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Paul Werner's Comments
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- Subject: Paul Werner's Comments
- From: Richard Minsky <minsky@MINSKY.COM>
- Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2001 15:18:24 -0500
- Message-Id: <200103052020.MAA34686@palimpsest.Stanford.EDU>
- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: READ THE FAQ at http://www.philobiblon.com" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
Quondam can mean "former" or "sometime". Sorry if the response I sent to
this list to elaborate on the review of my reliquary was seen as
"bragging." The intent was to provide insight about the thought process
that led to my incorporation of interlaced patterns on the design, and
the reasoning behind the unfilled spaces, which Rezan Peya Gökçen had
noted were "not a tight or trite composition covering obsessively the
Also, the passsage Paul quoted (or "quondamned") was not referring to
the reliquary, but to my earlier binding on Amir Taheri's book "Holy
Terror: Inside the World of Islamic Terrorism." Nor did I produce the
reliquary to "protest the edict," as Paul states. It was produced as
part of my Bill of Rights edition, to represent The First Amendment. The
society that created the Fatwah against Rushdie was acting within its
rights and its conscience, in support of its religious convictions. I
did not protest their action. The world is filled with many points of
view, and if anything, the symbolic book burnings made his book sell
many, many more copies than its literary merit would have. I am,
however, glad I am living in a country where the freedoms of press,
religion, speech, assembly and redress are guaranteed. Sometimes it
takes an event like the burning of Rushdie's books to make one
appreciate one's blessings.
I do not believe The Holy Koran, or Qu'ran, is a terrorist manual, at
least no more so than the other two books inits trilogy (The Old
Testament and The New Tetament). How many people have been killed in the
name of Religion? But each of these great works, attributed to divine
inspiration, also contains living messages of spiritual evolution and
development. There's something in there for everybody, and it's all
subject to interpretation. The problem often occurs when someone decides
they are the sole authority on interpretation.
I don't know if any Koran binders were terrorists, or if they faught the
Christian terrorists during the crusades, or if they were too busy
binding books. Yes, I do believe that art influences society, and vice
versa. I do believe that it's no accident that Hitler got the swastika
backwards and used it as a symbol embodying evil, and that it is used
today by evil supremacists in heavily armed racist and anti-semitic
American militias. I don't know if the person who drew it personally
killed anybody. I don't know whether the writers, actors, producers,
directors, or other artists who make violent tv shows and films directed
at children and teenagers ever personally killed anybody.
I think it's interesting that Paul asks if Celtic art is therefore an
art of terrorism. I hadn't put that together, though here is today's
LONDON (Reuters) - Police were on alert for more Irish
republican guerrilla violence on Monday after a powerful
exploded outside the headquarters of the British
Corporation in London.
That said, I am in complete agreement with his notion that each person
is an individual, and take that to its conclusion that each is
responsible for their own actions. We have seen recent domestic acts of
terrorism performed by schoolchildren on their peers, based on movies or
tv shows. Paul does not escape responsibility for his actions.
Subscribers to this list have seen Paul use his pen (the electronic one)
as a terrorist weapon, used to slash at other subscribers.
This time, however, he has involved himself in the noble cause of saving
these statues, using his pen power on both his website and this list to
call attention to the destruction of the great
Buddhas of Bamiyan, and I agree that doing so with his knowledge is
stronger than doing it in the name of art.
Paul T Werner wrote:
quondam friend of mine has bragged of the book he produced to protest
the edict against Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses:"
"I [...] went to the Brooklyn Museum and studied their 15th and 16th
century Koran bindings, [...] and saw that they were entirely covered
in pattern, filled in to the point where there was no room for any more
filling. I realized that this paralleled the fundamentalist state of
mind behind the Jihad, as all the spiritual, temporal, and
methodological spaces had been filled in, leaving no room for new
This is odd: are we to understand that Celtic art, which also uses
tightly organized space, is an art of terrorism? That all of the Qu'ran
is terrorism? That fifteenth-century Islamic binders, whether from
Herat, Cairo or Baghdad, were terrorists?
I refuse to protest the destruction at Bamiyan "in the name of Art." I
refuse to mourn. I can only protest the destruction at Bamiyan by means
all of the knowledge at my command. When memory is our only weapon we
keep it sharp.
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