Monday, March 21, 2005

Hands Off Iran-part II (Final Update)

so far, I've come across the following sites that are supporting the "hands off iran" effort by either changing their blog names or spreading the news about it (see previous post for more details). please let me know if there are others and i will update the list:

Sites in Persian:

*http://daray.persianblog.com/
*Zannevesht("woman's writings")
*Anti-Memoirs weblog
*Guillotine
*Eenja va Aknoon ("here an now")
*http://blog.imiran.com/
*Seebestaan>("Land of Apples")
*Persian Blogger Chronicles
*bahman Agha
*Javad Rafee
*Kurosh-e Alyani
*Khorsheed Khanoom ("Lady Sun")
*Yek Bar-e Digar ("Another Time")
*Daily Mirror Persian Weblog
*World Citizen
*http://www.hoseynayegomgashte.persianblog.com/
*Masoud Noghreh Kar
* Man Asheghe Ghermez Hastam ("I Love Red")

Sites in English:


*No war on Iran
*Iranians for Peace
*Farangopolis
*Thesilog
*Omid Memarian
*Rummy's Diaries
*Run Over by the Truth
*Occidental Malakut

hands off iran

A day or two late is better than never.

Reza Nasri had the great idea that bloggers should dedicate March 19th to a "Hands off Iran" day.

March 19th is the anniversary of the nationalization of Iranian oil, an act that eventually cost iranians a democratically elected government at the hands of a CIA-orchestrated coup that installed the dictator regime of mohammad reza pahlavi. this year,the date coincided with worldwide protests marking the second anniversary of the illegal war on iraq. march 19th, therefore, was a particularly appropriate date for registering our dissent against an expansionist war on iran as well.

march 19th has passed, but i hope you join me in a temporarily changing your blog's name to "hands off iran" in act of solidarity with the majority who are against war in iran and elsewhere.

Monday, March 14, 2005

lizards and tree-humans

i finally had a chance to watch the bootlegged copy of the film "Marmoolak" (the Lizard) that we bought from a street merchant in front of the famed Cafe Naderi. now, i know i missed the boat on all the heated discussions that went around when the film was first released about a year ago, but i cant help but put in my quick two cents.

When the film came out, the Iranian "opposition" was giddy with what they labeled an "anti-clerical" and "anti-religious" film, and their interpretations of the movie and their ensuing joy was further confirmed when hardliners in Iran variously banned, un-banned, and then re-banned the film.

the thing is--and i make this claim based on a single viewing of a halting cd that kept having to be messed with so that it would play--i didnt find the film to be either anti-religious or anti-clerical. on the contrary, the movie seemed ultimately to be a redemption of both.

after all, didn't the escaped convict in the end become "good" by first disingenously repeating the words he'd heard from a cleric and pretending to do the just deeds of one and eventually following them with sincerity? A repeat offender, Reza the lizard became a productive member of society not under the thumb of the warden with big theories about disciplining and reforming prisoners, but in the robes of a cleric who was involved--albeit without initially wanting to be--at various levels of his society (In this sense the film can be fairly labeled anti-prison). was it not the words of the likeable cleric whose robes he stole to escape prison, "there are as many ways to reach god as there are people", and not being holed up and punished in solitary confinement, that in the end led the hero/anti-hero to reform not only himself, but also to change the handful of the town's biggest thugs and criminals? what about the very last scene, where reza is effectively identified with the messiah of the Shi'a, the twelfth Imam Mahdi, as the once empty mosque, now brimming thanks to reza, awaits him in vein?

In the end, everyone, including the seemingly unchangeable, all reached god, and more specifically, they went to the mosque proper, worshipping in the traditional manner. And it cannot be overlooked that it was the words and deeds of clerics--both those of the main character who pretended to be one and, perhaps more importantly, the the kind and pure cleric we meet at the beginning whose clothes and identity reza steals--that are responsible for the turn to god and religion.

so much for an anti-religious, anti-clerical film then.

*******

and now from film to books:

thanks to a link on Ali-Reza's blog, i found this great anti-censorship project designed to give access to literary material that has been partially or wholly banned for publication in iran.

i'd been searching a long time for a persian copy of Parsipour's Women Without Men, and i finally found it on this anti-censorship site the other night.

it's short and wont take more than a couple of hours to read. i liked it so much i devoured it in an evening, and now i am re-reading it with simultaneous translations out-loud for R., who seems to like the novella even more than i do.

we both think it should be made into a film, and if it is, i would like to be cast in the part of the the tree-human, both because it would best fit my acting capabilities, and well, because i like trees.

lizards and tree-humans

i finally had a chance to watch the bootlegged copy of the film "Marmoolak" (the Lizard) that we bought from a street merchant in front of the famed Cafe Naderi. now, i know i missed the boat on all the heated discussions that went around when the film was first released about a year ago, but i cant help but put in my quick two cents.

When the film came out, the Iranian "opposition" was giddy with what they labeled an "anti-clerical" and "anti-religious" film, and their interpretations of the movie and their ensuing joy was further confirmed when hardliners in Iran variously banned, un-banned, and then re-banned the film.

the thing is--and i make this claim based on a single viewing of a halting cd that kept having to be messed with so that it would play--i didnt find the film to be either anti-religious or anti-clerical. on the contrary, the movie seemed ultimately to be a redemption of both.

after all, didn't the escaped convict in the end become "good" by first disingenously repeating the words he'd heard from a cleric and pretending to do the just deeds of one and eventually following them with sincerity? A repeat offender, Reza the lizard became a productive member of society not under the thumb of the warden with big theories about disciplining and reforming prisoners, but in the robes of a cleric who was involved--albeit without initially wanting to be--at various levels of his society (In this sense the film can be fairly labeled anti-prison). was it not the words of the likeable cleric whose robes he stole to escape prison, "there are as many ways to reach god as there are people", and not being holed up and punished in solitary confinement, that in the end led the hero/anti-hero to reform not only himself, but also to change the handful of the town's biggest thugs and criminals? what about the very last scene, where reza is effectively identified with the messiah of the Shi'a, the twelfth Imam Mahdi, as the once empty mosque, now brimming thanks to reza, awaits him in vein?

In the end, everyone, including the seemingly unchangeable, all reached god, and more specifically, they went to the mosque proper, worshipping in the traditional manner. And it cannot be overlooked that it was the words and deeds of clerics--both those of the main character who pretended to be one and, perhaps more importantly, the the kind and pure cleric we meet at the beginning whose clothes and identity reza steals--that are responsible for the turn to god and religion.

so much for an anti-religious, anti-clerical film then.

*******

and now from film to books:

thanks to a link on Ali-Reza's blog, i found this great anti-censorship project designed to give access to literary material that has been partially or wholly banned for publication in iran.

i'd been searching a long time for a persian copy of Parsipour's Women Without Men, and i finally found it on this anti-censorship site the other night.

it's short and wont take more than a couple of hours to read. i liked it so much i devoured it in an evening, and now i am re-reading it with simultaneous translations out-loud for R., who seems to like the novella even more than i do.

we both think it should be made into a film, and if it is, i would like to be cast in the part of the the tree-human, both because it would best fit my acting capabilities, and well, because i like trees.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Nerdy News

The newest post on the group blog Persian Students in the UK reports about the opening of the new Iranian National Library. One of the commentors on the post, left this link to pictures of its construction, and i found this story (with pics) talking a bit about the library and its opening ceremonies.

The new library is housing over a million copies of books in numerous languages, and their acquisition plans are to buy up to 600,000 more volumes in the next decade.

For a book worm like me, this is the most exciting news i've heard in a long time.

But i've also been immersed in all the news about the possibility of another war, so everything i read about iran, my mind always turns to the horror of an attack on iran.

So in this case i think: since destroying a people's historical and cultural background is a crucial part of every colonial-style invasion, I am sure that those updating war plans on iran have already marked the location of the new library.

And i think about the damage to the national library in iraq, and how that war monger Kanan Makiya, who was instrumental in pushing the case for an invasion, now has started an Iraq memory foundation to institutionalize his feigned concern over the preservation of Iraqi archives.

and we have dozens of makiyas of our own, salivating at the thought of destroying archives so that they can take credit for restoring them and so they can revise history in the process.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

War Profiteering and Operation Human Shields

Last night we heard some first hand stories about NGO corruption in Iraq. Lots of people are getting rich off of the blood and oil of the Iraqis, and the looting is not limited to the Halliburtons, Titans, and the rest of the mercenaries.

Forgive me, I hate to make this comparison, but what i heard yesterday (the like of which I have heard time and time again), prompts me to ask it: Are the activists and NGOs who come to Iraq as "saviors" and in turn use the suffering of the Iraqis as the basis for building their own fame and yes, sometimes fortune, all that much different, for example, than the people working as sub-contractors for the State Department or Bechtel Corp? Both types are quick to feed you some line about working for the betterment of the Iraqis, and both leave with more money and greater cultural capital/sense of moral superiority than they did when they went to Iraq.

anyway, this whole thing about stolen funds (or mis-managed funds, if i want to be generous), put me in a sore mood, and as usual when i feel awful about the state of the world, i tend to look to things to make me feel, well, worse.

which brings me to this Feb. 27th entry on a soldier's blog . This brave soldier, who brags that "insurgents are NO match for us in a confrontation" and tells us of the "VERY big guns" at their disposal. And yet, despite all his macho bragging, this is what he tells us he will be resorting to: "I'm going to probably buy alot of candy when I goto the PX in the camp. That way, I can hand it out to the kids. They'll be more likely to help us avoid things we wouldn't otherwise be able to avoid if not for them."

of all the cowardly, dispicable things that have happened during the war on iraq, you can add using children as human shields to the list. and we know it is not the first time it has happened either. (read a commentary of that event here)

please dont try to excuse this kind of behavior by telling me that the soldiers are just trying to be nice,because even if they are, it places innocent children in the line of fire. anyway, this dude doesnt seem to have any qualms about luring kids with candy, and as the practice has not been prohibited, it seems that those in charge approve of it.