Saturday, April 25

The Wolf and the Sow




From the Fables of Marie De France—a 12th-Century poetess, I have selected The Wolf and the Sow, translated by Harriet Spiegel (1987), reprinted in The Norton Anthology of English Literature.(7th ed., vol I.)



The Wolf and the Sow

Once long ago a wolf strolled down
A path and chanced to come upon
A sow who was with piglets big.
He hastily approached the pig.
He’d give her peace, he told the sow,
If quickly she’d bear piglets now—
Her piglet babes he wished to have.
With wisdom, this response she gave:
“My lord, how can you hurry me?
When you, so close to me u see,
I cannot bear my young outright;
I’m so ashamed when in your sight.
Do you not sense the implication?
All women suffer degradation
If male hands should dare to touch
At such a time, or even approach!”
With this the wolf hid in retreat
Who’d sought the baby pigs to eat.
The mother pig could now proceed
Who through her cleverness was freed.
All women ought to hear this tale.
And should remember it as well:
Merely to avoid a lie,
They should not let their children die
!

Monday, April 20

A thing between You and I

Northern Iran

What I had in mind, when I started my contribution to this blog, was a raw idea of being a voice of a generation that was lost in the depth of revolution, war, and forced-migration. I wanted to be a voice of that particular generation, many of whom perished during the youth-cleansing of the 1983-1989 charged by the very power of the Islamic Revolution of the 1979, while the others carried on their task of being invisibly alive, painfully successful and visibly ignored by our own people. If our parents received sever punishment for the crime they never committed, we got the rotten hand of being ignored—an unfair treatment by the people of outrages passion and week sense of logic!

While our “Independent Intellectuals” were having the time of their lives, making names to be recorded in the most obscure chapter of the history of Modern Intellectual’s activities in Iran, the ordinary Iranian was living in total isolation of mind and spirit because he was awaiting the miraculous intervention of the Intellectual Man. But, who cares?

Many have asked, and will ask this question over and over until they find an answer to it. But who can blame those who do not seem to care? With a revolution like that, there emerged a new class of Iranian citizens called the Indifferent Class, a ruling class that is mean in spirit and soulless in thoughts, and vicious in actions. And this new Class would not give a nickel to anything but their own desires and needs. And who had a great hand in the creation of such a Class, but the Iranian-Intellectual-Man; the Man of all Men, whose palm is always itchy to grab hand-outs and pave the way for the coming of the missionaries. Meanwhile, The Indifferent Class grows into a monster of hideous size and feature, ready to tear you into pieces, but can it survive its own power? Or will it be the case that the Intellectual Man finally has to destroy his own creation?

Katayoun

Saturday, April 11

Personal troubles and public issues

"When, in a city of 100,000, only one man is unemployed, that is his personal trouble, and for its relief we properly look to the character of the man, his skills, and his immediate opportunities. But when in a nation of 50 million employees, 15 million men are unemployed, that is an issue, and we may not hope to find its solution within the range of opportunities open to any one individual"(9).

C Wright Mills (1959) The Sociological Imagination

Thursday, April 9

Leda and the Swan

The National Gallery, London


Leda and the Swan

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, he thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop
?

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Monday, April 6

We Belong!

The Province of Gilan, Iran


When an Iranian-Canadian, who has, only recently, moved away from Iran to live in Canada tells me that I no longer “belong” to Iran because I no longer live in that country, I get twitch all over my body. Ah, the stupidity of these narrow-minded mules makes me chuckle but with tears in my eyes.


A friend who is with me interjects, “are you crazy? We’re all Iranians. You guys don’t see it that way, because you are still and relatively new in this country. Trying to establish yourself you’ll need your roots more than anything else to help you through. So, you see, we, who are not your ideal Iranians, are as Iranian as the rest of us who are living in Iran. We try our best to keep the culture alive. Without it we couldn’t have survived the displacement. So, you see, if I were as na├»ve as you are, I should have said that we are more Iranian than the ones like you. But, I only say this: We Belong despite your dislike!"

And I believe that truth will set all of us free!
Katayoun