Writing and infinity: Mysticism in literature for the love of oneself and of the other

The notion of “mysticism” refers to an interdisciplinary field: that of the Sufi authors of the Eastern tradition and the spiritual poets of the Western tradition. It is not thus a field reserved for theology, especially since it appears, as Atmane Bissani explains, as a mysterious language of love that traverses centuries, countries and beliefs. . It is above all a Nietzschean mystique which cannot be reduced to a religious dimension, as shown by the works submitted to analysis by Abdelwahab Meddeb, Juan Goytisolo, Driss Chraïbi, Abdelkébir Khatibi and Zakia Zouanat.

The author operates a perspectivist dialogue with a heritage of the Renaissances of the East and the West with an interdisciplinary approach; he is aware that interdisciplinarity can reveal the essence of a “thing”. In this perspective, Atmane Bissani rightly recalls that there is no “knowledge that can be fully translated without going through the experience of the link, the relationship, the contact”. Such a vision can free the Sufi and mystical imagination from religious orthodoxy, which opens it up to different horizons. The mystics opt for nomadism in order to obtain self-transcendence, that is to say egocentrism to make the tradition of “Xvarnah”, or divine light, reign.

Atmane Bissani shows that there is in these authors a penchant for Weltliteratur, where each language speaks the others and where each culture does not reprimand any other since there is not a pure and original culture. In other words, every culture is inhabited by other cultures. The Awliya Allâh are in search of divine light through the human presence. The contemplation of the image of the woman as an example grants them theophanic vision.

It is in this perspective that Abdelwahab Meddeb tries to examine in his work, Phantasia – as the presence of the thing in the absence of its matter (Al Kindi) – through the recourse to the epiphanic figure, Aya. This novel is dependent on the Sufi heritage. The character-narrator establishes a relationship with this epiphanic figure in order to reach the divine light. But also a strategy of rapprochement of cultures through the use of themes of dreams, illusion, presence-absence, etc. The character-narrator is shared between several cultures and thus embodies what Meddeb calls “double genealogy”, a way of deconstructing the “house of dogma”.

Barzakh by Juan Goytisolo is the second novel analyzed by the author because of its omnipresent mystical dimension. He emphasizes from the outset that this novel makes death a mystical experience in a “sepulchral” style. By creating a confusion between imagination and reality, Goytisolo introduces his character into a world of trance, which allows him to meet his dead friend and which “makes him discover the mazes of the beyond”. Like Phantasia, the dream allows the narrator of Barzakh to live the experience of trance through the tearing of barzakh which separates the here below from the beyond. Mysticism is basically a “loving” reaction to hatred and the reduction of religion to dogma.

It is in this sense that Atmane Bissani tries to recall Islam from its origins through the abyssal analysis of the work of Driss Chraïbi, L’Homme du livre. For Atmane Bissani, Chraïbi’s novel is animated by the appeal of the mystical. He rightly recalls that “Islam is a mystically thinking tradition”. This means that Islam as a spiritual tradition could face disaster. To use Hölderlin’s formula, “Where danger grows, that which saves grows”.

Mysticism can rehabilitate the human dimension of Man

For Atmane Bissani, friendship is deeply a mystical and loving experience. He clearly analyzed the theme of friendship in the work of Abdelkébir Khatibi, an author who made love a key concept and a strategy for deconstructing intolerance. Having rehabilitated this concept from the courtly tradition of the Middle Ages, Khatibi is part of this tribe of mystical writers. Friendship thus turns out to be an exercise in otherness when it is placed under the sign of love. This, as attachment and detachment vis-à-vis the other, facilitates the passage between love and friendship.

Mysticism thus embodies a luminous face of Islam and other religious traditions. In these writers submitted for analysis, the characters are often predisposed to exile, to annihilation (fanâ) and to unconditional love with regard to the Beloved, God; in short, all Sufi literature is haunted by an amorous register. It is mainly a tradition of gratitude and love. Ibn Arabi says in this perspective: “Love is my religion and my faith”.

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Writing and infinity: Mysticism in literature for the love of oneself and of the other

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