{[ promptMessage ]}

Bookmark it

{[ promptMessage ]}

Varzi, Intr and Conc - Cianfiwrwwwwfiwm PROLOGUE The...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–17. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 1

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
Image of page 3

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 4
Image of page 5

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 6
Image of page 7

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 8
Image of page 9

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 10
Image of page 11

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 12
Image of page 13

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 14
Image of page 15

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 16
Image of page 17
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: Cianfiwrwwwwfiwm PROLOGUE The Journey The tale The Conference of the Birds, by the Persian mystic and poet Farid al—Din Attar (650—1220), details the journey of a group of birds in search of a mystic leader, the Simurgh, who lives behind the mountain Qaf in an inaccessible place hidden by veils of light and darkness. The Simurgh manifests itself neither physically nor through knowledge or intelligence. Only through the imagination is the Simurgh made visible. This tale is a metaphor for a mystic journey, which begins with a guide, the Hoopoo, who is both a mes— senger of the world invisible and a being practiced in divinewarfare. Hoopoo claims to have hidden knowledge of the Simurgh, and she serves as a guide for the birds who choose to journey to the world of the Simurgh. At one point in Attar’s tale, the Hoopoo states: “Do not imagine that the journey is short; one must have the heart of a lion to follow the unusual road, for it is very long and the sea is deep . . . Wash your hands of this life if you were to be called a man of action. For your beloved, renounce that dear life of yours, as worthy men. If you submit with grace the beloved will give his life for you.” In so speaking the Hoopoo wins the trust of the birds, and for years they travel over mountains and valleys. But the journey is a difficult one. The only way to understand what they suffered, Attar tells us, is to journey with them. Along the way, many birds find the Journey too painful and make excuses to quit. The Hoopoo weaves their excuses, along with her replies, into a web of mystical tales that forms the heart of this lyrical quest. INTRODUCTION Divination An Archeology of the Unknown To live means to leave traces. GEORG SIMMEL The holy prophet said: “Affliction caused by the tongue is worse than that caused by the sword. Among all the things the tongue deserves to be imprisoned longer than anything else.” IMAM AYATOLLAH KHOMEINI History is preserved on the left hand, while each day the lines of the future are forged deeper on the right. It is the little lines, barely Visible, that the big lines stumble over. In speaking of the pre-revolution years, Iranians often describe the wailing entailed in Shiite mourning traditions. For many Irani— ans who have survived the revolution and war, mourning is now done in silence: a silence that leaves no traces. For some, divina— tion has given voice to mourning, unearthing scars and pointing a path past broken lines and over history toward destiny. It is a map used to avoid roadblocks, a tour book of hidden obstacles. Divi— nation, like religion, is invoked when one relinquishes control of XiV Prologue one’s own destiny. It is also invoked in order to tap into the world of archetypes: alam al mithal, a world occupied by the likes of the Simurgh. How can anthropology be more exact than divination or any— thing but another kind of mourning? OCTOBER 1993, TEHRAN “If you want to learn about your country, Rok— sana, you must read poetry: S’adi, Hafiz, Khayyam, and Rumi. Work on your PETSICIH. Do not waste your time on anything else. Come to me, we’ll read together,” says my uncle. Can poetry kill fear?” I’m afiaid to concede that I’m scared here some— times. 7 “Poetry could save your life, Roksana. Remember that. It saved mine ” he says. ’ My uncle’s love for literature endangered his life by leading him to Sadegh Hedayat and other Marxist writers’ salons, thereby indirectly influencing his deciszon to JOITI the Tudeh Party. That decision landed him in jail after the revolution.1 “Does he talk about being in prison?” I asked my cousin as I watched my uncle s shaky hand lift a spoonful of rice to his mouth. The shaking started in prison. He will not talk about it to anyone, not even my mother. He wants to forget.” His eyes tell me that he will never forget, and not a day passes that he does» ‘ not think about it. Every now and then, at gatherings, when people are chat— tering among themselves, I’ve seen him light a cigarette and stare hard into the smoke. He does not look sad but rather content, almost smiling. He watches the crowd the way a ghost might observe a gathering. “Poetry will help you in your time of need,” he says, his back turned to me as we walk slowly into the den. We read Hafiz. No one knows where the lover’s house is found It is everywhere that the camel bells are heard I try to imagine