Sunday, September 7, 2008


“Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere.” – Frank Herbert

And here we are at precisely nowhere. At the end, in a world which hardly makes sense, where communication and destruction and spectatorship and creation are all mangled together in a spectacular hot mess. The end of the world as we know it wasn’t brought on by any atomic bomb, it was pushed (or rather sucked) into being when the past and the future collided over the shallow waters of the Arabian Gulf and caused a warp in time to open and transport jawal-carrying human life into the other dimension, the ‘haptic’ space, the akhira. And on the barren streets and coast of the Gulf we find no remnants of those who were part of the exodus, we only find their phones and the shadows of their bodies, not their atomic shadows but their time shadow. Their silhouettes burned into the walls and ground by the collision of the forward and backward progressions of past and future, the annihilation of now.

In Herbert’s Dune universe it is possible to fold time and travel while remaining still, leaving nothing behind. This is the type of travel which made the Gulf disappear. The Bedouin (Herbert’s inspiration for the Fremen of Arrakis) had been free of cyclical time until the collapse occurred and they were sedentarized at the outskirts of the Gulf’s cities, trapped in the man-imposed cycle until the future collided with their past.

“Cyclical time dominates the experience of nomadic populations because they find the same conditions repeated at every moment of their journey…The society which, by fixing itself in place locally, gives space a content by arranging individualized places, thus finds itself enclosed inside this localization. The temporal return to similar places now becomes the pure return of time in the same place, the repetition of a series of gestures…Eternity is internal to it; it is the return of the same here on earth. Myth is the unitary construction of the thought which guarantees the entire cosmic order surrounding the order which this society has in fact already realized within its frontiers.”

So in Sci-Fi Wahabi’s gaze, the Gulf is a twilight world of myths that will go untold as the rhythm of the seasons falls out of beat and there is no one left to live time or record history. “In this changing space, and in the freely chosen variations of rules, the autonomy of place can be rediscovered without the reintroduction of an exclusive attachment to the land, thus bringing back the reality of the voyage and of life understood as a voyage which contains its entire meaning within itself.”

The Arabian Gulf, ancient center of voyage, trade and the silk route has become a port of no return. Once the portal was opened into the realm of illusion, time oriented itself completely towards a single final event: Yom el Kayama, (Judgment Day). Discussion in all of the monotheistic history-centric religions lingers around a countdown, an interim, a time in which one can repent and gain entry into heaven. However the movement from dunya to the akhira happened unexpectedly in the Gulf, in a big bang between times and gods.

“These religions arose on the soil of history, and established themselves there. But there they still preserve themselves in radical opposition to history. Semi-historical religion establishes a qualitative point of departure in time (the birth of Christ, the flight of Mohammed), but its irreversible time–introducing real accumulation which in Islam can take the form of a conquest, or in Reformation Christianity the form of increased capital is actually inverted in religious thought and becomes a countdown: the hope of access to the genuine other world before time runs out, the expectation of the last Judgment. Eternity came out of cyclical time and is beyond it. Eternity is the element which holds back the irreversibility of time, suppressing history within history itself by placing itself on the other side of irreversible time as a pure punctual element to which cyclical time returned and abolished itself.”
The abolishment of the self, whether it is cyclical time eating its own tail, a boy exiting reality through his jawal or Paul Atreides drinking the water of life, it is a small apocalypse through which the subject can move into the akhira, fold time, escape the bonds of minutes, exit into eternity, die free and only virtually.

No comments: