Creator Salah Jahin (1930-1986), and the word “creative” here strives to summarize the different tributaries of Jahin’s experience. He is painter, poet, actor, writer and more.
.. The overlapping circles made Jahin what he was, and his influence is still there. He is the character of the awaited session, the n. (54), of the Cairo International Book Fair (January 25 – February 6, 2023). A memory of a creator that no one has forgotten, or a renewal of a lifelong desire to visit his creativity and achieve a greater understanding of his opinions and dreams of him.
On this occasion it was a visit attentive to his thoughts, a visit that will take two issues of “Second Al-Ahram”. The first issue between them, released this week, focuses on ideas and opinions revealed by the creative Jahin himself, and on himself, through a series of interviews Al-Ahram conducted with him in the final years of his life, and before his departure. It came as if summing up his experience and standing him on the title of “the complete artist,” which haunts him to this day. And on the power of “public taste” to determine the form of “song”, and on the conflict which has become, willy-nilly, one of its symbols, between “colloquial” and “classical” in matters of “poetry” and “writing ”. Ideas that he did not hesitate to express clearly and frankly, first of all confirming that he continued to dream until the end of “building a work in every village, even if my dreams are not all Bambi… Bambi!” … and this is according to Al-Ahram.
Among the important dialogues that brought together the reader of “Al-Ahram” Bijaheen, in contrast to their usual meeting through the verses of the “caricatures” or the verses of the “poems”, was the one conducted by the journalists Fathi Al-Ashry and Salwa Al-Anani in the “Saturday Dialogue” corner, in the context of the Al-Ahramy issue published on 24 January. In 1981. That day, Muhammad Salah al-Din Bahgat Ahmed Helmy, famously known as Salah Jahin, summed up his opinion on the issue of “global artist”. He said that mastering the skills of different arts is not one of the characteristics of the “global artist”. The renaissance era or any renaissance era that any society lives in. , is an expression that appeared in this century when the theater began to present works that included singing, dancing and acrobats, as well as dramatic dialogue. His first appearance was in Germany at the Berleese Ensemble Theater, founded by Bertolt Brecht. In fact, all of the members of these teams also practiced more than one stage art besides writing. And with the spread of this phenomenon in the theaters of Europe and America, the well-known divisions such as opera, (operaballet), (operetta) and others disappeared…».
Jahin goes on to describe the story of the “integrated artist,” saying, “Because talents blossom among the few who are forced to fill the void, like (Leonardo da Vinci) and (Michelangelo) and other artists who have practiced more than one art , they achieved achievements in science and, of course, if there was a specialist scientist when one of them had to conduct scientific research. It is the civil need of this type of artist that unlocks their faculties and forces them to contribute to more than one branch of knowledge, as often happens in the periods preceding the eras of prosperity and progress.
Thus Jahin summarized the question of the difference between the “integrated artist” and the comprehensive one, and how conditions in Egypt in the 1950s and 1960s were characterized by creative traits that favored the emergence of exceptional creators like him. The great artist explains how he hates specialization, saying, “Specialization is killing me and I can’t bear a life away from my various arts.” So Jahin starts proposing some fundamental opinions about the different arts in which he moves and excels in all… and the beginning was with the “Caricatures”…
Talk to Mohamed Youssef, head of Al-Ahram’s photography department in the 1970s
The weapon of “caricature” and contemporary jargon
Jahin says, “Comic has more than one function besides laughter, such as criticism and guidance, and perhaps its function is limited to enlightenment. And caricature is a one-edged sword, because it approaches things from one point of view, and this is what makes it unable to approach the issue from more than one angle, so much so that in some of the caricature battles I’ve fought I was forced to write a small article explaining my point of view, which perhaps the caricature failed to present. This was Jahin’s vision of the caricature, who admitted in the course of the same interview that he and the press had taken him from one of the tributaries of his identity as a painter, and had not given him the opportunity, for example, to hold an exhibition that he will collect his paintings.
And from caricature to language, especially the “colloquial” used in his lyric poems, Jahin says in this regard: “The colloquial must pass from everyday discourse to literary and artistic purposes, especially the song that deals with more delicate subjects than those that poetry and theater deal in their own literature, as well as classical. While Classical Arabic is undoubtedly the mother of the written arts, that doesn’t mean I’m intolerant of either. Each of them has its own role, status and function. But I believe that the refined colloquial language can bridge the gap between the language of everyday speech and the special language of writing, and that sometimes it is better able to express some issues that concern the masses, even if the colloquial production is destined to disappear after a generation or two, while Al-Fusha is fixed and stays.