an Iran of lovers, camels, and nightingales, but all I see are crowded streets, hands clutching woven green rubber shopping bags dingy 2 Introduction sycamore trees, tiny box—shaped cars honking their way through miles of traf— fic. The horns once kept me awake at night. Now they are an urban lullaby. My uncle smiles to himselfand takes a long drag on his cigarette while he waits for me to grasp the meaning of the poem. He sits with one leg folded up, his elbow on the knee of his baggy pajamas. Sitting with my uncle in his den, reading Hafiz, I feel safe. “I see how poetry saved your life,” I say. “No, you do not, because I have not told you the end of the story. You are only beginning to see how it might save your lifiz.” He extinguishes his cigarette and slowly gets up, a sign that I’ll have to wait to hear the rest of the story. “When I was a young boy we were forced to memorize a poem every week,” my uncle tells me on my next visit. My father told me that my grandfather gave his children a gold coin for each poem they could recite from memory. “In jail I sat alone with my blindfold and pulled nervously at my sleeves. One day I pulled a frazzled string from my shirt and tied a knot for every poem I recited in my head. That was my meditation, my prayer. That knotted string was like prayer beads, a tie to sanity; tying a knot to remember a poem kept me from thinking of the horrors happening around me.” He pauses to light a cigarette. His hands shake more at night when he is tired. It takes him a minute to light his cigarette; he’s never conscious of time. “One day, the half—blind old man who brought us our food caught me tying and mumbling. He threw down my tray and ran to tell the revolution- ary guards that I was praying and that I had either left my Marxist, atheist ways or that they had made a mistake. He was so loud with excitement that no one could deny him. About an hour later my blindfold was removed and I was transferred to a cell of men awaiting trial. I was freed a month later. Many of my friends never made it out.” He sits back as if to recall each and every lost face. “Do not mistake my words, Roksana, it was not that small stroke of luck that saved my life. The fact that using the string and reading poems saved me from further physical harm is only a coincidence. Every knot was a Hafiz poem that freed me from the confines of prison by taking me away. Hafiz was a Sufi; he lived in a time when Sufis were persecuted. He teaches us how to rise above obstacles. Hafiz takes us to a beautifid place where we can live safely in times when our physical life becomes impossible to endure. In the hours that my mind could have given way to the darkness of the blindfold and prison walls, Divination 3 Hafiz took me to Shiraz, to filll—moon desert nights, candlelit zekrs, singing nightingales, and dancing dervishes. He preserved my mind and took it to a beautifiil place while my body was kept captive. Sufis have been persecuted for a very specific reason, Roksana, they do not believe thata/leade/r or any other person should mediate their relationship with God.” “Hafiz is more complicated than I thought.” “Hafiz can teach you how to move obstacles, especially the ones that are in your mind, of your own creation, those images that bombard you daily, that chip away at your strength and make you insensitive, harden or destroy you. They are the worst kind. No one should be able to mediate your relationship with God or the world—remember that.” Poetry worked like a veil to protect my uncle from mental invasion and served as a tool for mediating theworld physically and symboli- cally, I fancied myself a reliable mediator of my own world, as some- onewho grew up without having to engage in poetry or in metaphor to protect herself, until my uncle, after reading my stories from which the above is excerpted, asked me why I had censored myself His comment shocked me. I did not consider my writing censored, “I censored everything to protect you,” I replied defensively, But he had never asked to be protected and, surprisingly, neither had any- one else I had spoken to in Iran who knew that I was writing about them, My uncle spent four years as a political prisoner in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, and he was the first to warn me not to getin- volved in politics, I had thus taken his advice and stayed away from all things political, and in so doing I had somehow transformed everything into politics, In Iran the social is political, and as one who is not adept at living this way the idea paralyzed me. As a result it was not Iran that was to blame; Wme worst effect of oppressive politics is when we do its work), I was a easy target: already adept at writing in metaphor, having written poetry all my life; practiced at hiding my identity; and attracted to Martin Heidegger’s use of the GWevealhrgwhfle concealing—which, I thou ht, was illustrative BLIIEQIEILERIWIC» But was practicing projection, I had enforced something on Ira- 4 Introduction nian culture that it had already infused in me. My uncle was right, In the end we are not only mediators of our own worlds where we see what we want to see, but we also create that world as it creates us in a simultaneous act of revealing and concealing, In this world we traverse the geographies of zaher (outer self) and baten .