Islam Now, Part 2

October 29, 2016

While missing the first installment of this exposure to another perspective of the world, I was fortunate enough to find this one, albeit quaintly installed in a side corner of one of the Los Angeles County Museum’s building. There are two immediate invocations that are summoned when walking briskly through this. The first is the overarching drapery of the old Islamic art motif, which I will delve into in a moment. And the second is how these contemporary Islamic artists nearly all practice or fulfill their art in countries not their own. When combined, the invocations reveal an incredibly stunted society and provides a rationale to such painful and awkward stumbling Islam has had as it has entered into the 21st century.


Gratefully, at the very least, the contemporary artists are not trying to play with petty imaginations as we nauseatingly have seen post-Great Wars in the United States and Western Europe. By comparison, walking through the Chicago Contemporary Museum of Art, we see dry-bone decadence in the artist’s figments of imaginations; playing contemptuously with the inheritance of traditional symbols, rather than inspiring the invention of new ones to interpret the world by. This is the aim of all great art after all, to inspire not to insult. So here, with the Islamists, we have a refreshment of their artist stylizing from a millennium ago, yet with contemporary modes of human being.


And firstly, it is an incredibly exotic and unique style to begin with – it typifies what Orientalism is in the minds of a Western man. I speak to the intricate, almost irreducibly complex, patterns which create gorgeous labyrinthine structures or orders. We see this in all the famed Mosques and famed paintings from Islam. And this style, it can be argued, is the fulfillment of what the religion enables the constricted human being to express; the strenuous animadversion to idolatry likely preordained all Islamic art to being so ornamental; with such ornamentation a glimpse at the underlying infinite harmony and order of the One. And even as an expression of the quote Divine Law, the comparable Logos, all of nature and man submits to. It is this submission, however, which disappointingly is still ever present in Islam. It is holy and pious to be trapped in Allah’s maze. The creative agency of mankind is segregated wholly from this order. It is as if, in Islam’s representation, man is emulsified and does not have the same identical underlying beauty and harmony, even if it is microscopic and virtually meaningless compared to the Divine.


It is this crisis within the psyche of the contemporary Islamist that is portrayed, confronted by the virtuous bounty accomplished by a social order which trusts in the design of nature and man’s involvement in it. There is a subtle tremor that has been shaking the Islamic world, as foreign and arguably idolatrous objects have been transfused into their membranes. The dissonance is clear: how can infidels taste heaven greater than worshipping the true law? Sadly, it is as though the Muslim’s heart is screaming for self-sufficiency, yet is encumbered by the legacy of its religion, with any individuality being met harshly; possibly explaining why the artists have had to flee their homelands. Such self-expression, which is the genus of all capitalism and wealth creation simply through the modulus of economic activity, cannot find root in a culture that is anchored with such severity toward the human spirit.


It explains the Islamic world’s lack of literacy, and lack of burgeoning human self-improvement as we have seen in other cultures across the world which are even more divergent than the West, like with tha Far East. Tragically, it seems for now that the only way tp become a better representation of being, as an extenuation of the Divine, is to escape.


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