Write for The Iranian
Editorial policy

October 2001

Astrology, according to the German literary critic, Walter Benjamin, is a degenerate version of a body of ancient knowledge from times when the mimetic faculty, being far stronger, allowed real, imitative correspondences between the lives of human beings and the movements of the stars. In 1932 Benjamin claimed that only children preserve and respond to the world with a comparable mimetic power.

But if there is one thing this September's horrors have proven, it is that our grasp of life, even our response to human tragedy, is by and large a reflection of what we have seen on the screen, in fact, in the movements of our movie stars. With that in mind, I have divined a reading to help you envision your mimetic place in the plot of an unsettling universe.

Fereydoun Geyrani's film Red (Ghermez, 2000), the color of love and of crimson blood, sets the scene: This is the story of a nurse (Hasti, played by Hedyeh Tehrani) who wants to divorce her deranged, paranoid, wealthy husband and chelo-kababi owner (Nasir, played by Mohammad Reza Foroutan) on the grounds of his abusive behavior at home. Mme Bayaz

Farvardin: Aries

Put yourself in the place of the bright red lipstick Hasti (Hedyeh Tehrani) picks out to put on her lips with her veiled back to the camera. The lipstick never shows up on her lips, because laws prohibit that sort of immodesty on screen. Yet, the lipstick leaves its marks on the coffee cup Tehrani drinks from as she awaits the return of her murderous husband (Mohammad Reza Foroutan) one late night towards the end of the film. The cup may fall to the ground with a hasty move, but your trace, the trace of the Hollywood femme fatal, remains.

Ordibehesht: Taurus

You, Taurus, you are the horrifying basement in which the drama resolves itself. You hold the vessels, the ropes and the metal bars that both decorate the dark scene and allow Hasti (Tehrani) to escape the brother and sister team, Nasir (Foroutan) and Monir, who, having witnessed their father's paranoid and vengeful acts at home, act out their own violence on the body of Tehrani. Imagine yourself, however terrifying the scene, as the grounding space of action and the space of resolution and compassion. For here we, as audience (well, with the exception of the Sagittarians), understand that Nasir's violence stems not from his evil mind, but from the trauma meted out to him as a child by the father.

Khordad: Gemini

Imagine yourself the picture-perfect mate. You're Nasir. You give Hasti everything: A cell phone, a car and the deed to the multilevel home. You love her. Who could resist her? You hate her. Who wouldn't? She can't be owned. You buy her food and decorate the house with expensive imitation Queen Anne furniture. You pick out her clothes for her. Why should she want to go out to shop? Why would she need to select her own furniture? Why would she have to have friends when she has you? Aren't you enough? Isn't your love enough? If you can't have her, why shouldn't you kill her? Because she may kill you!

Tir: Cancer

In the film you, Cancer, play the role of the conservative and concerned uncle, who advises his precious beautiful niece, Hasti (Tehrani), to stick with Nasir (Foroutan). After all, every girl is looking for a man with money. A man who can give her everything she wants including a black eye. What's more, you'll argue: "Nasir loves you (Hasti) enough to accept your young daughter (Tala) into his home." As the uncle, you will turn a blind eye to the black and blue and red marks that cover Tehrani's face throughout the film and insist that she make up with Foroutan and be like every other (good) girl. That's avuncular love for you.

Mordad: Leo

There are scenes in which the tune "Ahsagham man, Ashegam man" ("I am in love! I am in love!") becomes the driving force of the plot and here is where you come in, Leo. The first introduction of the tune is when Nasir (Foroutan) and Hasti (Tehrani) "resolve" their differences and celebrate their first anniversary. Foroutan invites his family to the event and brings on a musician friend who sings the song accompanied by his acoustic guitar. As he sings, Tehrani hugs her daughter, Tala, closer to her and is the perfectly lit embodiment of Madonna with child. Look at them! Look at what you induce! The tune (you, that is) appears twice more on the sound track: Foroutan plays it to Tehrani from a vinyl over their "last dinner" before the "divorce," as the camera captures close-ups of the tearful couple. The song also plays on a tape recorder as Tehrani anxiously awaits her fugitive husband's return after the murder of his own sister in the basement scene. You end the movie, too, but I won't tell you how...

Shahrivar: Virgo

I've mentioned your presence elsewhere, Virgo, and it is the convergence of "multiple stars" that suggests this "lap dissolve" with other signs...So I bid you wisely to study theirs carefully. Not that you wouldn't Stars are what guide your movements everyday...Your choppy glance as you approach the couple's home and your intense close-ups on Tehrani's tearful and anxious face inter-cut with the desperate, mournful face of the paranoid husband, suggest a confusion of sorts. Let me explain the source of this confusion... Though at times your glance seems to be embodied by the child- onlooker, Tala, at other times you're clearly associating your visual being with Foroutan's murderous paranoid glance. This brings me to yet another convergence or lap-dissolve...the one that you make with the Libra...

