The country that is not

Kurds do not have much in common to unite in a single country?

12-Sep-2008 (15 comments)
A renowned and experienced Swedish diplomat by the name Ingmar Karlsson has recently been the top news in Sweden. Some angry bloggers and newspaper columnists want him fired and some cheer him on. The reason has got nothing to do with his diplomatic work. It has to do with his latest book: Kurdistan, a country that is not (Kurdistan, landet som icke är). The title of the book (beside Kurdistan) is derived from a Swedish poem about a wonderful place that exist only in dreams and not in reality. Since the release of his book Mr Karlsson has been under heavy fire. >>>


Persia in Shakespeare

New book: "Shakespeare, Persia, and the East"

11-Sep-2008 (6 comments)
Shakespeare was interested in the travels of his countrymen. He dealt with or touched upon foreign trade and commerce in several of his plays. He must have read some books and pamphlets on the travels of the Sherleys in particular. In the autumn of 1601 a little book by William Parry was published in London. Parry had accompanied Sir Anthony from the beginning of his journey. On his return to England he wrote his book that was the first on the travels of the Sherleys to Persia. It is “an account of Sir Anthony’s journey from England to Italy and then to Antioch, Aleppo down the Euphrates to Babylon, across the Tigris River into Persian territory to Qazvin, the former capital thence to Isfahan the new capital, the seat of Shah Abbas, the Sophy...>>>


Caught in troubles by a few

Review: Sayed Kashua's "Let it be Morning"

09-Sep-2008 (2 comments)
Translated from the Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger, this bestselling semi-autobiographical novel, Let it be Morning* by famed 30-year old Israeli-Arab journalist Sayed Kashua, exhibits a haunting and highly-disturbing narrative, comprising a series of political events that revolve around one reporter's brooding introspection of modern day Israel. Rude awakenings promise to seal the character's changed identity permanently and without consent. It is the unnamed character's shock at seeing his township being rapidly stripped away of its familiar Arabic history and territorial links with Israel, that the reader must reluctantly come to terms with>>>



این مجموعه امید دارد، تا راه پیشرفت را بر جوانان توانا و عامه امیدوار روشنتر سازد

03-Sep-2008 (4 comments)
ایران هزار سال تمدن و تاریخ پارسی قبل از اسلام را نیز در خاطره اجتماعی خود محفوظ دارد، که حتی به موجودیت کشور بعد از سلطه اعراب هم رنگی جدا و طرحی سوا می بخشد. این گذشته باستانی با حفظ زبان فارسی در برابر عربی و با تثبیت مذهب تشیع در مقابل اسلام سُنی، ایران را پیوسته از جریانات غالب اسلامی و عربی جدا ساخته و حتی به رقابت و دشمنی کشانده است. در ارتباط با تمدن غرب نیز با وجود قرنها سلطه و تأثیر یونانی، نفوذ استعماری روس و انگلیس در قرن نوزدهم و روند غرب گرایی و اصلاح طلبی قرن بیستم، ایران تأثیر بسیار پذیرفته اما هویت رفتاری و فرهنگی خود را حفظ نموده است. سومین عامل تعیین کننده در حیات هزار ساله اخیر ایران، نقش اجتماعی و نظامی اقوام سلحشور و مهاجر ترک تبار است که با وجود تشکیل تنها یک چهارم جمعیت، اکثریت قریب به اتفاق حکومتهای ایرانی تا قرن بیستم را رهبری نموده اند. >>>


Bedroom Do’s and Don’ts

2,500 Years of Sexual Relations in Iran

02-Sep-2008 (25 comments)
Male superiority was a sine qua non, also in sexual matters. Women were on the receiving end; they were dominated by their underlying position by the man, and this showed who was in charge. Because marriage gives the man the right to have sex with his wife, a woman can neither leave her husband’s bed when she has been invited nor refuse to come; she even has to cut her prayers short when he wants to sleep with her. Furthermore, because a man has paid for his wife, (although payment of the mahr usually takes place on divorce), only he has the right to decide when and how he wants to have sex, which he also might want for medical reasons. For only men are allowed to show sexual desire, also towards women with whom they are not married>>>


Be Longing

BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World

02-Sep-2008 (5 comments)
I hate it when I take too long to write a review. It seems these days that the intense competition on Iranian.com has created a speed match of postings. But I am sorry, I just can't work that way. Especially when I really like something. I want to savour it a bit before I jump in and write about it. So, to those of you who have read a previous review of "BELONGING", I apologize, hopefully you'll like mine as well. If you will trust me though, and don't want to read my justification, you can know that this is simply one of those books you need to have on your shelves, one you can look for and find at a party, and hand to one of your closer American friends and smilingly say, "Here Bradley, this will explain everything!" >>>


Counter-Narration from the Borderlands

There are no pomegranates to be found in Porochista Khakpour's novel

Long before, and especially after 9/11 we have been bombarded with perverted and sinister images and ideas of the Middle East: the region, the peoples, the history, and the cultures. How do people who identify as Middle Eastern realize these images and ideas on which popular consciousness has been built, and how do we understand ourselves with or without them? Whether through the Axis of Evils’ comic relief, Suheir Hammad’s poetics, or the Philistines’ beats and rhymes, Middle Eastern communities have addressed the deep understanding of what it has meant to be Middle Eastern according to imperial eyes in creative and commanding ways.>>>


Sharing the pain

Yasmina Khadra's "The Attack"

No matter the questions of the puzzled observer and the clever expert, there are never any proper answers. Forget the possibility of even half-baked ones. The mind of the suicide bomber already blessed for her spiritual martyrdom, is unworkable for a psychological penetration, mute to ramblings and secretive to disclosures. The intimidating icy personality disguised behind its feminine veil, shuns any attempt at recalling the basic laws of compassion and the resurrection bearing any normal perspective of humanity that would have long faded away, by the time the hour of the ghastly act dawns>>>


