Adonis Diaries

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Readers of the World Unite“: And how the Iranians are fairing?

Random House Reader’s Circle had a conversation with Azar Nafisi (Iranian by origin) who had published “Reading Lolita in Tehran“. This is an abridged version of a long conversation.

Azar Nafisi said that her deepest wish is to organize a march to Washington DC under the slogan “Readers of the World Unite”, and demand more funding for reading classes in educational systems.

She said: Home is where you feel this urge to keep questioning, criticising, wanting to change, and getting engaged in organizing citizens…Once you feel entirely complacent and very comfortable, it is time to contemplate moving away to another “Homeland” and getting immersed in community difficulties…

Must keep the motherland alive inside you, even in memories…

The German philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote that the highest form of morality is Not to feel at home in your own home…

Azar Nafisi said: All individual experienced stories are deemed subversive, anywhere you live, by particular classes of the power-to-be: The absolute and narrow mindset exist even in democratic systems.

As you tell your side of the story, your story takes control over the “ideological reality“, a pseudo reality imposed on society.

Books are the best ambassadors to the new world you are traveling to:

How people cope when they live under oppressive realities

How people create open spaces through their imagination in order to resist tyrannies of Time and political systems

How people manage to break down boundaries by reading books and connect with other open spaces they have never been to

How people learn to interpret the open spaces in a way that feels fresh

And what is the perception of Azar of the new generations in Iran under the “Islamic Republic”?

This generation in Iran is fighting for every right and bit of freedom that they have.

This generation suffered with the flesh and blood for individual rights. Many have been flogged, jailed, fined, and penalized for just wanting to dress the way they want to, to see the films they like to watch, to express their love freely

This generation is connected to the world: There is no East or West for the Iranian new generation: They want to know all, and they appreciate Hannah Arendt, and Karl Popper, they read Saul Bellow and Vladimir Nabokov…

The former revolutionaries and their children are questioning the system.

The women have been involved to bring to the attention of the system that they have a long history of engagement of their own, and the system cannot rob their acquired rights easily…

Andrew Bossone shared TRAP – The Real Art of Protest‘s photo.

 

 

A few questions for discussion are proposed:

1. What should fiction accomplish?

2. Why should anyone read at all?

3. Can a woman observe wearing the veil and object to its political enforcement?

4. How can a person who “lose his place in the world” do survive physically and creatively?

5. Have you realized the true meaning of exile, as you set foot back to your home country?

6. Are novels sensual expressions of another world?

7. Do novels appeal to the reader’s capacity for compassion and empathizing with people of different cultures?

8. Do you think that the experience of censorship, fundamentalism, human rights, enjoyment of work of the imagination, and the desire for individual freedom…are similar in totalitarian societies and in democracies as well?

9. Don’t you believe that if you let every character in the novel speak his minds and opinions, you are in fact disseminating a kind of “Democratic Imagination”? The kind that obfuscate the narrow-minded people?

10, Do you think that humor and irony are the worst subversive writing styles for the absolutist and autocratic mindset, a style that render them as mad as wasp?

Note: You may connect with http://www.azarnafisi.com 

Commenting on “Navigating Space in writing”

Christi Craig published this post:  

I have space issues. I’m a confessed claustrophobic, yet I sometimes dream of living in a tiny home, having everything within reach.

I like the minimalist philosophy and the idea of using space efficiently. I’m a sucker for pockets upon pockets in a bag, secret drawers in a closet, or hidden compartments in jewelry boxes. There’s so much one can fit into small quarters with the right organization and planning.

That would explain my affinity for flash fiction. I love stories in a compact space, short shorts that insist I take my word limit seriously. There isn’t room for unnecessary details or dialogue. And, in a good flash fiction, more is revealed if you read beyond character gestures and listen to pauses in speech.

Thoughts on my preference for small spaces also helps me understand why writing a novel continues to baffle me. Moving from flash fiction to a novel parallels my experience when we upgraded from a one bedroom apartment to our first home, an overwhelming three bedroom house.

Rooms sat empty for a while.
The sound of footsteps bounced off plastered ceilings and wood floors.
Everything echoed, until we filled the rooms.
With furniture.
A rug.
Curtains.

Filling out a novel with 80,000 words is killing me. And, I’m not alone.

Jenna Blum, in her post on Grub Street Daily (“Can’t I Just Write 15 Stories About the Same People: Turning Short Stories Into a Novel”), responds to another writer’s same question: how the heck do you move from short form to long?

If you can write a short story, you can write a novel–because both of them have beginning, middle and end…The short story contains its own arc.  The novel imposes its arc on a series of chapters–or stories.

Blum says: “sure, you can write a series of stories on the same person, but there’s more to the novel that comes out in the narrative arc and plot. If a short story is…a kiss from a stranger, a novel is a long love affair.”

So, I don’t want to sell my story short (there must be a pun in there somewhere), but I still cringe at the 80,000 word mark. What I want is to merge the idea of a novel being a long series of flash fiction pieces, while keeping in mind Blum’s caution not to lose the novel’s theme throughout.

What about you? How do you move from short form to long, or vice versa?

Or, maybe you want to talk about itty bitty living quarters?….”

First, I like the “pockets upon pockets in a bag”.  In my case it is more of a plastic bag, many plastic bags in a bag, and the smaller bag within the bigger bag.  This is how I organize a trekking trip or going to the beach…Beside these cumbersome outings, I am considered a very disorganized person to mother, but I can navigate within my own disorganized objects.  Until mother sneaks in my room to organized my small space:  I have to remember how the hell all was “organized” before the re-organization happened to find my way properly.

Writing a long novel is a learning process:  It is more of viewing the multicolored arc in the sky and re-arranging the colors, and relocating the arc.  I published two novels on my blog, way beyond the 80,000 words, but each chapter was an opportunity to soar in my imagination.

After finishing my academic dissertation, I refused to write any “professional” book with references…What I read and assimilated is my own idea: That is why we read and reflect on topics; so that we construct our own model of life and the universe, the only reality that exists.

Characters in fiction novels are never fictitious:  Each character represents your own potentials, or what you missed in desires and wants and challenges. Fiction novels can be viewed as quick and dirty researched topics superimposed on developed diaries.

Why anyone would write if the story is not about his story, dreams, and desires?

Why anyone would write if he didn’t reach a stage to consider his model of life and the universe a valid model to disseminate and be challenged?

There are no lack of topics and subject matters, unless you are not conscious of building your own world, the real reality.

Does God exist?  It is Not a matter of proof but choices in belief systems.  If we had proofs of God’s existence then, this discussion will be out of subject matter; religions will have no basis to exist and resume spreading humongous illusions that satisfy our desire to immortality and the absolute.

Does God exist?  If we had proofs that God existed then, religions would not have displaced philosophy (although both systems are based on premises that have no foundations in facts and experimentations) in the mind of youth and the majority of people living in an insecure world, internally and externally.

Does God exist?  It is a matter of choices in belief system:  “I believe God exist”, “I don’t believe God exist”, or I intermittently change my belief position with age, conditions, experiences, and eye-witness accounts that affect my previous dispositions.  Do I truly believe that God exists?  Do I truly believe that God does not exist?  Am going through a temporary state of imbecility and feeling totally self-satisfied in my good conscience?  Am I having hard times and decided to invest time reflecting, injecting a healthy dose of skepticism and suspicions in belief systems that are fraught with illusions and untenable premises?

If we are certain that we shall die, that earth will eventually vanish, that what mankind has imagined and produced will be lost then, can we start carrying on a discussion based on compassion, humility, and lucidity?

Do you know that this century witnessed 140 armed conflicts totaling more than 150 millions in casualties.  More than twenty conflict produced over one million killed.  For every killed you may estimate another one dying within a month and two others handicapped for life physically, mentally or both.  Thus, in this century or one billion were victims of direct armed conflicts. WWII killed more than 60 millions.  Two dozen conflicts are still on going for decades and the toll is accumulating.  Mind that in every decade, one billion die of famine and curable diseases.  The UN estimated that currently there is one billion earning less than a dollar per day and have no shelters:  Which means, all the most downtrodden of the billion of mankind will invariably die within the decade of famine and curable diseases.

Tell me: If the God you believe exists to be absolutely jealous, absolutely vengeful, absolutely powerful… can your God outperform mankind in evil doing?  If your God has any notion of compassion how can mankind degenerate generation after generation?

