Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"PLEASE" stop the war?!?

Dear "Israel loves Iran",
 I am quite mad at you! I am mad at you because I think you are not doing ENOUGH to stop the war.
"Please" stop the war is not enough!
Why don't you shout "not in my name"?
Why don't you hold Israel accountable to its illegal settlement announcements?
Why don't you hold Israel accountable to assassination campaign, to derailing the peace process? 
Why so TIMID? Why PLEASE? In war, "politeness"?
90 Palestinians are killed in retaliation to 3 Israelis who were killed in response to Israel's assassination of a Hamas leader--who happened to be the negotiator for release of an Israeli hostage. Is this FAIR? Is this something that you like Israel to "please stop"?!
Why begging the murderers to be PLEASED to stop a war that is generated out of their strategic calculations (based on reliability of the desired retaliatory response with toy-weapons from the opposite side)?
Isn't Israel a democracy?
Have you no voice to DEMAND Israel to stop this madness?
Why not declaring solidarity with the innocent victims?
So far they are 300% more on the Gaza side.
Why not sending condolence messages to a family whose three generations were "exterminated" by a bomb IN YOUR NAME?
How about calling for TRUTH and RECONCILIATION?
Have you no voice to speak to the 90% of Israelis who support these atrocities, to make them SEE what is the root cause of this all: "illegal settlements" and refusal to allow a two-state solution go ahead??
What kind of activism is this?
How about calling for anti-war strikes?
How about posting pictures of candle vigils showing you in opposition to war?
And how about reporting on how dissent from this war-line of rhetoric in Israel is tolerated?
How about being genuine?

Thanks Naj

Monday, November 19, 2012

Silence of the lambs: Israel, Gaza and The New World Order

The war raging in Gaza will have direct implications for Iran; but that is not why I care.

The reason why I care is because the war raging in Gaza will have implications for the world.

In 2001, I watched in disbelief on our Hospital's waiting-room TV: a plane smashed into the second of the twin towers. I almost fell: The third world war is to begin.

Ever since, all I have been hearing is the chant of the "new world order", and a clearly failing strategy, a clearly failing global strategy ...

First, Iraq whose oil revenues are not quite as promising any more as is Afganistan's gas fields and virgin mountains, which came next.

Then the eyes glued to Iran. They are still glued to Iran--the 'little' Gaza riffraff may as well be Israel's testing the waters, for uncle sam, for what can be done to Iran, next. (they piloted the bunker-busters in the previous operation, now they are piloting the defense cloud--they cannot test their new technology without Hamas being provoked to shoot at it, can they?)

But that is besides the point. The point that is pricking in my eyes, that is making me cry, is the silence and the complicity of the world.

When 911 happened, a friend asked me "what is wrong with you people"; I had to ruffle her ignorant feathers by explaining to her what is really wrong with people whose lives are undermined by the economic interests of the nations such as hers in which the popular ignorance and political apathy worked in counter-production to democracy!

And now, as the war in Gaza rages, it is the silence of my most progressive friends, the human-right defenders, the activists, the leftist, the religious, the god fearing republicans; it is their indifference to the images of carnage, the photo after photo of dead baby corpses held in the arms of mourning parents; that is the real threat.

Their world goes by; as if nothing is happening, as if the other is none of our business, as if Israel is exercising its god given right to kill indiscriminately to retaliate indiscriminate firing of baby-rockets that have not killed in their entire history more than half as many as Israel has killed in the pas few days.

Eager to support the rights of every student pepper-sprayed on the campus; forefront in sighting for the rights of Iranian women; petition flaunting when the rights of homosexuals are violated; and outraged if someone denies the dangers of the climate change, these active intellectuals are totally mum on the issue of what is raging in Palestine. I wonder WHY? Are they scared? are they uninformed? are they indifferent?

And for others (the not typically involved ones),an illusion governs that the ghosts of injustice will not find political zombies. "The world is too large", they say, "I just mend my own fence and trim my own grass." Wonderful! this is what most of the post-Nazi Germans said to excuse themselves: "we didn't know, we were just simple people." But does being "simple people" exclude us from the world ecology?! Berlin's rubble women will testify differently.

Worse, are the political impostures who wear an air of sophistication and turn their noses up at the "childish stupidity of the middle easterners who are not capable of living in harmony."

I don't know how hard it is for people to see that in a connected world, such as the one we live in, that the political climate will not discriminate when it becomes turbulent. Isn't the Bush-induced economic collapse enough of an evidence? Isn't the rage in Europe awakening anyone? It is even awakening the chinese despite their tightly controlled communist ecology.

And here is the really scary and somewhat prophetic truth: the fights in Israel and Palestine are far from ideological; they are RESOURCE battles in a piece of land with scarce land and water. Their fight is about land and water that is currently exploited by those who have bigger muscles and have first driven away the aboriginals from their ancestral belongings, and are presently pushing to expand further.

There is no denying the fact, even by the Israelis, that what Israel demands is full submission of the palestinians, if they do submit then they will be given bread crumbs! But, do all these bombings and humiliating rhetoric give ANY opportunity for them to surrender in a dignified manner? Would you succumb to whom you consider a thief, to the one who has your grandfather's blood on his hand; and who insists on humiliating you by further pushing you, kicking you and harassing you?

For Europeans, that these "childish" nations cannot get along is a bit of a dilemma. After all, they have survived Nazis, and have managed to make peace with Germany. Hell, Germany who once carpet bombed Rotterdam's harbor is now practically owning all of it--at least in terms of transport loads.

But these wonderfully white gloved members of the universe ignore the fact that Europe has never had to deal with the problem of resources; they solved it by colonizing the land of others, whom they murderously brutalized!

It is just a matter of poor irony and bad planning that the Israelis have ended up colonizing the neighboring cousins. If they were exploiting the land of others in some exotic island, then none of this will have happened, and the arabs and jews will have lived the same kind of superficial 'respect' that the French muster for the English, and the English for the German, and the German for the Dutch, and etc.

But to go back to why would/should we care: because the world is radicalizing, at an incredible speed, towards a new world order far different from that promised by the Bush-co.

This new world order is awakening from a long oppression; the Arab spring which the westerners managed to throw their support behind (out of fear of its ramifications for the sake of the safety of the future's history) are promising a new world order in which the sacrifices and the martyrdom of the "muslims" will pay off.

This radicalization is also happening as the world resources are becoming scares ... you see the cultural trend Israel is setting, and do you feel sympathetic to that, I wish to ask the silent ones!

