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  • Mastaneh Shah-Shuja مستانه شاه-شجاع

Zones of Proletarian Development, Chapter 3, Part 2.

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

[The following is an excerpt from chapter 3, pp. 131-141 of, Zones of Proletarian Development, Mastaneh Shah-Shuja, OpenMute, 2008. In part 1, Shah-Shuja sets up an intriguing class conflict in terms of proletarian carnivalesque and Islamic spectacle. In this part the conflict is shifted onto the terrain of language.]


Iranian Football Riots as Bakhtinian Carnivalesque (Part 2)

3.1.2 Dialogic, utterance and the social dimensions of language

  • Dialogue within ‘concrete utopia’

In an oft-quoted passage, Bakhtin claims,

To be means to communicate … To be means to be for another, and through the other, for oneself. A person has no internal sovereign territory, he is wholly and always on the boundary; looking inside himself, he looks into the eyes of another or with the eyes of another (Bakhtin, 1984b: 287).

I shall return to this crucial formulation at the end in order to argue it is possible to turn to language, principally through the writings of Bakhtin, Vološinov and Vygotsky, ‘without embracing the [postmodernist] linguistic turn’ (Collins, 1999a: 6). Additionally, through Marx (1984), Sève (1978) and even Antonin Artaud (1977) it may be possible to conceive of a socialised individuality without fetishising an all-embracing (and at times individual-denying) Bakhtinian notion of collectivity (Murasov, 2001).

First, however, I would like to furnish some reasons why a Bakhtinian approach is particularly productive for researchers engaged in the ‘once-occurent experiencing’ (Bakhtin, 1993) of complex phenomena, such as proletarian riots.

Shotter (in press) warns us that ‘something very crucial is lost, when we take the uninvolved, disengaged, mechanistic stance toward people’s activities suggested to us in the Cartesian approach’. Investigating riots must, perforce, be done from within an engagement of some kind with the rioters. Moreover, this engagement must be of a relational-responsive kind if the spontaneity of the riot is to be encapsulated. In other words as Shotter writes,

unnoticed in the background and spontaneously at work in all our communicative relations with each other is what might be called a relational-responsive kind of understanding – a form of understanding much more basic than the representational-referential kind of understanding of which we are, as individuals, consciously aware (Shotter, in press).

Some proletarian riots are ‘concrete-utopias’ that herald a classless community, precisely because they are intense moments of critical mass during which the separation between intellect and emotions is momentarily superseded. Appropriating Shotter again, we could offer the following description for riotous transgressions,

For it is in these momentary relational encounters that the influences from many quarters – those from within us, from the past, from our expectations, from the expressions of our listeners, from the rest of our surroundings – can all meet and, in the way in which we responsively interrelate them, we can form a unique responsive answer to them (Shotter, in press).

Bakhtin works by ‘calling’ forth an active responsiveness from us. What makes this active responsiveness possible during a protest is the crowd’s ability to decode life collectively by arresting or interrupting,

the spontaneous, unself-conscious flow of our ongoing activity, to make us notice something fleeting that would have passed us by unnoticed … [alternatively] by the careful use of selected poetic images, similes, analogies, metaphors, or ‘pictures’, [Bakhtin and Vološinov] suggest new ways of talking that not only orient us toward sensing otherwise unnoticed distinctions … but which also suggest new connections and relations with the rest of our proceedings … (Shotter, in press).

This is one of the functions proletarian slogans and chants should play during demos. They should ‘strike’ and ‘arrest’ us, put reality on ‘freeze-frame’ and then allow us to look at the freeze-frame with fresh eyes. In short, they should provide revolutionary moments of insight. We shall investigate examples of this speech genre later, but for the time being it would be useful to introduce more Bakhtinian concepts in order to enrich our analysis.

  • Utterance and Genre

By ‘utterance’ Bakhtin means ‘any unit of language, from a single word to an entire ‘text’… [an utterance is] the locus of encounter between my self-consciousness, my mind and the world with all its socio-historical meaning; the utterance is always an answer to a previous utterance, and always expects an answer in the future’ (Morris, 1994: 251).

