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    September 23, 1999


The article "Lamentations of Laleh Khalili" is mortifying because it strives to be so. It perpetuates itself through gyrations from "Messianic" time to Modern, from identity to an identity-in-absence. It is very much emblematic of the writer's desire to conquer both worlds in a single sweep, to go beyond "both" and "with" at once. In fact, Mahdavi thinks himself post-everything, nationalism, modernism, tradition, capitalism, Print, King.

A veritable "prophet of skepticism', Mahdavi is under the spell of a language which he hates to love so much ­ and glorifies as a result. His obsession with capitalism, the exaggerated posturing with which he embellishes his voiced opposition, must give something away. He is out there to save himself from the imaginary Leviathan that he has helped create. The language of Mahdavi never leaves the ground of yet another lamentation. A darker picture of reality is not possible. It is determinism of a supreme kind, where man is surrounded by a "gelatinous" mass constantly in the process of disappearance. Where identities can only be found in their wanting. Perhaps he is a rebel without cause, but also a warrior who has relinquished his weapon. Nothingness itself is where he wants to milk his reality.

What little he has read he has picked up from the very medium he is now set out to expose. The Print has given him the vomitory with which he can flash across our sidereal sky. He is not ready to understand that his effusions are part of that very stuff that moves intellectuals left and right into thinking that there is a chip on their shoulder. He may have a bash at capitalism at the expense of Khalili, but he is still faced with the impossibility of leaving the capitalist morass ­ because he is PART OF THAT HYPERREALITY he has tried so hard to deconstruct for us.

We live in imagined communities. There have always been communities, imaginary or not. There is no need to think beyond that. Those writing for the Iranian or participating in its discussions have that bonding which happens to be colored by their (imagined or not) identity as Iranians. They designate topics and forums; they form movements and a sense of concrete community. We are talking about itinerant philosophers, high-minded lawyers, desolate poets, occasional by passers who are happy to express their individuality and post their concerns and predicaments.

There is no need for high-flown language whose sole aim is to expose foundations, only to surpass itself in the act of doing so. This is a small community. Even if there are those who appreciate the tone and language, the majority doesn't get beyond so much as the first few lines of Mahdavi's verbiage. Lets forget who we are or who we have been, as Mahdavi would have us, but let us not forget how little we are. Man has left the realm of gods to gods, but he still finds himself subject to a predicament that can, and all-too-often-does, inspire him with awe.


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