Hommage à Paul Vieille – Tables rondes
    Colloque international Méditerranée/Mondialisation – Hommage à Paul Vieille – Peuples méditerranéens.

    VIOLENCE OF THE HEART. VIOLENCE OF REASON.

    Call for Papers for issue 82 of Mediterranean Peoples.

    International Journal founded by Paul Vieille in 1977.

    The heart has its violence that reason ignores. Reason exerts violence that ignores the heart and doesn’t know feelings. The frenzied movements of the heart and reason are opposed at first sight, tending to exclude each other. Nevertheless, from a dialectical point of view, the two prisms end up becoming one, so that the arguments of reason and of heart are inextricably linked. Consider the Trojan War and its origin as recounted in the Iliad: the abduction of Helen, wife of the Greek king Menelaus by the Trojan Paris will lead to a warlike expedition and the destruction of the city of Troy. Homer’s epic poem contains the almost archetypal spring of all conflicts. A “jealous” and irrepressible passion that subdues and uses reason is their common origin: the rivalry for the possession of an object or territorial hegemony (Helen of Troy, Achilles’s weapons, or, today, the Crimea, the mineral resources of the Central African Republic, the control of a deal point…).

    Rational and sentimental motives intertwine under the influence of hubris, found in the biblical story of mankind’s first fratricide (Genesis 4, 1-16): blinded by jealousy, Cain ruthlessly exterminates Abel, hoping to obtain the Eternal’s favor. Covetousness refers to an essentially intersubjective and social mimetic violence. This theory forged by René Girard to explain the genes of aggression postulates that mimetic rivalry “is responsible for the frequency and intensity of human conflicts” (2001, 19). Thus, men are exposed to a violent contagion that often leads to cycles of revenge, chain violence, all similar, obviously, because they all imitate each other. According to Girard, the history of civilizations thirsting for revolutions and justice takes shape in mimetic power relations, embodied in an outburst of violence linked to a territory, at once the core of identity and adversity. Faced with others who are “invariably involved, as a model, as an object, as a helper, as an opponent” (Freud, 1922, 123), reason crumbles under drive-based motivations, degenerating into discord and cruelty. The Uneasiness in Civilization detected by Freud manifests itself in the permanent struggle between Eros and Thanatos. Without counter-will instinct, insurrection, revolutionary violence, dissidence, chaos, ataxia…, there is no reconstruction, no ataraxic ascent. Hence, the notion of chaordic organization, delivering the fundamental diairetism: draos/ordo. A vital archetype in Jungian depth psychology, the Shadow, a confused mass, must be integrated into consciousness in order to realize the coincidence of opposites and transform harmful impulses into seeds of life and creation.

    In most cases, however, this dark side is projected onto the world, with the morbid consequence of ego inflation. Desire for hegemony, xenophobia, fanaticism, rape, delinquency, torture, mismanagement, blunders, despicable crimes, terrorism, etc. plunder humanity, which is inexorably splitting into “planetary tribes” (Amin Maalouf, 2009, 29). What about the corrosive entrenchment of imperialist, anti-Semitic and racist policies, the exactions of colonial expansions and totalitarian regimes, and the appalling catastrophes that ensue? In issue 12 of Mediterranean Peoples, Paul Vieille highlights a process of demoralization at the heart of the Iranian revolution of 1979. The transition from an autocratic to a theocratic regime undermines demands for justice, leading to an abuse of power: “Good conscience, certainty of the legitimacy of their power and of their caste superiority, absence of control, the law of silence, all conditions are met for the arbitrary exercise of power” (1980, 132).

    Legitimizing the inevitable outpouring of violence inherent in any society is always problematic. The hymns of rebirth and salvation that accompany the establishment of a new order come up against a lack of understanding of the absurd devastation and dismantling of which they are the consequence. A “bipolarity” that Roman Polanski dramatizes in The Pianist, when Warsaw ghetto survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman seeks refuge in a field of ruins. Filmed from a bird’s-eye view, the sequence denounces both the barbarity that reduces the violated land to a necropolis, and the vanity of man, recalled to humusation, crushed by the destructive megalomania of the great powers. The shadow of death has hovered over an entire century of World Wars, mass executions and nuclear apocalypse, marked with black figures of barbarism: Dachau, Gulag or Hiroshima, remarks Jean-François Mattéi in La Barbarie intérieure. Essai sur l’immonde moderne (1999, 24). The quest for meaning fails, as does the discourse, the organizing logos that is brought to an end by absolute violence. In The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon vilifies the system of coercion that streaks the African continent. He puts forward the example of the long and cruel domination of Algeria by the French rulers. From then on, the settler, archetype of the civilized man, alienates the native, wrongly perceived as subordinate and barbaric. Racial segregation is expressed in particular through the policy of apartheid applied in South Africa in 1948 for thirty years. The dominator’s violence endows him with power and wealth, while it stirs up an insatiable thirst for revenge in the colonized, who aspire to emancipation and the reconquest of their outraged land. “Concerning violence”, Fanon explains that “the colonized, who have made up their mind to make such an agenda into a driving force, have been prepared for violence from time immemorial. As soon as they are born it is obvious to them that their cramped world, riddled with taboos, can only be challenged by out and out violence.” (2004, 3). Moreover, the proliferation of ethnic disparities engenders impoverishment (economic violence), commodification of individuals, subjugation of women (symbolic violence) and bloody wars, perpetuated by neocolonial strategy.

