Making light of pain
Being vicious beyond good and evil
August 6, 2001
Bringing up the comparisons between Princess Diana and ex-Princess Leila
only to prove that there can be no comparison is a futile exercise no matter
how one alludes to it in perfect paragraphs and nice and coherent sentence
structures. These are sentences pronounced upon trials the whole purpose
of which is to pass sentences and nothing else -- no matter how it pretends
to advocate for higher causes such as righteousness and truth. This sentence
and sentencing has nothing to do with doing justice, or answering a call,
or recognizing suffering and pain. It is a reinforcement of that which
has been decided well in advance of the call of the news of Leila's death.
There is the allusions to the suffering of the world: This is something
that has always provided a nice back way for those ready to go for the wide
angle and generalize things, thereby bringing the actuality of what they
are talking about out of focus. Saving the world has always been a battle
cry of the discontent-- no matter what deeply personal and psychological
wound this anger stems from -- and an unlimited source for those on the
run from the self and their domestic issues.
If one is rapped and wounded by Khoda-nashnaasaan, then one can use the
gospel as a remedy or religion as opium; if the pain has been caused by
the Other and the alien, one can turn xenophobic or even racist; but when
one is hurt at home, by compatriots, by the God that is supposed to be above
it all and by the Sign (Ayat) and signature of God on earth, earth becomes
a hot stove with nowhere to rest the sole of one's foot. This is the essence
of exile and ostracism; this is the plight of the perished and the lost;
this is the story of a Leila surrounded by jonun, but without a single Majnoun,
as the readers turn away from all that was Persian and take refuge within
the half-read manifestos of economic revenge and en vogue retro revolutionary
master-slave dialectics of a new and post-Auschwitz humanism to the chorus
of "We are the world, we are the children..." -- or some mysterious
guttural verses in some holy language.
So now we debate the faith of Princess of Great Britain, a position the
holder of which will never have to bear the heavy load of exile and humiliation
not to mention the out and out hatred of her compatriots and kin alike,
to the utmost psychotic degrees of vehemence, or we turn around and argue
for the cause of the nine-year olds in Sierra Leone. Is the only road to
absolution for the battered soul of the exiled and the refugee through sainthood
a la Mother Teresa or senseless violence a la African child soldiery?
Madam, depression is a recognized, and at least since a hundred years
ago, diagnosed disease of most debilitating consequence, not a matter of
choosing or a fad no matter how exciting the elegantly wasted might appear
on your TV. And hinting at it as a matter of laziness or decadence is victimizing
the victim, blaming the downtrodden and abusing the abused -- even in death.
So much for the beloved minor chords on the acoustic guitar of humanity.
And no, this transgression cannot be simply forgiven through an introductory
apologia of some sort, or a clichéd lip-service to some ritual of
a cult of dead.
Those who stay in hotels are poor because they have no home; those who
take drugs are diseased not because they weren't once a beautiful nine-year-old
in love with their daddy and the world, but because some stations in their
development as human-beings have been cut short through violence and hatred
by no less than the holiest of the holy, and those who are willing to do
violence to them even in death in the name of the Baton Rouge or the Mullin
And particularly among us, who are given away as having experienced at
least some level of alienation through the fact that we communicate in Latin
letters and in an Anglo-Saxon accent, there must be the minimum possibility
of conjuring up enough imagination not to take lightly the suffering of
a fellow traveler who could not bear the weight of loneliness, humiliation,
prejudice, ostracism, not to mention blatant violence through vicious words
and religiously powered death-threats, and all this not only at the hand
of the Skins at Victoria Station or the Neo-Nazis at Hauptbahnhof, but also
by those who would be in a position to take away the pain and suffering
of ghorbat through familiarity, forgiveness, love and compassion.
The true measure of decadenced luxury is that of a middle-classed satellited
care for the Third World and its demons as a hobby; a part-time throwing
of the arms around the world to drown out the blatant injustices done right
outside our doorsteps and inside the hall. One must have had a pretty decent
and quiet life free from the urgency of homelessness and away from the instability
of a runaway princess in hiding, to engage the landmines of another continent
when the prime ministers and friends of one's own father are being killed
and terrored off ruthlessly and savagely by thugs who have discovered the
suffering of the world and are fighting you in the name of it.
One can choose to be vicious or ruthless beyond good and evil, attacking
and overpowering one's enemies unapologetically and adhering only to the
laws of the wild, but the sort of light-weight moralizing and appeals to
some sort of post-humanism-light packaged in six-packed ideologies on sale
testify only to the fact that: yes, you too receive the CNN and have surfed
past the Amnesty International website.
You and I are the measure of Iranian-ness: how we respect each other
and try and stand under and understand the weight of each other's problems.
Many of the most brilliant and lovely people in the world are affected
by depression and other psychological problems. Making light of their pain
is at the very least a break in decorum and tact, not to mention the violence
it projects into the world. It is through openness and understanding that
one can find oneself in a position to hear the call of their plight and
try and answer it, not through accusations and blame, jealousy and repackaged