Tell me:  If your God is absolute love, absolute resilience, and absolute compassion… then, can he outperform mothers bringing up and nurturing naturally new-born beasts for over 20 years so that he may be inducted in the community of the civilized world of mankind?

We are lucid in our frailty, shortcomings, weaknesses, and what is in our will to change.  A single step depends on thousands of other factors not dependent on the individual.  We are aware that knowledge is relative and that moral values are relative.  We yearn for an absolute, an invariable, a timeless entity to win this race for us.  We created this absolute entity and lavished 99 absolute names on Him so that this God will tame our natural violence, will give us incentives to learn to be compassionate, to hold communities in brotherhood of respect and dignity.  How this God was interpreted to encourage violence, hate, racism, and inequality in dignity and opportunities?

Tell me:  If your God is absolute power, absolute in lucidity, absolutely siding with peace and justice… then, why your God does not make the effort to prove it?  Are you still waiting for signs and enumerating countless signs from Books when what mankind needs is a simple act, even occasionally?

Why this God is totally impotent demonstrating his power such as whispering to the governments for a moratorium on armed conflicts even for a single day; inspiring politicians to increasing their contribution for developing countries to 2% of State GNP?

Was God created to appeasing mankind, to reassuring him, to consoling him by sneakily overwhelming him with grandiose illusions of well-being and satisfaction of all our desires in the after-life?  Designing an absolutely compassionate God who has never demonstrated it  is too beautiful to be true.

Puny avatar, how dare you excite for wars in the name of God? How dare you harangue for civil wars in the name of God.  How dare you discriminate among men in the name of God.  You puny avatar:  Why in the name of God?

There are two major line of belief systems:  people who want to believe in a God (whether external to mankind or created my man) and those who don’t want to even think about an absolute and invariable God such as Buddhism.  Reality proves that mankind can survive without a structured belief system in God.

No need to imposing your belief system on your neighbor:  Whay works for you does not work for your neighbor.  You have the right to explaining and sharing your belief but your neighbor has the right, duty, and responsibility to reflect and figure out his belief system.

Note:  I know that the first comments will be just pages after pages of excerpts of verses from “Books” on the existence of God and I shall refuse to join this game.

At will, all Fire (July 17, 2009)

 

            There was a time, not that long ago, and still going strong into the 21st century, some people labeled themselves “White Race”.  Most of them had not skin that white and the color of the eyes were not that blue at all.  Most of them were not that tall: they were downright pigmies; they smelt like pork and were scared of water to wash body and cloth.  A few could read the “Bible” but most were practically illiterate; they were good obeying orders in ruthless military organizations. The one practical task they were proficient in was happy triggers; they didn’t even need to shoot accurately.

            There are horror stories of genocide against the “heathen and uncivilized people” in all of the America, north, middle, and south, and in the pacific Islands.  Those people, the “barbarous”, were indiscriminately shot at and wiped out.  Darwin reported in his “Voyage of a naturalist around the world” that he was shocked when he witnessed the killing of all women above 20 years of age; the soldiers of the expedition in Argentina replied “What else can we do? Those savages have so many babies.”

            M.H. Long reported how the Indians of “Terre de feu” in the extreme part of Argentina (Patagonia) were exterminated so that sheep could be raised and fatten the white “latifundists” of the haciendas. The Scottish Mac Lean was called “Red Pig” by the Indians for the mass slaughter he undertook without any remorse.  The white mercenaries wiped off 400 Tehuelches Indians in the Onas region who were assembled in a night party to seal off an agreement.  Captain Pedro de Valdivia tried to repeat this kind of “business” in Chili but he and all his 120 soldiers were massacred.

            The “famous” authors were no less racist in their reporting or writing.  Jules Verne never missed a good shooting spree story at savages; in “Five weeks in balloon” they are shooting at the African negros from the top of a balloon; in “The children of captain Grant” they are shooting at will on Maoris in New Guinea from the top of rocky hills; in “The travel around the world in 80 days” they are killing the Sioux Indians from the doors of moving wagons; in “From Earth to the moon” they are annihilating the Seminole Indians; in “Mathias Sandorf” the savage Senoussis of Libya are exterminated.