    Defined as an abuse of power, violence etymologically refers to an intrusion, a transgression that generates dissonance, disharmony, even a discrepancy between the perpetual quest for meaning and the disarray of the world, streaked by embezzlement and hostilities. Instrumental by nature, violence destroys all concerted power, and therefore, the conditions of possibility of any human community, according to Hannah Arendt. Like a perpetu mobile linked to the human condition, it feeds a manichaean topography scarified with collateral damage, a suffocating space where the emissary victims struggle with their tormentors, as illustrated by numerous works, like The Bacchae (Euripides) and Blood Promises tetralogy (Mouawad).

    Direct or indirect, eroticized, perverse, the violence inflicted on others or on oneself can take on a sadistic and/or masochistic slant, as corroborated by the works of the Marquis de Sade, Baudelaire’s Flowers of evil, Robbe-Grillet’s Trans-Europ-Express, Kubrick’s dystopian movie A Clockwork Orange, Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, Buñuel’s An Andalusian Dog, Clouzot’s La Prisonnière, Natali’s Cube, Orlan’s Drawing done in blood, etc. Referring to the profanation of oneself, others and the earth, violence is an attack on the female body, oppressed and reified by androcentric power. In her essay Sexuality and War: Literary Masks of the Middle East, Evelyne Accad observes that “war and violence have roots in sexuality and in the treatment of women in that part of the world. Most of the characters [that she analyzes in the works of Etel Adanan, Tawfiq Awwad, Andrée Chédid, Halim Barakat, etc.] meet a tragic fate due to the war, but women are the principal victims of both political and social violence. For example, as she tries to gain autonomy and education in the midst of her country’s social and political unrest, the heroine of Death in Beirut [by Tawfiq Awwad], is seduced, raped, beaten, her face is slashed, her ambitions are smashed.”(1990, 20).

    Part of the butterfly effect or chaos theory, violence, omnipresent in all societies, ravages the ecosystem and reveals its fundamentally suicidal dimension. For example, ultra-liberalism generates inequities, but also environmental crises such as global warming, pollution, earthquakes, tidal waves, etc. Nature’s predators act greedily, exploiting up environment resources. The Tuareg poet Chekib Abdessalam denounces this Ecocide in his eponymous essay: “[…] the balance of power between vile man and nature is against him. He is fraudulent. If he wants to fight it, he won’t come out victorious. Nature knows how to defend itself.” (2020, 21). The writer blames “voracious predators and their predatory associates” (2020, 84-85). Machiavellian, eager for drilling, the “plunderers of archaeological heritage” (2020, 51) dispossess the populations of Saharan countries of their natural resources and pollute the atmosphere, exploiting unhealthy shale gas, among other things.

    How can we remedy these evils and avoid the chaos of the Anthropocene, the “steamroller that is destroying the entire planet” (Abdessalam, 2020, 21)?

    In the light of several disasters, including the tragedy of the Beirut port explosion on August 4 2020, the pandemic, the inflation and the increase in extreme poverty worldwide, the war in Ukraine, the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, issue 82 of the international journal Mediterranean Peoples proposes to reflect on the violence of the heart and the violence of reason, through the following lines of research (the list is indicative only and non-exhaustive):

    – Faces of violence in literature, myths and arts (novels, theater, poetry, paintings, cinema, etc.); the artistic act as violence.

    – Philosophical dimensions of barbarism and its correlates.

    – The economy of violence and the violence of the economy.

    – The spiral of violence in history, societies, religions. Social dynamics.

    – Anthropological/ethological/ecological perspectives & strategies for dealing with violence.

    – Perception and study of aggressive behavior (assaults, misdemeanors, infractions, harassment, domestic violence, crimes, perversities, etc.) in psychology, criminal law, etc.

    – Excesses of educational violence.

    Procedures for submission

    For this edition, whose publication is projected in December 2023, submissions – unpublished, accepted in French or English – must include the article title, an abstract not to exceed 250 words, and a brief bio-bibliography (all in a single document using Times New Roman, 12 point font) and should be sent no later than October 2 2023 to the following address:  contact@peuplesmediterraneens.com

    The editorial board will communicate selection results no later than October 9 2023, with complete articles due by December 4 2023, accompanied by a summary in French and English; they will be submitted to a double-blind review following their acceptance by the editorial committee.

    Incomplete articles will not be examined by the scientific committee.

    Publication of this edition (electronic and hard copy) is expected by the end of December 2023.

     

    Editor in Chief

    Carole MEDAWAR (Professor, Lebanese University, Branch 1, Beirut, Lebanon)

    Editorial Board

    Evelyne ACCAD (Professor Emerita, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, United States of America)

    Marc FENOLI (Doctor of Philosophy, Independant researcher, France)

    John IRELAND (Professor, University of Illinois Chicago, United States of America)

    Guy Kokou MISSODEY (Professor, University of Lomé, Togo)

    Mediterranean Peoples

    ISSN: 0399-1253

    B.P. 53 rue Ganneron – Paris 75018

    contact@peuplesmediterraneens.com

    www.peuplesmediterraneens.com