Mehr: Libra

Your presence in the film, Libra, suggests the generational flow of violence noted briefly in Virgo's reading this week as well as the entries for Taurus and Gemini. For the basic lesson of the film is not what certain elements of the audience, namely the warrior-like Sagittarians honed in on (I'll let you figure that out on your own). The basic lesson of the film is that violence breeds violence. And that neither Monir nor Nasir's violence towards Hasti can be blamed entirely on the inherent evil nature of the brother and sister team, nor on their hatred, jealousy or sense of family honor. Their paranoia and predisposition to violence, is exactly that... a predisposition: Their violence is inherited and learned from a violent and paranoid, though wealthy father. You are what flows from one generation to the next and awareness of what flows is, in this case, the basic lesson.

Aban: Scorpio

As the large kitchen knife and the representation of food in the film both, Scorpio, you are the complex sign that brings together the family and friends of the troubled household. You also signal the descent of the film into further acts of violence. The lasagna that Monir cooks for Tehrani and Foroutan's last meal together, is probably as contaminated as the valium-stirred Coke she offers to Tehrani's kidnapped and knocked out daugther, Tala. The "ghormeh sabzi" that the uncle and the journalist couple eat at a cozy dinner at Tehrani's, also suggests the last meal before the fugitive killer's return home. And the knife, of course, is ready to cut anything, including a jab in the already bleeding heart of the husband played by Foroutan. As a complex sign, you cut both ways, Scorpio. Remember that on its side a knife, however sharp, can smooth over the icing, too.

Azar: Sagittarius

When the film was initially shown on the screens in Tehran, Iranians showed the depth of their love and devotion to both Tehrani and Foroutan by rushing to the theatres. Amongst the masses that stormed the theatres with their enthusiasm for an Iranian horror flick, was one group made up of the warrior Sags...that would be youYou make up the protesting group of nurses that claimed that Tehrani's character, Hasti, had defamed their profession. You fought against an unreal enemy, like Herodotus' soldiers fighting fierce winds with fierce spears. You wanted the film removed from the theatres, Sagittarius. You're the funny sort. Did you consider how a proprietor of a chelo-kababi may have affected our taste for a national food with every blow of the cane to that nurse's body?

Dey: Capricorn

You play a minor role this time, Capricorn. You're Hamid, the head nurse in the hospital where Hasti works. You're a lover and you've been in love with her. You still make excuses to call her at home, to exchange shifts, innuendoes and kind, though unsupportive words. You're the source of Nasir's jealousy, or so he says. You're what she has to rid herself of for him to be happy. Or so he says She tells you she wants an unpaid leave to preserve peace in her family. As you stare at her violently marked face, you tell her she's needed at the hospital and that you're unable to give her time off. When she comes back to the hospital, you eventually give her her job back, asking her cruelly if her husband has approved of her return. No, you're not much of a player here. But, ironically, the action revolves around you.

Bahman: Aquarius

Split between two characters you are two of the most important elements of the film, Aquarius. The two characters you are, is the journalist husband and wife team that covers divorce in the divorce court, calling out divorce statistics as the women approach the judge's door. The wife is the writer with the voice recorder, the husband, the photographer. Sound and Image, you are the two elements of film. The two parts, that seemingly on Hasti's side, always let her down. You, the dual you, keep insisting that she keep divorce rates down and stay with her man. Even in the end, when one body is slaughtered in the basement and another scarred, you believe the uncle's optimistic tale that Hasti and Nasir have overcome their differences and are on their way home. Is this naïve duality that you want to be, this month?

Esfand: Pisces

You are the law this month, Pisces, the obnoxious presence in the film that dictates that a battered, educated, woman should stay with her twisted, uneducated, jealous and utterly useless husband. She should leave her job as a nurse, you say, if the husband so demands. Are you the embodiment of justice when you come to the aid of the poor woman only when a sibling's body is left to rot in a forgotten, moldy cellar somewhere under the roof of a house built by the wealthy but abusive father? Only when the batterer is a fugitive of your warped sense of justice, will you agree to a divorce that may have saved something quite precious life. With a sigh, my palms open and lifted to the stars, I bat my eyes, cock my head and say to you: "And what is a girl to do?"

To contact Madame Bayaz write to:

Some useful terms

Chelo-kabab: A traditional Iranian dish of meat and rice
Chelo-kababi: A traditional Iranian restaurant
Ghormeh-sabzi: An Iranian stew made with parsley and served with rice

Comment for The Iranian letters section



SATIRE Horrorscope :o)

Flower delivery in Iran
Copyright © All Rights Reserved. Legal Terms for more information contact:
Web design by BTC Consultants
Internet server: Global Publishing Group