            Jack London reported several such genocides in his Great North and the South Seas novellas. You find a typical illiterate mariner, null in everything except in aiming accurately; he is perched up on the mast of a schooner and just happily never missing a shot; after killing over 100 Islanders he comes down to the acclaim of a hero.

            The genocides to savages resumed in the 20th century.  The military regime in Brazil massacred the “Indians” of the Amazon Forest because they shamed the Nation. The Palestinian people in this century were claimed not to exist and everything was done to efface their identity so that the Zionist movement to get established in Palestine.

            In the summer of 2009 the Israeli army ordered its soldiers to shoot at will in Gaza on the basis that Palestinian civilians, especially children, were all enemies.  The whole western States, backed by the UN, agreed that the liberation of a single Israeli soldier was worth the atrocities that the one million and a half Palestinians in Gaza had to submit to.  The same savage atrocities recurred previously in Lebanon in July 2006; Israel waged war for 33 days to “liberate two dead Israeli prisoners”.  For a single Israeli prisoner the western Sates are backing genocide while over 12,000 Palestinian prisoners without trial for years are fair play in their views.

            Those racist States claim that they will sit on the right side of their God; they will; but their God’s location is in hell.  All atrocities demand revenge; it is the next generations that will pay the bill with high interest.

It is a beautiful rainy day; (July 9, 2009)

The book “Odette Toulemonde” by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt contains 8 novellas; they are excellent but I will focus on two of them. 

“It is a beautiful rainy day” is a great novella for character description. Helene is the type of women used to appreciate symmetry in people and in nature.  She dwells on the details of imperfections, such as changing her dresses when noticing any tiny spot, permanently tidying her room, feeling horrified in any asynchronisation in group dancing, and offbeat notes in musical tunes.  She used to cry when receiving returned books with pages marked on the corners.  Most of her potential friends lost her confidence because of imperfect details that did not match her subjective perfection. 

In adolescence Helene realized that nature is as bad as men:  One of her tits was slightly different in form; one of her feet was slightly longer than the other.  Even her height was shocking: it stabilized at 171 cm instead of 170 or 175.

            Helene accumulated many boyfriends; the relationships never lasted more than a couple of days because she seeks idealistic perfection:  She focused on imperfections and she could easily differentiate asymmetric aspects. The two required necessary exigencies, of idealism and lucidity in men, could never be assemble in any one individual.

            By the age of 30, Helene was a cynical and disillusioned woman.  Intelligence in others did not impress her: she mastered several language and she was a lawyer.  Her body was attractive and agile. 

Antoine, a lawyer, fell in love with Helene.  Helene permitted this plain-looking Antoine to press on his initiatives, simply because he was a foot taller than her.  Helene tolerated Antoine for longer than she had the habit of retaining lovers: Antoine was an “agreeable” fellow, though he was a fake slim guy when undressed; he prolonged foreplay so that he won’t have to repeat intercourse; his foreign languages were poor and he was pretty naive.  Helene kept silent as Antoine expressed the intention of including her in his future plans.

            Antoine took Helene to the North Sea instead of the sunny Mediterranean Sea she was used to spend her vacations.  On the first morning, a thunderstorm broke out and it poured rain. Helene was terribly upset.  Antoine retorted: “This is a beautiful rainy day” and explained how they would enjoy this day with new shades of colors that the sky, trees, and nature would take; how they would dry their clothes by the fireplace while taking hot teas; how they will had the opportunity to make love several times, to have lengthy conversation. 

Antoine’s happiness sounded abstract to Helene but she decided to go along.  Optimist Antoine saw the lovely and charming aspects in the streets, the stores, the waitresses, and the food.  Helene was disgusted with everything and could not agree with Antoine happiness.  Helene confined that she never looked at the seas or the waves but was content of enjoying the sun.  Antoine was amused with Helene’s negative comments thinking that she was being purposely funny and ironic and he laughed a lot that day.

            They finally got married. Helene had a boy and a girl but she knew that nothing inside her has changed; she was basically the same Helene with one alteration: Helene refrained from expressing her opinions and learned to keep silent. 

