"Through abstraction we became human"

- and was given the ability to grab and solve complex problems, in the words of Saad Hajo.
Which he exemplified in the one word oppression, in Arabic قمع :

Saad Hajo, Förtryck / Oppression, May 24, 2014.

Three short lines and a ring in ink along with ripples added to the black contour and before us we have the impact of the said noun.

Word versus image is a discussion as old as our attempt to systematize the world around us. With a tendency through history to group the image with nature, as something right there to be seen with our eyes. As opposed to the word, proclaimed to be a product of civilization, artificial and thus with a tendency to be of higher ranking.

As opposed to... let us nurture the opposition since it embodies the solution, according to W.J.T. Mitchell, whom we have quoted before on this blog. Mitchell has challenged the compulsion to see words and images in political terms, as he calls it, making it a struggle for territory for the one or the other. His solution is to not resolve anything. Nor there is any need to negotiate a peaceful settlement. The struggle carries the fundamental contradictions of our culture into the heart of theoretical discourse itself, to quote Mitchell. The point is not to heal, but to see what interests and powers the counterposing serves.

Which is exactly what we have before us. Oppression is by its very definition a power struggle in which the result has been reached. There is a winner, but it is a case of two parties. Oppression crumbles and loses its power without the nether one.

So by adding that nether one, Saad Hajo has metamorphosed what was originally a noun into a verb.  This is the dynamics of oppression, a process, which is as violent as it is a coldly calculated structure. A process if cultivated for a longer period of time may lead to an uprising from the suppressed, which are the exact words we keep hearing from the Syrian freedom-fighters.

All of it here at once to be seen and to be imagined. Through one word/image we have the full framework for understanding the situation in Syria, how it was not at all a sudden idea, but was stemming from a long history of suffering. It was time to reclaim the dignity.

With dignity of the oppressed as another layer incorporated into just the one constellation, it is time to return to Saad Hajo's own words: 

Listen, man, when you laugh of abstraction, it means the angry animal 
within you is laughing aggressively at the human you have become".

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Saad Hajo and must not be reproduced without his permission.

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