Whirling Dervish

16 Nov

On a recent night, the Council was sitting around the Round Table, ruminating on various issues, when Matthew said that conservatism offered nothing. In his words, “I’m sure the Aztecs had a culture they wanted to conserve.” I’ve argued against such lines of thinking, though I often perform as a sniper with a shotgun. It’s all wide pattern and no focused sighting. It’s one of the problems with having an ideology and not being pragmatic, namely, having an ideology means being willing to admit fallibility.

Will highlighted a great Dalrock post, and the comments therein, on Tuesday. Escoffier, at Dalrock’s blog, wrote that though the SoCons, a decidedly influential leg of the conservative stool, were averse to the shifting mores of life, they mostly sat on the sidelines and enjoyed their accumulating piles of stuff. Commenters here elaborated on that point.

Quick aside: George Carlin once joked that a house is a place where we store our shit. . .While we go out and get more shit!

Taking Carlin’s riff more literally, I’m increasingly of a mind with those who argue that conservatism/traditionalism as a policy standpoint is too deferential to the past and not sufficiently focused on the present. Moreover, that past is mostly an illusion. The conservatives and traditionalists focus on a purportedly idyllic time when the decline was already well in motion, the shit had just not yet accumulated to a level such that it could be classified as detritus.

Conservatism as an ethos is malleable. The blade may be sharpened, a scope may be mounted on a muzzle loader. But a return to the past is not coming. Instead of focusing on truths that were never true, we should instead look at natural law, our foundational mores, and adapt our tactics to the present. Always, though, we must keep an eye on the future. If we fail to do so, we risk becoming a mushy, all inclusive historical attraction for tourists.

In the symbolism of the Sema ritual, the semazen’s camel’s hair hat (sikke) represents the tombstone of the ego; his wide, white skirt represents the ego’s shroud. By removing his black cloak, he is spiritually reborn to the truth. At the beginning of the Sema, by holding his arms crosswise, the semazen appears to represent the number one, thus testifying to God’s unity. While whirling, his arms are open: his right arm is directed to the sky, ready to receive God’s beneficence; his left hand, upon which his eyes are fastened, is turned toward the earth. The semazen conveys God’s spiritual gift to those who are witnessing the Sema. Revolving from right to left around the heart, the semazen embraces all humanity with love. The human being has been created with love in order to love. Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi, “All loves are a bridge to Divine love. Yet, those who have not had a taste of it do not know!”

All loves are a bridge to Divine love, huh? Not even close. All loves are a bridge to irrelevance and banishment. Tough love and adaptation are the bridges. We cannot conserve that which never truly existed.

Dervish communities, in the Middle Ages, served a central role in social, religious and political life throughout “central Islamic lands.” [Ed: Though associated with Islam, the Sufi predate them and are not part and parcel with “modern” Islam.]. Dervish orders were at one time much larger in size than they are today, as the government has taken control over most Dervish monasteries throughout this area. In 1925, Turkey ordered the dissolution of all Sufi fraternities by decree, the Mevleviyah managed to survive among small villages throughout the Middle East. In 1954, the Turkish government granted the Mevleviyah order “special permission” to perform ritual whirling practices for tourists during two weeks each year. Outside of tourist entertainment, Orthodox theologians have now vocally discounted the Dervish practice resulting in faqirs, or wandering, mendicant dervishes throughout central Islamic regions. Despite strict government control over Dervish practices, the Mevleviyah order continued its existence in Turkey until the early 21st century. [Ed: Read, now it’s gone.]

1 Comment

Posted by on November 16, 2011 in culture


One response to “Whirling Dervish

  1. Will S.

    November 16, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Spot on. Agreed, conservatives frequently cannot explain or properly understand the present, nor have they any future orientation, since they are too focused on the past.

    People have said something like, the liberals want to take us over a cliff at 80 mph; the conservatives want to take us over at only 50 mph. The ideal is of course not to merely dampen the speed, but actually brake to a stop, then change direction, and only then, full speed ahead…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: