What would Rumi say?
Persian in the post-911 world
September 28, 2004
Confront your choice of a sophisticated
literature professor at any reputable university in the States
and it is almost a guaranteed that he or she will praise the value
of the Persian language and its powerful presence in literature.
Good Farsi, excluding "kitchen Farsi" or "Finglish", is
the all encompassing melodic language that has at once thrilled
and inspired many great writers. The British prided themselves
on translating Persian poetry and literature, and the French compared
it to their own which they considered most superior.
say that Rumi, the Persian poet, is by far the most revered Eastern
poet in America. Writers today will tell you that Farsi is indeed
the language that the infamous 'play on words' was created for
-- that if spoken correctly -- Farsi is the better language of
the lover and the logician.
But let us not get carried away. Does Farsi have a role in today's
post 911 era of mistakes!?
Could Farsi be the new "terrorist language?" [See: "Note
prompts flight cancellation"] Has
low to stop a commuter plane from taking off simply because someone had decided
to leave a line of Forough's poetry in the middle of magazine on a commercial
I am not certain
if it was Forough's poetry, Hafez's writings or ironically Rumi's. But it was
two lines of writing, characterized by the spokeswoman of the
unidentified airline, "as having a contemplative
nature!" and of course it was in Farsi. Most notably, she admits to the
media that she did not know what the writing meant.
It's amazing how in a country
where there is so much advancement, the little note could not have been immediately
faxed to an expert for translation and saved so much grief. But instead the
plane returned to the gate, emptied its original 118 passengers
and paid for the overnight
hotel stay for all of them.
And most importantly, nothing was ever found
on the plane.So we have successfully arrived at poor judgment
influenced by "language profiling?" Is that really possible --
can we be hated and profiled now by the language we speak, and write?
on a rather
comical note, can writers of Farsi stop all sorts of public transportation
by writing little notes of love and leaving them everywhere. I think this
is a question
for the experts. What would Hafez and Rumi say?
I am not sure, but I would
hope it reminds us to steadfastly hold to the truth that we harbor
that despite absurd assaults our language remains pure and good.