Entangling the …


Entangling the perceptions of the real, the symbolic and the imaginary, The Seminars of Jacques Lacan engaged the desires of man, in order to establish a dialectic between the Freudian “Pleasure Principle” and supposed moral law. Positing his work as the unmasking of tension between desire and reality, Lacan’s overtaking of Freudian psychoanalysis employs the understanding of desires vis-á-vis pleasure, and the power of pleasure, urging towards the reality of care (Sorge) and the concept of anxiety. Manipulating the potential of discourse through a Heideggerian structure, the lure of desire through a Kierkegaardian dogmatism and the omnipresence of guilt, the Lacanian psychoanalytic condition of man necessitates the jouissance, the satisfaction, as a stimulus in reality, the essence of symbolism and a gateway to the imaginary.

To further illustrate the authority of jouissance in Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, one must submit to the understanding of the intermediary between the subject and what he desires, the objet petit a. Lacan positions the objet a as, “(a) cause of desire… that will explain its place in the satisfaction of the drive.”(1-The Deconstruction of the Drive). En termes simples, the objet a triggers desire, which is the foundation of the drive, which leads to the pleasure or displeasure of jouissance. Speculation around discourse, desire and guilt reveal the origination and implications of jouissance, situating Lacanian psychoanalysis in the same intrapsychic perspective of Sigmund Freud’s work, “Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety” (1926).

Freud’s “Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety” posits an intrapsychic conflict among drive and the superego, as the result of, and resulting in anxiety. Freud argues that, “We cannot find that anxiety has any function other than that of being a signal for the avoidance of a danger situation. The significance of the loss of an object as a determinate of anxiety extends considerably further.” (2-ISA) He distinguishes between the experience of fear as a situation in which we are able to name what we are afraid of (an external cause), and anxiety where we have the arguably more unpleasant sensation of a pervasive feeling that cannot be pinned down to any obvious cause. It is in this sense, that anxiety of the lack of object arises, and can become activated by the anticipation of previous danger, known as ‘signal anxiety’. Anxiety is not produced by repression, but instead, produced by an cyclical sensation of lacking causality for anxiety, “Often, the subject develops various inhibitions or symptoms as processes of defense against this feeling of anxiety.” (3-ISA) Inhibitions, symptoms and anxiety then become a threshold one must cross before accessing the underlying symbol of the unpleasant sensation, the objet a du jouissance.

Symbolizing the attempt to release oneself from anxiety (a passage a l’acte), Lacan’s “Anxiety: Seminar X” (1962) states that anxiety is produced from lack of reciprocation by the Other*, “That is what anxiety is… For if he recognizes me, since he will never recognize me sufficiently, all that is left to me s to use violence.” (4- Seminar X pg 8) This violent attempt to effect the distance from the Other implies the Freudian structure of a super ego, as a moral agency, the Wahrnehmungsbewusstsein, which perceives and registers stimulus from one’s reality, which Lacan states is “precarious.” (Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 30). This bridge between perceived reality and its access to one’s moral agency (super ego) is the synthesis of a theoretical discourse about the drive of the super ego: the moral law.

Moral Law is conveyed by Lacan as a type of “duty” (EoP, 7), to which he asks, “Given our condition as men, what must we do to act the right way?” (19) Moral Law then affirms itself, as a given set of standards by the super ego, and “thereby opens a path in which the point of our presence is legitimized.” (19) Lacan speculates that moral law exists due to the rational articulation of opposition from that which man desires, a Wunsch. This idea can be accessed through the phrase, “laws were made to be broken.” Wunsch, in opposition to moral agency, is presupposed by the definition of things (Dinge) subjectively. Lacan situates his thesis, that “Moral law is articulated to the real as such, to the real insofar as it can be the guarantee of the thing.” (EoP,76)

Interrogation of Dinge is an ontological endeavor, seeding from the metaphysical analysis of human life overall. Citing mortals themselves as the greatest link between man and the understanding of himself in relation to the greater, metaphysical world, Heidegger posits that the path to discovering the self is structurally integrated, through the analysis of what the self is, and which elements are entangled with it. His most famous work, “Being and Time” (1927) substantiates his position, through delineating that man lives in the world with both other mortals, and creates and uses Dinge in the world. Because of being created by man, rather than from a metaphysical phenomenon, Dinge are interrogated, to achieve a greater understanding of the origin of man’s moral law and Wunsche.

Lacan’s “Ethics of Psychoanalysis” then approaches Heidegger’s essay, “Das Ding” (1950). “Das Ding” oriented the awareness of an object, the jug, towards its usefulness by the mortal. Heidegger problematizes the nearness (Nähe) of objects, and echoing “Being and Time,” Heidegger speculates that it is Sorge, which leads man to possible anxiety. Heidegger, like Freud, links anxiety to the concept of indefinite fear, which is “nothing and nowhere” (BT, Ch.6) In opposition to anxiety, is Heidegger’s inauthentic understanding of life, which he calls “groundless floating,” which is grounded when there is an unheimlich fear, bringing definition and authenticity to the world, making Dasein self aware.

Self-awareness in the face of anxiety would be conceptualized by Freud as a understanding of moral law, and a breaking away from the super ego, which would be interpreted by Lacan as a Wunsch, in which jouissance is the driving force. Synthesizing Lacan’s ideology of jouissance, Freud’s pressure of the super ego, and Heideggerian authenticity; Anxiety is posited as the  super ego’s fear of the unknown, which, in the face of pleasurable or unpleasurable jouissance, can be activated, and separate man from his inauthentic mode of being, causing him to rationally symbolize the world in a way that may cause inhibitions and symptoms. The tension between desire (Wunsche) and reality (moral law) has now been speculated about on both psychological and cosmological levels, through defining the transitive nature of them, through philosophical speculation about modes of being.

