The new juveniliarchy
Forceful in ways that previous generations couldn't be
October 10, 2001
You have seen their bloodstained T-shirt raised in marked resistance
to terror. You have witnessed them clubbed in front of their dormitories.
You have seen them dancing at parties. You have heard them chest-beat in
mourning ceremonies. You have even seen them in candlelight tears over the
recent 9/11 victims.
But perhaps the new generation of Iranians first exploded onto the scene
with the final whistle of the Iran-Australia football match. The streets
of the capital on that night, and with that whistle, felt the stomping weight
of hundreds of thousands of young Tehranis who had come out in full colors
to celebrate the entrance of the national team to the 98 World Cup.
Those standing in street corners, squares and parks witnessed an unmatched
feat of youthful exuberance. There was no point going from Point A to Point
B. Traffic was at a shutdown. In one corner, shots of hard liquor were
making the rounds, in another jubilant kids where cheerfully see-sawing
a police car. Music blasted through car loudspeakers. Boys and girls were
taking advantage of the festive air to reach out in open air.
The aftershock of that night was to send tremors through the pillars
of the State. The nation saw then what it knew was coming all along. The
World Cup qualification carnival was a showdown, a statement by the unacknowledged
majority, the Underaged, the New Majority.
Since then, the country has come to accept the active presence of its
young inheritors. This by no stretch of generosity means that she knows
how to deal with the secondnd generation Iranians. It simply means that
the economy of numbers is having its magical effect. We can see this in
the cultural realm more than in any other place. Young musicians, painters,
filmmakers, and dramatists are everywhere to be seen.
A recent concert of Shahram Nazeri featured his 22-year-old son, Hafez,
on lead tar and a group of musicians of roughly the same age on kamanche,
tonbak, daf (a second son Shervin), and ood. Only the
ood player was in his late early fourties. The same is true of Shajarian's
son, and many other instances of filial artistry.
There was a time when a young traditional musician had to go through
stages of development. Masters strongly discouraged, even admonished, creative
impulses of the pupil, suppressing his/her drive for the discovery of new
forms of expression. You had to reach master-hood before you could even
think of "doing your own thing."
The shear weight of the second generation is changing this mindset. For
better or for worst, the young man/woman of this generation is taking the
lead in many different arenas. The Second generation After the revolution
is a phenomenon yet to show its full social impact. It may deserve recognition
but it demands attention. It is forceful in ways that previous generations
Iranian historians like to point out to evidences of fathers killing
their sons in literary and historical books. The legend of Zahhak and its
twine snakes eating up the brains of the youth permeate the realm of courts
of many dynasties. Kings made mounds of their heir's eyes or heads. This,
it seems, was more a rule rather than an exception.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is seeing a major transformation in the
relationship of fathers and sons. In the next decade, Iran will have to
deal with its young population (births doubled from 1982 to 1988) in ways
that demand understanding, patience, and forbearance. This is challenge
for a nation whose boom generation came to this world in the midst of war,
deficiencies, and withered ideals.