Thursday, November 27

Simply enchanting!

A few years ago, a very dear professor of mine attended a conference in Cambridge, England. And there she visited the famous Fitzwilliam Museum, where she purchased a little reprint of a Flemish painting called “Courtship: Book of Hours” (C. 1500) as “special gift,” for her Persian student of Medieval Literature. (By the way, the reprint is scanned for your view and used here as an ornament to this post.) I shall never forget that winter day in her office, where she kindly offered me not only the special reprint of a medieval painting with a note inside, but with that a box of Harrods’ special cookies too!
The cookies are long gone, even their taste is forgotten, but the reprint is on the wall, right in front of my face. And every time I look at the reprint, inevitably, I see her explanation written all over it.
“Look at the image! A graceful damsel,” raved the wise medievalist, “at the window of her castle, receives a love-offering from her courtier, who is ascending on a ladder to proclaim his love! What is the offering? It is a green plant with yellow blooms, symbolizing love, companionship, prosperity and growth; indeed a meaningful offering”.

The image may be medieval, but the narrative is not of past! Simply enchanting, wouldn’t you say?!


katayoun

Wednesday, November 26

My Gratitude

As I was organizing my notes, it occurred to me that I, as one of the Twoshorties, have never expressed my gratitude for your constant support of this blog in providing us the encouraging feedbacks by which we shape the very form of Without the Slightest Hesitation. So, thank you for being here with us.

katayoun

Sunday, November 23

A Poem

Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

An excerpt from: An Essay on Criticism


‘Tis hard to say, if greater Want of Skill
Appear in Writing or in Judging ill:
But, of the two, less dang’rous is th’ Offence,
To tire our Patience, than mis-lead our Sense:
Some few in that, but Numbers err in this,
Ten Censure wrong for one who Writes amiss;
A Fool might once himself alone expose,
Now, One in Verse makes many more in Prose.

Read the rest of this Poem, if you are interested of course, here!


katayoun

Wednesday, November 19

Tehran, a city of certain charm and...


In the heart of the Middle East, in an ancient land of Iran, I was born and bred in Tehran; the city of dangerous charm and enviable spirit, a jewel in the palm of Damavand. Tehran of my time was the city of tall sycamore trees, narrow alleyways, old architecture, mysterious courtyards, historic gates and squares, a rarity in its own right. An old city with a young soul, ambitious in heart and quick in temper, but above all, Tehran was really honest about being what it was, what it could offer and what it would take away from you in return! A little unconventional, perhaps, a little daring and shocking at times, Tehran had its own charisma, and, with a generous heart accommodated the needs of a colourful crowd.

I loved Tehran because of its ease in revealing its true colours, its tolerance for everything that a thriving city had to endure, its dubious reputation, and its powerful influence on those who came to love or despise its guts. Despite its cruel nature of being the hub of the opportunists, self-seekers, and sons-of-bitches of all walks of life, Tehran was the city that I liked to live in, experience life, and leave a memory behind.

I loved and adored Tehran, because it was more than a generous city in tolerating scums and crooks. Tehran was, also, a progressive cosmopolitan quite serious in providing well for those who were doing their own things, without disturbing the spirit of generosity and hospitality. In one simple sentence, Tehran, with all its roughness and curtly of a thriving city, was a city of hope—even though, at times, it acted a little bit stingy in offering any at all!

But, after the establishment of the despotic power of “the Islamic Republic,” and during the “sacred-war,” Tehran, with its bruised face and ruined image, became the gloomy capital of the fascist state; the air filled with the stench of fear, sweat and blood, the streets crammed with those who were doomed to rot, later on. Tehran was no more Tehran. Many lamented the death of the spirit of Tehran, and many used the event as an occasion for taking advantage and make up for things they had never possessed, but those who witnessed the fall of that city, would never forget what they lost!

Nowadays, I don’t live in that city anymore, and all I hear about Tehran is so confusing, discouraging, and surreal that I’d rather remember Tehran just as it was in my own time! No melancholy, no regret, I had seen the best of Tehran, and will always keep the best of it in my heart. And in my heart I am still hopeful!

Katayoun

Friday, November 14

A Superscription

This week’s poem is by an exceptional poet, a renaissance man, a “Dante scholar,” Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882); he is a man of raw wisdom, healthy intellect and peculiar character.

Now, listen to what he has to say. Let the man speak to your soul. It’s good for you!


A Superscription

Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;
I am also called No-more, Too-late, Farewell;
Unto thine ear I hold the dead-sea shell
Cast up thy Life’s foam-fretted feet between;
Unto thine eyes the glass where that is seen
Which had Life’s form and Love’s, but my spell
Is now a shaken shadow intolerable,
Of ultimate things unuttered the frail screen.

Make me, how still I am! But should there dart
One moment through thy soul the soft surprise
Of that winged Peace which lulls the breath of sighs,-
Then shalt thou see me smile, and turn apart
Thy visage to mine ambush at thy heart
Sleepless with cold commemorative eyes.