But, if one lives without anxiety, in a totally inauthentic world, is that wrong? Lacan states that the guilt experienced under the superego pressure is not illusory but actual, “the only thing of which one can be guilty is of having given ground relative to one’s desire,” (EoP, 169) and the superego pressure demonstrates that we effectively are guilty of betraying our desire. Lacan begins an analysis of the ten commandments, focusing on that which states, “thou shalt not lie”. It is in this commandment, that Lacan posits lying as a fundamental Wunsch, which can produce pleasurable or unpleasurable jouissance. Calling lying an “antinomic function between law and desire,” Lacan notes the paradoxical relationship of jouissance to authenticity. Quoting Freud’s “Civilization and its Discontents,” Lacan provides, “Wo es war, soll ich werden.” (EoP, 81) to emphasize the moral experience as that of an analytical nature. But, how is one to analyze their moral experience, without a sense of guilt?

It is in Søren Kierkegaard’s theological approach, that this question is answered. Written almost to preempt Lacan’s question of guilt, Kierkegaard authored “The Concept of Anxiety” (1844) as a dogmatic approach to analysis of morality, without the guilt for inauthenticity. Kierkegaard’s treatment of anxiety as “freedom’s possibility” (ibid) posits that the anxiety over the unknown is both daunting, but also exhilarating, as one encroaches forward towards enlightenment.  Kierkegaard represents the growth of objective anxiety through the sin of lustfulness (Wunsche) during the process of reproduction. How can man not be guilty, when conceived through sin? Kierkegaard further conceptualizes “good” and “evil” as presupposed and inescapable,

“When sin is posited in the particular individual by the qualitative leap, the difference between good and evil is also posited… We have said what we again repeat, that sin presupposes itself.” (112)

Despite the inability to control one’s own conception, and therefore the inability to be born in freedom from sin, Kierkegaard asserts that freedom to choose further sinfulness is not arbitrary. Hence, Kierkegaard says, ”To speak of good and evil as the objects of freedom finitizes both freedom and the concepts of good and evil.” (124) In this, he means that freedom is multifaceted; Choice between “good” and “evil” differentiate freedom of choice from free will. Because of man’s objective anxiety about sin, due to it’s presupposition, man is willed towards finding the path towards righteousness. Limitation of free will uncovers the daunting actuality of man’s finitude in the face of infinite abyss of possibility. Kierkegaard describes the “anxiety in creation,” as the “Entrapment in the infinitude of possibility” (80). Faith is posited by the individual’s ability to overcome the psychological state of anxiety, and live righteously both because of and in spite of hereditary sin. Without faith in the ability to be righteous, man would be stuck in an anxiety limbo.



The Kurdish Question


This is a strictly academic post, for a term paper about development in the “Muslim” world. I feel very strongly about the Turkish position in modern day society, as they are the gateway between the east and the west, as well as an Islamic society that has successfully chosen capitalism and is attempting democracy. I highlighted the plight of the Kurdish, because it is Turkey’s most poorly managed developmental struggle. It’s also fascinating, that a population as large as the Kurdish, has no nation. In this group, they are also; internationally active, freaking NOMADIC and oppressed. The Kurdish are both diverse, and culturally intriguing. Oh, and they are beautiful. Bright green eyes and soft light brown skin? To die for. Enjoy!

The Kurdish Question

On 28 June 1925, the Sheikh Said Rebellion instigated what was to be one of the most multifaceted nationalist movements in the Middle East. Almost 80 years later, this mobilization of Kurdish separatists against the oppressive Republic of Turkey continues as an unresolved armed conflict. The Kurdish separatist struggle for autonomy evolved in to what is now known as the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK). 30 years and 40,000 deaths later, Turk military and the PKK have both accused of human rights violations by the Council of European Union. Despite financial sanctioning for Turkey, and labeling of the PKK at a ‘terrorist organization,’ discourse to promote peaceful relations was never encouraged, nor attempted. Both Turkish and Kurdish societies denied opportunities to establish open dialogue with each other, or through an intermediary during periods of cease-fire. Such dialogue would have addressed the very multifaceted conflict between the threatened state of Turkey and the oppressed Kurdish culture, and the insurgency of the PKK. Tempers between these groups grew past political objectives, and became cultural terrorist attacks on personal freedoms. Thusly, the Turkish culture’s demonization of the Kurdish, only fueled the hatred of the insurgent PKK. Grouping both the Kurdish people and the Kurdish insurgents together, the Turkish condemned the Kurdish and established the ‘Kurdish Question,’ referring to political efforts to expel Kurdish peoples from the nation. Through analysis of related theoretical texts covering modernity and cultural miscommunication, the ‘Kurdish Question’ will be given a framework by which discrimination can be minimized and cultural communication will be effective.

The framework of the ‘Kurdish Question’, pragmatically speaking, depends on several factors. First, effective cultural discourse must establish differences. In contrast to James Carey’s A Cultural Approach to Communication, it is important to acknowledge ‘otherness,’ thereby eliminating expectations for similarities. Edgar Schein’s study on sub-cultural communication agrees, stating, “speaking the same language creates a greater risk that people will overlook the actual differences in categories of thought that reflect functional subcultures.” (1993) Through a historical pre-text, origins of the Turkish, Kurdish and the PKK’s ideological convictions can deconstruct presumptions, allowing for greater understanding of ideological background. 
Secondly, the Turkish state must recognize that the ‘Kurdish Question’ is distinct from the PKK’s terrorism. From this re-estimation of Kurdish culture, it becomes obvious that Kurdish culture and Kurdish activism have two different intentions pertaining to the state of Turkey. Recognition that the oppression of the Kurdish peoples for the sake of PKK repulsion is wrong and has been historically inhumane. In reference to Stuart Hall’s Question of Cultural Identity, cultural identity isn’t fixed amongst a group, and collective identity is an ‘unstable point of identification.’ (324) Analysis of Kurdish livelihood under Turkish rule can provide points of miscommunication and mistreatment, to prevent such further atrocities. 
Third, both the initial two steps will frame a rounded cultural perspective, which will increase ability to address the horrible miscommunications between the three major actors. The ‘Kurdish Question’ includes two very defined political persuasions, Islamic Orientalism and Turkish Kemalism. Manuel Castells (1997) expresses the importance of identity when looking at political frameworks, stating that identity is relational to the role it is occupying. Castell’s three types of identities can be used to describe the positional power relationship between Turkey, the Kurdish culture and the PKK. Organizing each actor in to an identity will provide a theoreticalf framework for addressing the cultural miscommunications. It is essential for modernized Turkey to communicate with the two periphery ideologies, the Kurds and the PKK,  and relieve the negative connotation  of ‘Kurdish Question’. Having won the war, Turkey now needs to win the peace.

