Thursday, 2 July 2015

dungeon master or cosplay caliphate

Writing for the always provoking Æon magazine, pastor Benjamin Dueholm takes up the banner of fantasy politics—the sleeping hero, the once and future king with a parallel which stops necessarily short of the gruesome violence and vile pretensions that by its unsettling and discomforting nature may bridge that gap in trying to understand the allure that the would-be caliph has for his following.

The standard explanation usually repairs towards brainwashing, alienation, general listlessness and marginalisation of Muslim youth, but it is probably more productive to confront a prickly affinity even if in the end the comparison does not pan out—especially given that traditional accounts are not leading anyone anywhere. Going off to fight jihad is certainly degrees more radical than attending a convention, re-enactment not matter how devoted or die-hard the fan is, but the idea of role-playing and seeing the slumbering and legitimate liberator awake (and vanquish all the pretenders) is not so far removed from our shared cultural, literary and cinematic mythology. One finds other examples in Arthurian legend and the Matter of Britain, in Friedrich Barbarossa asleep under the mountain, as well as more recently renewed struggles, like the notion of a legitimate heir to all of Christendom. Instead of Romulans, sith, orcs, however, they target far less formidable and imaginative foes. Cosplayers, subcultures usually don’t become delusional in their pursuits and passions but tragic and catastrophic outcomes may follow when they do, and perhaps if anything can be gleaned from this analogy (though I feel that there is a lot there, which is also maybe too close for comfort), it is the ability to perceive—take to heart, when other members of the community say that their actions are not Islam. What do you think?