November 29, 1999
So far as procrastination is concerned, there has not been a more powerful
tool invented. I read your article ["The
search"] with some interest as I, like many other young products
of our time, have been coming to grips with assorted questions of identity.
Although your article read well, it sounded more like an introduction
to a thesis (a long-winded abstract perhaps) than a sharp inquisitive
article. You suggest a hypothesis, which although sounds trendy is hard
to define or justify, and then you fail to refer to it again.
However, your observations about some of the cultural paradoxes that
we have to deal with are more or less accurate : "Let me give you
a vague introduction to who we have turned out to be: We like A Tribe
Called Quest and ghormeh sabzi, we smoke pot (but don't tell our parents)
and we are bad at taarof but still understand it. We feel ... If we speak
Farsi, it includes a jumbled cascade of English words and our accents
belie the lack of access we have had to Iran."
So far as Iranianness is concerned, again you have raised an interesting
point with little substance to follow. Inherent in the idea of a society
is the acceptance of variety and diversity. To that end even in the migrant
population, we have the equivalent of bazaaries, if you like, who predominantly
perpetuate a certain set of rituals and mentalities rather than a mind
set and at the other end of the spectrum the educated who insist on a
thorough education about one's routes and one's culture without regard
for rituals. Of course among these poles we do count those who are ashamed
of calling themselves Iranians (usually as a result of their parents'
hang ups and ignorance about their own culture and identity).
So with that in mind there is no specific handbook for being an Iranian
or an exiled Iranian. However what you have failed to grasp here is that
there is a pervasive pattern in each set which is easily defined based
on various parameters including socioeconomic background, education and
alike. So as you see, in most cases there is a predictable pattern of
behavior which is governed by the competing and dominant forces in an
Dariush Rafaei, PhD