29 October 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk became the first non-Ottoman ruler in over 623 years of Turkish history (Cornell, 2001; 32). Preempted by the First World War, Turkish Nationalists were ready for Revolution. After a successful Turkish War of Independence, Nationalists sought to remove the socio-political legacy of the Ottoman Empire. The nationalist and secularist reforms signified the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish nation-state and from Islam to nationalism, with the “cult of Atatürk” substituting Islam as “Turkey’s religion” (Müller, 1996: 175). The Hat Law of 1825, prohibiting the veil and the fez, was the first step to declassification of Turkey under ‘Orientalist’ standards. Kemal Atatürk’s Nationalism removed Islam as the cohesive element of Turkey; instead he instigated ‘Turkification’. Atatürk viewed ethno-religious pluralism as a problem with the Ottoman empire, and was convinced that a nation could only consist of a society that shared the same ideal, language, territory and culture. Influenced by Western modernity and superiority, Turkification became Kemalism’s action plan for Turkey.

Tek dil, tek halk, tek bayrak’
One language, One people, One Flag

Although Atatürk emphasized the, “inseparability of the Kurds from the Ottoman nation,” (Muller, 1996: 176), he signed the “Treaty of Lausanne” of July 24th 1923, prohibiting Kurds from claiming Kurdistan as a sovereign state. After the Sheikh Said Rebellion, the passing of “Settlement Law” (1934 ) displayed Atatürk’s dismissal of the Kurdish from his ‘Turkified’ nation. Dividing Kurds in to acceptable “zones,” Article 11 of the law ordered Kurds to be distributed thinly so that they constituted no more than 10 percent of the population of any district to which they were sent. There was no thought given to Kurdish family homes, or family units. (Muller, 1996: 178). 
Understanding the de/territorialization of Kurds cannot be done on with respects to globalization, as presented by Inda and Rosaldo. The de/territorialization experienced by the Kurds is an on going process, with the possibility of the average Kurd getting ‘uprooted’ three times or more in one lifetime. (Amnesty International, 2007.) As societies around the Middle East push them out, the Kurdish peoples have a large Diaspora population in many Northern European societies. Unfortunately, the plight of the Kurds left in Turkey is extreme. With a lack of economic stimulus from the government, they live off the land, with very few opportunities for education or personal initiative outside of their tribe. Amnesty International states, “Kurdish is the largest ethnicity without a nation, at an estimated 35 million people, and at least an extra 1 million living in Diaspora.” (2007) 
While the Arabs call the Kurds “Arabs from Yemen”, the Turks call them “mountain Turks” and the Persians regard them as their ethnic counterparts, it is not astonishing that the Kurdish have suffered with tensions about their cultural identities! Kurds represent a group that has been ‘Orientalized’ and outcasted by modernized communities of its homeland, with the only evidence as to why being that a majority practice fundamental Islam.
Currently, the Turkish constitution doesn’t allow Kurdish television, Kurdish language instruction, formation of political groups with the word ‘Kurdish’ in them, or anything else that could, “provoke hatred or animosity between groups,” unless permitted by the state. (Consitution of the Republic of Turkey) Such stringent media and expression laws are very parallel with that of ‘Thought Crime,’ in George Orwell’s 1984. When the government outcasts it’s own citizens, ‘Orientalizing’ them, labeling them as not as in some way not up-to –par, it’s only a matter of time before the citizens realize that they can build their own golf course. Kurdish autonomy is not an impossibility.

‘Ne mutlu Türküm digene.’ How happy is the one who says, I am a Turk.

Orientalism, as used by Edward Said (1978), referred to hegemonic patterns of representation of “Oriental” cultures and societies as “backward” and “traditional” in order to construct Europe (or the West) as “modern” and “progressive.” For this reason the Orient had to constantly be stigmatised and set apart as innately different from the Occident. This ‘othering’ process of drawing a strict East/West boundary became “The starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptions, and political accounts concerning the Orient, its people, customs, ‘mind’, destiny, and so on” (1978). Orientalist images and knowledge, generated alongside colonialism in the 18th and 19th centuries, have operated as a tool and a justification of Western cultural, political, military and economic dominance, based on the perception of the inferiority of non-Western cultures, religions and societies. This understanding of Orientalism connects cultural, political and economic power relations and the hegemony of Turkey.

By assuming the Orientalist narrative and re-enacting it in the form of a Turkish Orientalism “indigenous” to Turkey, the Turkish ruling elite negated the Ottoman past for its “backwardness” and “religiosity”. The Kemalists rejected the Orient and assigned to Islam the definition of Orientalness, thus equating ‘westernisation’ with de-Islamisation. The process of the reproduction of Orientalism within Turkey refers to the way in which the Turkish nationalist elite, the Kemalists, imagined the Turkish nation and construed the ethno-religiously diverse society inherited from the Ottoman Empire. It is the process whereby Kemalism approached the society it emerged from, and the conditions that gave rise to it, through an Orientalist and Eurocentric reasoning and logic. Since Western modernity, superiority and strength was defined by homogenous nation-statehood and militarism, systematic Turkification became Kemalism’s very own civilizing mission. How do the missions of with the Kurdish demand for freedoms fit in with Atatürk’s ‘Turkification’?

