Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What do you mean by "the Iranian regime"?

This post is motivated by a (non-Iranian) friend of mine lecturing me on the significance of a Queer and Feminist protest in front of an Ismaili-funded research institution, with the aim to help liberate some poor woman who is rotting in some Iranian jail on the charges of enabling the anti-sharia feminists. She, who I suspect knows close to nothing about Iran, talked about "the regime" in such a tone as if she knew all that there was to know about "the regime".

Listening to war and destruction, brought about to Syria and Iraq, by these good-willing anti-war war-enabling "regime"-fighting activists, I was compelled to offer some opinion--which I am sure in her righteous academic mind, she did not pay any attention to. But so be it. Here are my thoughts:

On the weekend, I talked to my best friend on the phone and she asked me about Iran (which I recently visited). I told her what I had seen (I will make a separate post about that). She told me that no one who comes back from Iran ever tells her any of what i told her. She said that everyone just talks about the latest like-America-mall; or super-luxury-gyms, and women dressing this or that way--restaurants and more restaurants. 

I do know how much time expats visiting Iran do (not) have; I know the tendency to seek "evidence" for 'oh Iran is becoming just like Europe, it's not all Muslims and mullah's'; I know the _colonized_ mind of many educated Iranians who simultaneously take pride in traditions of 2500 years ago but want to act post-modern; while being wired by a Shiite (slightly ir-rational) culture, and configured by chaos and entropy (which they hate, but also thrive in). I also know the particular 'class' of Iranians that one is likely to meet outside Iran--they are not average Joes. 

I also know that when I go to Iran, I do not seek that which is 'fun' and 'modern'; but that which remains broken, volatile, ancient, and salient, that which dominates the below-surface of "modernity, Iranian style." I go there as my own reporter, my own journalist, and I talk talk talk talk to as many people as I can about as many topics as I can; and because I have the privilege of walking through all levels of social strata, I think my observations are out of the box. I always get to the heart of things which I am passionate about, in order to be able to see them from outside the box. Perhaps this is why this blog was once one of the best Iran-analysis blogs--and I have slowed down because this was becoming a source for those who seek sob-stories out of everything that comes from Iran. Also because of those calls to contribution and interviews about topics which I felt I was unqualified to comment on.

From a rational perspective that branches over the box where my roots are emotionally deep, I like to suggest to non-Iranians to seriously "pause" when they want to talk about the Iranian "regime" as an abstract interpretation of something that is fundamentally different from and diametrically opposed to the people of Iran. I hate to say, "they are not." This is not to say people don't hate the 'regime' and that the 'regime' doesn't screw the people, but the relations are of the kind of a father and child who abuse and hate each other, respectively, and yet share a lot of hereditary features. This mode of separation is too simplistic and if history is a good judge (e.g. from the havoc we see in Iraq and Syria) it often leads to counterproductive acts of benevolence: e.g. bombing Iraq to annihilation in order to free people from the madman Saddam. This "regime" in Iran, is something like the 1% of America--everyone hates them, and no one acknowledges the fact that that 1% is borne out of their own collective cultural desires. 

Can you take the 'potential' to reach the TOP from the American psyche? You can't take it out of the Persian psyche either. This regime, like the previous one, like the one before that, like that of Cyrus the Great aspires to be the ultimate representative of the Divine on earth. In every Rumi poem that you love, beats a desire to become a god. The "regime" in Iran, is the manifestation of the dynamics of power, necessitated by the geopolitical reality of the place where it has come to exist. And trust me, it exists against adversity that is unimaginable to those who have not had to dig 35,000 kilometers worth of Qanats to bring water from mountains to live, to survive for at least 7000 years. This regime is a living, breathing, plastic beast, not a totem to worship or to break. This beast is brutal, and slow, and as adaptive as a seven-headed serpent. You need to tame it with the wisdom of the land and history which have given it birth, not with the wisdom of the human-like gods of the Olympus.

And whatever you do, don't bother "toppling" it. Just go to a coffee shop in the heart of protesting-tehran, and have a cup of coffee with some of those green-revolutionaries, and hear their content to be living in a safe and bomb-free city when all else around them is blasting in random intervals. Yes, some of those are praying for the current leader to never die! And no, when they execute some 'rebels', people look away. Safety before human rights ... A tough bite to swallow, ... I know.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Goodbye Kiarostami: The man of LIFE AND NOTHING BUT.