Language has a materiality for Bakhtin not found in Ferdinand de Saussure (1974) and structuralist views of language. Bakhtin emphasised the connection between the signifier and signified rather than their separation (Klages, 2001: 1). He also rejects the Cartesian dichotomy between ‘language’ and ‘speech’ and the distinction between synchrony and diachrony (Stewart, 1986: 44). The utterance, like a commodity, ‘also includes the congealed products or material deposits of past acts of dialogue – the artifacts, practices, common-sense, philosophical doctrines, written texts, and institutions that make up the operative contexts of a living culture’ (Sandywell, 1998: 203).

However, Bakhtin also underlines that the dialogic tonalities of these may have become effaced through social amnesia and monologic mystification. The aim of the proletariat, therefore, should be to ‘reanimate the voices of the past through an active process of disengagement and self-reflection’ (Sandywell, 1998: 203). The freeze-frame opportunity provided by a riot or strike is precisely this synchronic moment of self-reflection before the diachronic fluidity of history once again takes over.

In real life, however, Bakhtin believes that each utterance responds to utterances that have come before it, such that it ‘refutes, affirms, supplements, and relies on the others, presupposes them to be known, and somehow takes them into account’ (Bakhtin, 1986: 91). According to Collins (1999b: 3), Bakhtin further argued that, ‘in the process of interaction between social groups there emerge relative stable types of utterances which are associated with particular social contexts of speaking’. Vološinov and Bakhtin called these relative stable types of utterances speech genres.

Bakhtin made a distinction between ‘primary speech genres’ and ‘secondary speech genres’. The former refers to everyday talking about the weather or gossip or ordering a round of drinks. Primary genres are flexible and informal. The ‘secondary’ speech genres are generally more complex and may refer to scientific or political discourse (Morris, 1994: 248). What is significant about periods of social upheaval is the synthesis, which emerges between primary and secondary speech genres, so that political discourse is no longer viewed as alienating. We shall see later how the carnivalesque nature of football riots allows Iranian proletarians to forge a new speech genre, which displays dialogic responsiveness whilst expressing their worldly desires without recourse to obfuscating religious humbug.

In this regard Cheyne and Tarulli’s (1999) take on Bakhtin (and Vygotsky) is of crucial relevance in understanding how conflicts in Iran can become riotous so rapidly, taking both the state and demonstrators by surprise. Cheyne and Tarulli argue that some of the most important genres to shape novelistic prose (and remember, for Bakhtin the novel is a privileged genre where the struggle between centrifugal and centripetal forces are played out) are, the Magistral, Socratic, and Menippean dialogues.

Cheyne and Tarulli (1999) look at these three forms of dialogue in terms of Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. The Magistral dialogue is really not a dialogue in the Bakhtinian sense at all. It resembles more what he called ‘official monologism’ or what Aristotle referred to as judicial discourse. For our purposes, this can be seen in a bourgeois-Islamic mode of discourse where the first voice (the Magistral voice of the mullah-bourgeois) dominates the second voice (the novitiate proletariat who is usually patronised, sometimes pathologised and treated like a child). ‘The maintenance of this asymmetry’, write Cheyne and Tarulli (1999: 12), ‘requires a third voice, an authoritative and institutional third party upon which the first voice may draw’. In our example, the sacred word of god or the sayings of the prophet Mohammad or, alternatively, his disciple, Imam Khomeini, fulfil this task.

The Magistral discussion is premised upon a perceived deficit or an absence of reason and autonomy on the part of the second voice (proletariat). The first (mullah-bourgeoisie) and third (God or Mohammad or Khomeini) ‘voices presume to know where the dialogue is heading. Deviations from the proper trajectory are noted and corrections initiated’ (Cheyne and Tarulli, 1999: 12). In fact, in Iranian–Islamic jurisprudence workers are routinely infantilised or referred to as objects on a par with domesticated animals, which explains why one of the constant demands of workers in recent demonstrations has been to be treated with ‘dignity’ (Melancholic Troglodytes, 2006).[7]

The second form of dialogue, the Socratic, ‘developed the tradition of a dialogic testing of truth’ (Morris, 1994: 188). It is an open-ended dialogue and ‘may be turned at any moment against any participant, including the third voice’ (Cheyne and Tarulli, 1999: 13). Proletarians using this discourse may subtly modify or re-accentuate the Magistral voice, imbuing utterances with its own ‘sense’ rather than accepting fixed and monologic dictionary ‘meaning’. The Socratic dialogue is forever suspicious of imposed ‘consensus’, hierarchy and experts. In Aristotelian terminology this form of dialogue corresponds to ‘deliberative’ discourse and may include political debates and negotiations over wages.

In those societies where the Magistral forms of dominating the proletariat are no longer an option, the aim is to constrain discussion within a Socratic framework. The ‘western’ bourgeoisie may still dream of the golden age of Magistral monologue when dissent is suppressed indefinitely but realistically it knows that the trade-unionist type of Socratic mediation is the only viable option for maintaining the status quo. In societies such as Iran where Socratic/deliberative discourse is hampered due to restrictive labor laws, and where corporatism has denied workers legal trade-unionist representation, the riotous Menippean rupture threatens to completely de-legitimatise the first (mullah-bourgeoisie) and third (God/Mohammad/Khomeini) voices. In other words, in societies like Iran where the rulers attempt to impose their hegemony via the Magistral voice alone there comes a time when the proletariat no longer listens. At this junction reformist apologist for the regime scuttle around in a vain attempt to initiate a Socratic dialogue but most people see through this stratagem and nullify it. Menippean discourse then takes over. This goes someway in explaining the radicalism of the emerging Iranian proletarian movement. As Bakhtin argues,

… the most important characteristic of the menippea as a genre is the fact that its bold and unrestrained use of the fantastic and adventure is internally motivated, justified by and devoted to a purely ideational and philosophical end; the creation of extraordinary situations for the provoking and testing of a philosophical idea, a discourse, a truth … (Bakhtin, 1984b quoted in Morris, 1994: 189).

The ideological affinity between this Bakhtinian notion of creating situations through menippean satire with the Situationist desire to create situations goes beyond the mere semantic. The Situationist International (SI) defined constructed situations as ‘a moment of life concretely and deliberately constructed by the collective organisation of a unitary ambiance and a game of events’ (Knabb, 1989: 45). The transformation of situations brings to ‘light forgotten desires and [creates] entirely new ones’ (Knabb, 1989: 3). Both Bakhtin and the SI emphasise the role of experimentation. Bakhtin writes,

In the menippea there appears for the first time what might be called moral-psychological experimentation: a representation of the unusual, abnormal moral and psychic states of man [sic]- insanity of all sorts (the theme of the maniac), split personality, unrestrained daydreaming, unusual dreams, passions bordering on madness, suicides, and so forth (Bakhtin, 1984b quoted in Morris, 1994: 191).

An instance of this ‘madness’ is witnessed in the seemingly irrational post-match Iranian demonstrations, where traffic is brought to a stand still by youngsters who neither march in the traditional sense nor raise any demands. In fact, there is no attempt at negotiations - just youngsters screaming ‘hysterically’ in unison. This ‘eccentricity’ is a categorical ‘refusal to accept the constraints of fixed, pre-given social roles’ (Gardiner, 1992: 46). This refusal can be observed in the free and spontaneous combination of fixed attributes. In Bakhtin’s words, ‘[carnival] brings together, unifies, weds, and combines the sacred with the profane, the lofty with the low, the great with the insignificant, the wise and the stupid’ (Bakhtin, 1984b: 123).

The Situationists too, through psychogeographic techniques of dérive (a technique of transient passage through varied ambiances) and detournement (integration of present and past artistic production into a superior construction of a milieu), aimed for a project of unitary urbanism, where the realisation of a mass of desires becomes impossible for the old social order.

This is precisely the impasse the Islamic regime finds itself in. Proletarian desire, demonstrated in underground raves, sexual scandals, excessive intoxication and freedom-seeking acts of transgressions can be neither denied nor satisfied. The flogging of eight national footballers for ‘moral transgressions’ at an illegal party was met by near universal derision (Kayhan Weekly, p 8, no. 915, 25 July 2002). In fact, Islamic punishments such as hangings, stoning, dismemberment and flogging are coming across the same entrenched proletarian opposition that public hangings in Europe faced in the late 18th century (cf. Foucault, 1977; Linebaugh, 1991). Islamic thanatocracy (Peter Linebaugh’s term for a government that rules by the frequent use of the death penalty), has (almost) lost its ability to put the fear of Mohammad in people.