“People cannot develop if they don’t conquer social dignity.” 
(Castells, 25; 1997)

Castells offers an identity organizational structure that would be able to further explain relationships between Kurdish identity, and the exertion of Turkish power on their livelihood. Unlike “roles” (i.e. ‘Mother’), which are defined by “norms structured by the institutions and organizations of society,”(27; 1997) identities (i.e. gay, feminist), “are sources of meaning for the actors themselves, and by themselves, constructed through a process of individuation” (1997) ‘Legitimizing identity’ is “introduced by the dominant institutions of society to extend and rationalize their domination vis-à-vis social actors.”(1997) An example is the identity of citizen confined to political actions within the limits of established state power. The Republic of Turkey would fit in to this category, because they are aware and content with their relationship with power (they are the power). ‘Resistance identity’ is “generated by those actors that are in positions/conditions devalued and/or stigmatized by the logic of domination…”(1997) The Resistance identity emphasizes disagreement and contest of the power, but no action for change. This group is the oppressed minority. ‘Resistance identity,’ of the Kurd can be exemplified with their ‘otherness’ from the state through religious fundamentalism, and their unwillingness to appreciate Turkish modernity. “Exclusion of the excluders by the excluded.”(1997) Finally, although rare, ‘Project identity’ is the identity of reformation. No longer did they want to be oppressed and hold only political grudges, they wanted to take social action. Social tension like this is established in the PKK identity. 
Castells identities can also be separated in to the specific interests of each group. The Republic of Turkey is ‘legitimate,’ and wants to maintain their specific relationship with power. Kurdish citizens ‘resist,’ by having internalized feelings against the power above them. They are the minority that wants to be heard. Finally, the PKK has a ‘project.’ Contending with the ‘legitimate’ power of Turkey, the PKK has interest in extreme change in things like social and economic policy.

“If the Kurdish issue is resolved in a democratic way through dialogue we will lay down our weapons, yes. We will not carry arms,”Murat Karayilan, current leader of the PKK (2010)

With the PKK militarily accepting peace offers from the Turkish, the time has come for Turkey to accelerate its democratization, including the removal of restrictions on cultural rights. Turkey has opposed any easing of its strict legislation over terrorism, freedom of expression, and cultural rights, and justifies its position with the argument that reform would imply ‘concessions’ to terrorists. Now that the specter of PKK terrorism has significantly diminished, opportunity has emerged for the country to go forward with reforms on human rights and democratization. Interests of both the ‘legitimate’ Turks to maintain identity, and the PKK to instigate a ‘project’ of change for themselves and the minority, are transparent for negotiations. Now, one must contend about how to establish agreement between the two feuding sides.

Convergence theories argue that despite national and regional differences, the road to modernization is basically unilinear. Frances Fukuyama, in his widely read book, The End of History, extends the unilinear view of modernization to argue that an inevitable outcome of global conflict is political democratization. He argues that human history can be seen as a “coherent development of human societies from simple tribal ones based on slavery through various theocracies, monarchies, and feudal aristocracies, up through modern liberal democracy and technologically driven capitalism.” (xii) Fukuyama would be suggesting in this sense, that Kurdish culture will inevitably be de-feudalized and accept the democratic concept of secularization. Fukuyama recognizes that nations and peoples can choose to resist these forces of history, but in a kind of Darwinian evolution, those who resist will eventually be ‘swept away,’ or at least overshadowed, by those that evolve in the ‘prescribed’ direction.

Of course, the unilinear view of modernization has often been challenged, particularly in the non-western world, but also by western scholars. In contrast to convergence theories like Fukuyama’s, are theories of cultural variation, which assert there are different roads to modernization and different end states to the modernization process. This contends that, despite possible democratization of Turkey, Kurdish ideological differences will continue to cause conflict. One of the most straightforward and articulate spokesmen of the cultural variation school is Samuel Huntington. In a widely read essay, “Clash of Civilizations?” and a subsequent book, Foreign Affairs, Huntington argues that while all cultures experience certain similarities in the modernization process, cultures still retain their unique characteristics and basic ideologies. Even after modernization, societies can be quite different from each other.

Who has the better of this debate, Huntington or Fukuyama? The central question is whether all modernizing societies are approaching the same end state, including political democracy, or whether the distinct legacies and traditions of different civilizations mean that they will remain separate and unique.

In application to the Kurdish Question, Fukuyama is wrong and Huntington is right. Just as important as the continual pressure to modernize, is the continual pressure to maintain cultural traditions and values. The Kurdish Question has shown the persistent power of anti-secular (and therefore anti-Western) culture and ethnicity. Symbolizing the ethnic and national rivalries that fuels wars, and acting as an example of a significant fault line in the Middle East, ‘the Turkish-Kurdish conflict proves that blood and soil have proven powerful attachments.’(Öcalan, 2003)

The evolution of Turkish politics and society can be promoted through encouragement of civil society and the welcoming of outside agencies (NGOs) to facilitate discussion. Such organizations have the best chance of offering public discourse without forced presence in Kurdish areas. In this context, the role of Kurdish political parties deserves mention. Most Kurdishoriented parties in the 1990s have been closed by the Constitutional Court due to links to the PKK. Currently, the People’s Democracy Party (Halkin Demokrasi Partisi–HADEP) is under the same threat. However, the results of the 1999 general elections indicate the wide popularity of HADEP in the southeast. Although the party received only 4.7 percent of the total votes in the parliamentary election, small amount is largely related to the 10 percent representation in the parliament. With little chance of attaining that level nationwide, many voters concluded that a vote for HADEP was ‘wasted’(2005.)
Results in the simultaneous elections suggested differently. In many towns in the southeast, including the large cities of Van and Diyarbakir, HADEP candidates won landslide victories with up to 70 percent of the vote. This is a clear sign that large parts of the population of the southeast strongly favor a democratic representative of Kurdish rights. State attempts to destroy HADEP, either by closing down the party through legal measures or through the harassment or arrest of its leaders, are thus likely to be counterproductive. Removing the possibility of a democratic outlet for Kurdish sentiment will only fuel new rebellions. Despite its sometimes-warranted suspicions, the state needs to tolerate and, if possible, engage HADEP and other democratic Kurdish movements instead of suppressing them.

Encouraging the use of open dialogue, transparency by the state in economic funding, and reformation of the Turkish’s Republic’s constitution is the first-ever leader, and now prisoner of the state, Aduhllah Öcalan. “Confronted by aggressive national chauvinism… if the power was explained, there would be no ideological constraints to agreement with the state.” (2008) Encouraging the discrimination of ethnic hegemony, and the institution of democratic socialism, Öcalan suggests that the ‘Kurdish Question’ should be treated as a fundamental question of democracy.

Turkish interests stand against democracy, because of the still discriminatory view of ‘otherness’.  Through open dialogue, could the Turks not achieve a more hegemonized Kurdish population? Other proponents of this theory include current Turkish President, M. Fethullah Gülen. Currently engaged in a  “war of position,” Gülen states that societal change must trickle through a society’s ‘superstructure,’(Hendrick,  2009) Through recognizing the power structures through Castell’s identities, opening historical dialogue to condition society to understand, and taking advantage of current PKK and Turkish leadership, the ‘Kurdish Question’ will evolve from expressing political hegemony, to accessing the social hegemony potential of the Republic of Turkey, the Kurdish citizens, and the radical PKK.

