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Evil as Bondage to the Passions: Salman Rushdies

Shalimar the Clown and Fury


Roxana Doncu
Abstract The Enlightenment discourse of reason as the highest
human faculty was inextricably bound up with a specific conception
and a resulting attitude to evil: evil was seen to originate in the animal
passions resident in man, and reasons capacity to control them was
conceived as the key to freedom. Passions bind men to their lower,
animal natures reason frees them and orientates towards the higher.
!omanticism reacted strongly against the instrumental rationality
developed by Enlightenment, and proposed a re"evaluation of the
passions, understood as resources of the creative process. The aim of
my paper is to locate these two attitudes to passions, the
Enlightenment and the !omantic, in two of #alman !ushdies novels:
Shalimar the Clown and Fury, and to focus on the conception of evil
as bondage to the passions that underlies both of them.
$n Shalimar the Clown, the desire for revenge that animates
%oman #her %oman is the source of all evil & his unrestrained passion
leads to murder and transforms him into a terrorist. $n Fury, 'alik
#olankas apparently unmotivated anger causes the break"up of his
marriage and his subse(uent misfortune. )ut whereas %oman is
totally absorbed in the whirlpools of his anger, #olanka is able to find
an outlet for his negative emotions in creation. The conception of evil
underlying both novels has its origins in Platonic and *ristotelian
thought+ the good life as the rule of reason,, in the valuation of reason
and de"valuation of passions which was dominant in Enlightenment
discourse. -owever, the positive re"evaluation of anger as a
.daimonic/ +#teven *. 0iamond,, as a source of creativity that
1
surfaces in Fury is closely linked to the !omantic reaction against the
tyranny of reason.
-aving in mind )runo 2atours criticism of modernity, $
propose a re"evaluation of the conception of evil as bondage to the
passions. 3ocusing on textual evidence from both novels, $ will argue
that the source of evil lies not so much in the bondage to the passions
that the novels analy4e extensively, but in the ignorance of what
2atour has defined as the networks that structure our lives, and the
complex relationships that govern these networks. 5hat makes us
function as moderns, 2atour argues, is the work of purification
doubled by that of hybridi4ation. %oman is evil because he focuses
exclusively on the work of purification, like most fundamentalists,
whereas #olanka manages to transcend his anger by undertaking such
a work of hybridi4ation as creation.
Key Words: passions, Enlightenment6 !omantic, daimonic,
translation and mediation
1. !o vie!s o" the #assions
The Enlightenment discourse of reason as the highest human
faculty was inextricably bound up with a specific conception and a
resulting attitude to evil: evil was seen to originate in the animal
passions resident in man and reasons capacity to control them was a
guarantee of freedom. This early modern attitude to evil was in fact
anything but modern: it originated in ancient 7reek thought as the
ethics underlying *ristotles philosophy. 3or *ristotle life had
meaning in so far as it was understood as a search for the highest
good. 5ealth, good looks, physical strength and status were
secondary to the achievement of eudaimonia +harmony or happiness,.
*lthough we must be blessed with the possession of a certain amount
of secondary goods in order to be happy, this was not sufficient in
itself: a person striving for eudaimonia had to exercise the virtues.
The practice of virtue lead to phronesis +practical wisdom,, which was
8
mainly the ability to control ones passions. 0epending on their
capacity to exercise control of passions, *ristotle distinguished
between three types of people: the continent, the incontinent and the
evil. The first were those who were able to master their feelings, and
the third those who, in their desire for more +pleonaxia,, did not even
attempt to become continent. *ristotle divided the category of the
incontinent into the weak +those who reali4ed that it was better to
control their passions, but chose to give way to them, and the
impulsive +those that acted on the spur of their feelings and later
repented,. 3or the 7reek philosopher the passions +ta patheia" also
translated as emotions or feelings, were obstacles to the achievement
of phronesis and the good life +understood as the rule of reason,.
*ristotles thought came to the fore again due to the
reinterpretation and re"evaluation of the classics undertaken by
!enaissance scholars and it exerted a great influence on scholastic
theology. Early 9hristian thought, it should be emphasi4ed, had taken
a more ambiguous view of the passions: for example #t Evagrius +:
th
century, in his writings emphasi4ed that passions" particularly anger,
which is the focus of this paper" should be regarded as weapons to be
rightly employed in our fight against the devil. *lthough apatheia
+ the lack of passions, was to be regarded as a sign of closeness to
7od, #t Evagrius insisted that anger was not something to be
overcome, but a tool which could be put to good or bad use. 5hile
Enlightenment rationalism shared the *ristotelian perspective on the
good life as the rule of reason, romanticism reacted strongly against
this devaluation of the passions. $t cultivated spontaneity of feelings
and praised genius as the origin and guarantee of value. 7enius +the
roman translation of the greek daimon, was seen as a capacity of the
soul to be inspired +by 7od, demons, passions, and to rely on these
sources rather than on the rules of reason in the process of creation.
Thus, whereas *ristotle and Enlightenment spawned a conception of
art based on imitation +mimesis, of reality, the romantics encouraged
inspiration +the writer was possessed by a force beyond his control,.
;
$. he aim o" the #a#er
The aim of this paper is to compare and contrast two novels by
*nglo"$ndian writer #alman !ushdie which engage with the issue of
passions +anger especially, as a potential wellspring for either evil or
creativity. $n Shalimar the Clown, the desire for revenge that animates
%oman #her %oman is the source of all evil" his unrestrained anger
leads to murder and transforms him into a terrorist. Fury recounts the
sorry fate of 'alik #olanka, occasionally sei4ed by bouts of
unexplained rage which cause the break"up of his marriage and his
subse(uent misfortune. )ut whereas %oman is totally absorbed in the
whirlpool of his anger, #olanka is able to find an outlet for his
negative emotions in creation. <nderlying Shalimar the Clown is the
*ristotelian" Enlightenment conception of the passions, while in Fury
the 9hristian"!omantic view takes precedence. $n a study entitled
Anger, Madness and the Daimonic, #tephen *. 0iamond investigates
the psychology of evil and argues that anger can be both a strong
psychological force responsible for violent behavior as well as the
hidden spring of creativity:/ creativity can be broadly defined as the
constructive utilization of the daimonic/+8=>, $nterviewed by 0ouglas
Eby, he returns to the !omantic model of the genius6 daimon,
showing how rage and creativity can be inter"related :
?The more conflict, the more rage, the more
anxiety there is, the more the inner necessity to create.
5e must also bear in mind that gifted individuals,
those with a genius +incidentally, genius was the 2atin
word for daimon, the basis of the daimonic concept,
for certain things, feel this inner necessity even more
intensely, and in some respects experience and give
voice not only to their own demons but the collective
daimonic as well./
9reativity, argues 0iamond, is the way artists manage to
constructively use their anger" to put it to good use, as #aint Evagrius
:
would say. @et the word constructively is important. $t made me think
of )runo 2atour, of constructivism and the seminal role he attributes
to mediation in the construction of any stable reality. $f anger reveals
the internal disorder, the inner chaos that leads to destruction, can
mediation and hybridi4ation be the strategies through which anger is
channeled towards positive resultsA
%. he Pathos o" Anger
The demoni4ed #aladin 9hamcha in he Satanic !erses is
able to resume human shape only after giving vent to his secret hatred
of 7ibreel in a bout of rage that destroys a whole nightclub. *nger
seems to have a long history in !ushdies work. $t is the dominant
feeling in both Fury and Shalimar the Clown, two novels written after
the fatwa episode. The first is set in %ew @ork, while the second
makes the typical !ushdies(ue Bourney around the world +from $ndia
to the <#,. The geographical context is important, as different
cultures frame the pathos of anger. $n Shalimar the Clown, %oman
#her %omans anger springs from his betrayed love and is associated
with a specific Cashmiri 'uslim notion of honour. <pon learning of
his wifes infidelity with the *merican ambassador, %oman decides
to kill both of them and the child born from their affair:
.#ooner or later he would find his way to the *merican ambassador
as well and his honour would be avenged.DEF -onour ranked above
everything else, about his sacred vows of matrimony, above the
divine inBunction of cold"blooded murder, above decency, above
culture, above life itself./+:81, Pachigam, the Cashmiri village where
both %oman and his wife )oonyi grow up and fall in love with each
other is of mixed population, as )oonyi herself is -indu. Their
parents, though 'uslim and -indi +in Pachigham, !ushdie explains,
these were descriptions, not divisions, are close friends, so %oman
inherits both the 'uslim notion of honour and the $ndian conception
of the passions, explained by )oonyis father:

=
.There are six instincts DEF which keep us
attached to the material purposes of life. These are
called Caam the Passion, Crodh the *nger, 'adh the
intoxicant, e.g. alcohol, drug et caetera, 'oh the
*ttachment, 2obh the 7reed and 'atsaya the Gealousy.
To live a good life we must control them or else they
will control us. The shadow planets act upon us from a
distance and focus our minds upon our instincts. !ahu
is the exaggerator the intensifierH Cetu is the blocker
the suppressorH The dance of the shadow planets is the
dance of the struggle within us, the inner struggle of
moral and social choiceH/+I>,
$n order to live a good life we must control our passions. This sounds
surprisingly similar to *ristotles philosophy. *ctually, these
concepts come from ancient Jedic texts and were later appropriated
by #ikhism to denominate the evils that every believer had to fight
against. #ikhism is a predominantly military faith, as are some
'uslim factions. $t is no wonder that #halimar the 9lown,
.interpellated/ by such ascetic creeds and the fundamentalist religious
ideology of )ulbul 3akh" The $ron 'ullah, will turn into an
international assassin. @et his motivation remains intensely private,
his desire for revenge finding an .obBective correlative/ in the martial
ideology instilled in him by the $ron 'ullah. 5hile the $ron 'ullah
takes upon himself to train all his converts in his religion of war by
altering their consciousness +what we would call brain"washing,,
#halimar finds himself unable to be a total devotee to the holy war:
.3or #halimar the 9lown the total abnegation
of self was a more problematic re(uirement, a sticking
place. -e was, he wanted to be, a part of the holy war,
but he also had private matters to attend to, personal
oaths to fulfill. *t night his wifes face filled his
thoughts, her face and behind hers the face of the
>
*merican. To let go of himself would be to let go of
them as well and he found that he could not order his
heart to set his body free./ +:;>,
The bad reviews that Shalimar received after its publication
mentioned disappointments. *fter the recent events of K611, a book
which portrays a sham terrorist is unforgivable. 5hat escaped the
5estern public so concerned with current issues of terrorism and
fundamentalism was the insight into the real theme of the novel,
which is the descent into the private chaos of rage and revenge. That
the private pathos of anger should be disguised under the cloak of
international terrorism proved inexcusable for a public which
expected to read about the workings of a terrorist mind. Shalimar the
Clown is first and foremost a book about passions" and shadows. The
shadow planets" !ahu and Cetu" resurface in %omans consciousness
whenever he is about to take a fateful decision: killing his first victim
+a writer standing up against $slam,, his wife )oonyi or the retired
ambassador 'ax Lphuls. $n Jedic astrology these two planets are
called the shadow or the invisible planets +they do not have real, but
spiritual existence,, and are said to influence peoples emotional lives,
by either exaggerating or playing down their instincts. #ymbolically,
they represent the conflict between the achievement of desire, which
gives temporary happiness +!ahu, and spiritual self"reali4ation
through sacrifice +Cetu,. Thus, !ahu and Cetu represent the two
opposite instincts that distinguish the continent from the incontinent
in *ristotles view: !ahu the intensifier is the impulse to give in, to
act on your feeling while Cetu the suppressor is what blocks passion,
allowing reason to step in and assume control.
&. Anger as a daimonic. 'ediated versus unmediated anger
The fury that drives professor #olanka to point a knife at the
sleeping bodies of his wife and child cannot be separated from
creation and its meanings. $t is frustration that breeds fury, and even if
the motives are never clearly laid out before the reader +#olankas
I
rage is all the more powerful as he represses its real motivation, the
fate of 2ittle )rain speaks volumes. 3ollowing a visit to *msterdam,
the aging academic develops a passion for manufacturing dolls. -is
favourite creation is 2ittle )rain, a doll with a story and a philosophic
personality, who challenges the prevailing mentality of the day. #he
becomes a mediatic success" but the higher she soars in the publics
appreciation, the more a disappointment she becomes to her creator,
who resolves one day to destroy it. -e cant do it personally, so he
asks his wife to get rid of all the 2ittle )rains in the home" and the
same night he is tempted to murder her. #olanka flees home in a hurry
and settles in %ew @ork, where he is repeatedly sei4ed by bouts of
fury.
The anger that leads to #olankas self"destructive behavior is
determined by the destruction of 2ittle )rain" first the subversion of
her complex character by the media, which transforms her into a
fashion"icon, then her physical annihilation. This effect cannot be
explained unless we regard it as an expression of #olankas anima.
3or Gung anima is an archetype of the collective unconscious and
represents the feminine psychological (ualities that are often
repressed in males. $t is responsible for a mans relationships with
women and if the sensitivity of the anima is denied, it leads to one of
the most powerful complexes. #olankas failed relationship with his
wife and his anger may be interpreted as conse(uences of the
destroyed 2ittle )rain, the expression of his anima.
$f fury is unleashed as a result of psychological inability to
express the unconscious anima, release from it comes also with the
acknowledging of the need to create. #olanka becomes able to
transcend his anger and to forge a new love relationship when he
begins to write the story of *kas4 Cronos and the Puppet Cings on
the !iBk Planet" a story that resumes #olankas criticism of
contemporaneity that had been previously appropriated and subverted
by the media +the case of 2ittle )rain,. -is characters are given life
by a group of $nternet enthusiasts" and so his story becomes a
hyperstory, with plot and ending left open for each player.
M
$n order to be contained, anger needs to be constructively
used, in 0iamonds opinion. 5e have a psychological need for unity
and the daimonic is not easily integrated in the psyche. Thats why
anger often generates violence" as not many people are capable of
transmuting, translating it into something else. )runo 2atour argues
that the stability of reality +its unity and coherence, depends on its
degree of mediation:/ the amount of heterogeneous ingredients and
the number of mediations necessary to sustain realities are a credit to
their reality +the more mediated, the more real,/+:=K, 5e can use
2atours .sociology of translation/ to interpret the two kinds of anger
+%omans and #olankas, as unmediated6 untranslated and mediated
anger. #halimar the 9lown does not manage to translate his anger into
some kind of construction" he is mobili4ed, in 2atours words, by the
agents of purification +the martial religion of )ulbul 3akh, and
regimented as an assassin" a destroyer. 'alik #olanka finally
succeeds to overcome the frustration caused by the wrongful
appropriation of 2ittle )rain by the media and translates it into a
biting criticism of contemporary evils in the story of *kas4 Cronos.
<nmediated anger breeds violence and could be seen as evil
mediated anger, on the other hand, is constructive and integrative.
)ecause translation is a practice that changes its obBects and always
translates with a difference +the obBect is the same, but with a
difference, translating a passion may mean changing its effects: from
bad to good or vice versa. The anti" social effects of unmediated anger
could also be linked to a certain cultural context that insists on the
ascetic containment of anger and inhibits creation" a culture which
conceives anger in *ristotelian6 Enlightenment6 Jedic6 $slamic terms,
as a passion which should be suppressed. The opposite Early
9hristian6 !omantic idea of anger as a daimonic, as laid out by
#tephen 0iamond in his study may tend instead to a more balanced
approach to the management of the passions. *s !ushdie himself
notes in Fury:
K
.2ife is fury, hed thought. 3ury" sexual,
Ledipal, political, magical, brutal" drives us to our
finest heights and coarsest depths. Lut of 3uria comes
creation, inspiration, originality, passion, but also
violence, pain, pure unafraid destruction, the giving
and receiving of blows from which we never recover./
+;N"1,
$n conclusion, anger is ambiguous it has both the potential to
create and destroy and the recognition of this fact is an important step
towards its integration in the self via translation and mediation.

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0iamond, #tephen *. Anger, Madness and the Daimonic" he
#sychological $enesis of !iolence, %vil and Creativity.*lbany: #tate
of %ew @ork <niversity Press, 1KK>
""". .The Psychology of 9reativity: !edeeming our $nner 0emons/
$nterview with 0ouglas Eby.5eb. 8: Gan 8N11. Ohttp:66
talentdevelop.comP
2atour, )runo. .5hose 9osmosA 5hich 9osmopoliticsA 9omments
on the Peace Terms of <lrich )eck/, Common &nowledge, vol.1N6;,
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!ushdie, #alman. Fury. 2ondon: Jinatge )ooks, 8NN1
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1N