While I am on the subject of contradictory language and situations, the stunning exhibition of Afghanistan art, the Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul, is full of them.
First, it makes no bones about the fact that the war in Afghanistan starting in 1979 and continuing to the present has completely destroyed archeological sites in the country. ( The same is happening in Iraq). Bagram, one of the primary sites, is known to Americans only as a huge American airforce base. We also happen to know that not far away is a major black site where we and others are practicing torture. So as we look at these objects from so many centuries ago, we think about today, and how much is lost in terms of culture, civilization, and history because of war.
Second, it clearly tells us that these objects are commercial, they was no mystical or sacred dimension to them. I liked this honesty. It was so refreshing.
Third, it explains the intersections of cultures on the Silk Road, and we see it in the art work, in other words, no one culture is privileged, we have Hindi mixed with Hellenistic, mixed with Turkic, etc.
Last, the objects themselves only survived because they were hidden away. They are now touring the world, hopefully to raise money for the museum.
But one has to ask, is it ever going to be safe for them to go back to Afghanistan??
That is everyone's hope.