“Only after strengthening one’s collective identity, therefore, can actors in a network make use of the ‘structural connection’ between institution and individuals.”

Hendrick, 2009.

Works Cited

Abrahamian, Ervand. “The US Media, Huntington and September 11.” Third World Quarterly 24.3 (2003): 529-44. Print.

Öcalan, Abdullah. War and Peace in Kurdistan; Perspectives for a Political Solution to the Kurdish Question. International Initiative, 2009. Print.

Canefe, Nergis. “Turkish Nationalism and the Kurdish Question: Nation, State and Securitization of Communal Identities in a Regional Context.” South European Society and Politics 13.3 (2008): 391-98. Print.

Carey, James. “Reconceiving “Mass” and “Media”” Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society 2 (2008): 1-16. Print.

Carey, James W. “A Cultural Approach to Communication.” Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society. Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989. 1-27. Print.

Castells, Manuel. The Power of Identity. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1997. 1-31. Print.

Cornell, Savante E. “The Kudish Question in Turkish Politics.” Orbis 1st ser. 45.15 (2001): 31-47. Web.

Çelik, Ayse B. “Track 2 Interventions and the Kurdish Question in Turkey.” International Journal of Peace Studies 12.2 (2007). Print.

Gunter, Michael. “The Kurdish Question in Perspective.” World Affairs 166.4 (2004): 197-205. Print.

Hall, Stuart, David Held, and ,. Tony. McGrew. “Modernity; An Introduction to Modern Societies.” Modernity and Its Futures. Cambridge: Polity in Association with the Open University, 2001. 597-615. Print.

Harvey, David. “Time-Space Compression and the Postmodern Condition.” The Global Transformations Reader: an Introduction to the Globalization Debate. By David Held and Anthony G. McGrew. Malden, MA: Polity, 2000. 83-91. Print.

Hendrick, Joshua. “Globalization, Islamic Activism and Passive Revolution in Turkey: the Case of Fathullah Gülen.” Journal of Power 2.3 (2009): 343-68. Web.

Huntington, Samuel. “The Clash of Civilizations?” The Changing Security Environment and American National Interests (1993): 1-14. Print.

Inda, Jonathan Xavier., and Renato Rosaldo. “Introduction: A World in Motion.” The Anthropology of Globalization: a Reader. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2008. 1-34. Print.

Kuran, Timur. “The Genesis of Islamic Economics; A Chapter in the Politics of Muslim Identity.” Social Research 64.2 (1997). Print.

Mamdani, Mahmood. “Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: A Political Perspective on Culture and Terrorism.” American Anthropologist 104.3 (2002): 766-75. Print.

News, O’Byrne BBC. “BBC News – PKK ‘would Disarm for Kurdish Rights in Turkey'” BBC – Homepage. Web. 07 Dec. 2010. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-10707935>.

Schein, E. “On Dialogue, Culture, and Organizational Learning.” Organizational Dynamics 22.2 (1993): 40-51. Print.

Sirkeci, Ibrahim. “Exploring a Kurdish Population in a Turkish Context.” Genius 1 (2000). Print.

Ulusoy, Kivanç. “Governing Turkey towards the European Union.” Society and Economy 30.2 (2008): 339-58. Print.

Zivanov-Kaiser, Emily. “Turkey’s “Kurdish Issue”; A Surmountable Challenge.” NIMEP Insights. Print.

Form follows Function


This is my English Abstract to aid in the organization of my thoughts and citations for the art theory paper I am writing for professor Martin Klebes. There is very little secondary source information for ANY of these three texts: “Das Ding” [The Thing] Martin Heidegger, “Zür Ästhetik: Der Henkle” [About Aesthetics: The Handle] Georg Simmel, and “Ein Alter Krug” [An old Jug] Ernst Bloch, let alone much interpretation of them in English. I hope that this gives further academic accessibility to the philosophical angle of the art theory of these texts.

Outpouring of purposeful action from the mind of the mortal to the earth, like watering seeds in the interest of growing food, is a continuous process of survival. Mortals have a definite will to live, which is exemplified through creating physical objects, using the materials of the given earth to mold useful tools for the service of themselves. Post-modern philosophy sought ontological explanations through examining the examinable; physical objects, which are purposed by man, give insight to man’s nature and therefore, purpose. Conceptualizing the use of a jug, through bringing forth an awareness of it’s very essential meaning as a tool of man, Martin Heidegger, Georg Simmel, and Ernst Bloch present the aesthetic and functional concepts of the jug, such as it’s origination, use and understanding, to rationally articulate the theoretical force, which objects in general have on the metaphysical analysis of mortals.

Along the same investigative ideology as Martin Heidegger, as a principally structural ontologist, the division of the theoretical force of the jug in to the framework of origination, use and understanding is necessary to rationally articulate the phenomenon between man and his tools, and thereby, man and his worldly development. Worldly development, in which man establishes a physical infrastructure, is presupposed by man’s will to live, and is supplemented by the Nietschien “Will to Power,” encouraging man towards development due to innate interests, as well as psychologically orienting desires to improve their status socially. The desire towards social development is fundamental to the posited ideologies, based in form and function. The will to live and the Will to Power are a priori to the origination of objects in general, and represent a metaphysical analysis of man, which is supplemented by a deeper interrogation of the objects, with which man lives.

Interrogation of objects is an ontological endeavor, seeding from the metaphysical analysis of human life overall. Citing mortals themselves as the greatest link between man and the understanding of himself in relation to the greater, metaphysical world, Heidegger posits that the path to discovering the self is structurally integrated, through the analysis of what the self is, and which elements are entangled with it. His most famous work, “Being and Time” (1927) substantiates his position, through delineating that man lives in the world with both other mortals, and creates and uses objects in the world. Because of being created by man, rather than from a metaphysical phenomenon, objects are interrogated objectively, to achieve a greater understanding of the origin of man’s knowledge.