(inner self) while constructing and dismantling through bi—khod1-(self— annihilation) and khod—sazi or khod—shenasi (self-construction or self-awareness). As the war filmmaker Shahid Morteza Avmr told me, “eregs—mmtmgt” This book is a journey through the various veils or curtains of reality to meditate on the many possible meanings of reality for the young Iranians in post-revolution Iran who were the targets of the Islamic project that attempted to construct a specific Islamic reality, The veil I refer to here, a pardeh (veil or curtain), is the Sufi mystical term for something that obscures reality or is a projection of one layer ‘ “W of reality, Sufi mysticism is indelibly ingrained in Iranian culture through a tradition of poetry that has infused metaphorat the heart of the Per- sian language and in the everyday existence of Iranians (prov1d1ng, among other possibilities, a beautiful way to avoid, obscure, defer, fragment, and repress), Here the veil is not what covers women s hair, but rather is the mist created to keep distance, to keep reahty from becoming real, at the same time that it is the ether that be- comes reality, ' 1 d One can enter the scene of a Persian miniature at any ang e an still not be on the same three-dimensional plane as the characters depicted. Mysticism, like a Persian miniature, never assumes that everyone will always exist on the same plane, even if they phys1— cally exist in the same scene, Like the mystic journey, as a move— ment in time and space that is neither linear nor monochronic, this book moves through different moments and themes in post- revolution Islamic Iran to look at how the Islamic republic was con- structed, suStained, consumed, and transformed. In this work I aim to narrate the political poem of the Islamic republic through the lens of anthropology, framed by the mystical allegory of the journey. Divination 5 To meet this aim I follow the chronology of revolutionary Iran from 1979 to 2000 to show the journey from bi—khodi to khod-sazi and to demonstrate how a visual world was created, consumed, and dismantled. I am interested in the role in which the image plays as a vehicle for oneness with God for mystics and, in turn, the ways in which moving and still images worked to create a state of martyrdom and ultimately a religious state. I begin this work by introducing the mystical interplay of the self (khod) as it journeys toward self—annihilation (bi-khodi) and back (to self— reconstruction, khod-sazi) through a discussion of Nizami Gan- javi’s Layli and Majnun. Nizami’s tale is away for us to become famil- iar with the important themes of the mystic guide, the image, the idea of absence, the world of archetypes (alam al mithal) and of de- ception (riya), and the fiinction of these terms in the Sufi journey toward the beloved (God). On February II, 1979, after months of a bloody revolution that raged on the streets of Tehran between citizens who called for the end of the regime of the shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and the shah’s police and the military, Ayatollah Ruhollah Kho- meini returned to his homeland of Iran and took power in Tehran.2 The Iranian revolution was unique in its ability to unite the Ira- nian people to bring down a powerfiil, U.S.-backed army through the use of rallying measures such as imported cassette tapes, pam— phlets, and clandestine meetings.3 Just after the revolution, as Aya— tollah Khomeini and the religious Right were consolidating power, the new Islamic cultural producers of the state began to construct anmIslamic republic with a very specific emphas1s on the mysti- cal notion of b1 khodi, self— ann1h11at1011 and shahadat, martyrdom, that had been carried over from the revolution days and was fast becoming a precursor to Islamic citizenship.4 This situation was heightened in 1980 when the war broke out between Iran and Iraq, at which time nation building became synonymous with martyr— dom. In later chapters I show how war constructed Tehran as a space of revolutionary Islam from the time of Khomeini’ s arrival in 1979 through the war years and, in turn, how the government 6 Introduction attempted to use a strong Islamic PUbEiERQF-E to turn youthful subjects into Islamic objects. This book is about the intersection of religion, vision, and power, and whether the individual ultimately has the power to turn an image on or off. It is about ways in which reality is constructed WWI—M between the surface or appearance of things, zaher, and the inner and individual senses of reality, baten. To what degree does the surface permeate and or construct an individual’s inner reality and faith? This is a story of the struggle to be seen and unseen, between visibility and invisibility. I tell the story of the many young martyrs who died and then were seen later in the murals covering the city walls, and I tell of those young, urban, secular Iranian youths who hide behind the scenes, trying to lead a different sort of life and in so doing remain invisible to the powers that be. While I write about a particular nation-state at various stages of its development, the