Christo El Morr
Tuesday September 20, 2022
Al-Mayass Dance group appeared on a television program and was followed by those who usually follow the art of dance and those who do not follow it. Perhaps the general frustration experienced in Lebanon is a strong motive to find something beautiful that shines in the psychological darkness that the country is within. The choreographers of the troupe were inspired by “oriental” cultures in their beautiful choreography. Those who watched the performances must have noticed the group's use of symbols originating from religious myths (for example, the serpent). The overwhelming majority of people were happy with the performances and success of the group. What motivates Christian religious voices (I have not read of Muslim religious voices, and this does not rule them out) to attack the group accusing its members of worshiping Satan?
Religious leaders at all levels tend to impose their own vision of what is permitted and prohibited in art. They raise the slogan of “harming” religious feelings whenever an artwork deals with a religious issue in a way that they do not like, as they feel that it harms rituals or beliefs. The Catholic Center for Media in Lebanon has the upper hand in requests to ban artistic groups that hurt the sensitive religious feeling of Father Abu Kassem (head of the center) and his companions.
But the prejudice against the Al-Mayyas group reached a great extent on the charge of dealing with the devil, and I believe that the reason lies in the fact that they are women. Through the ages the Church has been prejudiced against women; even today there is an entire mountain full of monasteries in Greece (mount Athos) where woman are banned, and among the monastic stories that some monks pass on, we find a story that describes a woman as the devil (i.e., her very existence is an temptation for the “poor” monks. But I prefer another monastic story with significance in our subject: it is said that during a fasting period a monk in one of the monasteries went hungry and secretly entered the kitchen with an egg, and began to put it over the candle in the kitchen to cook it (don't ask me how), and when the head of the monastery in the kitchen surprised him, he regretted it, and said quickly, “The devil has tried me.” Then the devil appears and says to the head of the monastery: “Don't believe him, I was learning from him.”
There is an ancient fear in men of women as relayed by psychoanalysis, a certain man’s dread and of this being capable of giving birth to a new human being in the world. An even more important issue is added, which is the fear of a man who did not know how to deal with their sexual, so they suppressed it (there is a difference between suppression and restraint) and treated sex as a frightening irritable energy, and so tried to evade it by expelling it from the field of consciousness and placing it in a dark corner of their psyche. Therefore, sexual energy is excluded and separated from their integral personality, so that it remains unmanageable energy instead of being refined with tenderness and human relationship with an other person, recognized as a distinct and free individual. And if the repressed sex drive resurfaces from the depth of consciousness in its crude state, whenever a man desires another human being (a woman in our conversation), then he sees her as merely a body, and necessarily a seductive body, since the suppressed sexual desire rises in its crude, random, consumerist state.
At this point, feelings of turmoil and fear overwhelm that man, which turns into anger and a desire to justify oneself and rationalize one’s desire, so he projects on the other his impulses, and imagines and portrays women as if she is the one who seeks to seduce and tempt men, and that she is a “demon" who tries to make the “innocent” men commit sin. He attributes to the woman, subject of his lust, a terrifying power and considers her the root of evil (in the story of Adam and Eve, for example). The more intense the desire, the more intense the reactions; the more the person evades their feelings by projecting them onto an other, the more intense the attack on that other.
These mechanisms relayed by psychoanalysis are still valid today; in the past, they led a Church led by men to prejudice women and commit atrocities against them during a campaign against those who it stigmatized as “witches.” Those who were brutally abused by the Church at the hands of sadistic monks were especially women; in fact, the Church abused and killed fifty women, for every one man. The abuse was brutal and extremely cruel, as the death sentence was carried out by strangling or burning. Thousands of innocent people were subjected to organized ecclesiastical extermination, and the organization was official, as two monks, at the request of the Pope, in 1486, developed an ecclesiastical manual showing the means of detecting alleged “witches”, the trial procedures and the necessary sentences. This is how the church killed an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 women for collaborating with Satan.
The attack on the Mayyas group is the same phenomenon, but this time it happens in an era when repressed mobs of clergy are not able to burn women, otherwise the women of the Mayas group would have seen the same fate as those women who were burned by repressed men projecting their own desires on powerless women.
Thanks God, who gave us the reason to investigate the roots of phenomena, and who provided us as human beings with what is possible of wisdom so that we can distinguish in our days between religious confusion and genuine faith, between repression in delirium and science examining facts, between the use of religion for domination and its use for human service.
On our end, we adhere to human freedom, which God - according to Christianity - willed to create and respect even if it rejects its creator. Al-Mayyas group, with the capabilities of dancers and designers, brought us beauties in charming paintings inspired by thousands of years of dread and exploration of the secret of the creation and life, and most of us rejoiced.