Since yesterday, since Israel's promise of ground operation, I have been seeing a form of fatalistic cheer leading from the "oppressed" of the world. It is the same sentiment I feel every time the US or Israel 'promise' to annihilate Iran; it's this sense of "you have left me no choice, so bring it on and dig your own grave" ... it is a dangerous cycle; and when this turns into a cyclone, it will blow away all of us who have been taking a pose on the grass ... we are accountable to justice ... and what Israel is doing now is unjust, and so is our silence ...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Kiarostami: Announces next film in Israel

From Kiarostami's Persian facebook, in a conversation with Cafe Cinema کافه سینما (on the occasion of the NYFF screening of his second feature film made in Japan: Like Someone in Love (2012), which premiered at the Cannes film festival)

Kiarostami has spoken about his experience, as a director, operating outside Iran:

"I feel differently, during the screening of my films. When I see them among Iranians I am very stressed. I feel responsible for every detail, every person, every character, the plot, even the street that I show. But when watching my latest films, I feel removed, like a guest artist and director with a temporary responsibility. Characters, have a life and reality that is not part of my responsibility,  I am just a part of them. I even think the audience is closer to the film than I am." [translation by Naj]

He has added that he loves to return to make films in Iran, that he has several ready projects, while working on one that is to be shot in Israel.

At the end, while denouncing and rejecting any kind violence, he also stated that he does not condone and accept cultural disrespect and assault on any people's beliefs. However he expressed content that the reactions in Iran were more civilized than the rest of the Muslim world, that the calm and non violent objection by Iranians offers hope that people can react and protest in calm and peacefully.

Here, you can find a full recent interview by Daniel Kasman.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Another Earthquake

I woke up to this image:

A couple hugging, dead, under the rubbles.

Another earthquake has shook Iran. The beautiful North West, Azerbaijan-e Sharghi. So far, about 250 are dead. I know how fast these numbers grow in Iran.

The first thing that comes to my mind is to send money to an NGO in Iran. But, the sanctions have made that impossible. The sanctions that have blocked the personal hard earned cash of my Iranian friends,  for instance in Azerbaijan, prohibit transferring money to Iran. A friend suggests, give money to someone abroad and have them pay the equal in cash to charities in Iran. Why should I? Like any immigrant, I should have the right to send a small portion of my income "back home". No?

On this thought, I cringe, and remember the last earthquake, where the "humanitarian" offer of Israel included sending their sniffer dogs to Iran. Iran refused help from both Israel and America.

In reality, Iran is NOT a poor country. According to CIA's factsheets, Iran's gold reserves ran 22nd in the world, only three behind the United States, and with a marginal difference. In purchasing power parity it ranks 18th; and in labor force 24th. However it's growth swamps it to 149th position, its inflation tops the chart, and its inductrial production growth rate has turned negative, BECAUSE it is kept in isolation, preventing its wealth to flourish, preventing it from becoming another India or China--something that the collective intellect and ambition of the country is well capable of; a capability that frightens the neighboring sand-despots, the geopolitical rival Israel, and the never fading greed of the anglo-franco-russian colonizers who never had their real chance in Iran. And of course, America being the empire built after occupation of the land and extermination of the aboriginals, and with slave's flesh, can just not survive without being the predator--UNTIL some true civilization, like China kicks its ass and forces some sense and modesty to its political/economic head. From the economic isolation of Iran, only Israel and Saudi Arabia gain. America too loses.

Besides economic "pride", Iran cannot TRUST any Israeli "search and rescue" team. Why should Iran not treat any Israeli as a potential spy? After all, don't Israeli's have the "hand-of-god" helping them assassinate the Iranian scientists on broad daylight and then boast about it on TV?  (Sometimes it seems like one hand of god is helping the Iranian regime, and the other hand the Israeli one! Except that when Iran wants to get rid of the Israeli regime it gets sanctioned, but when Israel uses the exact same words, it gets awarded more military goodies!)

On these thoughts, I "sense' a deep visceral hatred arousing in my gut about these sanctions, and the reason for them: effectively the cacophony of the AIPAC, aided by the particular brand of diplomatic chutzpa in the rhetoric of Ahmadinejad, and the Saudi Arabia's rivalry ... it takes a lot of restraint to not burst my hatred at Israel and America out before my little Jewish boy, who is enrolled in a Sunday Jewish school, who considers himself a Citizen of Israel (at the age of 11 and after only one trip), and who is afraid to step foot in a catholic church because he is afraid that if his Sunday school friends know, they will reject him. I fail; and I scream: I hate Israel, I hate this country where I am living and is sanctioning Iran, and I hate the fact that I am going to spend my money in the USA, vacationing with the rest of my family who is visiting from Iran!!

I am not proud of my visceral hatred; it is a knee jerk reaction in some ways. In bio-principle, I think humans, like animals, are not equipped with hatred; I think hatred is just a reaction to chronic FEAR when fight or flight ability is taken away by the mere fact of civilization. I suspect there are Israelis, Lebanese and Syrians who feel the same kind of chronic fear/hatred about Iranians. For sure, I have seen a lot of hatred against "Persian Arrogance" expressed towards Iranians by other persian speaking nationalities. It is in some ways, an inferiority complex in people who think their right at equality is stripped by unfair politics.

Yesterday, I visited the Peace Palace in den Haag: In the introduction to the history of International Court of Justice, it was stated that it was the invention of telegraph and photography that by bringing the reality of war to the people, forced a response, a pacifist response that rejected the previously glorified notions of honor, battle, dying a soldier.

Perhaps now, the introduction of these little diaries, blogs, facebook pages, where we can deconstruct "hatred" as it happens in each of us, we will develop a dialogue about that which separates us, that which frightens us, chronically, and turns us into aggressive nations/individuals ...
I am not crying any more. I am going to eat breakfast now; finish working; hug my Israeli boy and try to explain to him how unreasonable I behaved, and then pack up and fly to America where strangers hug me when they find me helpless in a medical clinic where my sisters infamous advance cancer verdict is delivered ... and yes, America has saved my sister ... and yes Iran HAS the right to nuclear science/technology and even a weapon ... but if we work together, against CHRONIC THREAT on other nations, none of these toys will be necessary any more ...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Screw Democracy! Iranians want PEACE and PROSPERITY!

That's all I have to say.

Democracy is just an "idea". In implementation, it is mediocre and full of fallacy!

What it produces is numbed and dumbed populace; who shy away from responsibility by casting a "free" ballot ... and then shying away from the havoc the elected politician is wreaking in the history of humanity. Mr Obama and his Drone war, case in point ...

Democracy CANNOT come to be implemented even in its most pathetic form, when a country is under THREAT. So shed the hypocritical lamb skin--it doesn't fool anyone in Iran!

If you hear ANY Iranian condoning the sanctions, if you hear anyone rallying behind a neo-con, make sure you take a mental note of a Neo-Resistance stamp on them:
A S S H O L E !

And, to all the Americans (journalists, activists, congressdudes, spouses of some disgruntled Iranian, or career activists) who are so concerned about the violation of HUMAN RIGHTS and FREEDOM in Iran, I suggest you utilize your zeal to prevent massacres at your country, executed in the form of shooting rampage by constitutionally free men who kill in churches, cinemas, schools, and etc. Ok?

We have a persian saying چراغی که به خانه رواست، به مسجد حرام است that translates to:
"The candle that is needed at home, should not burn in the mosque!"

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Apple's ability to Think Different has gone South!

"Think Different!", huh?

So Steve Jobs dies and Apple goes on a new media rampage!
By denying, in the (may I say redneck) state of Georgia, the purchasing right of an iPad to a couple of Iranian-American college students.
Because they spoke "Farsi" (Persian)!

Let's forget about the IRAN/US crap for now. I am going to put my Apple-Analyst hat on and try to comprehend what is it they are after now? The "republican" market? For years, Apple boasted itself as the brand of the "elite left", the artists, the eccentrics, the posh, the cool, those who ran against a "1984" big-brother view of the world. THINK DIFFERENT was their motto.

And now, by this legally unjustified action (because it is not the business of any stupid vendor to APPLY the law) Apple is after a new market segment?

I am a fan of their products; I also have a great appreciation for the cultural revolution that is brought about by many of their innovations (or more accurately, their visionary marketing of stolen innovations). However, as of last week I feel SHAME to be holding my Apple products; and I will certainly put on hold the purchase order of iPads for the upcoming birthdays of my nieces in Iran, and my family in America ... and, I will NOT purchase my new MacBook Pro either unless they come up with a profuse apology.

I think this may be a great opportunity for some competing non-American brands to kick in and convince me to buy their product now, I have a tall gift-order.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Iranian Visual Arts in 1390 (March 2011-March 2012)

I usually prepare a new-year present for Neoresistance friends. I admit that I have been much detatched from Iran and its art in the past couple of years. But this BBC (Persian's) compilation of Iranian Visual artists' galleries, exhibitions, and auctions in the year past caught my attention and I decided to report it in English. Translations of titles are mine, unless I find the official title in English/French. I am not sure how comprehensive this review is; but it contains interesting highlights.

The year started with works of internationally known masters in Gallery 10 «گالری ده».

The filmmaker, Abbas Kiarostami exhibited a photo collection entitled "The Walls" (دیوارها); a collection of pictures of the walls Kiarostami has potographed in his travels around the world.

The Gallery also showcased the world-famous collection by the sculptor Parviz Tanavoli's entitled "Heech" or Nothing (هیچ) (listen to the artists speak in New York)

and the painting collection of Afshin PirHashemi entitled "Delusions" (??) (گمراهی‌ها). (The picture below is from his website and entitled XSeries, but I am not sure if it is this particular exhibition). This painter sells in Christi's auctions frequently, and his work sells as high as half a million dollars.

Of course, this magnificent opening of the year with the works of these world-famous artists did not mean that there was no governmental pressure on the art galleries. Lili Golestan, the owner of one of the most prestigious of Tehran galleries, complained to ILNA about lack of standard in the "censor's" policy (politics?), stressing that the official's taste often interfered with the agenda of the galleries (a complaint reiterated by the publishers as well). She stated that" in the past, the guidelines of the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance were more clear cut, and there was a chance for appealing the decisions, but currently, there is a lack of accountability among the cultural bureaucrats".

Nevertheless, Golestan Gallery succeeded to hold an exhibition entitled "100 works, 100 artists" in July 2011, and the works of masters Iran Darroudi, Hossein ZendeRoudi, Parviz Tanavoli, Sohrab Sepehri, Farideh Lashai were presented next to starting unknown artists. In the opening night, the gallery sold 25 pieces, one of which a work by the contemporary artist Parvaneh Etemadi collecting 6000 dollars. A sample of her work below.

Another highlight for the Iranian visual arts was the opening of NYC's Metropolitan Museum's Islamic Treasures, and exhibit over 50% of its works from Iran. In 2009, Parviz Tanavoli had donated a sculpture from his Poet's collection to the museum to enrich the Islamic Arts section of the museum. Mohammad Ehsai (the 73 years old calligraphist--see his poster below) and Hossein Nasr (American-Iranian Islamic philosopher) were featured in the opening.

Another good news was the opening of a permanent exhibition of the paintings of the "michelangelo of Persia" Kamal-ol-Molk and unveiling his never-seen-before work dating back to the 1900, a portrait of his doorman in Paris (picture below), in Iran's national museum and library.

Iranian artists made strides abroad as well.

The catroonist Kambiz Derambakhsh(کامبیز درم بخش)held an exhibit in Paris and the success of his work published in the French magazine Elle, led to the French publisher Lafon to publish his work (below) in a book. (Like his facebook page) In the coming months, he will be holding an exhibit with the theme of Paris supported by the municipality.

Also, the AB gallery in Switzerland has held exhibits of the works by contemporary artists Samira Hodaei (سمیرا هدایی), Samira Alikhanzadeh (سمیرا علیخانزاده) and a separate exhibit including the works of Farideh Lashai (فریده لاشایی) (see example below) entitled Simply Words? (If you click on this link you can see the Gallery has quite a few Iranian artists in resident).

According to BBC Persian, in September, the Rio de Janeiro's biennial held a tribute in honor of Bahman Jalali, and exhibited 120 of his photographs. I cannot find any reference to this biennial in Rio and BBC has been a bit sloppy lately. But there has been such a tribute in Germany in the Sprengel Museum Hannover.

In London, the exhibition of Parviz Tanavoli's collection Poets in Love on the Austin/Desmond museum was so successful that the exhibition was extended by 10 days.

Here's a list of other events:

Third sculpture symposium in Milad Tower, where 12 Iranian sculptors and 5 artists from Sweden, Japan, Greece, Georgia, and Syria got together to sculpt stone to represent the Isalic/Iranian character of Tehran municipality.

Art galleries seem to have had satisfactory sales, notable is anZarak (زرک) exhibit by Parviz Tanavoli's modern jewelry students sold about 80 pieces by 21 artists for about 17,000 dollars in total.

One of the highest prices in Sothby's auction of Iranian master's work went to a painting by Sohrab Sepehri, valued 325,000$s, and selling in a Sothby's auction in London for 624,000.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Obama's Nowrouz message, another wasted opportunity

I am starting to think MORONS are writing Obama's Iran-related speeches. Listen to this and then read the comment an Iranian wrote in response to this inappropriate RUDE message.

So, Mr Obama is assuming that because Iranians were the first to start a 'twitter' revolution, then giving them internet is the ultimate candy they need to overthrow the regime? IS HE INSANE?

On the NEW YEAR EVE? On the occasion of Norouz, he has the audacity to come before the camera, and address us and say "although we have imposed CRIPPLING sanctions (that are strangling Iran's ECONOMY and THUS ruining the middle classes who are the driving force behind reforms and democracy), but we are giving millions to communication propaganda and internet infrastructure so you can talk to us in our virtual embassy!"

Bloody hell!

Mister Obama, screw the virtual embassy, why don't you instruct those who are running Iranian's counsel affairs in Ankara, Beirut and Abu Dhabi, to facilitate such cultural exchanges by not treating like criminals, our brothers and sisters and old parents who want nothing but to spend a summer, spending their hard earned Dollars on the American economy!! could you be ANY MORE insincere than that? And do you really assume that you can FOOL us with this insincere message, and make us love and trust you? Forgive me, President, every time I listen to one of your little speeches, I am filled with disgust and distrust!

Don't you have proper Iranians who can GUIDE you how to write speeches? And didn't you listen to us when we said, last year, that you flopped?

