September 28, 2008

The Darkness of Psyche...


I am messy...Actually, I've become messy, sort of messy even though I like order.
Somehow a mass of disorder, a gaping void has taken over and a nonchalant reticence on my part in not remedying to it.

I have noticed this trend in myself...It comes in bouts, as if one minute I feel I have to be in "control" of my life and the next minute, this imperiousness slips away from me and I am just a spectator, watching it on a screen.

The screen is sometimes colored, sometimes in black and white...

Take for instance my personal picture collection, I hardly have any photos with me here, except a few, close family members. But if you open my pictures icon on my desktop, you will find hundreds of pictures - all related to Iraq.

Just the other day, I was taken by this urge to establish order again. I thought to myself, I really need to classify these pictures by subject matter and place them in neat folders instead of this Chaos.

I opened my pictures folder and had it laid out on a full screen...I had one look, an overall look -- like when you meet someone for the first time and you have this "vue d'ensemble." That is what I did, I had a "vue d'ensemble" and what I saw was both hideous and beautiful at the same time.

Hideous, because I had amassed a vast collection of photos since 2003.

I have the Prisoner's collection. Abu Ghraib with the tortured and mutilated bodies, and Blood leaving its traces on the corridors of this dungeon like some scheduled visitor coming daily to check on you. Naked, hungry, chained, diseased, forgotten...and that same visitor never fails to show up.

Then there are what I like to call the Crematory/Furnace pictures. A collection of burned bodies, sort of charcoaled like those from Falluja and Mosul,and the braised skin has become a kind of a uniform blue black, a blanket...Maybe the only blanket.

There are also the Butcher's photos. They are like these pieces of skinned meat, dangling in front of a butcher's window. And you stand and stare at them. Pinkish, whitish, red, and brown. Raouf was one of these pieces of meat dangling at the butcher's window. There were a few others, hanging there from the ceiling, from hooks, crooks and nails, pierced, cut and well sliced by the butcher's knife. Chunks here and there...A few were like heads of sheep with no eyes, and others were bulkier, like some cattle, and some were tiny like lambs about to be broiled...

I also have the Freezer's compartment. The Freezer's compartment can be subdivided into three parts. The morgue with its piles of bodies, dying to get some coolness before their final decomposition and the vicinity of the morgue, where they are lying in the sun, like carcasses, wrapped in white plastic or a white cloth, about to taste the refreshing shade of the graves...I also included the mass graves in the Freezer's collection, because they have already tasted the coldness of the earth.

There is this other category which I call the Blood and Limbs Bank. Pictures in red, all bloody. Blood running on the faces, in the streets, on the clothes, in the rivers, on the walls, on the pavements. And limbs...limbs everywhere. Arms, hands, feet, legs, thighs, torsos and heads, of course...A collage of blood and limbs, dispersed in no orderly fashion, glued to the floor, to the grounds, with super glue, with super Death...

Then I have the Rubbles collection. Cement, bricks, walls, buildings, schools, homes, huts, shops, cars, buses, bicycles, carts....all smashed and turned into rubbles, scrap metal, junk, debris and stones...

I also have the Accessories Department. Chains, rods, hoses, sticks, ropes, drills, barbed wire, wooden boxes, cages, handcuffs, sand bags, polyester bags, duct tapes, plastic bracelets, coffins, gallows and the remnants of a name, an identity number or a tattoo.

I also have the Emergency Room. Hospitals, naked hospitals, dirty sheets, expired medication, stained floors, cholera patients, cancer patients, all sorts of patients, looking at empty shelves, waiting at the doors of the empty doctor's offices, at the empty nurse's quarters, empty...but for Sickness ruling unguarded.

There is another section for Knowledge and Culture. Destroyed universities, empty schools, names that have disappeared, broken benches, smashed blackboards, burned books, ravaged libraries, exploded churches and minarets, looted museums, razed monuments, slit statues, looted artifacts, cracked ruins...

Then there is the Women's only. Raped, beheaded, exiled, crying, wailing, screaming, imploring, pulling their hair out, bereaved, lost, suicidal and all dressed in black...That black that follows them and I everywhere.

I also have the Children's corner. Confused, bewildered, begging, scavenging, abandoned, starving, thirsty, sick, abused, molested, imprisoned, trafficked, sold, bought,finished... A finished Childhood before it was even born.

There is also what I like to call the Ecological Lodge. Piles, hills and mountains of garbage, monuments of garbage, and sewage, swimming pools of putrid water...Urban environmental planning, made of walls, a wall to the East, a wall to the West, and between each wall, another wall...A barren soil impregnated with toxic death particles. Rivers that lost their colors and have turned into a dull grey, with still fishermen pulling out the Dead, dead fish and dead bodies. Deserted crops and fields and palm trees catching fire, pleading for help from an asphyxiated brown sky...

And amidst this hideousness, amidst the darkness of Psyche, Psyche that has unleashed all of its deathly powers on my Beloved, leaving nothing of Her but a skeleton, not even...

I see my Nostalgia collection. Pictures from old postcards, where colors were allowed, smiling faces playing ball, a family having a picnic, two lovers by the river bank, a patio of a home hiding behind a lush grove, a starry night illuminating the city of my Beloved, a flowing river shining like silver in the sun, a forever green palm tree spreading its shade to hold the fresh dampness of the earth...

And next to my Nostlagia, there is the Creative Room. Photos of artwork, Iraqi Art. Brushes of expression and story telling, of speaking, of giving, of grasping, of touching, of embracing...Strokes of passion, strokes of genius, strokes of brilliance, made in sweat, blood and tears, pouring forth from the depths of the Iraqi soul onto a canvass, keeping the Torch burning...

I finally decided neither to classify them, nor to put them in any neat order.
I shall leave them as is. A mix, a combination, a medley of black and white, of colors, of a deliberate Hideousness and a creative Beauty.

I shall leave them as is...ugly, grotesque pieces, the work of a dark, evil Psyche, transpierced with arrows -- rays of pure Light.


Artwork: Iraqi artist, Amir Khatib.