To summarise: It is the power of laughter expressed through menippean satire that is largely responsible for tilting the balance of class power in favour of Iranian proletarians. Cheyne and Tarulli (1999: 15) inform us, ‘as the Socratic dialogue evolves into a Menippean dialogue … the third voice might be mocked, authority turned on its head, flags burned, and leaders burned in effigy (at least)’. Menippean dialogue chimes with what Aristotle called epidictic discourse, which is discourse in praise or blame of someone. The Iranian proletariat, having rejected Magistral/judicial dialogue, and not having recourse to Socratic/deliberative dialogue, are left with Menippean/epidictic dialogue by default. This may begin with a eulogy to soften up the bosses but once the latter proves unresponsiveness to the proletarian charm offensive, things can turn ugly very rapidly with proletarians hurling the obligatory Molotov cocktail at the enemy and in return having degenerative rhetoric thrown back in their face by furious bosses.[8]

  • Parody, irony, vulgarity, chants, laughter and the thieves’ argot

A multi-voiced work of art (e.g., a novel by Dostoyevsky) is one where the discourse of the author and heroes interact on equal terms. Parrington (1997: 141) explains parody and its relationship with multivoicedness in these terms,

… if a speaker repeats the utterances of a well known politician by producing these utterances with a different intonation or in contexts that differ from those in which the original utterances occurred, the parodic effect (be it humour, sarcasm or whatever) derives from the simultaneous presence of two voices … Parody is only one particular form of multivoicedness.

In other words, parody is supposed to reduce the power of bourgeois discourse to that of proletarians. However, this is not always the case, since there are many forms of parody, not all of them radical.

Recently it has become a matter of considerable urgency to differentiate parodic, ironic and similar styles along class lines. Only a provisional outline of this project could be presented here but I would argue that proletarian forms of these discursive styles alone contain the seeds for undermining bourgeois ideology. In contrast to a class analysis, both structuralist and post-structuralist interpretations of Bakhtin severely limit his subversiveness, resulting in an anaemic and anodyne laughter incapable of expressing the true spirit of carnivalesque. After all, the ‘laughing truth, expressed in curses and abusive words, [is supposed to] degrade power’, not entrench it (Bakhtin quoted in Solomon, 1979: 299). And ‘to degrade an object’, Bakhtin writes,

does not imply merely hurling it into the void of nonexistence, into absolute destruction, but to hurl it down to the reproductive lower stratum, the zone in which conception and a new birth take place (Bakhtin, 1984a: 21).

Morris (1994: 200) has argued, ‘the carnival is far distant from the negative and formal modern times. Folk humour denies, but it revives and renews at the same time. Bare negation is completely alien to folk culture’. Following from David Gross’s discussion of negativity and carnival alluded to above, I would qualify this by suggesting ‘bare negation’ could go a long way in undermining certain aspects of monologism. Proletarian humour does not necessarily have to be regenerative for it to work.

However, it is true that humorous proletarian culture at its best transcends the mere negative in order to ‘revive and renew’. Carnival laughter is first of all,

a festive laughter. Carnival laughter is the laughter of all the people. Second, it is universal in scope; it is directed at all and everyone, including the carnival’s participants … third, this laughter is ambivalent: it is gay, triumphant, and at the same time mocking, deriding. It asserts and denies, it buries and revives. Such is the laughter of carnival (Morris, 1994: 200).

There are at least two essential differences between proletarian and bourgeois forms of laughter. The first is an intrinsic distinction related to the separate origin, function and content of class-specific laughter. The second difference relates to the collective and inter-connected quality of the elements constituting laughter within proletarian culture in contrast to their fragmented nature in bourgeois presentations.[9] Discussing the cynicism, indecencies, and the billingsgate in Rabelais’ novels Bakhtin warns,

all these terms are conventional and far from adequate. [They] are not isolated; they are an organic part of the entire system of images and style. They become isolated and specific only for modern literary consciousness (Bakhtin quoted in Morris, 1994: 212).

Such colloquial profanities are a codified form of protest. A few pages earlier Bakhtin asserts, ‘medieval laughter is not a subjective, individual and biological consciousness of the interrupted flow of time. It is the social consciousness of all the people’ (Bakhtin quoted in Morris, 1994: 210). Laughter contains no didacticism and no preaching,

The man [sic] who is speaking is one with the crowd; he does not present himself as its opponent, nor does he teach, accuse, or intimidate it. He laughs with it. There is not the slightest tone of morose seriousness in his intonation, no fear, piety, or humility (Bakhtin quoted in Morris, 1994: 217).