Heidegger’s essay, “Das Ding” (1950) oriented the awareness of an object, the jug, towards its usefulness by the mortal. Heidegger problematizes the nearness (Nähe) of objects, as being undescriptive of what the object is. In a Heideggarian structuralist way, the ontic perspective of what an object is, is exemplified by the analysis of the jug, having sides, and functioning as a container. Immediately following the jug’s conceptualization as a container, Heidegger states, “Der Krug ist nicht Gefaß, weil er hergestellt wurde, sondern der Krug mußte hergestellt werden, weil er dieses Gefaß ist.” (160) This initiates the structural analysis of an object, the jug, through it’s origination. Heidegger splits origination in to a twofold standing (ein zweifaches Her-Standes); Firstly, the object has been made, and secondly, “das Her-Stehen im Sinne des Hereinstehens des Hervorgebrachten in die Unverborgenheit des schon Anwesenden.” (160) This is to be interpreted as, the standing-forth of an object in light of what already existed. Through ein zweifaches Her-Standes, the jug is conceptualized as a vessel which is originated from an already existing necessity for a vessel, and the physical making of the jug in to a vessel. Heidegger states that the potter, who makes the jug, is actually making a vessel, confirming the presumption that, for Heidegger, an object’s understanding is found initially in it’s origination.

Heidegger then approaches the use of the jug, calling this the thingliness of an object (Dinghafte des Dings). “Die Leere faßt in zweifacher Weise: nehmend und behaltend.” (164) The taking and keeping of the jug is another zweifaches Her-Standes, which relates to the use of the jug as both something to collect water (or wine, or any other liquid) and something to pour water for mortals. This outpouring is known by Heidegger as a gift (das Geschenk), which he explains as a simple connection between the Gods, mortals, earth and sky, “Im Geschenk des Gusses weilt die Einfalt der Vier.” (166) It is through the jugs use, its outpouring, its gift to the mortals, from the earth and from the gods, that the fourfold (das Geviert) is simultaneously involved. Answering the question of how the theoretical force of an object is rationally articulated, Heidegger ends his essay with the statement, “Nur was aus Welt gering, wird einmal Ding.” (175) In this, Heidegger posits that the Dinghafte des Dings exists only because of the simultaneous involvement of das Geviert.

Diverging from Heidegger’s ontological inquiry of a thing’s structural understanding, Georg Simmel’s essay, “Der Henkel” (1919), posits that understanding can be found through the aesthetic value of the jug, focusing on the understanding of the jug’s handle (der Henkel), in relation to the jug, through discussion about origination and use, and the theoretical force of the jug is rationally articulated through this transitive understanding. Simmel states, “Diese Doppelstellung der Vase nun ist es, die sich in ihrem Henkel am entschiedensten ausspricht.” (127) The dual nature (die Doppelstellung) of the handle is what gives the vase its realistic purpose, separating it from being merely aesthetically purposed (like a painting) and having both form and function. Positing that, “…wie für die Seele die Hand ein Werkzeug ist, so ist ihr auch das Werkzeug eine Hand,” (128) Simmel integrates the origination of the jug, to the work of the hand, as expressing the will of the mortal’s soul. It is from the hands, that aesthetic objects are created, with a presupposed unity of purpose and aesthetic value. This organic origination from the soul is expressed by Simmel, when he says, “…als benutzte der Mensch hier die Kanäle des natürlichen Säfteflusses zwischen Stiel und Blatt, um seinen eigenen Impuls in das Außending einzuströmen und ed damit seiner eignen Lebensreihe einzugliedern.” (129) It is as natural, as a leaf growing from a tree, as it is for man to incorporate a handle to a bowl, to make it a useful jug.

Taking issue with the purpose of the handle’s use, Simmel articulates that when a handle is only aesthetic, and not useful, it is no longer part of the organic unity from purpose of the soul, to origination by the hand. Using the example of a Greek jug, with three handles, Simmel argues, “Er geht vielmehr, wie mir scheint, darauf zurück, daß die in diesem System angelegten Bewegungen nur nacheinander stattfinden können, während die Henkel sich gleichzeitig darbeiten,” (130) by this, he is stating that it is impossible for all three handles to be useful at the same time, as they are aesthetically unified at the same time. Simmel situates the use of the jug, like Heidegger, to be necessarily practical, despite it’s also aesthetic origination.

Simmel moves even deeper in to the organic understanding of the jug’s use, by discussing the spout of the jug, “Es ist wie das Verhältnis des Menschen als Seele zu dem ihm äußeren Sein… durch die willensmäßigen Innervationen reicht die Seele in die Körperwelt hinaus,” (132) Simmel’s presupposition of the unity of soul and object is comparable to the das Geviert of Heidegger’s “Das Ding,” in that the origination of the jug is from a metaphysical power (like the Gods, but in this case, the soul) and  the organic origination (like the connection to the earth) of the elements, which make the jug useful.

Usefulness, as preconditioned by the soul’s interaction with man’s actions, brings about an understanding by Simmel, that, “Dies fällt nicht etwa unter das wunderliche Dogma, daß die Nützlichkeit über die Schönheit entschiede.” (132) This bold statement about form following function represents the breadth of unity between mortals and organic phenomenon, such as, “…viele Kreise- politische, beruflische, soziale, familiäre- in denen wir stehen, werden von weiteren so umgeben, wie das praktische Milieu das Gefäß umgibt,” (133) Just as the handle must not destroy the unity of form and function, the mortal must exist in his organic body, and function in his organic life spheres. It is on this platform, that Simmel rationally articulates the understanding of the jug, as, “ein Element die Selbstgenugsamkeit eines organischen Zusammenhanges mitlebt… über die ein ganz anderes Leben in jenes erste einfließt.” (134). Through Simmel’s understanding of the unity of objects with the soul, and the totality of their comportment to mortals, Simmel posits that the theoretical force of an object yields to it’s entanglement with the world (die Harmonie). Like Heidegger, Simmel rationally articulates the theoretical force of an object as being accessible through it’s involvement in the physical and metaphysical worlds.

