Thursday, January 10, 2008
Postscript by Manuel Talens:
Gilad Atzmon or Exile's redemption
Ever since I met Gilad Atzmon a few years back for a lengthy interview I've been convinced that this man listens to the world with the ears of an artist. It wasn't by chance that I entitled it Beauty as a political weapon, as both his music and his writings always exude a profound and beautiful poetry, even if they deal ? as they usually do ? with the unrelenting Palestinian tragedy caused by Israel. This paper, which is the core of a talk he delivered recently at Brighton, UK, is no exception to this rule. Yet, instead of treating the subject from the outside ? a literary technique that establishes a distance and "cools it down" ? here the former Israeli Atzmon adopts the painful role of a subject who places himself at the thick of things and tells us his own itinerary from the racist hell of the Zionist state, where he was born, to the only ethical escape he had in front of him once he heard the light through the miracle of music: voluntary exile. Exile, as well-informed readers of this great jazzman already know, is one of his finest albums. To me, it is also the main argument of this current piece. It is not by chance if other Israelis as honest as Ilan Pappe have also chosen exile ? like Atzmon ? as the only way to redeem themselves from the shame of belonging to a state where indigenous population are treated as if they were despicable beasts. But Atzmon's recapitulation has a wonderful plus in itself ? at least for music lovers ? and it is the sharp narration of his awakening from the sinful Israeli nightmare he was immersed in to the liberation of ceasing to belong, all this thanks to Charlie Parker's art. Art is the communicating vessel uniting Parker and Atzmon. But there is more: the fact that Parker was Black ? a race as looked down by all-time colonialists as Palestinians by today's Zionists ? serves symbolically to the purpose of Atzmon's redemption: embracing the cause of Black music meant for him to kill two birds with one stone, as he simultaneously embraced the cause of liberating Palestinians through political activism. Texts like this one, written by people like Atzmon who have decided to join mankind without tribal discriminations and who define themselves as ex-Zionists help us to maintain the hope that one day the land of Palestine will be free of this racist post-modern plague and all its inhabitants will live in peace regardless of religion or ethnicity.