Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Iran Islamic Republic

“The Great Gatsby” book on trial: In Iran Islamic Republic?

In the early 1980’s, waves of makeshift trials were levied on all kinds of “criminal elements“, those employed in the Shah of Iran institutions and the “westernized” citizens…Many were sentenced for a few years of prison terms, only to be eventually executed in jail…

Nyazi was a student in the English literature class of Azar Nafisi, and he proclaimed that the book “The Great Gatsby” of Fitzgerald was a representative of the kinds of poisons that American novels disseminate in the Islamic Iranian society…

The English literature teacher at the university of Tehran, AzarNafisi, suggested that the book be put on trial in class.

Nyazi would be the prosecutor of the book, another student Farzad was appointed the judge, and the girl Zarrin was to be the public defense. Since no student agreed to be the defendant (representing or the witness of the book), Azar had no choice but to accept this role.

Maybe it was not proper for Azar to be cornered into the role of the defendant (the book), on the ground that she is opening the way for the students to question her judgment as a teacher, but Azar loved these kinds of drama and anxiety. In any case, Azar sincerely believed that this “subversive” book trial is a necessary step in the right direction to confronting the trend of a totalitarian and theocratic sentiment that highjacked the revolution…

Nyazi sat in the middle of the classroom reading from papers he had prepared, and began his “opening” statement:

“Imam Ayatollah Komeini, the leader of the revolution, relegated a great task to the poets and writers. Khomeini is the shepherd of the flock and the writers are the watchdogs to counter the western materialistic ideology and culture.

In the battle against the Great Satan (US imperialism, a reminder of President REAGAN proclaiming the Soviet Union as the Great Evil) that is disseminating its immoral poisons of cheating on wives, encouraging prostitution, adultary going unpunished, illicit relationship the norm, fornication… a culture meant to rape the islamic moral value system, thus the western fiction novels must be banned…”

After the long speech of Nyazi that never touched on the book and talking generalities of western fiction harms done to the revolution, Zarrin took her turn as defense lawyer, and said while walking around and turning around Nyazi:

“Our dear prosecutor committed the fallacy of getting too close to the amusement park. He can no longer distinguish fiction from reality. Nyazi leaves no space, no breathing room between the two world. He demonstrated this weakness of inability to read a novel on its own terms. His judgment is crude, a simplistic exaltation of right and wrong

Is it bad if characters in a novel stray from Nyazi’s moral values?

A fiction can be called moral when it shakes us out of our stupor, and encourages us to confront the absolutes we believe in. Gatsby has succeeded brilliantly in creating such a controversy…

Gatsby is on trial because the book disturbs us. Many controversial books were put on trial by societies, and they all won their cases…

It is true that Gatsby loves to get wealthy and he recognizes that money is one of Daisy’s attractions, but this novel is NOT about a poor young charlatan’s love of money. This fiction is NOT about “the rich are different from you and me”. It is about how wealth corrupts

The most corrupt characters in the novel are the rich and wealthy people, those careless people who smash up creatures and things and then retreat back into their money, and let other people clean up the mess they had made

The wealthy Jordan Baker admits she is careless and lightly responds that she counts on other people to be careful…

The dream that the wealthy classes embodies is an alloyed dream that destroys whoever tries to get close to it

This carelessness is a lack of empathy and it appears in all great novel works. Imagination in these great subversive works is equated with empathy. We can’t experience all that others have gone through, but we can understand even the most monstrous characters in great novels…

Gatsby novel shows the complexities of the characters, and each character is given the opportunity to respond, to express his opinion, to has a Voice. The biggest sin is to be blind to others’ problems and pains.

Not seeing the pains and frustrations in the characters means denying their existence. This behavior is significant of those who tend to see the world in black and white, drunk on the righteousness of their own fiction…”

At the end of the trial, Zarrin said softly: “Why students bother to claim to be literature major? If they fail to be wary of the consequences of the in unusualdreams they value? If they fail to look for integrity in unusual places…? I enjoyed reading the Great Gatsby. Can’t you see?”

After the class was dismissed, the students were arguing vehemently, and NOT over the US hostages (the personnel in the US embassy during president Carter), the recent demonstrations or Rajavi (leader of the Marxist Mujahideen Khalk) or Khomeini… The students were discussing the Great Gatsby…

Note 1: Inspired from “Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi

Note 2: Do you think people have gone on strike or the citizens in the Dust Bowl headed west by reading Steinbeck?

Did people go whaling or stopped whaling after reading Melville?

Note 3: In modern times, many books faced trials such as Madame Bovary (Flaubert), Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Lolita…

What to expect from Iran Islamic Republic as “Ayatollah” Khomeini had proclaimed:

Ayatollah Khomeini, the original, not the current Khamenei, said: “Criminals should not be tried. The trial of a criminal is against Human Rights.  Human Rights demand that we should have killed them in the first place, as it became known that they were criminals…

They (International Human Rights Organization) criticize us because we are executing the brutes… We all made mistakes: We thought we were dealing with human beings.  It is not evident: We are dealing with wild animals... We will not tolerate these criminal and corrupt elements anymore…”

And who are these criminal elements, the wild animals, the brutes…?

They were the “Westernized” citizens, brought up in a westernized family, having stayed too long in Europe and the USA to study, smoking US cigarette brands in Iran, displaying leftist tendencies in not wearing the traditional Islamic attires, reading subversive foreign books like The Great Gatsby of Fitzgerald, or Farewell to Arm by Hemingway, all those non-politically motivated, considered monarchists, employees who worked in institutions during the Shah’s regime…

Khomeini went on: “The turbaned (militias) are about to execute in public the corrupt elements and burn them, and the story will be over… The corrupt elements are not allowed to publish newspapers…We will close all political parties except the One (Hezbollah?), or a few acting in a proper manner…”

Ayatollah Shariatmadari was heading the most popular party of Muslim People’s Republic Party and this party was disbanded.  The second in command, Ayatollah Muntazeri was blown up in the hotel where his party convention was being held, along with a hundred of the leaders…The irony is that the Communist Tudeh Party and the Marxist Fedayeen Organization sided with Khomeini. Why? Khomeini was against the US imperialist!

And successive waves of makeshift trials executed thousands of Iranians, and the communists and marxists were diligently persecuted and massacred.

Women were forbidden to dance and sing in public, and going to movie theaters, and going out without veil and long nails…

Azar Nafisi wrote in her book “Reading Lolita in Tehran” a fitting similarity between radical ideals and their consequences when grabbing power.

Mike Gold, the American radical Marxist of the 20’s, wrote about his American dream in his newspaper New Masses: “The old ideals must die…Let us fling all we are into the cauldron of the Revolution.  For out of our death shall arise glories…”

Iran Islamic Republic “Revolution” applied Gold ideals, adopting exactly the mechanism that should lead to glory… and did much harm to Islam by manipulating the religion to its political ends…

For example, Mike Gold wrote an essay in 1929 titled “Toward Proletarian Art“:

“Art is no longer snobbish or cowardly. It teaches peasants to use tractors. gives lyrics to young soldiers, design textiles for factory women’s dresses, writes burlesque for factory theaters, does a hundred other useful tasks. Art is useful as bread…”

I was under the impression that this long statement was being utterly sarcastic: Gold was damned serious.

Compare the above proclamations with Conrad‘s description of the artist in his preface to The Nigger of the Narcissus:

The artist appeals to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives, to our sense of pity, and beauty and pain…and to the subtle and invincible conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts, to the solidarity in dreams, in joy, in sorrow, in aspirations, in illusions, in hope, in fear which binds men to each other, the dead to the living and the living to the unborn...”


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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