I am standing on the escalator going down under the Pyramide de Louvre
October 17, 2005
I wrote this for a Tehran University virtual class reunion. These multi-faceted, inter-denominational dreams keep me awake most nights. Fellow Iranians will understand. If you are not far from DC area, I recommend you go and see Salvador Dali's Crucifix (maybe in Museum of Modern Art or the other one). in the picture you see the world from the point of view of Christ on the cross.
Dear friends, Romans, countrymen, classmates.com,
This is the extent of madness in a multi cultural, multidiciplinary (or lack thereof) dream. I have only transcribed it partially. Of last night's dream, here are some excerpts. There are large gaps and consider this as a draft (cherk nevees), some passages will be added later. But I promise not to send you any further "paak nevis".You guys are constantly in my dreams and Tehran University houses the most beautifully written chapters of my soul. In fact most nights I see myself sitting next to Ferdowsi's bronze, seated statue (with 2 bolsters/motakkas)in front of Daneshkadeye Adabiyyaat and looking at life from there. I conduct many "class reunions" plus many musicals and operas from that vantage point.
I am standing on the escalator going down under the Pyramide de Louvre. It is November but a sunny day in Paris, and I see rainbows on the marble floor beneath the glass pyramid that is sucking the sun light and projecting it in all directions illuminating the Richelieu wing and the Sully wing... the pyramid idea coming from ancient Egypt to Paris by an American architect of Japanese origin, I. M. Pie, to bring the sunlight into the far corners of this ancient palace/ museum.
Napoleon wanted to bring Egypt to France, IM Pie has succeeded in realizing Napoleon's dream. I am playing cards with the gamblers by Cezanne and then move on to David's Coronation of Napoleon. I go and sit next to Mme Recamier on her famous reclining chair. She turns and smiles at me I say bonjour, comme vous êtes chic, elegante, parisienne. She compliments me on my good accent en français and asks where I learned French.
I tell her my Mom, being extra ambitious for her children to learn the language of Victor Hugo, Molière, Voltaire, Aragon, Prevert, brought Mademoiselle Dominique to our house in Tehran and that is how I learnt French. + in Lausanne and many hours in the language lab, repeating doggedly after Monsieur Guex, plus a thousand linguistic shocks that the mind of immigrant is heir to.
Mme. Recamier gets up and takes my hand, we walk together with Mme. DeStael and Mona Lisa down the path in DaVinci's La Joconde, we are in the Tuscan countryside. I turn and wink at one of the guards in the Grand Gallery at the Louvre who smiles back and waves his hand, and then I ask Mona Lisa what DaVinci really meant by her smile? She laughs loud, throws her head back, and puts her hand around my shoulder and we all sit down at the table opposite Christ in the Last supper by Dali who is also sitting at the table.
I am thrilled to be in such celebrated company and say to Dali that it is a nice coincidence that he was named after the saviour, Salvadore, and now we are having the last supper with Him. Dali says: your dream notwithstanding, the Last Supper is in Washington DC, and the original DaVinci Last Supper is on the wall in Milano, Italy. I answer:
To be or not to be: that is the question. To dream or not to dream. ay, there's the rub;
I go up to the stage to receive my academy award for the best foreign Opera production. I take the microphone: Friends, Romans, Countrymen lend me your ears:
If it were now to die, it were Now to be most happy ... .most happy. Why the beautiful child is going blind? Why, why, why? [Sorrow] ... is a wound that bleeds when any hand but that of love touches it, and even then must bleed again, though not in pain. Where there is sorrow there is holy ground. (Oscar Wilde, DeProfundis)
Then I recite Hafez and Rumi in Persian and then speak in prose, a la Mr. Jourdain in Molière: ...
Az aan be deyre Moghanam aziz midarand ... ke aatashi ke namirad hamishe dar del e maast. ... Why do they honor me, in the Magi's monastery?
It is for this fire in our hearts,
That keeps glowing eternally, Hafez is smiling and nodding to Dali and to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Stranger, what do you seek or ask from us?
Tamino: friendship and love.
And are you prepared even if it costs you your life?
