For the umpteenth time, Jombang city in East Java was shocked by the news about their inhabitants. Not so long ago, we heard about Jombang gay named Rian who mutilated 11 people, now, we are shocked again by two cases engaging children of Jombang. First is about little shaman named Ponari who has sorcerer stone; the second is about children who can memorize a whole Qur’an with its translation.


Ponari is believed to have a sorcerer stone which he found near his home in Jombang that can cure all of the diseases. Thousands of people come to his house just to get a treatment from Ponari. In their view, Ponari is a savior sent by God to them. People believe in his sorcerer stone even though the child doesn’t know what happened around him. People keep insist to see him. The worst is those who don’t get treatment from Ponari try to drink from drainage ditch water around Ponari’s house. What else can be told, this is the symbol of irrationality in Jombang society.


In second case, Those kids, from 5,5 years age till 14 years age can memorize whole entire Qur’an and its translation. It seems to be a miracle. How could possible those kids can memorize when they’re still a children? But in fact, there is a key answer for this miracle. It is the methodology of those kids to memorize Qur’an. Those kids, Ahmad Azmi Amiq (12), Rofi’ul Majid(14), Kamila Niami Permatasari (5,5), dan Putri Fitriani (9), do not get the ability to memorize al Qur’an suddenly like Ponari case. They’ve learned memorizing method called Hanifida (invented by a couple named Hanif and Ida). This method is not only applicable in learning Qur’an but also other lesson such mathematics.



Postmodernity and Irrationality

Jombang reminds us how thin the difference between rationality and irationality. After Descartes disseminated his rationalism “cogito ergo sum”, I’m thinking therefore I’ am, this world isn’t really become rational. It is not because not every aspect of our life become modernized, but there’s still a space in human life for those things that we called irrationality, superstition, insanity, or ect. This is what we call as the world of post modernity.

There are two things that can be examples on how the civilised and modernised society get stuck on irrationality. First the emergence of pop culture and the second is cyber culture. We’ve been made confuse with the emergence of pop culture and cyber culture in which both of them lies irrational behavior. The irrationality in both of them is similar even not same with those in Jombang.


Pop culture is an example how logic of function of one commodity transforms into logic of desire. The commodity which constructed by the producer will be consumed by consumer in irrational way. Karl Marx said that the commodity constructed to attract desire called a fetishism of commodity. Fetishism is a form of irrationality that makes people consumes a commodity without thinking what the functions of those things are. Lifestyle, fashions, and entertainment are some of the example of fetishism.


Modern society which is based on modernity assumption is not a rational society anymore. Nothing left in the society where logic of desire has dominated. No rational choices left when we want to consume something. We buy a coffee in Starbuck even the price is so high, we go to mall just for freshing our eyes, we buy a logo rather than function. Once Umberto Eco has ever said, modern man prefers to consume a sign and image rather than everything. Delueuze and Guattari call this modern society as Schizophrenic society.


Postmodern Society is also a cyber society. Jean Baudillard said that in Postmodern Society reality will be replaced by simulacra which is means the pseudo-reality made by high tech machine that make us believe that those pseudo-reality is much more real than reality itself. The reality isn’t take place in three dimensional spaces but in digital information bytes. Cyberspace is one of the examples of the world of Simulacrum.


How can people be a very satisfied sitting in the front of PC for hours just to play Facebook?  How can People give others by giving them a picture of gift that represents a real gift? It’s only happen in the cyber society. Of course, pedicab driver or village farmer will describe these cyber society behaviors as irrational. More moron than what Ponari community did. So what is the similarity between Ponari with his sorcerer stone with young student with his Facebook? Both of them express irrationality in different type


Learning from Jombang

Nurcholish Madjid has ever said, “There was something wrong in the water of Jombang” I think it is true. Jombang is the city of both rationality and irrationality, even post modernity.


You can meet criminal like Rian with 11 victims, thinker like Nurcholish Madjid who became the teacher of nation, comedian like Asmuni, cultural actuator like Emha Ainun Nadjib, or a singer like gombloh. In religious level, in the one hand, you can meet fundamentalist Islam like Ustadz Abu Baka Baasyir and in the other hand, the liberalist Islam like KH Abdurrahman Wahid. Sure you can find politicians from Jombang too. Gus Dur (Third President of Indonesia, Sholahuddin Wahid, Muhaimin Iskandar (Vice Chairman House of Representative), and Imam Utomo (previous Governor of East Java) are those politician who came from Jombang.


Jombang teach us that we have a plurality even in the way how we see the truth. We can’t say that what those people who seek Ponari to cure their problem as irrational, stupid, and uneducated. In fact we all have irrationality in ourself, in our society, in our civilization. Like plurality showed by Jombang, we have to celebrate that irrationality is still exsist. Nor We won’t judge Jombangese as irrational nor as a thread because in every society there will be always irrationality.