Words from the Magreb

Plural Identities. The Imaginary and Creation in Marocco: Question Marks and Openings
Affaya, Noureddine
Quaderns Divulgatius, 15 2000

To what point has the Moroccan creator been able to assume his or her past or present? Why has modernity, the renewed incarnation of enlightenment, clashed and why is it still clashing with an institutional and symbolic resistance? Morocco in the matter of art, has been and is still within the framework of an intellectual structure which gives priority to repetition and reproduction. Even while the means of artistic expression are rich and varied in the domains of artisanship and popular culture, official literature suffers from a real lack of imagination and fiction. However, one must consider the question of the distinction between the artist and the artisan, between aesthetics and utility, between pleasure and labour.
The question of art and creation in Morocco is unavoidable in the domains of reflection. Because if high culture and its artistic forms, or rather its literary manifestations, have, in general, only produced mandarins with no specific creator's talent, and if the different forms of artisanship only benefit the repetitive imagination, there is an implication that there was and there still is a real inherent problem in the forms of thought known to Moroccan culture.
Most writers go about their work as did those who came before them, so that men of letters formulate their literary works in ways they have inherited. The imagination often settles for the status of reproduction without permitting creative impulses to appear, so that it then becomes necessary to engage in a veritable archaeology of our imaginary stocks and to ask ourselves about the degree of fiction in our poems, our novels and our films . . . in order to see to what point the Moroccan creator has been able to make his or her cultural legacy, stocks of imagination, work in the modern forms of narration. The writing of history, the tale told in stories, the weight of historicity, the conservation of orthodoxy, praise of repetition . . . all of these are aspects of high culture in Morocco and they continue to be manifest in the different domains of cultural practice.
Despite all the retrograde tendencies that predict the prohibition of art and the restrictive limitation of reason, the creative imagination is ever impelled to reveal its vivacity and its capacity to open itself to new horizons in the fields of thought and art. Before the tremendously heavy burden of historicity and tradition, albeit from the politico-cultural or social point of view, and before the different prohibitions that shackle the creative act, which is fundamentally an act of freedom, the Moroccan intellectual, whether a producer - or reproducer - of ideas, or creator of images and forms, must give more consistency to his or her texts, breathe more creative life into his or her works to that this "aesthetic patria" will engender a true culture of life with its roots in space and time.

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