Tamino: I am. (Magic Flute, Mozart)
Rostam Dastan enters the stage and sings with a great tenor voice: be baazaargaani az Iran be Toor/ bepeymoodam een raah e doshvaar o Duur. To save you from this prison. Then Ferdowsi himself who has been sitting on his pedestal, leaning against those two bolsters, comes down on the stage and recites his poem: out of verses did I build, a mighty castle, that neither wind nor rain nor passage of time can destroy ... (add more) nor shall we cease from exploration and at the end of our exploring shall arrive where we started ... .
My body is a garage where I park my soul. I want my soul to be a Ferrari, a Rolls Royce a Firebird and a Lamborghini, a bus and a tank and a Harley Davidson all at once. Maybe also a bike, for good measure. Environment-friendly and all that. How the garage looks is not important, although I try to repair the leaky roof and put a fresh coat of paint, every once in a while. But I keep my concentration on the Firebird's engine. The fire in our hearts, the eternal, deathproof fire of Zoroaster,
There is a cool place where the soul of the deer will no longer wish to escape.
Luciano Pavarotti enters the stage and sings of the battle of Rostam and Afrasiab. There is Zahhak e Mardoosh and Mefisto, Vodan and professor Dumbledore at the back of the stage and Pavarotti/Rostam speaks to Dr. Faustus ... "time is short but Art is long". Bijan and Manijeh are sitting in the background with Fereydoon, under the shade of a lime blossom tree, on one of those park benches with attached wooden table, by the cascading waters of Haft Hoz. Leili and Majnoon are sitting with them too. They are having tea with gaz from Isphahan. Leili is laughing aloud and Dr. Faustus looks at her and then smiles at Rostam who is sitting on a rock next to his magnificent horse Rakhsh. I see also the marble horses of Marley by the Pyramid du Louvre, Bahram and Farimah and Khishtan and Farideh and Lagha are sitting with me on the bench by the Pyramid of Louvre. We are having sandwich Jambon with Pepsi. Farideh is laughing and reading " the Pulse".
We are going to visit Pere La Chaise, Oscar wilde and Hedayat and Saa`edi and his "Caw" Gaav. Suddenly khaale Sooskeh and aqa Mooshe appear out of Shahr e Qesse and tap dance in front of us. I notice that Didi and Gogo and Potzo and Lucky (from Waiting for Godot) are sitting next to us watching Shahr e Qesse with us.waiting for Godot: story of Iran's life, nowhere else is Beckett's play as popular, eternally waiting for...
Farimah reads from Wilde, the Fisherman and his soul, and then the Birthday of the Infanta. we ask her to read Yeates: the soul remembering its loneliness, under the frenzy of the fourteenth moon, the soul begins to tremble into stillness,
An aged man (woman) is a paltry thing, a tattered coat upon a stick, unless soul clap its hands and sing,& louder sing, for every tatter in its mortal dress. Cyrano takes off his large hat and bows to Farideh, and Bahram recites: the Girl with long braided hair ... . Hundreds of seas later ... and a thousand mirrors yonder ...
Goli's to do list: clean kitchen shelves/ buy milk, bread, fruit, / bring enlightenment to Iran's government / fix nails/ repair Shamsol Emareh / make appointment re. Haircut/ free Ganji and save his life/ make more pedestrian crossings in Tehran / mend socks / make Palestinians and Israelis love each other / do more exercise (abdominals, knee bends, + push ups , rope jumps) , Rostam gets on his splendid horse Rakhsh, and gallops to where Ganji is kept, picks him up, puts him on Rakhsh and gallops away to Zabolestan and the top of Kooh e Qaaf mountain where Seemorgh is waiting to educate us. We all want to be brought up by Seemorgh and by none other.
I come from Tehran,
I speak Persian, but I learnt YOUR language,
and many others as well.
So that once in a while,
I can give a big party, of the literary variety,
and invite everybody.
This evening dinner is sumptuous,
my sister has helped and she is the best.
You can smell the delicious saffron rice
a block away.
I have invited Cyrano, Jacques Prévert ,
Corneille, Racine, Jean Valjean
Voltaire, Candide, Shakespeare,
Roxanne (from Cyrano),
Sa'di, Hafez, Mowlana Rumi
Forough Farrokhzad, Sepehri,
Goethe, Dante, Oscar Wilde,
Jane Austin, Heydarbaba de Shahriyar
Vahshi, Omar Khayyam, Ferlinghetti, Eliot, Shaw,
Pezechkzad, Yeates, Mme. De Stael,
Bahar, Khoii, Moshiri, Corine,
Bahrami who is talking to Khanomjun,
we talk in blank verse. Mathnavi, Rubaii
except Monsieur Jourdain who speaks "en prose"
to Emma(Bovary/ Woodhouse)
everybody understands everybody perfectly.
