echoes the mixture of joy and agony in Rumi's response to this paradoxical experience: My life is yours, yours mine; Has anyone witnessed one life in two bodies? My life is union with you, my death separation from you; You have given me unique skills! in two [different] arts. (D, 20123) As in any unresolved duality, the question persists: where does the lover stand at any given moment, with the beloved or separated from the beloved? To avoid a sense of hopelessness, fatigue, and resignation, Rumi converts many such bitter complaints into playful anecdotes like the fol- lowing: Last night you poured the wine, then you escaped from me; I have caught you one more time, don't do what you did before. (D, 1827:4) Yet in anecdotal language or otherwise, the concurrent unity and dual- ity in love is indescribable. It cannot be paraphrased, in the same way that a paradox cannot be paraphrased. A paraphrased paradox is flat and dull and therefore not a paradox anymore.32 So is the tale of love told in flat and unparadoxical terms of description and interpretation. Rumi senses this reality; in fact, he refers to it even in the Masnavi‘, which, due to its didactic goal, should have closer affinity with description and inter- pretation: Though interpretation of speech makes things clear Love free of words is clearer.33 Consequently, the Divan, instead of describing the bewilderment of love, becomes a linguistic manifestation of bewilderment. It does not struggle to paraphrase or unravel the paradox of love, but instead be- comes an extended linguistic paradox that operates at the limits of dis- course, challenging the absolutes that literary orthodoxy had created and worshipped up until that point. This "playing with human understand- THE POWER OF lLLOGlCAL TROPES 39 ing” and “redirecting thoughtful attention to the faulty or limited struc- tures of thought," in fact, constitutes a primary function of paradox.“ Letting the force of his lyricism demolish terminal and categorical bound- aries of existing discourse, Rumi leads us into an enchanting maze that does to our poetic senses what the paradox of love does to our emotions. It prepares us for surprises, keeps us eager to participate in the poetic act, and yet leaves us acutely aware of our limitations. As a result, the Divan expresses the mystery and the paradox in the experience of love not through description and explication but by letting the reader share that experience in his / her role as the reader of these lyrics. The Identity Paradox in the Divan The perplexity begins with the first encounter with the text. In fact, it begins even before approaching individual ghazals. On the cover of the Divan is usually written...
View Full Document

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern