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Art vs Resistance | 4 comments
[new] when is it resistance? (Avg. Score: 3.00 / Raters: 1) (#4)
by joerabie on Tue Oct 21st, 2003 at 07:18:02 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
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The comments in this discussion and the previous thread refered to by Ryan are important for situating art in the wider context. I remember, when I was growing up in apartheid South Africa a big argument in a poetry summer school between those poets (James Mathews...) who said that poets could not allow themselves to write anything outside of the political struggle for fear of being irrelevant, and others (Uys Krige...) who said that poets MUST be political but CAN write about daffodils.

Resistance and art make sensitive partners in so far as the romantic mix allows the latter to coopt the former for personal prestige, as Brian Holmes said. Nonetheless, art is one of the tools available for the struggle, and is no less pertinent than many others.

But when there are people who have put their lives and destiny on the line, suddenly it isn't a game anymore, of being clever or tactical or provocative or esthetic. Suddenly I am in deep water relative to real acts of resistance.

As in the following, by the political prisoner, Jafar Saidi:



"Since we live in an age in which silence is not only criminal but suicidal, we have been making as much noise as we can here in the "belly of the beast." Others are quick to remind us that probably any sound is an exercise in futility, yet we must let no opportunity pass. We must speak out and speak the truth. In fact imprisonment and conditions in prison, including the constant reminder of our isolation, are intended to drive a political prisoner into a position where he or she feels that they are completely forgotten, that all of their former words and actions linked to the people's struggles were futile gestures and senseless acts of a meaningless individual sacrifice; reducing us to a position where we finally say: "The people have forsaken me, why should I sacrifice myself for them?" For political prisoners, the act of breaking through the walls of grey silence and attempting a symbolic link with the outside world is an act of resistance. And resistance, even at the level of asserting one's rights, of maintaining one's ideological beliefs in face of any systematic onslaught, is in fact the only way a political prisoner can maintain his or her sanity and humanity. Resistance is the only means of survival for those of us who are here because of our struggle against the injustice. But this is not an easy task, since the primary purpose of our jailers is to silence us and keep us forgotten, isolated and away from the struggles in this society.

"So here I sit in the Huntingdon State Prisons Maximum Security isolation unit resisting the only way I can, attempting to approximate the sound of Joshua's trumpets that brought down the legendary walls of Jericho"...

You can visit his website at


Art vs Resistance | 4 comments


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