And I am not alone in hating your speech. Here's what another Iranian says:

I translate and I BEG the White House to read this:

"Your Excellency, Mr president Obama, thank you for greeting us on the occasion of Norouz while you are full force busy with trying to break the economic back of the IRanians people, fully aware that these sanctions will have little impact on the policies of the Iranian government, just as it has been ineffective in the past too!! Thank you for rescuing our hostages while humiliating our nation with threat of war! Thank you for talking about the right of our people to access free internet and satellite without hinting at what is the cause of this problem! Is it not that you have ruthlessly, without attention to the cultural bed of other nations, have besieged them culturally and politically; and with a disproportionate media power are intent on winning the media war whether you are right or wrong? And why don't you mention why China and many other countries are forced to filter you out in order to not have to deal with the cultural and political prematurity of their countries? Why don't you mention why you don't let nations to evolve at their own pace, in a smooth bed and calmly; and why is tension what you seek for other nations most often? And why don't you pack up and leave the Middle East? Mister President, thanks for thinking of us, and from a list of different needs that we have in science, technology, energy, medicine and cancer drugs and many other essential things, whose sanctions is killing hundreds of Iranians, you are most concerned about our people's interactions with the world?!! ... and much more ... Go! God bless your father's spirit! Happy Eid to you too! Have a wonderful year! Say hi to Michelle and kids too!"

Ash Reshteh (Noodle soup) آش رشته

Five years ago, I made a delicious soup, the traditional Aash Reshteh, which is to symbolize holding the "string" (reshteh) of life in the year to come.

I retrieved the recipe from the comments and I think this soup is so good that it deserves a post on its own:

1. Lentils (brown ones) one cup
2. Chic peas (one cup)
3. Red beans (one cup)
4. Spinach (one bag, wash and chop)
5. Herbs: corriander+mint+parsley+leak (0.5 kg; washed and finely chopped)
6. Wheat noodles (250 g)
7. Garlic (2 cloves), finely chopped to small cubes
8. Onion (one large), thinly sliced
9. Turmeric (one table spoon)
10. Dried mint (two table spoons)
11. Vegetable oil, half a cup
12. Optional: one cooked beat, chopped to small cubes
13. Optional: very small meat balls, fried ahead of time.
14. salt to taste

1. Cook beans (not lentils) ahead of time.
2. Fry onions in oil, such that they caramelize,
3. Add turmeric and let it cook with onions for 2-3 mins.
3. Add lentils to onion and toss for a 2-3 mins
4. Add half of the garlic it to the frying lentils and onions. Cook for 2-3 mins on high heat till slightly browned
5. Add herbs and spinach, stir fry for 2 minute,
6. add 8 cups of water and cook until lentils are half cooked.
7. add cooked peas and beans and let it simmer on medium heat for about an hour so ingredients marry well
8. before adding the noodles, increase the heat and wait till the mix comes to a rapid boil, then break noodles in 3 inch pieces and add to boiling water.
9. Cook noodles for 20 minutes
10. Garnish and season

Choose the TASTE
You can make this soup salty: in this case you will need "kashk". You will not find kashk but in Iranian stores. It's a dairy product made from boiled and then dried yogurt. Don't bothermaking it, just ask for "kashk" and the Iranian grocer will show you.

You can make this soup sweet and sour (that I think a southern tradition, but the one I like most)
mix one cup of sugar with half a cup of white-grape vinigar and add to the soup.

In either case, you can add the meatballs and the beat to the soup, just before serving or as garnish.

To garnish (and also to add more flavor), fry the rest of the garlic "slowly" in oil (make sure it doesn't get brown) and 1/4 tbls turmeric. In the last 20 seconds, also add about a table spoon of dried mint. Drain the mint and garlic from oil and decorate the soup with that. The pictures show how my tasteful sister garnishes and decorates ash reshteh. The colors are: red, beats; white, kashk; green, fried mint; yellow, fried garlic and tumeric; light green, tiny Pistachio wedges; brown, meatballs.

Wishes for a new Persian year, 1391.

In a couple of hours, 1390, the year that I turned 40, will come to end. 1390 was the most enlightening of all my life. I ( and my whole family) were given a hard test, and the stoicism of our culture, the strength of character of my parents, and the many years of defiance in the face of impossibly strong adversaries (like the opportunists who ran our country in the name of fanaticism, the imperialists who supported bombing us and attempted--still attempting--to starve us, the war and the fascism or even our mammoth culture which is often too sluggish to move at the pace demanded by modernity) paid off ... We pulled through, and learned how to fight the ultimate adversary.

I am back in America now; with my sister, in a house full of flowers and laughter, trying to joke and play photos until the equinox.

I am back in America, where I am in a perpetual ambivalence about liking this land of opportunity, land of genuinely hard working people, land of kind, caring and warm people, but one which is built on exploitation and meddling in the affairs of others, others who sit on the black gold of oil ...
I am somewhat happy by the poll Americans generated: they don't want war with Iran.
I am happy about the Israeli "We love Iranian" campaign.
I am somewhat happy by the Iranian leadership tempering its absurdism.
I suspect the Saudi Arabians and the Russians and maybe a few Oil monsters in Texas would be happy if this bickering between Iran and Israel and the US goes on, the war agitation continues and their revenues accumulate. I suspect the Israeli leadership may be happy to keep the bickering and the presumed threat of Iranians alive, if it is going to translate to ensuring that the American aid will continue flowing in the form of military aid to fight the Iranian bogyman! I suspect, if the almost-shattered conservative ranks of the Iranian rulers get into real trouble, then they would be more than happy to heat up the air in the balloon of their Anti-Zionist threats to provoke the west and create a sense of danger that would give them an excuse for cracking down dissenters in the name of national security.
But, I suspect war is not in the horizon.
I suspect the external meddlers have given up on assuming they can mobilize an internal revolt to get rid of the Iranian regime. Truth is, Iranians have no real penchant for revolution; for bickering and waving the tides of a movement maybe, for partying and glorifying and symbolizing and creating songs and poems and banners around notions of heroism and justice, yes. But for amassing courage and cause to build a united front? Naah!
In fact, I think a united front is growing gradually out of common interest, out of a need for all parties to compromise in order to survive and remain relevant. Luckily, the Iranian diaspora is beginning to understand that their radical views are little more than theoretical absurdities to people who have real lives in Iran, in all fairness living in complicity with the corruptions and untidiness of the current system, but also full of real paranoia and distrust of the "political" men and their rainbow promises, in general--and that is a FACT of Persian psych, explaining why democracies in Iran have been so vulnerable since inception.
In any event, as 1391 begins, I am jotting down these notes to tell you (if you are still a reader of my neglected blog) that my new year wish is for


Happy Nowrouz; Happy spring; and thank you for not having given up on NeoResistance.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The guy who wants to throw me in the ocean!

Below, a facebook comment from someone who objects to my never-changing position on Iranian sanctions, which is: "if you don't want a cold-war in the middle east, then stop threatening nations like Iran, while empowering states like Israel, with a track record of breaking the international law."

My comment was in response to Alan Ayre, the persian speaking spokesperson for the White House, who was surveying opinions whether Iranians blame the economic hardship they are suffering on the sanctions or on the regime.

So the gentleman brings up a lot of good ideas, of what Iran could have done and been, if it was not mismanaged by a bunch of idiots, as it is now. But I don't like the part that he wants to throw guys like me in the ocean; it sounds fascistic!

Here's his comment:

Dear Alan, do you see this guy Naj? He is the type that keeps the brutal Islamic State in power, supports the raping of the male and female political prisoners, advocates the narcotic trafficking and the vast prostitution, the rampant economical and the social corruptions and more across Iran. He is the true enemy of the Iranian people. He lines up with the Islamic State against Israel and the West and deeply supports Russians who had betrayed Iran throughout our history. This nimrod has never asked himself what Israel ever done to Iran, other than defending its nation against Hamas and Hezbollah who proxy for Iran? He repugnantly defies the world against Tehran’s nuclear ambition but he doesn’t take a moment to ask, why Islamic State should spend so endlessly on its nuclear project where vast majority of Iranian live below poverty line, 4 year old children are begging for food or money at every major intersections of Tehran till wee hours of the night? He is so incapable of figuring out that if someday (god knows when) the Bushehr nuclear power plant begins to operate, it will ONLY deliver 1500 MW of the overall 75000 MW demand, not mentioning that his favorite country Russia has robbed Iranians of fortune for this power plant over the past 25 years and haven’t delivered a thing. With the money his favorite regime has spent on the nuclear project, we could have built several oil refinery so we wouldn’t have to import oil from foreign countries, we could have created so many jobs where our educated young people could go to work, we could have build sufficient metro rail system that would solve our public transportation problem in the major cities, and to eliminate the horrific air pollution that has captured our lounges, killing several thousand people annually. We could have built enough highways with proper standards to respond to our ever growing needs, so during the major holidays our travelers don’t have to spend 15 hours to get to Caspian Sea shores from Tehran which is only 140 km away. If we could throw guys like Naj in the ocean perhaps our transition to freedom will be much smoother.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn

When I bought the book I expected to read one of those annoying upper middle class tales of nagging about freedom (there lack of) and fundamentalism and the kind of self promotional bourgeois-autography for which the publishers seem to have a palate.

But, this turned to be a surprise; a hilarious one.

A poor British backpacker, with a couple of thousand dollars of saving, quits his job and hitchhikes to Iran. This book is about his adventures.

Luckily for Jamie Maslin (and his readers), he is shielded from the upper-class Tehrani society (about whom we often read) for most of his trip (although he meets and spends enough time with them to give us a sense of what they are like, too). As such, his book is full of real Iranians, the other 50 million, who come in all shapes and shades and present him with the paradoxical complexity of the Iranian life and culture. Succinct, but his recounts are full of details, simply but lucidly written facts about all things he encounters.

This book took me home, to scents and scenes of Iran, and made me laugh, laugh really hard!

I won't spoil it for you. Treat yourself to 17 dollars of fun!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Followup: Accidental Heroism of Golshifteh Farahani

My previous post got plenty of comments; I was surprised. But, from the comments, I got a sense that some were not focusing on the crux of the problem I was trying to address (which was the de-contextualization of an actor's professional choices and attributing them into political activism)

Here's a recap:

Just as the Golden Globe victory of an Iranian Film, "A Separation" by Asghar Farhadi, shifted the 'media' attention from war-mongering attitude towards Iran, into the Iranian Cinema (which after capturing Erupean's attention for the past two decades has finally made its way to the mainstream American film industry) Le Figaro published a photo series called "L'Espoire 2012, Generation Spontanee". The series was back and white body portraits of several young french actors, shot by the famous fashion photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino. One of the photos belonged to an Iranian actress, Golshifteh Farahani, who has been exiled from Iran for a few years, because she had played in a Hollywood film and had not obeyed the dress-code imposed by the IRI on its citizens in her red-carpet appearances.

Farahani, 29, is a young actor, who is raised in an acting family. Because she has been featured in films such as Body of Lies (next to Leo Di Caprio) and in Poulet Aux Prunes, by the Oscar nominated Iranian-French filmmaker Marjan Satrapi (Perspolis, 2007), she may have the attention of the cinema world and serves as an aspiration to many kids of her generation.

Within minutes, her photograph, and another video by the same artist entitled Revelation 2012 (again advertising the future hopes of French Cinema, nominees of Cesar award) showing her dropping her shirt and revealing her breast, generated a massive response in the Iranian cyber-communities.

Within hours, the event polarized the Iranian community. This photo was taken out of its cinematic/aesthetic/French context, and turned into a political/moral phenomeno, at the center of which Farahani was portrayed either as a hero or as a whore. To this individual response was added frustration by the Iranian-Cinema fans who were angered by distraction from the possibility that the global success of A Separation would ease the Iranian independent filmmakers out of recent pressure from fundamentalists.

I have been reacting strongly to the media-naivitee of the Iranian community who had decontextualized this event, and were giving it dimensions grander than it called for. My argument was against those who politicized this gesture as a step towards "democracy"--and I argued that this was first and foremost a personal career choice, a step up on the ladder of show business, nothing more, nothing less.

I argued that just because an Iranian was the subject of the photo, she was not the actor of the art; the designer of the concept, and as such, she deserved no credit for her political savvy--although I admire any persons who are brave to underss themselves before others; it takes self confidence. I argued that if she was a political actor, then she should/could have produced such video independently, with an explicit message tying her act to the cause of "emancipation" or any other case she wanted to promote.

Ever since, I have been reading what people and women have to say. Clearly, the nude body of a cinema star has opened many an infected scars and all sorts of puss is oozing out of the bruised psychology of us Iranians.

I focus on reactions from women. I believe men should have no business supporting/calling for a woman's nudity or 'hijab'. They are qualified to talk about their own sexual emblems [I mean penis], issues and desires--and indeed this is what many have been doing by judging the size of the cup and whether they liked her best covered or revealed. Some have also been 'championing' progressiveness by embracing or standing tall before her naked body (as if she needed men't approval to drop her shirt). So the men's opinions need to be discussed by men; I do not have access to their psych or subjectivity. The female opinions, however, speak of psychological, sociological and political concerns that I, as an Iranian woman am familiar with.

On the one hand, this 'image' has inspired a lot of sentimental romanticist outbursts of females. Some liken Farahani into the Marianne of France (contradicting themselves immediately, because Marianne is a symbol of FRENCH liberty, not of Iranian liberty.), Some others liken her to Tahere Ghorat-ol-Eyn (an educated woman, a poet, who burst into men's assembly, 196 years ago, dropping her veil, and getting herself killed by offending the religious and the patriarchic sensitivity of the men's world). Some liken her to Forough Farokhzad (our taboo-breaking poet, who pulled the curtains from her body as a mother and as a lover through large volumes of poems--her writings focused on what it meant to be a female human.)