Following Simmel’s metaphorical use of the life-spheres, which represent organic unity of all things in the world (Heideggerian in-der-Welt-sein), Ernst Bloch focuses his analysis of the jug, to the particular Bartmannkrug of sixteenth century origination. “Ein Alter Krug” is an essay from Bloch’s book, “Geist der Utopie” (1918), which uses historically based ontologial analysis of a jug, to rationally articulate the origination, use and understanding of the jug. Articulating the ability for the jug to have originated anywhere, but remain aesthetically unique to each area, Bloch says, “Auch klingt eine italienische Form in ihnen an, wenn auch noch so kräftig, zuerst soldatenhaft und dann nordisch, vergröbert.” (18) Positioning the origination of the jug as a universal phenomenon, Bloch relates the love for the jug to all types of people, both wealthy and poor, but positions usefulness to hold priority over the aesthetic value of the jug, “Doch wer ihn liebt, der erkennt, wie oberflächlich die kostbaren Krüge sehen worden sein sollen und haben das Alte bäuerisch, burchstäblich bewahrt.” (17/18) Bloch epitomizes this useful, yet culturally integrated jug, in the Bartmannkrug of the lower German areas, because of it’s aesthetic representation of the mortals it serves, “Was an ihnen am meisten auffällt, ist der Mann, der wilde Bartmann auf dem Bauch des soliden nordischen Gebildes. Damit spinnt sich ein seltsames Garn zu uns herüber.” (18)

Diverging from both Simmel and Heidegger, Bloch temporalizes the jug, by noting that it’s origination has changed over time. The thread (das Garn), is the historical knowledge of the jug, which aids in modern origination. Through stating, “Aber drüben verwahren wilde Männer neue Krüge… noch heute heißen, verrufenerweise… Norbiskrug,” (18) Bloch implies that the same type of people still make jugs, which are of a new type, NobiskrugNobiskrug is an important element in this essay from Bloch, as it signifies a temporal element, based in German mythology, implying the passing from one world to the next. For Bloch, use of the jug in the given time remains both unchanged and universal, which is represented by the aesthetic quality of the Bartmannkrug’s depiction of the originator. The farmers who both use and originate the jug are preserved, “buchstäblich bewahrt.” (19)

Temporal deduction of the jug’s use is depicted, by the “…feinen Duft von längst vergessenen Getränken,” (19) which exemplifies the use of the jug as a container, which can hold multiple things over time. The jug’s purpose is transcendent, throughout the physical and ideological history of the jug. The ability for the jug’s use to change, is exemplified by, “Ich werde nicht mit jeder Pfütze grau und nicht von jeder Scheine mitgebogen, um die Ecke gebogen.” (19)

Bloch’s relation of himself, as unchanged by the jug’s many ways to be filled, then resinates in his relation of mortals to the jug, “gegenwärtiger werde weiter zu mir erzogen an diesem mir teilhaftigen Gebilde.” (19) Through this, Bloch emphasizes the integration of the temporal jug with the development of mortals, such as Simmel’s ideology of das Harmonie between objects and life spheres. Differently than Simmel, Bloch disconnects the jug, as a useful object, with the changing humanity, but focuses on the origination of the jug as important to the theoretical understanding of the jug. By stating, “Auch hier, fühlt man, sich in einen langen sonnenbeschienenen Gang mit einer Tür am Ende hineinzusehen, wie bei einem Kunstwerk,” (19) Bloch rationally articulates the temporal, transitive origination of the jug, as leading to a door, which leads to another understanding of the jug. Bloch’s understanding of the jug is not aesthetic, but reflective and always temporally progressing, with the use always the same, just as the Bartmannkrug maintains the same depiction of its originator.

Bloch’s reflection about the Bartmannkrug is especially significant, in light of Heidegger’s and Simmel’s essays about a jug, because of it’s focus in a historical ontological inquiry. Bloch’s analysis of the jug diverges structurally, through a development-oriented dialectic framework. Instead of reaching in to deeper elements of the jug, like it’s connection with das Geviert or the meaning of it’s handle, temporal development presupposes understanding through analysis of origin, rather than analysis through interaction with it in the world. The Bartmannkrug emphasizes, ontically, the involvement of a mortal with the object, but exemplifies the development of society since the origination of the jug. The theoretical force of an object, to both Simmel and Heidegger, yields to the purpose of the jug in the present, but for Bloch, the theoretical force of the jug yields to the continuously developing jug itself.

A Separation (2011)


The separation between art, politics and society has consumed my thoughts since hearing about the movie, “A Separation” in class today. As more of a political philosopher than a cinema critic, my intrinsic interest in this Oscar-winning foreign film piqued upon hearing that it was Iranian. Iran, a nation with possibly the longest political history in the Middle East, a society with as many cultural influences as there were regimes, and a people with expanding access to media throughout a time of economic downturn and political corruption, was able to create a cinematic work of art, which transcended the sanctions of our government and withstood our society’s discrimination against the “backwardness” of the Middle East. Unlike most popular Western movies, “A Separation” had the backbone of morality, the eyes of human empathy and the veil of universality.

It is impossible to begin describing this movie, without initially asking for the reader to rationalize with themselves that the people of Iran are not all farmers, terrorists, victims or “radical” Muslims. The only “backwardness” of the Iranian people is the fact that we have turned our backs to them, by politically ignoring the devastation of their economy, and maintaining a social ignorance about their religion, lifestyle and cultural history. I’d like to posit that the exposure of Iran to such significantly different regimes and religions encouraged extensive dialogue about difference and change, which gives Iranian people an advantage in cultural and political tolerance. Without beginning an entire thesis on this issue, I’d also like to supplement this claim of Iranian benevolence with the fact that, despite their declining political and economic situation, despite the pressures of social uprisings around them, and completely negating the distrust and discrimination by the Western world, the Iranian people have not joined the Arab Spring revolution, and continue living and working as any average person in a market economy does.

“A Separation” keenly exemplifies a middle-class* Iranian family, going through a universally understandable experience involving divorce, adolescence and moral conundrums, with delicate undertones of Iranian culture, including average bureaucracy, gender roles and infrastructure. Despite the construct of Islamic practice as a main trait of (only) one character, I will not reference Islamic tones or motifs displayed, in the interest of maintaining an open mind of my Western reader, about the emphatic accessibility of this edgy, yet flowing, piece of cinematic art.