Upham Pope, Smoking his Meerschaum pipe
Is sitting, relaxed and is talking to grandma,
Phyllis Ackerman, Omar Khayyam
and Solzhenitsin are listening. Rudaki is smiling and playing his guitar.
My favorite, beloved aunt Aqdas Khanom
is sitting by the big shiny Samovar
that reflects the lights of the chandelier,
and the lights of the luminaries
seated around my table
this is indeed the age of enlightenment tonight.
Grandma pours tea in the porcelain cups,
With lots of ceremony, as usual
And I take the tea around the table
While Aqdas Khanom sends Ragueneau, the pastry-cook from Cyrano,
To take around almond cakes and baqlava.
Ragueneau looks happy to serve his "rhymers"
Hafez calls me by waving his hand
And whispers discretely: wine!
So I take around some red and some white wine
And I say: Thanks a lot, gentlemen and ladies,
dear poets and writers, thanks for coming,
you have honoured me by your presence,
you have enlightened my house tonight, enriched my life
and embellished the interior design
of those fabulous spaces of my dreams,
I have spent the best times of my life feasting at your parties
It is high time that I invite you in return,
Welcome to my house, and
Please, make yourselves at home.
I am Going up to Darekeh, Hafthoz ,and further up, forgot the name of the top station where you get to drink tea with dates and maybe an omelette for breakfast with hot bread from the oven.
--I am getting pomegranate juice at another stop on the mountain.
Then I am jumping over a stream of clean water coming down the cracks in the mountain and I hear a 14 year old boy singing to himself or to his companion: reeg Amoon o doroshtihaye u ... zir paayam parniaan aayad hami..I am walking through Seyd Esmaaiil Bazaar south of Tehran Bazaar (Sabze meydaan), and go to meet Aagha Rezaaye Rikhtegar ... he has a foundry right there in his small shop, does neat, precise work, has prepared what I had designed.
I am visiting Artist Tabrizi in his studio, feasting my eyes on his exquisite works, also visiting: Changiz Shahvaq, Abdollah Hesaam, Ali Farshbaf, Kadkani, Eslaami Nodooshan, Mashad, Toos ( marqad e ostaade Toos ast een be darbash jobbeh saay...ze paayat mooze kan.
golaab geeri, Qamsar, I smell those roses, whole fields of them.
Khaneye Ardabilihaa, Kashan
Ferdowsi statue in front of Taalaare Ferdowsi, Tehran University.
Book store hopping in front of Tehran University and coming home needing a truck! Not just for the books, but also posters, post cards, exquisite works of art ... maybe a suffocating atmosphere (moheete khafaqaan) is more conducive to creation of such extraordinarily beautiful works of art ... Maybe absolute freedom and comfort are not always the ideal conditions for production of top quality artwork. Sometimes hard times and suffocating censorship, even sorrow and tragedy may be conducive to the creation of great works of art and the soaring of human imagination. Maybe from the depth of a miserable prison, the human soul will try to reach for the stars.
As Einstein once remarked: "I believe with Schopenhauer that one of the strongest motives that leads men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness ... A finely tempered nature longs to escape from personal life into the world of objective perception and thought." Tell me about it! Our eternal Persian dilemma: this world or the next? Here and Now or the Garden of Paradise, Pardis, morghe baagh e malakoot or aalame khaak, are we birds of Paradise or of this earth? somebody could write a book on this question.
I am browsing through the bazaar in Amirabad (forgot the name) ... standing for hours in front of art works from Tanavoli, weeping of joy, "Nightingale and the Rose" ,and "oneness of existence", Vahdate Vojud Tanavoli's student: Mash Esmaaiil , his iron goats and Don Quichotes all over the place. I am skiing in Dizin then in Shemshak, eating baked beets in the street in winter. Chelokabob in Nayeb, Yaas, Tehran Baazaar, I am looking at mountains, and then their photos by Kasraaiyan, and all the Exceptionally glorious works of art that (just now as we speak) artists of my country do not cease to produce, do not cease to produce, do not cease to...