“Agreeable” and happy Antoine allowed Helene to see opposite perspectives and a comfortable joyful family life.  Antoine had to die.  Helene walled her life and then decided to travel the globe; she could not enjoy traveling as Antoine did.  (There is an ending but I prefer the reader to invent an ending and then compare it with the original)

The other novella that I like to review is “The intruder”.  This novella was a practical eye opener for understanding what Alzheimer disease means.  Recent memory goes first and retrograde to when you were born.  Odile sees her face in the mirror and thinks that an old woman intruder is harassing her and switching and moving around her belongings.  She calls the police and finds no intruder. 

Odile confuses her son for her husband; she thinks that her son’s wife is her long dead husband’s mistress.  Odile is rewriting the introduction of her thesis that she published so many years ago.  Her son, wife, and two grandsons are relieved as Odile returns to the period before her wedding. Soon her son will cuddle his old mother as a newborn lady.

            (What is that? We are as old as our memory permits it, and as young as it fails! It is a shame that people with Alzheimer cannot write their diaries; we would have great recalling of early childhood emotions and feelings.  I propose that professional psychologists should study these patients and record what they say as they retrograde in their memory.  We could have excellent descriptions of how children feels and react to adults’ behavior)

“The valse of farewells” by Milan Kundera (July 4, 2009)

Almost any professional in communist Chekoslovakia before 1989 wanted a USA passport to be able to move freely around the world. The character of Jakub is a single psychiatrist of about 45 of age and had just received his passport to travel outside communist Chekoslovakia.

In his youth, Jakub was incarcerated for “counter revolutionary” ideology; he was accused by his best friend. This “friend” figured out that this behavior would constitute the best proof of his “orthodoxy”; the friend ended up being executed 7 months later, leaving orphaned Olga, a daughter of 7 years old. Jakub was released and he kind of adopted the bright girl of his friend so that she could resume her education.

Jakub thought that he was a man of high moral standing, far above and different from the rest of his compatriotes whom were all the same; they were, if not active assassins then the victims were also assassins or would have behaved as assasins aiding to victimize the prisoners if asked to.

After being released from prison Jakub asked for a lethal pill to hold on to so that he would have at least total control over his death.  His university friend Skreta was willing to fabricate an alcaloid-based bleu pill and offered it to Jakub who kept it in his jacket for 15 years.

Jakub was detached of people and avoided friendships.  The genecologist Skreta was one of the rare friends and Jakub visited him occasionally at a health resort. Dr. Skreta was from a poor family and an orphan; he believed that he was not into politics; he contributed to the real well being of society through research and science, but was indeed an esential part of the system aparachic.  Skreta is the main physician in the health village where most of the customers are women staying for water cure.

Skreta has a very prominent nose; poor eye sight, and large mouth and he was inseminating his clients with his sperm; creating hundreds of “little Skreta” and making many “sterile” mothers worshiping this “miracle” physician. The same Skreta would say “I cannot fathom why ugly parents have this urge to give birth to ugly kids.”  Skreta believed that he was living outside of justice: Justice is inhuman, blind, and cruel.  Skreta said “I would never collaborate with this repugnant power of justice” simply because there was no control on physician practices through human rights demands.

There is this discussion on motherhood and babyhood. Jakub cannot believe that many men would marry a woman they do not love simply because they impregnated her to share the responsibility of raising a baby; he said that those men would behave as defeated fathers and would turn mean as any defeated person who would wish the same suffering for the rest of humanity. Jakub is explaining the reasons why he is against marriages for procreation reasons.

First, Jakub does not like maternity; childhood is no longer the age of innocence; maternity is the biggest tabou that handles the gravest of malediction because it chains kids and mother and guarantees the crulest of suffering when falling in love with other people. Second, he said “I love the body of women and I get disgutted when it is disfigured after pregancy”.  Third, physicians and nurses treat women who miscarry very badly out of naturel reaction to the cult of procreation.  Fourth, “to which world would I send my offspring? To schools that would stuff brains with conformist ideas? Or will I teach him my own ideas and led him to suffer the same consequences as mine?” resume Jakub.  Fifth, in this country offspring suffer from the malediction of the disobediance of their parents to State ideology.  Most parents accepted to be cowerd just to protect their kids from persecution.  Thus, if you need to conserve some liberty of action and opinion then you should refrain from procreating. Sixth, if I give birth then I am sending the strong message that life is good and merit to be repeated; a conviction that I lean to the contrary.

