Conference of the Birds; meaning achieved in three forms
22 Oct 2011 13:19
According to Vida Ahmadi, Attar in the Conference of the Birds offers a single meaning in three forms and languages; hence he shapes a triangle with three sides: the first side is the prelude, the second is the tale of Sheikh San'aan, and the third side is the tale of the birds.
IBNA: During the session on Attar's "Conference of the Birds" held on Wednesday (19th October) at the Book City Center, Dr Vida Ahmadi academic member of Azad Islamic University of Mashhad said: "the term 'art' has two meanings. In the general sense of the term, it is a profession but in an extended sense, it refers to the attempts of a person who wants to enact his inner beauty."
And alchemy is the art of transforming inferior metals to more valuable ones. This is done by a matter known as Elixir. While some consider alchemy fictional and legendary, some others believe that there has actually existed a formula for turning all metals to gold.
According to Jung, the main goal of the alchemist in turning copper to gold is to transform his inner self to a better one. That is why psychology and alchemy are regarded as sister sciences. In his theory of psychology, Jung mentions the term 'transformation' implying inner change of human being. This is exactly what Mulla Sadra means by his 'Seirourat' (becoming).
Referring to the main sources of alchemy such as 'Aureus or the Golden Tractate of Hermes' and 'The Red Alchemy of St. Thomas Aquinas', she continued: "Alchemists believe that turning copper to gold is achived in three phases. The first phase is Black. The second is White and the third one is when metal turns to Red. While studying the Conference of the Birds, I realized that all three phases of alchemy exist in this text. In my comparative approach to Attar's narrative, I termed the first phase as 'Potentiality', the second as 'Resolution of the Problem of Existence' and the third one as 'Actualization' or 'Revelation'.
Verbal Geometry in 'The Conference of the Birds'
Dr Ahmadi stated that Attar in the 'Conference of the Birds' offers a single meaning in three forms and languages; hence he shapes a triangle with three sides: the first side is the prelude, the second is the tale of Sheikh of Sanaan, and the third side is the tale of the birds.
In the first phase that is the stage of total darkness, Attar writes lines full of words connoting 'darkness'.
She continued: "This phase is known as the black phase in alchemy. That is a stage when the inner beauty of Attar has not been revealed."
"The second stage of the story is the tale of Sheikh San'aan where most of the words imply 'darkness' and 'dust'…The first side that makes the main body of the story is the Conference of the Birds, an ensemble of tales each dealing with the story of a bird and obstacles appearing on their path."
Ahmadi continued: "Each bird's name is ascribed to a prophet that accords with the bird in terms of motif. The third phase that is the phase of enigma, a conflict should be resolved by the birds and the Hoopoe. In the Conference of the Birds, the stage of whiteness is compared to blindness. The birds pose their problems and the Hoopoe tries to resolve them. In other words, the white phase is when obstacles are found out and the birds manage to enact their inner beauty."
She added: "We know that the original color of Gold is red. The Seemorgh embodies the red phase in the Conference of the Birds that is also an emblem of God. As for the etymology of the word 'Seemorgh' it should be stated that in Ancient Iran, it was known as the bird of the Sun. And quite surprisingly, the Sun is closer in connotation to the Alchemic Gold in the dictionary of symbols. In the last stage of 'the Conference of the Birds', Seemorgh and the thirty birds are united and this implies the last phase of alchemy when gold is actualized within the souls of the birds.