Just as importantly, it should be remembered, ‘laughter liberates not only from external censorship but first of all from the great interior censor’ (Bakhtin quoted in Solomon, 1979:300). Proletarian laughter is a mode of being and consciousness that cannot be reduced to any particular aesthetic form. For instance,

at the early stages of preclass and prepolitical social order it seems that the serious and the comic aspects of the world and of the deity were equally sacred, equally ‘official’…and the funeral ritual [during the early period of the Roman state] was also composed of lamenting (glorifying) and deriding the deceased (Morris, 1994: 197).

Contemporary Iran is perhaps the only battle-hardened society in the world where ‘official martyrs’ are openly derided and the families of martyrs are insulted and mocked. This is a radical rupture from the officially sanctioned process of fetishisation. It is also a radical rupture from unofficial culture, as it was constituted only a few years ago. The contrast with societies such as Israel and Palestine, where ‘martyrs’ are still commodified and successfully ‘cannibalised’ by political society, cannot be starker. It is not just thanatocracy (Linebaugh, 1991) that is rapidly being surpassed. Necrolatry (idolatry of death and dead people), too, is scorned during riots. As with the medieval marketplace, the language employed is often abusive and insulting. During riots, profanities reign in on authorities with the frequency of homemade molotov cocktails. As Bakhtin (1984a: 187) writes,

Abuses, curses, profanities, and improprieties are the unofficial elements of speech. They were and are still [especially so in societies such as Iran] conceived as a breach of the established norms of verbal address… [Comment in brackets added].

To underscore this class distinction let us remind ourselves that some contemporaries of Bakhtin, such as ‘Morozov already point to the distinction between conservative and progressive parodies’ (Juvan, 1997: 20). Furthermore, ‘according to Hutcheon, parody combines two impulses: a normative or conservative one, characterised, according to Bakhtin, as centripetal, and revolutionary one, characterised as centrifugal’ (Juvan, 1997: 21). The parody in the hands of 20th century Formalists, for instance, becomes ‘a conservative principle in literary history’ (Hutcheon, 1984: 36).

What I have suggested here is that bourgeois and revolutionary parodies are both intrinsically distinctive and configured along different lines. One could draw comparisons with the fate of Brechtian distanciation and the Situationist concept of detournement. Once the embodied dynamism of laughter, parody and irony is reduced to a mere formalistic technique, they lose the ability to reorient us. Recuperation becomes inevitable. Proletarian cross-dressing, for instance, may seem like an outdated form of resistance in ‘western’ societies, a ritualistic and formulaic pose. In certain circumstances, it could even be viewed as reactionary, cementing stereotypes rather than dislodging them, as with the desperately ‘macho’ male rugby rite of ‘faking’ gender bending. However, the same pose, with a different historical origin, context and social functioning, is capable of dislodging sexual regimes of oppression.

The fact that parody, irony and vulgarity are expressed collectively means that the proletariat is successfully laying claim to public space. Iranian football chanting and the playing of illegal music in gatherings should be seen as an audible challenge to the invasive ‘noise’ of the Islamic call to prayer and the public recitations of the Koran.[10] Like the ubiquitous Perry Como elevator-music, Koranic recitation seems always to be hovering at the background, burrowing itself into proletarian psyche, reinforcing a paternalistic-cum-colonising moral order.

In line with the serio-comic tensions of the carnivalesque, the chants and music of the crowd convey both a sense of irony and naivety. In this synthesis lies one of its revolutionary potential. Friedrich Schlegel defined irony not in a literary or discursive sense, but as a mode of being, in the following terms: ‘Irony is the clear consciousness of an infinitely full chaos’ (Schlegel quoted in Gross, 1977-78: 167). Life is so complex, argued Schlegel, that no one method or combination of methods can encapsulate its essence. Affinities with postmodernism and academic discourse in general are patently obvious. This form of irony has a kindred spirit in the petty-bourgeois form of Sufism, although Sufism, unlike western irony makes no absolute separation between self and the world.[11]

Gross (1977-78: 169) explains, ‘almost as soon as [the concept of irony] emerged an anti-ironist mode of thought arose to challenge it’. One of its early adherents Hegel,

argued that because irony sees the world as fundamentally ambiguous, it tends to condone an attitude of ‘irresolution’ and ‘loss of seriousness’, which inevitably leads to escapism and irresponsibility. Furthermore, Hegel contended, the ironic stance is shamelessly elitist. Since the ironist believes the world is too complicated to change, he [sic] feels justified in withdrawing into a ‘god-like geniality’ (Gross, 1977-78: 169).

