Baba was depressed
collective neurosis shared by all of us
July 24, 2003
Looking at the Baba
Taher poetry adorning the pages
of Iranian.com these days, I can't help but wonder about good
old Taher's state of mental health in 10th century Hamedan. Was
he really suicidal or it's just my imagination?
Behold my awful translation of this
How joyful is the day that a tight grave is my bed
With clay, mud, and stone as pillows to rest my head
If that isn't
a cry for Prozac, then I don't know what would be. Baba Taher's
poetry is rife with cries of loneliness and despair:
Oh lord, heed the laments of my heart
You are the lonely one and so am I
They say Taher is without friends
God is my friend, no need for others
Lonely, antisocial, suicidal, and naked. I bet he
didn't have much of an appetite either, with minimal sex drive,
nights too. If and only
if they knew about Serotonin in those days.
If only instead of discovering
alcohol, Zakaria Razi had come up with the family of drugs known as Serotonin
Reuptake Inhibitors, or SRI's for short. These drugs, in as little as a month,
regulate the flow of Serotonin between brain cells, and, BAM!, feelings of
loneliness and despair are gone.
Oh, what a beautiful morning
what a wonderful
have a beautiful feeling
everything's going my way
But that didn't
happen. We produced generations upon generations of depressed
people, every other one
a poet, all introverted and all involved in their worlds within, oblivious
to the objective realities in their surrounds.
As Salm and Tur came and pillaged
and burned, we wrote poetry and never exited the house. We created
the largest volume of literature the world has ever seen.
When the pillagers had gone, we stood atop the rubbles and recited our verses.
We proclaimed our greatness to the four corners of the world. Look at us, we
said. "Behold the rhythm and the rhyme, you ignorant Children of Adam."
Taher was but one of thousands who left their marks on the ravaged landscape
that is Iranian-ness, that is the
collective neurosis shared by all of us.
Maybe next time we will talk
about the manic-depressive Sufi from Konya.
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