Skreta replied “You don’t like life because you didn’t experience real life. You were too focused on politics. Politics is the least essencial and the least precious in human activities. Politics is the dirty foam on the surface of rivers where life is hidden in the profound depth. Scientists and practitioners did far more to real life and the transformation of man than politics did.”

Jakub answered “Politics has been the main scientific laboratory for studying human behavior as cobayes. Politics does not create value but it teaches about human condition and moral limitations.  You learn that if you want to go on, you must forget and forgive because you are no better than another person under the same situations.”

In Kundera’s novels sexual relationships are no solutions for changing social status or behavior.  The “lightness of being” reduces man to be constantly an object and not the subject matter as propaganda would like people to believe.

(My impresion is that the theme of human “conscience” is religious based.  It is the infusion of the existence of a Creator governing our behavior and rewarding/punishing our deeds that constitute the main defensive line against man natural tendencies for criminal acts. Without this infused concept of conscience, if you give man an arm that kills at distance and he would kill without much regret anyone in isolated and discreet locations.  Man finds it very difficult to kill at close range (body contact) and looking his victim in the eyes; man would not kill with witnesses around because he would be the next target for assasination by the witnesses in a world void of conscious.  Without conscience, law and order procedures would be completely inefficient.  If communism survived for so long after abolishing religious rituals and clergies it is because religious faith survived implicitly in society.)

Did you Day Dream a Utopian Project? (May 19, 2009)

 

Have you day dreamt of a utopian project?  I have so many times day dreamt of projects that were to be ideal in profitability, organization, equitability, fairness, encouraging and promoting individual creativities, and leaving plenty of free time for individual accomplishment and continuing education.  There are moments in any one of these projects where the more utopian you strive for the more variables you have to contend with.  Every detail generates its down set of variability and quickly the interactions are too many for the mind to coordinate and analyze.  Suddenly, you end it as abruptly as in happy movies.  Yes, it is complicated but everybody should be living happily ever after. 

Then you are carried by curiosity: you want to take the dreamt up project further to its ultimate glory.  The more you resolve complicated interactions among people the more your solutions revert to totalitarian solutions and the more your answers smack of a one party regime reactions to diversities.  Then I realize that, fundamentally, I am not better than any dictator who managed to amass enough power to exercise coercions at will. Utopias are dangerous exercises of the mind and they sting potently the trust in our potentials to fairness and equitability.  The only utility to dreaming up utopia is to vent up the bottled up anger of helplessness to act and change.  Utopias are far more dangerous when a restricted and select caste of elites assemble to apply and enforce their sick view of an ideal society.  Utopias are not the solution and never will improve human conditions.  Read any samples of Utopias from Plato, to Tomas Moore, and to the Zionist ideology and you will realize that the end product is a subdivision of society by caste systems where people rule and the lower strata produce and serve; the end product is a huge set of rules and regulations that can put to shame the gigantic daily constraints of the Jewish Pharisee sect. 

Study the Utopias of those who managed to horde power from Napoleon, to Bismarck, to Hitler, to Mussolini, to Lenin, to Stalin, to Mao Tse Tong, and finally to Bush/Cheney and the end product was destruction, utter humiliation of the people, hate crimes, and genocides.

There are other kinds of utopias.  You have those forecasting the future, fifty years from now, in all sorts of topics such as political systems, emergence of new superpowers, technological breakthrough, social conditions, trends of how fast people will die of famine, and the increase in social divides among the wealthy and the dregs. Sure, those forecasters inevitably claim that they are analyzing current trends if all conditions remain controlled, though they have no idea what are those conditions and how they are controlled.  Forecasting the future is another way of thinking aloud individual utopia because no one is forecasting without strong biases as to his present mind set.

So far, the only valid forecasting time line is of six months; it is adopted by the analysts of market and fashion trends of the adapters in the age category of 20 to 30 years.  There is no doubt in my mind that promotional tactics biase people in believing that they are setting the trend by surfing the internet and disseminating their interests; but that how democracy should be at work.  Democratic systems should expose programs and disseminate them and then evaluate what people selected after a period of six months of diffusion among the active population.


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