One of Hegel’s contemporaries, Friedrich Schiller coined the term ‘naïve attitude’, which meant ‘seeing reality as simple and clear-cut once again’ (Gross, 1977-78: 171). These two pre-industrial modes of thought, irony and naivety, still hold sway within different sections of the ruling class. Their proletarian counterparts differ both in functioning, content and also the way they fuse with intellect and emotions. Riotous moments of transgressions offer us a glimpse into a post-capitalist community where irony and naivety have been superseded. The point, therefore, is not to take sides with Schlegel’s ironist stance or the anti-ironist perspective of Schiller and Hegel, but to synthesise and supersede irony and naivety. The class struggle in Iran has partially gone beyond both Bakhtin and postmodernism’s naïve faith in irony as the ideal weapon against authority. I will show below how this emergent language has more commonality with the thieves’ and tinkers’ argots of bygone ages than at first imagined. It is part of a dynamic process to ‘create a new language’ (Marx, 1852/2000).

[End of part 2]


[7] Vološinov (1973: 41) would say, ‘each word … is a little arena for the clash of and criss-crossing of differently oriented social accents’. Dignity represents a key term in ‘western’ history (Berger et al., 1974: 82). My position is that it is a mistake to romanticise it (cf. Holloway, 2002) or dismiss it out of hand as bourgeois (cf. Palinorc, 2003). Like every term, dignity is a site of contestation (Vološinov, 1973), whose meaning and sense (Vygotsky, 1978) should be ascertained before judgement is passed. Furthermore, it is essential to discover the motivation of the speaker of an utterance as well its location within a genre (i.e., whether it is part of official or unofficial discourse). Only then can we decide whether a term is being employed in a reactionary or subversive manner. For instance, it seems to me, dignity was used differently during the US Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Bourgeois blacks (e.g., Martin Luther King) used dignity as a euphemism for equal opportunities within political society. Other blacks (e.g., Black Panthers) also used dignity in their discourse. For them it amounted to regaining the two-fifth of rights always denied blacks under the law (i.e., equal recognition as full citizens within the realm of civil society). Interestingly, black proletarians also mention their desire for dignity in stories, autobiographies and interviews. However, for them it meant something far more concrete and down to earth: the ability to enter a restaurant, a bar or walk from A to B without being threatened and insulted. This latter demand for dignity is something proletarians from native America to Palestine can readily identify with.

[8] There is at least one other characteristic that underlines the subversive potential of menippea. It often unites elements of social utopia with topical issues and correspondingly it succeeds in synthesizing everyday and political discourse through laughter. Fundamentalists of both rightist (here, Islamic) and leftist (here, Leninist) variety have never comprehended this proletarian dynamic or felt any affinity with it. This explains the Islamic insistence to patronise workers, stigmatising them as sick, immature or deviant or Lenin’s normalising predilections once he had managed to establish his gang as the orthodoxy within the Third International. I have in mind here the intellectually flimsy and fatuous infamy known as Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder (1975), which Lenin penned in order to limit the influence of revolutionaries amongst the proletariat.

[9] This Bakhtinian approach to laughter is at odds with Michael Billig’s (2001) belief that all types of laughter have a sadistic origin. In my view, Billig does the proletariat a disservice by his dogmatic generalisations. A more nuanced perspective which is based on a ‘solid’ understanding of the class struggle theorises a qualitative distinction between the subversive laughter and irony of the proletariat and its bourgeois counterparts.

[10] It is hard to convey to the casual ‘Western’ observer how completely devoid of musical inspiration most ‘Islamic Fundamentalists’ really are. This, of course, is not the case with Islam in its Sufi manifestation but the puritanical branch currently dominating political thought within Islam, which is bereft of music and its accompanying trait of joyful abandonment. As Shakespeare said, ‘The man [sic] that hath no music in himself/Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds/Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils/The motions of his spirit are dull as night/And his affections dark as Erebus/Let no such man be trusted’ (Portia in Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, V, 1, 1967).

[11] Sufism is a mystical and semi-monastic trend within Islam, which emerged between 8th and 10th centuries. According to Tokarev (1989: 377), ‘it grew within Shiism, but was also taken up among the Sunnis. Sufism was influenced by the ideas of Mazdaism, perhaps Buddhism and even Neo-Platonism’.

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