On the other hand, this image has dragged a lot of moralist (sexophobes) out of closet. Among the moralists, are those in an 'ethical uproar calling her a whore. Not all of such moralists are Islamists or IRI supporters. Iranians, by culture, are sexually very uptight and hold strange and strict views about "classy" female demeanor.

Another group of these moralists try to be 'apologetic', turning their eyes from the boobs and focus on the "innocent" eyes, chastising those who have been focusing on the breast and blaming them for being 'narrow minded and dirty' to have missed the eyes!

And then another group who doesn't take moralist position but supposedly feminist ones. I think those who are politicizing and glorifying the courage of Farahani's action are another kind of moralists. To them, naked female body is a sin; a source of sin UNLESS it has "higher" abstract and sacred objectives tied to the nation or collective causes. Ironically, the so called sociological excitement of many of these women stems from a shy acknowledgement of their own oppressed sexuality. Now in Golshifteh, they have a role-model to take pride in and thus she immediately turns into a Pride of Persia and gives these women a cause to fight for. The cause of 'supporting Golshifteh" allows them to express what they themselves have never had the courage to express before. The irony is that while acknowledging their PERSONAL lack of courage, they sill manage to blame the society for limiting them by flightening them of possible judgements.

Sadly, it is this group of self-diagnosed intellectuals who is creating an accidental-hero; carving a totem out of a PERSON, who herself was a PROP (and nothing more) in the mise-en-scene of an advertisement for the French Cinema. And because these people have tribunes and audiences, they run the risk of creating yet another superficial 'cult' without thinking it through.

But what part of this picture is wrong?

For me, the wrong originates from making the nude-female-body the sight of political action. To give power to a nude body is the same as if disempower a covered body. Politics that stem from covering or uncovering female body are both objectifying the female gender, by butting it in a sexual box. What makes it wronger to me is that it takes a cinema-actor's body to trigger courage in this group. Here is why:

Bodies that are aesthetised through lighting, and choreography of a video artist are not REAL bodies; they are actor bodies; and they are selected and put before our eyes because we as humans are 'programed' to respond to beauty in a (re)creational way. This is why sex sells, be it in movies, in computers, in books, or in politics. The artistically refined from of sex is eroticism, but the bottomline is the same, they are both FLESH, one is the big steak grilled on a super BBQ, the other one is a filet mignon prepared to perfection in a little cozy Bistro and served with creamy sauce and blanched greens. They are both nutritious, and have a right to exist and be sold for the consumption of people who choose one or the other based on their refinement and capital. Directors chose the subjects of their photo/cinematography in line with stories they want to tell. Or, if they are confined to a certain set of subjects, then they modify other aspects of photoshoot to create their story.

Advertisement videos are propaganda videos. It is the formalist nature of the production that necessitates loading and condensing a lot of messages within a short time slot. Advertisement videos are supposed to capture our thoughts and imaginations well beyond the time they are before our eyes. This is how successful video artists become successful, by holding us beyond the screen. And this is what the Revelation 2012 video does.

Let's look at it from a Non-Iranian's perspective. We see, in black and white, 31 film actors appear one after the other and talk about how they undress their soul and body before our gaze; some undress out of their top and some don't. The only one whose breasts are exposed to the camera is Farahani; the only one who doesn't speak herself, but whose voiceover suggests her "otherness" (why else would she give an image to your imagination?) is Farahani. The casting of Farahani as the ONLY one who reveals herself, as a muslim from Iran who is already banned from going back to her country for having shown her hair in public, is part of the directors's plot. It is to PROVOKE (as he successfully did, and I admire his work of art--it is clever). And he has chosen a perfect PROP for it. That is what actors are for directors. They are part of the mise-en-scene, and their success depends on how well they fulfill their role within the scenario. Then, if there is credit due for political activism, it is due to Cesar Academie who hired JB Mondino and nominated Farahani as part of the 31, not to Farahani. All the did was to say "yes", and as her body is NOT syndicated by the Iranian cinema community, she didn't necessarily need to give a damn about what her actions would have brought the Iranian cinema. This was an opportunity for her, and it would have been unfortunate if she had let fear stand before her and her chance to stardom.

So, discarding the notion that this was Farahani's political act (and settling for its professional motivation), a valid question to ask is, why the video and photos were released right after Golden Globe? The logical answer is that this is the big-award season, the media is buzzing with cinema's famous and fortunate and there is nothing so big to read from this. Fair! That is what the Cesar did; and in fact they have hidden the video from public access. But, Le Figaro is the one that raises suspicion: why did they select only 7/31 actor's photos for Le Figaro? Why did they remove Farahani's photo immediately? Was this part of her contract? What was the content of her contract? And what was the background of publishing the photos concurrent with the shining of Iranian Cinema, for the first time, in the American industry? A sleptic may ask, do the French, as the first explorers who discovered the Iranian Cinema, own the right to define it? What this a gesture to define the genre of Iranian Cinema that is in bed with France (of which Marjan Satrapi & Farahni are the "future hopes" now?) Irrespective of what the answer may be, none of this is related to Iran as much as it is related to how the French see/romanticize/theorize Iran.

Some Iranian intellectuals have gotten all excited that we are, by the evidence of an Iranian-Boob-on screen, one step closer to "westernization" and thus the inevitable liberation from our oriental limitations, shyness and gender hierachies that make us concede to patriarchic dictatorships! However, these 'progressive' views are disregarding that the female body, in the liberal democracies, more than being the site of politics, is the sight of economics. If anything, the "democratization" of female body has generated women who are suffering all sorts of stress-related disorders because they are forced to compete on equal grounds with men, while being fulltime women as well. The Iranian intellectuals, many of which are ardent women-right activists write florally about the flower (Gol) of the Sifteh (enchanted), generating a "political" role model from a cinematic BEAUTY, in a society whose women are increasingly vain (If you don't believe me watch an interesting documentary by Mehrdad Oskoui, Nose, Iranian Style, illustrating the cultural vanity of a generation whose young men and women subject themselves to expensive and painful plastic surgery in order to get "western" noses.) I wish these intellectuals, instead of taking pride and identifying themselves with Farahani, took their own shirts off, before a normal lens, and a non-professional, and allowed their bodies speak with all their perfections and imperfections, sending clear messages, like the Ghoratoleyn of Persia, or Aalia of Egypt, and not the Marianne of France, giving an image to their imagination, thanks to the vision of French Cinema.

A POLITICAL act by an actor (one drawing attention to a cause) could take the form of:
- taking clothes off to protest war, and explicitly saying so
- taking clothes off to protest Iranian regime preventing the imprisoned lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh see her family because she refused to wear the prison's coverall veil, and explicitly saying so
- taking clothes off to protest the lashing of the women who are in line to be stoned for adultery, and explicitly saying so
- taking off clothes and staring to the camera and addressing, in PERSIAN, Iranian men who meddle in what their women wear
- taking off clothes and instead of hiding behind the 'cause' of "breaking taboos", stare directly into a Journalist's camera and saying: THIS IS MY BODY, and I have the right to sell it as an actor, as a surrogate mother, as a prostitute, as someone who nourishes dreams and desires. It is none of anyone's concern what a woman or man does to her/his body. (Now that WILL break several taboos simultaneously... a revolutionary act that would deserve respect.)

I still don't know what taboo Farahani has broken. What is so special about an Iranian-boob showing off to a French cinema? It is not like she has shown off her breasts in a Paris-produced film by Makhmalbaf or Kiarostami. It is not like she has acted in the role of an Iranian woman in a story told by a master narrator like Farhadi. There is NOTHING Iranian in the video Revelation, other than the passport and the genetic pool of the actress.

Ms Farahani has not exhibited ANY political wisdom ... she has been an actor, just a simple actor, not even taking a risk, au contraire taking the safe and logical step towards her career development. The RISK would have been to shoot these photos on her own, independent of the French-Cinema institutions ... She is just an actress, not a political leader--until she starts running for some kind of Iranian office/vote. And this is her personal business to appear before any camera she wants, it is not my national one.

United for Peace: meet the Iranian faces of America

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Staged 'activism' of Golshifteh Farahani or Media Opportunism of the 'spontaneous generation'?

Golshifteh Farahani, the 29 year old Iranian actress has appeared (together with 31 other young actors) before the camera of the fashion photographer and video artist Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

- A photo series called Espoirs 2012, Génération Spontanée that was published in Le Figaro's Madam section, featuring 7 of these actors (including Golshifteh Farahani) [post-script: her picture was removed within hours].

- A "propaganda/publicity" video, called "Revelation 2012, Corps et Ames. On the surface, the video pretends to destigmatize the images of body, across cultures and borders. Actors are mostly French (judged by names) and there are a handful of Middle Easterners. They all speak French on camera, except Golshifteh, whose voice is edited over her picture while dropping her shirt exposing her right breast.

The on-camera lines (and Farhani's voiceover) of Mondino's video 'promote' freedom of body and soul, in nudity, in unity with oneself, decidedly entering chaos and controversy, to exercise a right ... but the main objective of this advertisement is to introduce the acting "hopes" of the French Cinema in 2012, a point that is also made explicitly on the video.

Revelation 2012 is NOT a political video (although all video-ads are guided by the cinematic rules of propaganda that provides them a political potential as well). However, many Iranians have jumped to praise or chastise Golshifteh for the suggested politics of this ad (which is riding the waves generated by the 'post-Alia breastologists'!).

As all things Iranian, it takes only a few "Persian genes" to make any individual's act into a political one. As such, the nude presence of Golshifteh Frahani has been pulled out of its proper context and turned into a sociopolitical cause for cyber-uproar (and anti-uproar, by those who are drawing attention to the increasing pressure from the regime on activists and researchers in the wake of the parliametry election in Iran).

The sexually oppressed and depressed Iranian community is jumping on their pontification horses as I am writing:

- some are praising the "innocence" of this "courageous" representative of "Iranian women" in contrast to the 'dirtiness' of those who observe the Islamic Hijab
- some are raving about her taboo-breaking exercise
- some are in awe of her controversial bravery and, like spectators of a bull fight, are betting over some Islamic fundamentalist outrage
- some are scolding her tarnishing the image of the Iranian Woman (who is supposedly modest and mysterious and asexual)
- some are making jokes and parodies and predicting some of Iran's fundamentalist filmmakers will soon appear naked on a publicity video
- some are discussing the aesthetics and are drooling over the fact that a famous photographer has depicted her, HENCE, they claim, this must be a Michelangelian work of art!
- some are loathing her opportunism, and calling her act "business as usual in the show industry"
- some are silently WORRIED about the Iranian Cinema and concerned (and angry) about the ramifications of this publicity stunt for the independent filmmakers of Iran.

I fall in the last two categories. In what follows, I will explain why I am disappointed with her 'choice'; and next I explain why I do not consider her act one out of political conscience.

Golshifteh Frahani is a beautiful girl. She embodies the "classical" Persian beauty; and as such she owes her opportunities to her God-given gift of beauty more than to her talent as an actor, singer, or artist (even when she sings, she sounds mediocre to me). Of course, to have come from a family of theater/cinema artists (France-educated father, mother and sister) and to have been set in the path of learning music since early age, helps anyone in the show business.

Her first screen-break came with (cinema master) Mehrjui's 'The Pear Tree'. In this film, the 15 year old Golshifteh plays the role of a teenager tomboy, who appears in the memory flashbacks of a middle aged man who has returned from abroad to revisit his family and his past.

Somehow, this image of slightly "dreamy" tomboy beautiful young girl is a formula for success in Iranian cinema (it is a projection of liberty and equality which Iranian girls seek in the society) and Golshifteh has had her share of luck by embodying this image by appearing in several notable films.

The reason why I am frustrated by the controversy over her pseudo-nude picture comes from tracing her active attention-seeking traits in the past few year.

One of the (internationally) notable films of Farahani is "About Elly (2009)" by the 2012-Golden Globe winner of the best foreign film (A Separation), Asghar Farhadi. "About Elly" is a psychological thriller about a group of friends on a weekend retreat in the Northern coast of Iran. The film was a narrative breakthrough in the Iranian Cinema, as it departed from the political/poetic neorealist Iranian genre. About Elly put Farhadi on the radar of international cinephiles. The film won him the Silver Bear of the Berlin Film Festival for best director and was lauded at NYC's Tribeca. However, because of Miss Farahani, the Iranian regime banned the film from appearing in Iran's 27th Fajr Film Festival--a festival that despite all political skepticism can launch a director's national career, or at least help their film producers recuperate their investment in the local box office.

The reason for banning About Elly was that the lead actress, Golshifteh Farahani, was contracted by Hollywood to appear against Leonardo diCaprio in the Body of Lies. To join Hollywood is a deliberate affront to the Islamic Regime's ministry of guidance, and a guarantee that the actor or actress will lose all legitimacy in the face of the Iranian censors. For her 'disobedience', About Elly was also to be punished (a decision that was later reversed and gained Farhadi sweeping success in the Fajr Festival), Farahani's passport was confiscated (mainly to prevent her from appearing n another blockbuster, Prince of Persia). Banning About Elly and preventing Farahani from leaving Iran gave the young actress sufficient publicity to launch her asylum-case and acting career abroad. Soon, the controversies about her travel ban died out and she emerged in Hollywood as an artist in exile!

That Farahani's new (read nude) "fame" coincides with Farhadi's Golden Globe victory is ironic! It is ironic because the Iranian cinema community were hoping that the international fame of Farhadi will put pressure on the Iranian regime to lift sanctions and pressure they have recently imposed on Iranian cinematographer (e.g. by closing the House of Cinema--a case about which Farhadi has publicly spoken). This hope, is now vanished, thanks to the lovely French whose progressivism, be it Foucault or Figaro, don't seem to leave us Iranians alone!

