Mohammed in the open

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Image via LGF
Via Roger Simon a link to the achives of the Prophet in images from Persian rugs to film to book covers. So why get all bent out of shape now? And why is the media not making note of it?


truepeers said...

So why get all bent out of shape now? 1) because there are people behind the scenes pulling strings on these demonstrations and 2) because, in the words of one recent Belmont Club writer, while anger is what Muslims do (a point i qualify below), focussed anger is always a political choice to be angry, not some inevitable response to a picture of "Mohammed"

At Belmont, Voltimand said...
If I draw a tree and call it Mohammed is it a picture of Mohammed? If I put the name "Mohammed" (or better: "this picture of a tree is a picture of Mohammed") under the picture, is it a picture of Mohammed? If, having done so, I erase the name "Mohammed," is it a picture of Mohammed or a picture of a tree? I would argue that there is no difference between the tree and the picture of some human-like person with the name "Mohammed" or interpretive surrogate phrase under it.

I put these interesting conundums in order to isolate the utter arbitrariness of the notion of "picturing Mohammed." How much of the "idolatry" involved is the consequence of something intrinsic to the picture, and how much of it is a matter of someone drawing a (potentially rather complicated set of semiotic) conclusion that it is a picture of Mohammed and therefore "idolatrous"?

From another perspective: Does anyone know what Mohammed looked like? If you don't know what Mohammed looked like, how can you be sure that a picture of "Mohammed" is a picture of Mohammed, and therefore idolatrous?

This is worth thinking about, because it isolates the functioning political point in this whole silly business: something will make you mad if you decide that that something is something that will make you mad. It it wasn't the picture of "Mohammed" or a Koran down the toilet, it would always be something else. Muslims are angry because anger is what they do with with their lives, and of course anger is like one end of an electrical cord: it must be connected to another terminus for the anger joice to flow


Is anger what Muslims do? Obviously, not in every case, but why is it that this religion creates so many spiritually undisciplined people - so many of the "moderate Muslims" we hear about aren't speaking out in public against the crazies, perhaps because Moderate means you are too busy fighting yourself to get steam up about the infidels. This concluding thought from Eric Voegelin's essay Science, Politics & Gnosticism is on my mind:

The Islamic prayer exercises that have developed since the ninth century will serve as the final example of a high demand in spiritual tension. Structurally, this meditation, which preceded prayer, is most closely related to the meditative experiment on which the Platonic myth of hte Last Judgment is based. When I want to pray, says the rule, I go to the place where I wish to say my prayer. I sit still until I am composed. Then I stand up: the Kaaba is in front of me, paradise to my right, hell to my left, and the angel of death stands behind me. Then I say my prayers as if it were my last. And thus I stand, between hope and fear, not knowing whether God has received my prayer favorably or not. Perhaps, for the masses, this high spiritual clarity is made bearable through a connnection with the neither high nor especially spiritual extension of God's realm by force of arms over the ecumene.

And by the call to worldly Jihad, by taking Mohammed's model literally, a religion that starts as a gesture in anti-idolatry (on the Hebrew model) becomes again a form of idolatry, focussed on sacrificing the infidel enemy in return for virgins, or whatever, in the afterlife.

terrye said...


I remember reading something ages about the conflict over icons in the Eastern Church. It seems that within the Byzantine world there was some disagreement as to whether or not Christ should be represented in any physical form. Therefor a great deal of the really ancient art was lost.

But this nonsense we see now in the Islamic world is just another excuse for undisciplined people to show their butts in public.

The thing is, attacking embassies can be serious and can have reprecussions. I hope.

Barry Dauphin said...


Well done!

MeaninglessHotAir said...

What the Westerners fail to realize is that from the viewpoint of the Islamists, every attempt to meet halfway, every attempt to compromise, every attempt to see things from their point of view is viewed only as weakness and therefore as even more evidence that they will win. This will only cause the ineluctable conflict to be worse when it occurs.

Peter UK said...

To quote Churchill" The Hun is either at your throat or at your feet".

Rick Ballard said...


Is the little picture entitled "Tehran Sunset"?

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Yes, Peter, I increasingly feel like we're in a situation which cries out for a Churchill but we have only Chamberlains on every side. Even being a Churchill has now almost been made illegal.

MeaninglessHotAir said...


Let's just say I settled on this picture when I learned the latest about the Iranian bomb efforts. Even the hollow men of Europe are despairing. The picture is after all a form of hot air....

Rick Ballard said...

I was just thinking that it would look nice on the sidebar with that title.

Maybe with the Danish flag button above or below it.

truepeers said...

Churchillian rhetoric can only emerge on the public stage in times of crisis. All things come to he who waits...

Peter UK said...

"I have here a piece of paper,nay a role on a little cardboard tube,signed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,which guarantees Peace in Our time,or was that one piece at a time,anyway I have a guarantee that there will be peace,or what passes for peace in this benighted age,until Iran acquires peaceful thermo nuclear weapons,then it will be a case of peace off"

MeaninglessHotAir said...


I don't feel that would be sufficiently sensitive. Not to mention nuanced.

Rick Ballard said...


How about:

Iran - A Brilliant Future Lies Before You

or maybe:

The sun'll come up tomorrow. (from Annie)

Syl said...

Well, since Iran is checking all its economics dealings with cartoon publishing nations with an eye to boycott, I wonder how we can manage to get China to publish the cartoons too?

and Russia?

Who needs UN sanctions, Iran can do this all by itself!