Jahin had expressed, in the context of separate statements, which he conveyed to journalist Mustafa Abdel-Ghani, more of his views on the relationship between classic and colloquial. , from which I started in the fifties, which is to elevate it until it reaches a point of convergence with classical Arabic. Conversational writing is now constantly updating conversational writing and classic writing makes it easier. Now there is progress regarding the colloquial, and this progress does not come at the expense of the classic, because the colloquial takes from the classic…
There are two kinds of writing, writing that has value and stays, and writing that has its time and ends. I’m talking about colloquialism, which has a literary formulation, in the sense that it passes into classical Arabic or it does not pass. In the sense that whoever makes a literary formulation from the colloquial, finds himself quoting from classical Arabic.. and the truth is that there is no one who writes the colloquial language and is not a reader of standard Arabic.
And on the multiplicity of “colloquial” dialects, he says: “It is a healthy phenomenon, because “colloquial” takes one from the other, and they all take from the classical Arabic of the Arab countries. The fear of the multiplicity of colloquialisms is not so scary that it can be said that the multiplicity of Standard Arabic makes us require a common linguistic complex for the Arab world so that something has no name in this country, and another name in this country . And the colloquial dialects come close to each other with the dominance of one of the dialects, and I think the Arabized dialect prevails, as all members of the Arab world prefer it. In Duraid Lahham’s film (Borders), for example, we find that the colloquial language in it is close to Egyptian slang, or is almost Egyptian slang… »
The creative poet refutes the claim that the colloquial language poses a threat to Arabic, present and future, and says: “The danger to the Arabic language is not the colloquial language, but rather another danger much more serious than this , which is represented in the creeping foreign inscriptions on the names of shops, companies, advertisements and so on. For example, it is unreasonable to read these names on our stores (Shopping Malls). How do we explain it? Is it some kind of schizophrenia? When I answer the phone, I find someone speaking to me in English from the Egyptian Telephone Service. This is a mental disorder. The danger to Arabic calls for the comparison of American words into Egyptian life. Take another example. There is one of the carpenters named (Haridi) who writes his name (Haridi Shop) in Latin on the shops. I say that if you are passionate about Arabic, you must note that there are many scary names and concepts that fill life. These were his views of him, and he stated clearly in a third interview, saying, “I love Classical Arabic.. I love Arabic.”
At a friendly cultural session led by Tawfiq al-Hakim in the 1980s, photographed by Emile Karam
Singing and literature and society between them
And on the song and Jahin’s views on his condition, it was necessary to return to his dialogue with Fathi Al-Ashry and Salwa Al-Anani, in which he said: “Song is a natural product of society, like all manifestations of expression , and changes with the change in the form of society and its strata, which sometimes impose their taste on the authors of the song, and now we are in the era of cassettes ( A reminder that the dialogue took place in 1981) after that We’re past the transistor era, where everyone listened to the radio they wanted, so a person built the radio he wanted using various cassettes.
And on literature and its relationship with socially agreed values, and then on the ways to reach from it the local product up to the limit of globalization, Jahin says: «We don’t agree on values, so how do we practice them and how do we instill them in society, starting with the child? .. There are values \u200b\u200bthat have been repeated in art, such as (love is not a shame), (a girl does not marry someone she does not love), (poverty is not a shame), and that (who works is a respectable person). These values have not been decreed. Values are also subject to change, especially as has happened in our society, which from a purely agricultural society has transformed into an agricultural and industrial society.
Moreover. We want literature and art to require the education of taste. So, if a society needs art to express it at some point, art should express it without reservations, and for us, art does not fully express and does not express everything… »
Regarding the literature and its achievement of wider horizons, he said: “The literature of Naguib Mahfouz and the literature of Youssef Idris reach by all standards the level of the Nobel Prize and other international awards. Because they expressed the reality of their country with full sincerity and depth and according to modern artistic standards. It is a world literature, because it has been translated into many languages, so that the foreign reader seeks Arabic literature and appreciates it. Our literature has long passed the stage of achieving universality.”
These were some of Salah Jahin’s views on caricature, poetry, colloquialism, literature and values, these were some of his dreams, which he admitted were not all “Bambi Bambi”…according to Al-Ahram.