Stupid, and proud of it

Rational thought and free inquiry vs. faith

18-Aug-2008 (9 comments)
Through centuries of living, learning, experimenting, experiencing, innovating and gaining vast knowledge, man has evolved to the next level. Today we are guided by our conscience and act with humanity; we no longer are bound by “one book”, rather we have many books to choose from for any aspect of our lives. Hitchens writes: “Literature, not scripture, sustains the mind … and the soul. … Religion spoke its last intelligible or noble or inspiring words a long time ago, … the devotions of today are the echoing repetitions of yesterday, sometimes ratcheted up to screaming point so as to ward off the terrible emptiness.” >>>


Irrational eyes

The blind and Mr. Saramago's blindness

07-Aug-2008 (2 comments)
The picture that Jose Saramago presents of the blind is more repulsive than any Eugenicist dares to draw. The reader asks himself if this writer before writing his book had ever met a blind person or after publishing his story, has he ever received feedback from a blind reader? It is ironic that Mr. Saramago intends to write a book in order to criticize a kind of ideological/spiritual bias by which human society is divided into "us" and "the others", but the result is Blindness in which the author has slipped into one of the worst kinds of bigotry>>>


Our blended imagination

Book: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World

04-Aug-2008 (6 comments)
In my eighth year as a child growing up in Iran, I spontaneously composed a stanza, a poem, observing the falling of snow, when something took over and I knew it was poetry I was jotting down in a nylon-covered notebook. That notebook remained in the piles of things left behind. This was the country in which I recited over and over again “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, / But I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep, / And miles to go before I sleep” for our fifth-grade English class. In the fourth grade, the entire class would stand up from our wooden benches and recite an homage poem to mothers. At home, it was Sohrab Sepehri, “Wherever I am, let me be / The sky is mine / … Our work is perhaps / To run after the song of truth/in the distance between the lotus and the century.”>>>


ex-super power

Fareed Zakaria's "The Post-American World"

04-Aug-2008 (10 comments)
Americans are fascinated with bigness. We believe we should have the best and the biggest of everything. Only ten years ago, the United States was at the top of the world’s biggest lists in most categories. That is the thing of the past according to Mr. Fareed Zakaria the author of a book entitled; The Post-American World. Consider the following facts: “The tallest building in the world is in Taipei, The world’s richest man is Mexican. Largest publicly-traded company is Chinese. The world’s biggest plane is built in Russia and Ukraine, (the) leading refinery is under construction in India, and (the) largest factories are in China. The biggest movie industry in terms of both movies made and tickets sold is Bollywood, not Hollywood. Of the top ten malls in the world, only one is in the United States; the world’s biggest is in Beijing” according to Mr. Zakaria>>>


دوزخ روی زمین

قصدم نه درافتادن با دین بلکه ریشه‌یابیِ "اختناقِ مُقدّس" و نقاب برداشتن از چهره‌‌ی جنایتکاران است

26-Jul-2008 (5 comments)
من در دهه‌ی ۶۰ خورشیدی، ده‌سال در زندان‌های اوین، قزل‌حصار و گوهردشت به سر بردم و نه تنها خود مورد شکنجه‌های سیستماتیک قرار گرفتم،‌ بلکه از نزدیک شاهد اعمال آن بر دیگر زندانیان نیز بودم. علاوه بر تجربه‌ی شخصی و ارتباط نزدیک با صدها زندانی سیاسی زن و مرد آزاد شده، از تجربه‌ی پنج ساله‌ی همسرم در زندان‌های جمهوری اسلامی نیز برخوردار بوده‌ام و تقریباً تمامی کتاب‌های انتشار یافته درباره‌ی زندان‌های جمهوری اسلامی را خوانده‌ام. در این تحقیق من با اتکا به پیشینه‌ی مذهبی و شناخت نسبی‌ درباره‌‌ی کارکرد مذهب و چگونگی عجین شدن آن در تاروپود فرهنگ مردم ایران، تلاش کرده‌‌ام آن‌چه را که نظام جمهوری اسلامی ایران تحت نام اسلام، قرآن و مجازات‌های شرعی در زندان قزل‌حصار بر روی گروهی از زنان زندانی اعمال کرده، به قضاوت عموم بگذارم. >>>


The weak against the strong

Excerpt from Edward Browne's "Letters From Tabriz"

24-Jul-2008 (3 comments)
“My own conviction is that the mere tyranny of an autocrat would hardly have driven the patient and tractable people of Persia into revolt had tyranny at home been combined with any maintenance of prestige abroad or any moderately efficient guardianship of Persian independence. It was the combination of inefficiency, extravagance, and lack of patriotic feeling with tyranny which proved insupportable; and a constitutional form of Government was sought not so much for its own sake as for the urgent necessity of creating a more honest, efficient, and patriotic Government than the existing one.” >>>


Before it's too late

Punisher of pride and hubris waits impatiently for her meeting with us

24-Jul-2008 (2 comments)
Nemesis is Chalmers Johnson‘s third volume from his "inadvertent trilogy". Edith Hamilton, an expert in ancient Greek mythology, says Nemesis stands for “righteous anger.” The first of this trilogy was Blowback, the term, invented by the CIA, refers to the unintended results of American actions abroad. In this incisive and controversial book, Chalmers Johnson lays out in vivid detail the dangers faced by our overextended empire, which insists on projecting its military power to every corner of the earth using American capital and markets to force global economic integration on its own terms>>>