August 22, 2003
* At least another generation
The story of Bijan - the Dutchman with a passion for Persian and things
Persian was most inspiring for me [Persian
in peril]. The notion that a foreigner
can be so moved to attempt a "total immersion" in an alien
language and culture so radically different from his own to the point
of being fluent and almost indistinguishable from a native is quite
impressive and most possible.
Numerous examples of similar foreigners abound in history. Luminaries
of the 19th century such as Sir Richard Burton (the explorer and linguist
par excellence) and Edward G. Browne (who wrote the definitive "History
of Persian Literature" and learnt fluent Persian long before he
visited Iran) are legion.
It is with great chagrin that I too concur with
Prof. Nader-Baghaei on why Iranians, in contrast to other nations, are
so prone to hide their
cultural and linguistic heritage when living abroad. The stated cause
of "fear of humiliation", while correct, does not fully explain
the willingness to alter one's identity to the point of fully "disguising" one's
roots and origins. A more probable cause could be a "sense of inferiority" towards
members of certain European and North American countries.
the events of the Iranian Revolution, the US Embassy hostage taking,
and the association of Iran, and Iranians as a collective entity,
with global terrorism in the past two decades have significantly contributed
towards this condition.
It will be at least another generation before
Iran can fully struggle out of this quagmire and begin to reassert
its traditional cultural
and historic role on the world scene. We only hope that the Persian
and culture can sustain itself without further erosion while awaiting
such a rediscovery by its citizens.
* No wrong to "put right"
I have several problems with Mr. Baghaei-Yazdi's arguments
First, his friend, Mr. Bijan, is a bit strange. If i, as an iranian,
several childhood friends who are chinese, and then i name myself a
chinese name, learn to recite Chinese poetry flawlessly, and then attend
conferences, let us admit it, I am a little weird. Bijan is not a bad
person, just weird.
Secondly, unlike what Mr. Yazdi likes to think, there is no wrong for
him to "put right." He should lose the illusions of control
and not think of
himself as the sole savior of persian language or any language. This
of Jesus Christ mentality is what got us into a lot of trouble.
Lastly, fear of being foreign is not particular to iranians. It is
omnipresent everywhere immigrants and foreigners are. the desire to
be assimilated and be comfortable in a foreign environment is not a flaw
fault, it is human and applaudable.
I was in Iran a few months back and going through books in local bookstores,
i can assure you that all of us would be amazed at the forward strides
persian language has made.
Leave farsi alone, it will survive me and you and all the rest of doomsayers,
find something else to pick on.
* So easy to blame others
twinkle tiny star" reminded me so much of Iraj Pezeshkzad's
novel, Da'i Jan Napoleon. As far as Mr. Ashtiani and Mash Qassem
in that story are concerned "hameh
cheez zir-e sar-e engelisast". It is so easy to blame others for
our problems and our incompetencies. Iranians just love to think everything
that happens to them is the result of the British and American and Russian
conspiracies. It is the easy way out. How about taking some of the blame
ourselves for our problems?
An Iranian conspiracy theorist!!!
* Why "catch up" to the West?
In reply to Fereydoun Hoveyda's "The
There is much that is bad about technology
and science and what it has done to the human condition. Catch up to
in the vast USA? Depth of friendship? Family? Community? Crime rate,
mental health, alcoholism.... The atomic bomb was not a good thing, not
something to emulate.
We are a nation of consumers who trade culture
and tradition for material objects and spend the best hours of our lives
working for others as wage slaves to try to pay for it all while we are
mired in debt, alienation and loneliness and we shunt our elderly into
institutions and our young children into day care.
Our industries pollute
the air and the water, our science and medicine although curing infectious
diseases have actually propagated the spread of genetic defects which
otherwise might have been selected out by death. The curing of infectious
diseases has created an overpopulation of this planet taxing its very
ability to survive, its ecosystems and human infrastructures to the point
of collapse. The spread of this population has led to loss of habitat
and the extinction of thousands of species of plants and animals. A few
capitalists live well in the West and everyone else is reduced to being
a blind consumer. The quality of the products is not good.
