Monday, July 11, 2011

Adunis, the revolutionary poet

Syrian poet Adunis may be at the heart of modern Arabic poetry, yet the Arab Spring has consigned him to irrelevance.

Sinan Antoon

Perplexing views

By this time, many Syrian and Arab writers and critics were already taking Adunis to task for the ambiguity of his position. The Syrian novelist Maha Hasan encouraged [Arabic] him to take a firm stand. In an April 14th article in al-Hayat, she addressed him directly" "Today you have to be more clear, precise, and direct in saying the truth about what is taking place in Syria...this is your last chance."

Adunis's second article on the revolt in Syria "The Syrian Moment, Again" fell short[Arabic] even more than the first. The tone in this piece was a bit clearer and was critical of the one-party system. But at the same time, Adunis seemed to be as critical of those protesting against the regime, writing "a politics led in the name of religion by a cart pulled by two horses: heaven and hell, is necessarily a violent and exclusionary politics". And the Orientalist hamartia is always there when he writes that "the present in some of its explosions is copying the events of the past with modern instruments". As if the contemporary Arab world is destined to repeat past tragedies.

In an appearance on the Saudi-owned satellite channel, al-Arabiyya, Adunis had said that he could not take part in protests that emanate from the mosque and faulted the opposition for not starting its protests in public squares. Adunis's stance on this point suggests just how detached he is from the lived reality of his own country. Not only have many of the protests in Syria erupted first on university campuses, but the choice of mosques as gathering-places cannot be said to express a particular religious ideology, since few other equivalent institutions exist across the country, and Syrian citizens do not have the luxury of picking and choosing between many sites for staging their protests. Indeed, there have been moving reports of Christians and atheists who went to mosques on Fridays in order to take part in what was sweeping the country....."

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