Have you ever asked your good selves the question of ‘what have we accomplished in our glorious three thousand years (or more) of history?’ The answer seems to be a resounding ‘not much.’ Well, not much with the exception of poetry. Yes, we love poetry. It’s true. Even Kahmenei’s nephew agrees. He says as much in this BBC documentary about his beloved uncle. He says that we, as Iranians, love poetry, and we all have a poetry book at home. That’s true also. I remember having one a couple at our home when I was growing up. In my own home, I replaced them with a collection of dog training books. Sorry, but they have more practical use. My new puppy still hasn’t quite gotten the hang of peeing outside.
So, let’s take a look back through our history and see what contributions we have made to the betterment of human race. Did we discover any disease? No! How about medicine? Discover any of those? No! Jet engine? No! Internal combustion engine? No! Bicycle? No! Aircraft? No! Helicopter? No! Space exploration? No! Discover any planets? No! Electricity? No! Light bulb? No! Computers? No! Plain paper for God’s sake? No! Discover any elements? No! Chemicals? No! Discover any wildlife or plants? No! Any continents? No!
So, what the hell have we been doing for the past 3000 years? Well, aside from discovering this great device, we sat on our asses and wrote poetry. Lots and lots of poetry. In fact, we are obsessed with poetry, and consider it the cornerstone of our notion of wisdom and culture, which is not really that bad of a thing if we didn’t devote our entire existence to it and ignored everything else around us. We were (and still are) so obsessed with philosophy that we didn’t even have the curiosity to discover our very own civilization that we are so proud of. Those evil, “barbarian” Europeans had to come in and tell us what our glorious past was about. How ironic is that? Poetry is so important to us that even the illiterate Khomeini jumped on the bandwagon and created a “divan.” But we all have this mindset. Just look at this site. Half of the front page articles are poetry or poetry related material.
Aah, we also discovered irfan (no, not the Pakistani guy at your local kabab house). It’s something akin to sitting on your ass, drinking wine, reading (or writing) poetry, if you’re Hafez, fantasizing about (or actually having) sex with little boys, and fooling yourself into believing that you have connected with the “divine.” Khomeini was a big fan of irfan.
Now some will surely jump in and claim that there are many Iranian scientists outside of Iran. They don’t count. A person who was either born here, came here as a young child, or went to college outside of Iran doesn’t count. They belong to the country that provided them with the education and the opportunities, and most importantly, they belong to the society that gave them the cultural derive to get them where they are. In other words, that society steered them away from poetry nights (shab-e-she’er) and reading Hafez, to actual curiosity about science and the world around them.
The sad truth is that post Islam we have been infected with the mullah culture, which is an all consuming agenda that takes curiosity away from one’s mind and focuses the person’s entire existence on religion. As a society, we know more about Hazrat-e Abbas’ horse than we know about our local fauna. That’s a sad fact.
Lastly, I have nothing against my good friends here on IC who write poetry and / or are poets. I am criticizing the culture as a whole. Picking on individuals is not productive. And to show that I am also a product of this culture, I will recite a verse:
Miazar moori keh daneh kesh ast keh jan darad va jan –e sheereen khosh ast
There! See, I can recite poetry also!
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