The USA was
created by people who valued self sufficiency, the pioneers, now no one
knows how to make their own clothes, or shoes or grow their own food,
or how to cook or make their own musical instruments, or furniture or
roofs or masonry. People do not have any attachment to geography or place
like a village where one's ancestors had lived for the past 2000 years,
no folk songs from your own village, you get my point, the quality of
modern life sucks, it is impersonal, irreverent and transitory.
no surprise to me that there was a reactionary movement in Iran as horrible
as it has been. Traditional societies try to maintain their own identity
with Xenophobia and isolationism which is bad but by the same token so
is global economy and cultural imperialism. Why should every culture
in the world trade its own traditions, for products made in factories
by foreigners, even indigenous music is traded for rock, why should everyone
be drinking Coca Cola for example when Dugh is better for you?
biology the loss of genetic diversity leads to extinction so with Homo
Sapiens, the thinking creature, the loss of diversity of thought leads
to extinction...our very Democracy is in peril in this nation right now
because public and congressional debate is not being allowed on burning
issues such as decisions to make war.
And another thing the gulf is wide between the third world and the
West by no accident, it by design, by intention, by imperialism and capitalism
and no accident. The advanced industrial nations may not be as blatant
as they were as colonial powers during the mercantilism of the 18 and
19th centuries but it is just as effective at keeping the third world
in a vassal state.
So the question becomes, why would you want to "catch up" to
the West when they are running on a one way street to hell. Yes Iran
is in a mess, much of which is not of its own making but much about Iranian
culture and values are of great merit and worth preserving. People who
live only for scientific and technological advancement and change perhaps
having nothing worth keeping...or worse still can't even recognize the
worth of historic buildings, institutions or traditions...
aka Rasool Aryadust
* Social reality was religous
I read your article on mossadegh [We
need a break, for good] and I enjoyed it, but I have
to disagree with the notion that religion had no place at that time
Any look back at the history will show you that as long
as ayatollah kashani supported mossadeq the foreign powers had no chance
of overthrowing him and as you can recall the first coup failed for
this very reason, but notice when kashani withdrew his support, the green
light was open.
I am not advocating the ulama either way, but we have
to realize the power and influence they yieled at that time, at the
time of tobacco revolt, at time of revolution, etc. maybe now things
different story, but back then actually i would argue the social reality
was no doubt religous and that is what the revolution was, a manifestation
of that social reality.
Lawrence Reza Ershaghi
* Islamic opposition drowed secular democracy
Mr. Javid's article [We
need a break, for good] "We need a break, for good" starts
by asserting that "less than three decades ago, religion had
no meaningful part in Iran's political life. Nor was religion perceived
as a serious
political force in any other country with a Muslim population".
I beg to differ, since in 1973 and beyond, political Islam was very
strong and growing dominant among the opposition of muslim countries'
Whether it was the Mojaheds in Iran or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt,
Syria, and beyond, unfortunately the Islamic opposition was drowning
out secular democracy as an alternative among the opposition in most
of the middle east.
If Mr. Javid means that *governments* in muslim countries were mostly
secular, that holds true even today. But they are certainly not democracies.
* Terrorism will be treated as such
It is not the
Islamic Republic of Iran that will be vanquished. The only people
in Iran we intend to defeat are
the terrorists and those unelected officials who are holding the people
of Iran at gun point .
The policy of sponsoring terrorist is not a new foriegn policy on
the part of the "Foolish hard liners in Iran".
They have advocated slaughtering innocent people for years.
It is not only a foriegn policy, it's also a domestic one. In order
to keep the people under their thumb they have murdered and pillaged
who dare utter a whisper against them.
What's different is our policy on the subject. Our all new "one
strike your out policy " states
that any one who harbors or sponsors a terrorist is a terrorist
and will be treated as such.
* Nationalism (can be) as dangerous as religion
Regarding Ms. Dosar-Gohi's article "Pure
as a mutt",
Nationalism can be just as dangerous as religion in
its power to drive people
to hate "others." Furthermore, in my opinion, nationalism
and religion are both largely based on myth.
* Congrats to our Indian cousins
Today is India Independence Day; 56 years ago on this day, the British
colonial rulers were kicked out through a massive display of non-violent
Today, India has become an economic and military powerhouse. India has
been a successful experiment in Democracy. While ethnic and religious
strifes abound, and despite a population of over 1 billion, and no Saudi
or Iranian style Oil income, the country has gained a foothold in the
global economy, producing everything from needles to airplanes on its
own. As a small example, Indian software exports top US $1 billion annually.
This is to congratulate our Indian cousins (ever heard of Indo-Iranian
family of languages?) on such a fine day and for us Persians to learn
a lesson or two from them >>> See
* Perfect (English) rozeh
The perfomance [Rozeh
khooni -- in English] is unbelievable, the voice is perfect for
rozeh. I enjoyed it a lot.
letters (August 22, 2003)