January 24, 2006

A New Political Sphere


I had been preparing a post about the visibility of women in the Hamas campaign.  It then occurred to me that this picture — which I have been fascinated with for about two weeks now — might be a more defining image of today’s Palestinian election.

Thinking “emblematically” about the Palestinians, associations naturally lead to either the nationalist colors or the Palestinian flag itself.  What’s interesting about these balloons, however, is how they evoke the flag — the ultimate static symbol of a people — but do so without much definitive arrangement at all.

Regardless which parties wins (if an outright victory is even to be had), the sense “in the air” is that this election has already imposed a new calculus on the old form of Palestinian politics.  Looking at these balloons, the mind naturally begins to organize them into unified forms.  At the same time, they seem to resist the tendency.  Instead, they might as well be molecules, stable elements within a fixed structure, but ultimately kinetic in nature, seeking more coherent organization through the natural forming and breaking of bonds.

It seems an apt metaphor — if not a hopeful one — for this body politic as well.

(anti-bush. anti-bush. anti-bush. anti-Cheney.  anti-republican.)

(image: Nasser Ishtayeh/AP.  January 3, 2006. Ramallah. Via YahooNews)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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