The reason why I focus on the case of Farhadi/Farahani is that in this age of "media persuasion" is it critically important to be aware of how different media-devices interact with each other. If contextualized as such, then acts and images of actors extend beyond the private realm and become political. Once things become political, time is of the primary essence. It is the 'timing' of Farahani's nudity vis a vis Farhadi's Hollywood success that frustrates me. [Note that Farhadi's been successful in the eyes of the world even before Hollywood nodded at him, he IS a good filmmaker, with or without Hollywood paying attention.]. Farahani's breasts have stolen the spotlight from A Separation! [post-script: until some White House official congratulated Farhadi for getting short-listed for an Oscar nomination!! What the hell do politicians have to do with artistic cinema of Iran TOTALLY baffles me!]

The other (and related) point to pay attention to is that Golshifteh Farahani's act is NOT a political one by her design or 'activist' wisdom. In such publicity affairs, it is more likely that Farahani is "selected" or "promoted by her managers" to appear in a video for Cesar et Chaumet (the French equivalent of Oscar's). What Iranians who are jumping the 'intellectual and feminist' horses need to know is that she has not initiated the video, she has not directed it, she has not written the script. She is just one eye-candy out of 31; selected by the merits of her beautiful face, her public presence in internationally released films such as Body of Lies and Poulet Aux Prunes and her exotic 'foreignness' that considering the content of the video promises the French Cinema in 2012 to be provocative, agitating Islamic sensitivities (tied to an actress who is banished by the IRI for showing her hair).

If I were a cineast, I would be dumb to not take advantage of Golshifteh in this age of cinematic Iranophilia. (A recent example is a new book The Directory of World Cienma: Iran, which has the picture of Farahani on the cover--without her meriting a significant place in the Iranian Cinema.) It seems, someone has done a market research, has looked at the hit-statistics on internet and has come to a conclusion that Farahani's image gets attention and sells!

Within this context, if I were Farahani, I should have exercised a LOT of restraint, and POLITICAL AWARENESS to have said NO to such a lucrative offer. She was given a golden opportunity, and she took it without the slightest concern about the ramifications of her decision for the Iranian Cinema, INSIDE Iran. She didn't have to. We don't live our lives for others. But I try to explain why she SHOULD have given a damn!

A few months ago, several Iranian female actors wrote an angry open letter in response to one of those ugly (anti)cultural official filmmakers (Farajollah Salahshoor) who had said: The Iranian cinema is full of female whores, we don't need to recruit Angelina Jollie to be profitable. Clearly, the image of women on screen, which has been a major player in forming the post-patriarchic psychology of the Iranian society is under assault these days. The choice of Golshifteh to appear nude with certainly be fanning the flames of censorship in Iran. It will inevitably BURN many a female figures on the silver screen.

You might say that the Iranian regime is a worthless entity that must be challenged and toppled. The problem, however, is that it is not only the draconiamn Iranian regime (who is going ahead with execution a Canadian Iranian man on allegations of having set up a porno website) that has an issue with a nude Iranian on screen. Unfortunately, many Iranians, even opponents of the IRI, are sexually uptight and consider a nude female a cultural affront to the figure of Persian Women who is supposedly 'pious' and 'pure'.

Funnily, MANY people who were trying to 'defend' Farahani's choice were drawing attention to her 'innocent and pure eyes' [as opposed to her 'dirty' breasts ?!?]. What made it funny was that these people were willfully overlooking the sensual gaze of Farahani and the deeply enunciated voiceover: "I embody your dreams", which puts to rest any doubt that she (and the French cinema industry] IS (and will be) cashing on her sex-appeal. Such comments from Iranians, even the proponents of Farahani's choice and the Anti-regime folks, reflect how uncomfortable Iranians are with any sexual discourse.

Now in such anti-cinematic political environment inside Iran and within the realm of Iran's sexual psychology, taking a shirt off on a video will inevitably generate a political discourse that will hit the cinema without making a dent in the century's old national psychology. Whether Farhani's right breast is a good thing for the future of female-emancipation (assuming Iranian women need such emancipation) is debatable (but this is not where I want to debate it). However, many Iranian cinephiles are holding their breath awaiting the damage that this act of Farahani will exact on the already fragile body of Iranian Cinema.

I belong to this group of concerned cinema lovers who think this choice was a self-serving practice that lacked collective conscience. Although, as a woman, I respect the rights of anyone who wish to be nude at whatever level of sexual or sensual exhibitionism. I do not believe in 'purity' of anti-sexualism.

If Farahani issues a statement that she has appeared before the camera as an individual WITHOUT claiming any national-ambassadorship or political agenda, I will respect her. But, in a connected world, as a member of a film-family, as someone who owes her fame and fortune to this resilient and beautiful family that the Iranian Cinema community is, she has done something highly undemocratic and self-serving, without discussing or putting to vote her intentions.

Part of democratic exercise is that we move collectively, for common political goals. I consider her choice a deviation from that principle, and as such I would personally cast her aside from the Iranian Cinema community.

It is ironic, in the few films that I have seen of her, she is playing the role of a slightly 'off', impressionable yet stubborn little kid who falls in circumstantial trouble, following an 'impulse' or in reaction to some form of pressure. It is perhaps not a coincidence that Le Figaro publishes her photo among a series of "Generation Spontanee" ... I consider her act a spontaneously impulsive case of opportunism, and a reactionary one as far as political readings are concerned.

P.S. In a facebook note, someone noted that it is only Golshifteh who exposes her breast, and that even when 'utilized' as a provocative prop by the french photographer, se is treated with the 'tender' discrimination extended to the "exotic" other ... what a SHARP observation.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Raising death toll: the nuclear physicist victims

Today, another physicist is blasted up, by a magnetic car bomb.

This makes the number of science victims to 5. Here's a list, in chronological order.

  1. Wednesday 11 Jan 2012, car bomb kills Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, 32, and the director for commecial affairs at the Natanz enrichment facility. According to Huffington post, yesterday, Israeli military chief Gen Benny Gantz was quoted saying to a parliamentry panel that "2012 would be a "critical year" for Iran – in part because of "things that happen to it unnaturally."
  2. 24 July 2011, biker assassins gunned down Dariush Rezai, 35, and injured his wife. Confusion remains whether the target of the killing was the 35 years old PhD candidate, or the 46 year old professor; Haaretz reports.
  3. Jan 12 2010, car bomb kills Masoud AliMohammadi, 50, A senior Physics professor; apparently an opponent of the government. Controversies over the Mossad link remain unresolved.
  4. 29 Nov 2010, car bomb kills Majid Shahriari (Accoridng to Huffington Post and NYT, this attack came a day after the release of internal U.S. State Department memos by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, including several that vividly detail Arab fears over Iran's nuclear program. A concurrent attempt on the life of Fereydoon Abbasi was unsuccessful.
  5. 15 Jan 2007, Ardeshir Hosseinpour, nuclear scientist dies from suspicious gas poisoning

I find it interesting that three of thse assassinations have happened in 15, 12 and 11th of January.

The latest attack (Jan 2012) comes five days after Iran officially announced intention to resume negotiations with the group of 6 over its nuclear program.