I never wrote about him ...
I wrote about Mehrjui, and about Baizai, but not about him because the world had already discovered him when I learned to write in English.

I discovered him when I was a renegade 18-year old poet and skipped my Electrical Engineering classes, to snuggle in the back of the Cinemas Asre-Jadid (Modern Times), near my university and to discover cinema with Tarkovsky and the opposite of Tarkovsky, Kiarostami, in repeat viewing of  HomeworkWhere Is the Friend's Home? and Close-Up . 

I left Iran around that time, and his films did not leave me alone. Omnipresent in international festivals, Kiarostami and a wave of alike films out of Iran, became the rope of cultural pride to which I clung, as an immigrant from the unwanted country of Iran ...

And Kiarostami, his films, his depth, his peace, his gaze is responsible, single handedly responsible for putting The Iranian New Wave on the map of the world cinema. I never wrote about him, because the world was busy writing about him and about many of his students, such as Jafar Panahi. But if it were not these filmmakers, if their proactive debunking of all the falsehood the world media is capable of feeding innocent minds, I am convinced, Iran will not have been living the peace which was taken from its less culturally-active neighbors.

Kiarostami ,,, the man who refused to acknowledge the violence in world, and in the midst of pain and agony, death and rubble, talked and saw LIFE AND NOTHING ELSE.(*)

Thank you and so long ...

Tears don't stop ...

The Experience 1973
The Traveler 1974
So Can I 1975
Two Solutions for One Problem 1975
Colors, 1976
A Wedding Suit, 1976
Report 1977
First Case, Second Case 1979
Toothache 1980
Orderly or Disorderly 1981
 The Chorus 1982 
The Key 1987
Homework. 1989
Close-Up 1990
The Journey  1995 (for Panahi) 
The White Balloon 1995 (for Panahi) 
ABC Africa 2001
Ten 2002 
Five, 2003
10 on Ten 2004 
Shirin 2008

Monday, January 11, 2016

Iranian News Agencies React: "The LEGENDARY David Bowie passed away"

One wouldn't expect that the official Iranian News Agencies be reacting to the passing of a bisexual British artist. Indeed IRNA and ISNA didn't,  but the most conservative news outlet in Iran, FarsNews, did.

Fars News even sounded revealingly about the timeless artists:  "Davie Bowie, the famous British musician passed away." "According to the music reporter of the Fars News, David Bowie, the famous musician, singer, composer and actor who had a remarkable impact in in Rock music world, dies after a long struggle with Cancer, at the age of 69." It then refers to the 2002 ranking of David Bowie in the chart of the 100 great Brits (29), and Rolling Stone's top 100, 39, and the 100 greatest rock singers (23).

ILNA, the Labour's reporting agency is also covering the news with the title 
"The legendary David Bowie passed away". It talks about Bowie's "peaceful death after a courageous battle with cancer" and introduces the album BlackStar, which was released on his birthday on Friday and was met with critical acclaim. The report then provides a quick biography, refers to the same rankings as Fars News and ends by referring to Bowie's fashion and hairstyle as an important inspiration to the wolrd of music. 

And here, the official news agency Mehr News doesn't assume that someone may not know DAvid Bowie, and titles: "David Bowie Passed away at 69."

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Saudis versus ISIS: Better-Dressed Jihadis

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. 

In a recent exclusive for the Consortium News, he writes:

For generations, U.S. officials have averted their eyes from Saudi Arabia’s grotesque monarchy – which oppresses women, spreads jihadism and slaughters dissidents – in a crude trade-off of Saudi oil for American weapons and U.S. security guarantees. It is a deal with the devil that may finally be coming due. 
The increasingly undeniable reality is that the Saudis along with other oil sheikhs are the biggest backers of Al Qaeda and various terrorist groups – helping these killers as long as they spread their mayhem in other countries and not bother the spoiled playboys of the Persian Gulf.

and asks

Will Official Washington’s dominant neocon/liberal-interventionist claque continue to protect the Saudis who have built a regional alliance of convenience with Israel over their shared hatred of Iran?