Friday, April 14, 2006

And the endgame

Most endeavors have an objective and a rhythm and it’s now time to go.

I began this to offer a few close friends a look at the experiences of life in Iran through my eyes. And I, in turn, wanted to get a glimpse of life through the prism of others. I had a few simple questions haunting me for years that I wanted to re-explore with fresh senses.

Who was it that insisted on perpetual beginnings?

So, I wanted to re-experience life, re-living some of my obsessions; only this time, with my own earlier assumptions under scrutiny. I thought writing might help focus.

Why have the Islamists won these first few rounds? Why have they proven so resilient? What set of conditions has allowed them to survive? And are they really the fools we take them for?

The qualified answers for now, of course, turned out to surprise me a bit in their simplicity. And simplicity and precision is something I’ve only relatively recently grown to appreciate thanks to the gentleman who has been a guide for the past year or so thus helping in some measure alleviate my vast ignorance of analytic philosophy. And many thanks to our mutual friend for the introductions.

My partial answer for now, of course, is that for the same reasons they’ve succeeded in enriching uranium!

They wanted it badly enough.

The Islamists confronted a self-satisfied society too enamored of its own delusions and thus the entire superficial condescending attitude at work allowed them to successfully unleash destruction, murder and mayhem.

The innocent and the unsuspecting suffered.

And so they normally look beyond the smugness of all the startlingly dense, spoiled brats who remain either dissatisfied with all that comes so easily for them or unwilling to reevaluate their sense of entitlement.

Simply put: they had kept their eyes on the ball and they managed to put being underestimated to good use to our collective detriment. Barraged with foolishness, the Islamists managed the last laugh.

And there is a certain simple logic in that, you see. When adversaries become so blinded by hate or bigotry that they prefer to hold on tightly to what allows them to feel superior as opposed to reevaluating seriously to attempt to win on principles and hard work, the murderous, brutal ones end up wreaking havoc.

Look at what this blogger reports about Mr. Ahmadi Nejad’s simple approach to football to get a sense for the issues I have in mind:

“Ahmadinejad sat down with the players, who huddled cross-legged around him, listening intently. He told them…"Instead of increasing your running speed, focus on increasing the speed of the ball. You guys, at most, can cover about 9 meters per second; the ball, however, can be kicked at a speed of 20 meters per second. Therefore, your aim should be to move the ball, rather than your body." (to paraphrase the president).”

Not all that earth shattering, is it, as insights go?

But quite a step for the “dumb ones” in a society of self proclaimed exceptional stars who remain mostly either too slothful themselves for any strategic moves or too deluded about limits or enamored of the limelight to want to pass the ball!

The Islamists’ ascent, of course, has left too many broken bodies without proper burial.

And in here too we get a glimpse into the depressing nature of the Iranian history and its limits. Resentment, vindictiveness, pettiness of spirit and forgetfulness as the grounding for an inability to ultimately break out of our morass in any meaningful sense!

Empathy remains the key here, I suspect.

So my unqualified gratitude, despite fundamental political differences, to the Boroumand sisters and their tireless efforts in seeking to preserve the memory of those who would have otherwise been, in all probability, lost forever-- much like so much of the rich history over the years.

Will the Islamists survive?

No, is another one of my answers. But it might get very bloody. Another war certainly even messier! Iran is a highly fragmented, unpredictable society.

The Islamists know about teamwork. And they want to stay in power and preserve their privileges. They know they’ll be up against the best. The older survivors from the last one are plagued with guilt. And they have long memories and the reach. The younger ones as well are too fed up with the existing cynicism and corruption and willing to test themselves to protect what they have! And there is that central question of safeguarding the legacy of the lost ones.

There is certain war weariness of course, yes. But if and when the war does break out, none of them is going to be in as much of hurry to go to Heaven as in the last war.

There are reasons to believe their strategy will parallel that of North Korea, I suspect. The objective will be to take along as many of their enemies on that trip before they finally decide to disembark themselves. They know full well that in any potential conflict, time is not going to be on their side.

Any asset not swiftly used will be destroyed and so they’ll seek to inflict maximum harm. And they are sharp, educated and multitalented-- the usual babble of their detractors notwithstanding. A lot sharper, I think, than they are usually given credit for.

And all the indications are there that they remain hell-bent initially on starting with their own weak center if attacked. And that means a self satisfied, off balanced opposition remains nowhere close to being in the slightest ready to protect itself from the planned butchery.

And, of course, any further unleashing of the ethnic passions in the country without a cogent plan at work for long-term solutions and stability would create such butterfly effect that none in the region or beyond will be left unscathed.

Ultimately though, the Islamic regime remains what it is--a third rate power.

But here we have more disagreements about the nature, scopes and dangers. So, again, I’d like to point out a learned thinker with plenty of common interests and mutual favorites--someone I’ve never had the good fortune of meeting in person to express gratitude for the ways his poetry so poignantly touches. We’ll see about the crystal balls.

But I am not at all convinced now about the prospects of any substantial improvements in the foreseeable future even when this regime falls unless, of course, there is some serious soul searching—something I remain skeptical about.

For if the oppositional society remains so absolutely certain about how “exceptional” it is-- and ultimately so insecure as to remain unwilling or unable to rediscover its own uniqueness--there can be no basis for genuine conversations, cooperation or alliances.

Since at the end of day, as unique as we all may be, none of us could truly be that exceptional!

How many exceptional men and woman, after all, has history ever recorded over the past few thousand years? The bar is being set way too high from the very beginning for most of us mere mortals. The fear alone of disappointments prevents serious efforts.

And as long as we insist on remaining adamant about leaving so little room for that required distance from ourselves after our encounters in life; that is, so insecure and unstable and on the edge as to presume instinctively that every touch, glance, utterance, allusion or exchange ultimately seeks to undermine /should be centered on us, then we’ll naturally come to miss the essential commonalities of the human experiences and the continuities.

We thus miss the many ways our experiences normally mirror one another.

And also missed will be the crux of a simple proposition that most problems will only offer solutions in mutual dependence and cooperation!

Consequently, both the variations of our perennial predicaments and myriad solutions scattered across times and cultures quite worthy of serious considerations would continue to elude us.

And that, of course, leaves us exactly where we are: with many ears unable to hear beyond a limited range and with many eyes limited exclusively to seeing monochromatically. Sadly, then, all that remains as Merleau-Ponty warns us, is thought limited in what it allows itself to think. Hence that natural recoil towards wishfulness.

And here I would like to thank some of my more recent partners, especially for the brilliant, sensitive, gentle prodding in a different direction (logical next steps?) which I promise here to take seriously. And do give my favorite book a serious read and tell me when the spirit moves you if I might not be justified in believing that so much of what is being replayed these days remains firmly anchored in that text. One gentle hug, as well, to the daft one for what is life really without a few angry yells, no?

And with you mister, our usual not so minor disagreements as always!

I’d like to thank the rest of you for reading and encourage you to visit the many links that remain on the sidebar.

Fundamentally, though, I should confess to remaining hopeful again.

Through a twisted wickedness of the universe, while we have been debating why it is we’ve missed modernity, the post-post modern condition or whatever else it is that it’s being called these days has finally caught up—advantageously recasting those traditional weaknesses attributed to the Iranian “national character”, however elusive that concept may prove—thus bringing the rest of the world in synch with us.

This of special importance for those who’ve bored/ nauseated us for some years now repeating every chance they get that whopping discovery of the Persian Kitman or Shi’ia Taqqiyah by our famed racialist Count de Gobineau, ostensibly in some deeply secret crevices of the Persian heritage!

And as old as the craftiness of Odysseus himself or the trickery of the Jamaican Anansi theSpider native to the forests of West Africa, and the guile of the ancient Indian fox Damanaka or that ancient Chinese Qi or more generally all the inherent cunning normally attributed to any despised group of choice on any given day.

And roughly translated in English in multiplicity of different forms found in whatever dictionary you consult under conceal, mask, bury, hide, hold in, shroud, disguise, veil, cover, screen, blot out, blank out, obscure, obstruct. And not to forget, of course, lie, falsify, fabricate, fig, or more generally the equivalent of disinformation or white lies etc.

And no, in case you were dreading, in the spirit of reconciliation, I am not going to outline the statistics on child and domestic abuse neither for Iran nor for those of a couple of other countries simply out of spite. Those brutalities remain serious problems that demand urgent attention—and this not just as simplest available tool to stir even more of a collective bigoted frenzy.

Anyhow, who knows what might happen now with any slight changes in the circumstances of our lives. The necessary conditions are now there. It remains to be seen whether we could go on to discover the sufficient ones. The sky then could be the limits.

And, finally, my especial thanks to those with me from the earlier moments. I remain grateful for your fundamental decency.

And so on that this ends.

P.S. Fair enough! Now that I am done: Winks, flirts and so, so much more! ;-))

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