Thursday, July 14, 2011

The farcical symmetry of dictatorship


Syria's beleaguered dictator Bashar Assad receives his newly appointed governor to the restive city of Hama. The photo has gone viral because of its salient photo-shop attributes. In my opinion, the cartoonish artificiality only makes it the more real.

This is the currency of Syrian-style Caesarism, with all its predictable symbolic elements: big austere, kitschy chambers, frozen jingoistic postures, tall-and-small rank, proper distance from the sovereign, etc, etc. On closer inspection one has to savor the bizarre details: the dictator has no shadow, the floor is slanted, both men don't look straight at each other, plus the dictator's left shoe appears collaged right at the border of the table's leg. 

Once more, appearances are deceiving. This is not a cartoon. Let the image reminds us of the screams of the oppressed, persecuted, shot at and tortured people of Hama. Also, let's relish the anxiety that shows behind the stiff pose of the dictator, his clenched left fist a sign that he -inevitably- is loosing his grip on power.