The journey of the author is my own journey. This is the journey of every scholar born with the so called “eastern” psychology while professionally trained in the “western” one. We are born and brought up with the unwritten rule of understanding the metaphor. This is part of the ceremonial cultures we belong to. Now the West takes a very different approach to science, or, more precisely, knowledge. The person getting into career building in the West goes through a painful adjustment process of rationalizing “emotions”. This is not an easy task to achieve. The adjustment process doesn’t rationalize our way of thought or feeling. It rather leaves a deep sense of emptiness, a feeling of guilt for not being able to search the truth, but rather building a narrative which is “authentic” in terms of the dominant research tradition, but not “representative” in the human sense of the world.
The burden of truth is hard to carry, of a truth untold. We, as rationalizers of the emotions without the courage to accommodate the implicit of the imagery are the unwanted messengers. We live with the inner pain of wrestling with the idea of better not had represented the half truth, if we couldn’t speak it all. As Ghalib (one of the greatest Urdu poets) puts it: “I am too happy for not having a messenger to convey my love/ what would be the worth of a passionate message through another’s voice.”
Metaphorical Imagination is a product of this process of existentialist success that leaves a deep hollow within the heart of the distinguished person. The agony of the soul reeling under the pains inflicted by the very success the person has achieved. I won’t engage in hyperbole by saying that this is the best ever written on the topic, because that would be a very subjective statement. But I am well within my right to say that this book is the first comprehensive volume on the subject of the problem of understanding the very “problem” in research. It is a must-read for those in the East who have or are planning to embark on the journey to know the world through research in the West. At the same time, it is a must for Western scholars who are guiding Eastern scholars in their higher studies. They also need to keep the findings of the books in mind to identify and control their subjectivity when dealing with the East. It is a call for universality. The book cries for a larger holistic approach to knowledge development. It deals with the predominant problem of the present thrust to quantify all. What if something is not quantifiable, it asks loudly? Should we sacrifice the truth at the altar of methods? Methods that become obsolete in the face of implicit evidence? Should we blindly stick to the method, knowing very well that the truth lies beyond our drawing room methodology?
And here is the greatest contribution that makes this book special. The author doesn’t just stop at criticism, at simply proving the existing approach to be wrong. He takes a giant leap forward. He gives a new approach. He doesn’t defeat anything. He modifies, he readjusts, and he sublimes the debate by showing it the light at the end of the tunnel. Like a phoenix out of its own ashes, this work doesn’t lose anything. It simply continues.
This work is a great asset in our own troubled times. In times where globalization has brought humanity together, the global village is no more a dream. It is a reality. But the ominous words of Marshall McLuhan about the “retribalization” of the world are holding increasingly true. In the same vein, the “Gutenberg Galaxy” seems to be very real indeed. The “medium is the message”, the cornerstone of media determinism is also the writing on the wall. In a world increasingly controlled by the media, the global media is threatening the very identity of humans around the world. In a post-truth world, where even the notorious Josef Goebbels might have a hard time understanding the unabashed practice of lying in the face of truth, it is high time to give media professionals as well as scholars of media something to understand the nature of evidence and how to deal with facts.
The book takes a holistic approach to the very basis of research, the search for truth, the very meaning of the Arabic word Tehqeeq, the search for Haq (truth). It emancipates truth from the monopoly of academics and throws it into the larger human domain, perfectly attainable for journalists and social media activists, while still leaving the burden of responsibility on academics. The academic is a custodian of truth, not the hegemon!
Dr Altaf Ullah Khan
Head of Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Peshawar
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