Monday, November 10

I do!

Among bloggers there is an ongoing debate about the “appropriate length” of a post, and its relation to the establishment of the readership of a blog. Some even “insist” that a “professional blog”—a space that is established as an intellectual/artistic place of expressions—“should” contain posts that are “short in length,” and precise in meaning. I have nothing against precision in the meaningfulness of a post. In fact, I am a loyal viewer of the blogs that are pro such profession. But as far as the appropriate “length” is concerned, I pay no attention to what one “should” or “should not” do, with respect to the operation of this blog. I simply think that running a blog is a matter of taste and style that has a direct relation to the content and the author(s) of that page.

Now, I’ve said my thing!
katayoun

Wednesday, November 5

At last the secret is out

This week’s poem is by one of my favourite “buggers” W. H. Auden, whose poetry bares a lot of his soul, his experience of life, and his mastery of English Language.



At last the secret is out

At last the secret is out, as it always must come in the end,
The delicious story is ripe to tell to the intimate friend;
Over the tea-cups and in the square the tongue has its desire;
Still waters run deep, my dear, there’s never smoke without fire.
Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links,
Behind the lady who dances and the mad who madly drinks,
Under the look of fatigue, the attack of migraine and the sigh
There is always another story, there is more than meets the eye.
For the clear voice suddenly singing, high up in the convent wall,
The scent of the elder bushes, the sporting prints in the hall,
The croquet matches in summer, the handshake, the cough, the kiss,
There is always a wicked secret, a private reason for this.

Sunday, November 2

Changing palate (1)


In my last posting I made the promise of “changing my palate,” and in this one, I would like to deliver that promise, and announce the commencement of a series of posts under the general title of “Changing palate”

Ask any “expatriate” this question: “how do you bare the pain of being away from your roots?” and be patient to receive these words, “well, since the pain will never go away, you may as well get used to it, if you want to save yourself from a premature death caused by extreme unhappiness”.

It was by pure chance—the beginning of my journey to self-knowledge and finding my own bliss—when I stumbled upon Joseph Campbell’s A Hero with a Thousand Faces, The Power of Myth, and, of course, Follow Your Bliss.
As an “exile” I had a question: “what was I to become now, that I am no longer in my own land, where my roots had spread themselves very deeply and strongly and supported my crown for a very long time?” I needed a guide, for I was absolutely unhappy, and withdrawn.
In learning about myself, I became involved in exploring medieval poetry, for I developed a great appreciation for that genre of poetry which has the make up of an Epic, or a long poem that has many layers of truth-telling in its structure, that is built masterly and poetically around myths, that conveys meanings and messages, that speak wise words to the heart.
Before I became an “expatriate,” I was already familiar with Iranian epic Shahnameh, “The Epic of Kings,” by Hakim Abdol-Ghasem Ferdowsi Toosi (940-1020), whose aim was to create a broad and historical source for Iranians to draw their inspiration from, (Alas, we have yet to look into our own past and learn from it. God forbid, we may learn to be a strong nation!), but it was through Joseph Campbell’s writings that I became aware of the true meaning(s) behind the mythology of my own land, and I was, now, able to interpret my own myth, and withdraw inspiration and seek guidance from it. My heart needed to hear a lot of those stories, for I was in a great need to find the connection to the inner world. From somewhere I had to draw my energy, and the source would have to be within my reach! I knew that I was on the right path, for I had found a man whose teaching guided me to find my own centre. That was the very first crack on the thick shell of my exilic existence. It was to be my salvation, and, indeed, it has become.

Suddenly, I found myself in the realm of the unknown, yet very familiar, and in a language of myth I began exploring my own psychological being. Thus, I began to enjoy reading Epics and medieval poetry. And amazingly the primitive in me, who always identified with the Middle Eastern ancient myths, was now learning to acknowledge the connection between the Indo-European and Indo-Iranic mythologies, and with that came a great sense of relief. I learnt to appreciate the language of Myth, because that language spoke wise words to my heart, and provided a tailored guidance to my need! All of a sudden, even being an “expatriate” made sense to me, even though I had to bare the pain of being “unhappy” at times!

And perhaps, and because of such an encounter, I came to this rather bold conclusion that understanding the mythology of an “exile” requires a certain understanding of that very mythical language which is in close connection with a far past that is part of your present, and appreciating it is like appreciating a splendid Ballet or a memorable Opera. You need to develop an artistic “sense” to understand the language of a Ballet or an Opera in order to enjoy the performance, or otherwise you will not be able to do so. In respect to the mythology of an exilic existence, you either understand your position in the scheme of the story, or you don’t! Sounds strange, doesn’t it?!
Being an “expatriate” taught me to accept the fact that I may be divorced from my roots—to rephrase William Robertson Davies’ expression of an expatriate—but I am no longer away from my “roots,” for they are part of me forever. And this discovery came a bit later, when I encountered Carl Gustav Jung’s words, which assist me, still, in staying on the road to my own bliss, in Canada.



Till next post!
katayoun






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