cultural renewal | Art & Culture
AAs the world, including Pakistan, emerges from the shadow of the pandemic, there is a revival of cultural activity. However, it is not with a push that was expected after the lockdown of the past year and a half.
The Dubai Expo took place, but a year late. The event was staggering in its magnitude. The Pakistani flag featured prominently. In Pakistan, the Lux Style Awards dazzled many people, especially those associated with the showbiz industry, a mixture of entertainment and fashion.
As one gazes out across the horizon, there should be much to be happy and thankful for: one is alive after the uncertainty of the pandemic and as the path to normalcy has resumed, the fear of a return. behind remains.
Despite the gradual easing, a shadow still hangs over the developments Pakistan is going through or feared to experience in the imminent future and possibly in the years to come as well.
As it stands, the world is experiencing an unprecedented return to a kind of conservatism that once seemed to be a thing of the past. As the world emerged from centuries before the Age of Reason and Enlightenment, it seemed to have left behind millennia of darkness, obscurantism, acceptance, and submission. However, it seems the backlash is a harbinger that the past is not too far behind, just a step away.
Pakistan’s uncertainty as to its cultural references has exposed it to great danger. The gap, it seems, has been repeatedly bridged by efforts that may be counter to agents who are calling for change and looking to the future. The motivation has been to seek answers in the past and to find a solution in the different eras and episodes of the contested historical phases. Cultural emptiness is best identified by the popularity of historical seasons which have been made popular by Turkish networks with their suave productions and an approach to the story that is at best more fictional than real. The fact that many people here are totally prepared to treat it as history is a big question mark over the solidity of the cultural soil beneath our feet.
Seeking solace in the past is usually natural as it can be expressed in terms of the concerns of the present and avoid the ever-changing future which is not solid and easily definable. But going back, especially an imaginary past, is not in tune with the land and its inhabitants and can lead to a dead end.
The news from Afghanistan is obviously disturbing as the space for the arts shrinks. The freedoms usually recognized in the contemporary world are seen by the Kabul regime as excess. This should come as no surprise as the ultra-conservatives impose a conservative reading of the past and of religious principles. The worrying aspect of the developments is that many Pakistanis find an echo in the decisions made openly or covertly by the neighboring regime.
There is now a growing lobby in the country, perhaps supported by the Deep State which sees a conservative reading of religion and the consequent establishment of institutions establishing robotic order as the solution to the many problems. that afflict this nation.
Here too, in our vision of the world, lies a utopia built around austerity, medieval frugality and warriors on horseback who charge, calling for the restoration by all means of a just order. This may be the image that has been able to be cultivated over the centuries, but the current reality is very different from its simplistic understanding.
The people of our country, in fact the rulers, have praised the breaking of chains and the liberation of chains imposed by recent historical developments rather than seeing it as a process where freedoms and liberations are also seen. in more relative terms.
One possible way forward is to create a society more open to the exercise of freedoms, especially in thought, without fear or inhibition rather than creating a regulated order. The latter is much more praised and praised than the creative environment which is more conducive to the emergence of ideas.
All development or progress is inclusive and not exclusive and much of what has happened in other cultures is the way forward in the contemporary world. There is nothing that belongs to us exclusively because indeed there is nothing that belongs to a particular domain, religion or ideology. Accepting more diversity can mean less hardship and hardship for everyone.
The arts are the breeding ground for new values which have yet to be accepted. The new freedoms call into question the limits and definitions given. This is what can exasperate those who want an order, and a regimented order, at any cost.
The writer is a Lahore based cultural critic