To briefly summarize this film, through the lens of an politically speculative, economically concerned, self-proclaimed philosopherin, I must begin by stating that it is, in essence, an everyday drama. In the midst of marital issues, concerning the family’s plan to move out of Iran, in the interest of bettering their mature adolescent daughter’s education, a husband and wife separate, causing the hiring of a live-in maid, to care for the husband’s senile father. In the process of filing for the divorce, the couple is taken to a judge privately, because his permission must be granted for the divorce to be official. Denying the divorce request, on grounds that it must be consentual, the issue of the wife’s ability to move abroad with her daughter is negated. Depicting an advantage for men about decision making in the Iranian legal system, this scene also clarifies the woman’s ability to speak openly about her desires, without the constraint of sexism. As an apparently educated married couple, the husband and wife decide to separate until they are able to make agreements with each other. It is here we see independence of the woman in society, despite the legal constraints of Iranian bureaucracy.

Upon the hiring of a woman to care for the senile father, a depiction of the less-educated, “blue-collar” Iranian society is offered. The woman, complaining about the plight of her husband against his creditors, contributes her family’s misfortune to the laying-off of her husband, because of the hiring of the owner’s family members. Mindful to the generality of this statement, I believe that the familial ties in Iranian society are main avenues of networking, given that the corporate infrastructure is minimal, and the economy is declining. In the interest of not demasculating her husband, as he has already been emotionally effected by his misfortune, the hired care woman does not mention to him, that she would be working for a single man. It is ambiguous throughout the movie, whether or not he is abusive to her because of this, or if she is only suffering from the internal debate about whether or not she is being faithful by lying to her husband for the benefit of making money. Only to briefly mention, the Islamic undertones begin and end with the care woman, on a level of personal confusion and guilt about perceived morality. 

After being hired, the care woman experiences complications with her pregnancy, and leaves the senile father alone, leading to his near-death. Because of this, she and the separated husband get in to an altercation, involving her being pushed (not hit, or thrown) out of the door. The woman then files a legal claim, stating that this push led to the miscarriage of her child. Highlighting the ability for a woman to file a legal claim for abuse, it also underscores the Iranian legal system’s high level of bureaucracy, which I found to be similar to that in the United States. It is in this scene, that a few differences must be initially noted: The lack of handcuffs on the accused, the lack of a jury, and the open dialogue between the accused, the victim and the prosecutor. Open dialogue is a theme, which I will discuss further in a moment. It is important to recognize to note that the open dialogue does not mean that the judge holds complete discretion. Similar to what I was told recently for a petty stop sign violation, the judge justifies the legal necessity of posting bail by stating, “Because that is the law, sir.”.

Continuing with the legal processes, is the separation of the family throughout the divorce process. Without interference, the judge does mention that “traditionally” it is the father who would decide with whom the daughter should live. Defying tradition, the well-educated couple communicate about the daughter’s best interests (her schooling) and allow her to decide where to live. The trust of the parents in their female child is an accessible theme to Western viewers, as the structure of Western families is more often not dictated by the father or mother, but is a game of reasoning between all family members. The academically motivated daughter is at the crux of empathetic understanding of this film, as she is affected by adolescence, divorce and legal dramatics.

Depiction of the deep and intrinsic familial affection is shown by the couple’s unyielding motivation to protect the daughter’s education, and their encouragement for her to continue studying her Persian and English amidst the dramatics going on around her. The wife’s desire to move abroad for her education spotlights the “Brain Drain” of Iran, implying shadows of discontent in the Iranian lifestyle. It is here that I must step back from theoretical analysis, and mention that the middle-class* family lifestyle is shown as financially strenuous, but with main amenities that Western middle-class families also enjoy. With a television, two cars and a refrigerator, there are some infrastructural downfalls also shown. From narrow, uncontrolled streets, to the necessity to go buy water from the store, because of a regular inability to get it from the tap, the Iranian developmental issues are still visible.

“A Separation” portrays the separation between two lovers, between two families, and between two perceptions of Iranian society. It is only in the end, after an emotional out-of-court settlement agreement, that the overarching theme of discourse can be seen as the cohesion between all separated factors. The two families sit down together over tea, and openly discuss the charges filed and the action needed to repair damage between them. Discourse as a means of understanding and as a journey to peaceful solutions is the lesson I took from this film, which I implore you to realize on a political, societal and personal level.

By using the resources of the media, Iranian producers provided the world with some insight in to the everyday life of an Iranian citizen, with the backbone of a private investors*, an eye of professional cinematic artists, and the veil of freedom of expression, without violent revolt. The channeling of Iranian discontent in to art pieces, like “A Separation,” is something I am excited to watch gain momentum throughout the political and economic development in the Middle East. Artistic acknowledgement by the western world is only the beginning of the new age in modern discourse between the east and west, culminating in the removal of societal assumptions and discrimination on both sides. In the words of a great philosopher, give peace a chance.

*I found it very interesting that the movie credits mentioned an “Investor”; It is not normal for Western films to mention such a thing. The “investor” was a bank, not a private donor. Without speculating about this for another thousand words, I encourage the reader to think about where that money comes from, and the political corruption that could have been involved in the process of producing and advertising this film. What undertones could the film have had, spurred by the nature of the investor? In American films, this could be displayed as product placement. Personally, I believe that the consistent disregard of Islam is a probable undertone of the investor’s motivation. Once, in the midst of a passionate debate, the care woman is asked to swear on the Qur’an, which is quickly dismissed by the accused husband/son of the senile old man, while stating, “God is for your type only.”

Miscellaneous notes throughout this film:
Opening Advertisements:
-There is a farmer’s market dinner, beginning at 5,30, on Tuesday, the 13th of March, at the United Methodist Church on 13th and Olive.
-If you mention the Bijou at the Eco-Boutique (one of my favorite little shops in west Eugene, across from Sweet Life.) you will receive 15% off your purchase.
In Movie:
(Phoenetically) “Bobo” can either mean daughter or father, or quite possibly just an endearing term for a family member, in Arabic. “Chee” accounts for both the question, “what?” and “with what?”. As a linguist in training, I find this interesting because one word can act as a specific questioning about an article (with what) or to an ambiguous statement, action, etc. (what).