by Marty Peretz
I don’t mean to harp on the death of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, and it would be somewhat ghoulish to do so. But this clutching at his remains by the Western press seems to reflect more a desperation by journalists to prove that the Palestinians are a poetic people than the more banal reality of the case. The FT has already reported this story thrice. The Boston Globe also, I think, three times.
The last of these dispatches ironically makes the very point I made in the first of my two previous postings. Or rather a point I quoted Darwish as making himself: A poem about his mother was not about Palestine. It was about his mother, whatever his mourner thinks or feels.
As it turned out the funeral was not the kind of mass mobilization the reporters expected. An article in today’s Los Angeles Times by Ashraf Khalil reports that the crowd was a mere 5,000, much less than would turn out for the interment of any martyred young jihadi in Jenin.
It also turns out that Darwish was a communist. “So what?” you say. But he was a noted communist, and so he was honored by one of the most brutal regimes in history with two prizes: the Lenin Prize and the Stalin Prize. And how many poets did these fathers of the revolution murder? Too numerous to count.
One mourner at the memorial observed that he was a Palestinian Che Guevara, an apt analogy.
And, by the way, according to Thursday’s FT, “hundreds of Palestinians living in Israel were also ferried in on buses.”
One answer I liked :
How, Marty? How was it apt that some know-nothing jackass called him a Che? Back it up. Darwish always humanized the enemy. Even if he didn’t like them, and even if you don’t like his politics, the man as a good poet. Not “good” as in “could write decent verse, but “good” as in hit the painful contradictions of human experience (and with good verse).
Jack, my friend, maybe he wasn’t as brave as Akhmatov or even poor Mandelstem, sent to his horrid grave made insane by a madman’s system. But: who among us is? The comparison is impossible.
Marty, stop writing things that are stupid. Yes, a poem about his mother is just about his mother. That makes him far closer to Camus than Sarte. So why the fuck do you insist on tarnishing him? Have you read anything he has written? Ever?
Seriously, back up how he was Che. Che was a murderous, sociopathic killer, whose “poetry”, or ferocity of prose, is only admired by those who think Jim Morrison is a Deep and Meaningful artist. Darwish was not of that ilk. Your pathologies distort you. Anyone who cares for poetry or art or the complex and hideous contradictions that make us all would at least appreciate Darwish. All you can do is call him Stalin and Che.
August 15, 2008 12:50 AM