We were just talking about the scholastic and the imaginative that underpins some gems of scholarship – such as Ramanujan’s work on the Ramayana (and his work on poetry, in poetry), and here comes another deeply inspiring articulation.
Nauman Naqvi, anthropologist, delivers a wonderfully framed, evocative,(and beautifully filmed) lecture ruminating on the art, the poetics of Sadequain – linking his calligraphy, his art, his poetic imagination, and then moving out towards the act of witnessing, of sacrifice and of truth.
It really is a must-must-watch.
What is the source of Islam’s potential for a beautiful, passive revolution today? How are the greater and lesser jihads distinct and entangled? What are the experiences of force given in the Muslim tradition? What are the relations between beauty, divinity, history and the forces of peace, truth and violence in this tradition? These are the prayers, the questions silently addressed in this filmic presentation of the anguished work of poesy and asceticism against historical violence in the painter-poet Sadequain (1930-87) – a presentation of the experience and logic of another force given in Islam, and dramatized in the life and oeuvre of this postcolonial Pakistani artist. Through a range of effects – including a generous and dynamic display of striking images juxtaposed with ravishing lyric from both Sadequain, as well as the larger Indic-Muslim and affinate traditions of the pre- and post-colonial modern period – this lecture-film enacts the experience and logic of this other force in three dramatic scenes of a performative lecture given by Nauman Naqvi at The Second Floor (PeaceNiche) in Karachi. The scenes – the hand, the head, and gesture – are scenes of what Sadequain called the technique of ‘mystic figuration’ in his painting: a certain tortured entanglement of the aesthetic, the ethical and truth in Muslim inheritance. An anguished entanglement of beauty, the good and truth in their ecstatic appearance in the secular world – the world of sight and sound – that is inseparable from the demand of sacrifice, of a strenuous self-canceling intention given in the aspect of a subtle violence of immanence in the Muslim understanding of being and existence. In tracing this haunting, subtle force of life, the lecture-film gestures towards the potential inheritance of a radically ethical politics of universal grace in Islam.