story is really that of the journey of selves, khod, as they traverse two particular movements in time and space alongside that of the nation. I highlight a key tension in Islamic Iran between bi-khodi (self-annihilation) and the notions of khod—sazi and khod—shenasi (self—help or self—construction).s These two con— cepts would seem logically to occur independently in some chrono- logical shift or rational order. For example: self—reconstruction, khod—sazi, might logically serve as an antidote to self—annihilation, bi-khodi. However, self- annihilation can only occur _ a self WWW _. NW. 31.11..» . w... is constructed and available for annihilation. The eo 1e and the nation—state go through bi— khodi and khod— —sazi in tandeméwdanc— ””11me ing with one another as ey whirl 1n and out of these polar move- ments, stepping on toes, changing partners, and colliding. The movement toward bi-khodi in revolutionary Iran began with Ali Shariati’s idea of a “return to self” and a khod-shenasi (self— knowledge) WWW anindiyidual gain self—knowleige especiallmterms of national identity, before em— barking on a journey toward self-ann1hilat1on and, in some cases, w .1... 1... .1... “W .11...» 1111.11. 111.. 1......— 1.1.1.7. 1.. martyrdom. Shariati’ s work was much influenced by and 1n conver— sation with Frantz Fanon, whose work on Algeria and colonialism Divination 7 focused on identity and self-knowledge—in short, the importance of keeping one’s cultural and national identity and self—awareness in the face of racist colonial policies that aimed at assimilating “natives.” At the same time that Shariati was writing about a return to a Muslim self, another writer, Jalal Al—Amhad, raised his pen against what he called “Westoxification.” As he writes: “I speak of being af— flicted with “Westitis” the way I would speak of being afflicted with cholera. Ifthis is not palpable let us say it is akin to being stricken by heat or cold. But it is not that either. It is something more on the order of being attacked by tongue worm. Have you ever seen how wheat rots? From within. In any case we are dealing with an illness, a disease imported ftom abroad, and developed in an environment receptive to it.” 7 Needless to say, his work would eventually provide Khomeini with a revolutionary discourse. Al—Amhad’s next work, Last in the Crowd, details the existential transformation of a Marx— ist who rediscovers Islam, and in so doing it provides invaluable documentation of a moment in Iranian and modern Islamic so— ciety when the existential modern individual began to turn to Islam as a political force. His colloquial prose and sincere curiosity of Islamic practice endeared the book to secular Iranian readers who felt the double alienation of being both intellectually Western and also Muslim. Yale historian Abbass Amanat points to the importance of Sha— riati and Al—Amhad in pre—revolution Iran: “With historians’ fail— ure to provide any coherent and meaningful interpretation of the past, it is not surprising that increasingly, intellectuals, essayists, and dissident pamphleteers took over the task of interpreting the past. In the absence of any serious alternatives, Jalal Al—Ahmad’s hurried, ill—conceived, and even paranoic thesis Westoxification and Ali Shariati’s often myopic, and distorted, interpretation of Shi— ism left an intense impact on the historical consciousness of the younger generations in the late 1960s and 1970s. It is a small sur— prise therefore that with their sway over the minds of the revolu— tionary multitudes they should emerge as historical figures in their own right rather thaninterpreters of history. ”8 What Amanat is 8 Introduction perhaps really concerned with, but does not properly articulate, is the exchange of history for ideology. Unlike the writing of history, method and falsehood are largely irrelevant to ideology. In discuss— ing the early days of the revolution, given the problem of the lack of decent revolutionary history, it is important to remember that in terms of anthropology, the project is not to discern the historic accuracy of the texts but rather to look at their social usage. Often, words or “truths” live in the realm of the social as ideology; ide— ology is what takes half—truths and philosophical ideas and puts them into the realm of social action. As Terry Eagleton notes, ide— ology is about “lived relations” and not empirical representation.9 Social practices are real, therefore, whereas some of the beliefs that justify these practices may be illusory. Ironically, the intellectuals that Amanat claims “escape from realities and abode in the realm of ill—conceived ideological fan— tasy,” were more aware than anyone of the needs and desires of Iranian society. They were, for example, the first to question the historical grounds of the shah’s myth. Without their initial broad— based critiques of the shah’s regime and the imperialism of the West, the articulation of discontent, which is a necessary precursor to revolution, may not have occurred in urban spaces of power (the intelligentsia and the universities). Hannah Arendt asserts that a revolution is not planned, an...
View Full Document

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern