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November 29, 2003

Social Freedoms: "Please sir, may I have some more?"
Kaveh Khodjasteh  [info|posts]

trends.jpg This post is a sad observation inspired by what I find to be excessive indulgence in predictory politics in the previous post in this weblog.

What really distinguishes this generation in all countries from earlier generations... is its determination to act, its joy in action, the assurance of being able to change things by one's own efforts.      - Hanna Arendt

A quick [and dirty] evaluation of the statesmanship of the Iranian government in the post Iran-Iraq war shows that, they have showed a definite competence on domestic and foreign issues. This is a credit they deserve to get, although I am sure there are masters of political interpolation among the readers of this weblog, that would definitely challenge this statement with comparisons with other possible courses of history. This is not my point though...

Now that I can refresh my memory from a distance, it is very interesting to remember the up and downs of personal freedoms, consumerism, and culture in Tehran, where I grew up. I remember times that watching movies at home was illegal and you could be prosecuted, then it was the distributors that could be prosecuted and then after the war [Iran-Iraq] was over suddenly you could buy VCR's in the stores and it took only a decade until the Iranian TV showed a double dose of "Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter" on a surprise presentation last year. The culture industry was reborn.

This seemingly impressive and noble trend [in dress code, visual arts, close-ups of women in movies, etc] has nothing to offer us when analyzed in more and more detail; It looks like a classic case of struggle for personal freedoms and culture. However when this trend is juxtaposed with the various national and international challenges that the leading factions of the Iranian politics have been facing throughout these years, it carries a clear and definite message. For example give me an important new legislation that was passed in the current reformist parliament: The only one I can name is this and it is basically about personal freedoms.

I sometimes think, not very freely but I try, about the "Iranian Dream". I think there is such a thing as the "Iranian Dream" and it has been imprinted on the historical memory of the [extra] politically conscious Iranians. This dream is not about prosperity. It is not about Women's right, although it includes it. It is not about religion. Can you tell me what it is about?

Senior Grad at November 29, 2003 03:07 PM [permalink]:

There is certainly no such thing as "Iranian Dream", Kaveh. Besides, of course, going to America. :-) The last sentence(s) in your post(ing) confirm this claim.

However, we may come up with one. There is always a first step to every journey of a thousand miles, or, a thousand kilometers or farsangs. :-)

Kaveh at November 29, 2003 03:24 PM [permalink]:

I disagree with your humorous [and banal] answer.

Senior Grad at November 29, 2003 04:53 PM [permalink]:

You're entitled to your opnion. I think I've heard the term "American Dream" or read about it somewhere, yes, but coming up with something dubbed as "Iranian Dream", with nothing in the real world to even remotely correspond to (beside, of course, leaving Iran and living in the West, which is a dream shared by Iranians of all walks of life, and I'm not being humorous this time),is just another instance, in my opinion, of imitating the West, and here its terminology, without thinking.

Senior Grad at November 29, 2003 05:02 PM [permalink]:

Which reminds me of the title of the previous post(ing) here. As Yaser rightly pointed out in a comment there, there is no such thing as Iranian neo-conservatives, let alone new-conservatives. It is in fact trying to stretch some notions that have emerged in the western hemisphere in the hope of having them fit our uniquely Iranian problems what a commonplace banality consists of.

Paolo Zanardi at November 29, 2003 05:06 PM [permalink]:

I think Kaveh's question has a definite answer: The Iranian dream is about freedom.

As a side note let me add that in fact the American dream is now so remote and untouchable that it can't be even defined.

Ased Hamze at November 29, 2003 05:16 PM [permalink]:

Senior Grad jaan,

What is your opinion about what Kaveh said in essence? Do you think that he is just comparing us with a western model when he emphasizes social freedoms instead of personal freedoms that we in Iran have earned? Kaveh can have any kind of dream he wants, even wet ones, but I think he and maybe every Iranian who love their country share a dream [maybe wet] about real freedom in their country.

Senior Grad at November 29, 2003 05:24 PM [permalink]:

Yeah, "freedom" is also such a GAL-O-GOSHAD notion (I'm in a hurry, or else I'd find a good English equivalent for GAL-O-GOSHAD) that it has taken herds of intellectuals (real ones, not the pseudo-intellectuals who take pleasure quoting from the authorities without finding it necessary to justify the quoted quote) to explicate it. To see just a drop of the sea, see what Google found for me:

Senior Grad at November 29, 2003 09:27 PM [permalink]:

First of all, I don't get the *social* freedom versus *personal* freedom distinction. Could you explain a little more, please? Also, what is your definition of "freedom" anyway? Everybody seems to have their take of this much-abused word. Many Iranians, laymen and intellectuals alike, equate freedom simply with freedom to choose what to wear and to paint nude pictures and to write bedroom stories. In fact I've seen Iranian writers who are so tied up in their narrow conception of this "remote and untouchable" word that their own lack of originality remains hidden from them, or maybe they consciously prefer to hide behind the excuse of lack of freedom. A lot Iranian poets, writers, and artists left the boundaries of the Islamic Republic after the revolution, but somebody please tells me, which one has so far created something worthy enough to be remembered after him? They even didn't create, to the best of my knowledge, something to reflect their loss. In the land of freedom, too, they remained sterile. Compare this with the surge of internationally acclaimed movies that are made inside Iran during these years. Upon refelction, it seems reasonable to conclude that the artistic and intellectual poverty of Iranians abroad must have had to do with other things than lack of freedom. In the realm of thinking politically, too, Iranians abroad produced little. The most worthy of consideration "blueprint" for "saving" Iran in recent years was produced inside the Evin prison, not, mind you, by some Iranian thinker who is enjoying freedom of expression in the US.

This was however just one aspect of this word. We may discuss what "freedom" means, and freedom in exactly what senses is desirable, for a long long time, and in fact I think we should look at it from different angles, though not necessarily in this forum. To conclude, I remember these lines and would like to share them with you once again:

"It took me years to realize that in America other kinds of walls, mainly invisible, existed. I had to learn about their presence, respect their sovereignty, abide by their rules. I could not neglect them, trespass them. I could not disregard them. This meant not only learning the English language but also mastering the metalanguage, the verbal and nonverbal codes of interaction, the different systems and styles of communication.

Many times, unaware of these "walls", I asked the wrong question, volunteered the inappropriate answer, looked too closely when I was supposed not to "see", listened too intently when I was assumed not to "hear". Heaven knows how often I talked when I should have kept silent and how frequently I should have talked but remained mute, producing nothing but silence--long, embarrassing silence. Heaven knows how often, with eyes wide open, I stumbled over those walls, mile by glorious mile of invisible walls."

It's a quite beautiful prose; isn't it? Read the rest, if you like, at:

Senior Grad at November 29, 2003 09:47 PM [permalink]:

To prevent your misunderstanding, I should haste to add that I do not endorse the censorship in Iran or jailing of Akbar Ganji! All I mean is most of the time "lack of freedom" is just more an excuse. It has been noted that censorship in fact has been influential in helping to produce worthy artistic work. Most of the Iranian satire, political or else, would go down the drain if it wasn't for censorship, but it cannot be readily implied from this fact that censorship is good.

Am I clear?

Ased Zia Hapali, Esq. at November 29, 2003 11:43 PM [permalink]:

Agha Ejazeh?

I know what the Iranian Dream is!

Finding a good enough match of the opposite sex to make children with, making tons of money preferably without lifting a finger, and buying with that money a big house, a villa near the Caspian sea, at least one car, eating lots of greasy food and licking your fingers afterward, wearing clothes like what is broadcast through satellite from overseas and acting like neat beautiful smiling khareji folks who seem to have it all. Then sending our kids to the United States and bragging about them to family and friends, or at least hoping that they become doctors and engineers and in any case earn a title that would make them have it easier in society than the facelss second class folks.

Am I not right on the money, Sir?

Marhoom Alaviyeh Khanoom at November 30, 2003 12:15 AM [permalink]:

Ased Zia, my darling:

Gol gofti, but just a little shol gofti. :) You forgot about the Master-Dream of going to Mashad to pay your tribute to Imam Reza, and meanwhile asking for your yet other dreams to come true. May your 30 year old daughter finds a husband, or your infertile wife to bear a baby boy, etc. and if you can afford it, also going to mediators who are higher up on the ladder of divinity and are buried in Atabaat-e Aaliyaat, in Karbala, Najaf, and Syria, or right to the house of the Almighty Himself in Mecca and the tomb of The Prophet in Medina. :)

Yagoob Yazid at November 30, 2003 12:32 AM [permalink]:

Ei val! Ei val!

There is a proliferation of rascals on this Free Thoughts, it seems!!

I am encouraged!

Daash Ased Zia etc. and Dash Ased Hamzeh, First of all A-seen-o-val-llaam!

You are so right on the money! The worst is that these daashaa-o-abjihaa who have ended up in Yengeh Doonyaa are so confident of their achievement that some of whom have become kind of marjae' taqlid about everything Iranian!

Why should they care that there is a difference for us between social and personal freedom. How would they care that the right of a woman to equal access to divorce is not a personal freedom but a freedom with huge “social” ramifications!! And/or the right to carry a Video0-Set (either to see Foxy Lady or the latest speech by some Faaezeh somewhere) in those days and/or having a Mahvaareh (which these guys calle Satelite Dish) is equally social and personal!!!

How would they care that having Zakaria (this is the new name of Aragh Sagi in modern Paamenaar) in your own Chardivaari (house) is a personal right that is none of the business of the Baseejee foofools of the Mosque of UschcooliBaabaa whose guts goes away when they forget their Klaash (Kalashnikov)!!!

Unless you come out "Masteh-Laayaghal" Drunk, which is a crime almost everywhere!!And no rascal of principle agees to it!!

Abkesheh Hozetooneem!

Daash YaaYaa

Kaveh Kh at November 30, 2003 11:20 AM [permalink]:

Truly these are the funniest comments I ever received.

Just one clarification about Hanna Arendt quote, since otherwise I would be a pseudo-intellectual and God in Heavens knows that I am not even good enough to be a pseudo-pseudo-intellectual...

What happens if in 30 years the next generation of Iranians forget about what has happened to us, forget about all these years of struggle, and all of their aspiration is reduced to dreams of having freedom of dress code? Do we want to stick with practicalities or do we have anything to distinguish ourselves like those that Hanna Arendt refers to [60's generation, who in fact didn't do much of a change but their dreams was a noble one] from others? What is the point of activism anyway?

Remember that we all missed the train when it was in the station. If we want to make it this time we have to run.

The quote from Hanna Arendt, a heavyweight intellectual, is an overused one about the 1960's generation from her collection of most mature essays on the 60's and the 70's: Crises of the Republic.

Ps. I have a general reminder:

(1) comments are emailed to the author immediately, with a time stamp.
(2) ip addres of each commenter is recorded.
(3) don't abuse people's pseudonyms, PLEASE.

Senior Grad at November 30, 2003 01:33 PM [permalink]:

Is this your response, Kaveh Kh.? To simply dismiss comments that do not fit your preconceived worldview as "funny" and "banal"? Provide a more substantial defense if you disagree with the content of our comments; will you?

By the way, I personally find the claim that the Iranian dream is about freedom such a cliche. What *is* that freedom that Iranians are after? Could you please explain, or is it too tirvial a task for you to even bother?

Kaveh Kh, the Pseudo-Intellectual of the 21st Centuy at November 30, 2003 01:49 PM [permalink]:

I thought your very first comment was only humorous and banal but then you are taking the offensive and calling me a pseudo-intellectual, which I don't mind of course: it is better than your self acclaimed title, Senior Grad.

I didn't say what the Iranian dream was for me: I simply invited people to talk about it. If having a dream is a cliche, there I have it [Ps. Actually I think Iranian dream IS a cliche which makes it very typical]

I gave my views in the post and in my second comment.
BEGIN{FLAME}If you feel that I am enjoying this argument, you are deeply mistaken. I have my personal disappointment with Hossein's [my friend actually] post and projected my disappointment into the article only to receive your first comment. I was even more disappointed, PERSONALLY.

Describing what is freedom is not a task for me because it is simply difficult. I always like to hear and read what other say about this, but I can add this to the whole lot that has been said about it: Freedom, however you perceive it, is worth the experience.

In the end I feel sorry that I started and encouraged this flame in the comment section and I hope that you and the other readers will simply forgive me for this blunder.

Eswin Oakman von Falkenhausen at November 30, 2003 01:58 PM [permalink]:
I suppose Kaveh's observation has very well summarized an evaluation of the Iranian regime's domestic policy in interaction with the ever evolving Iranians’, and specifically Iranian youths’, imagined conception of freedom, i.e. Iranian Dream. First of all, and this is a reminder to Senior Grad, Iranians developed a contested concept of 'Freedom' during the past 6-7 years. For the young it was tantamount to a “dream”. The overall need for freedom, especially in a social and personal sense, was developed through years of conducting all types of activities that the regime banned and caused itself problems, more than the people, dating back to the early mid-1980s. As Kaveh has mentioned, one of them was the question of VCR. They banned it and when they were faced with the proliferation of the industry they scaled up the crackdown, and this is 1989. By late 1990, their ideological rigidity was slapped in the face when the Satellite dishes came. It was then that technology won the people the cultural guerrilla war that they had started and in view of the rise of satellite dishes, the VCRs were permitted, with conditions attached. The social freedoms achieved and of course retracted in part or completely as per the topic during the Khatami era follow the same line of the story. Through the years people, who are mostly young, have developed a conception of Iranian dream. At the beginning it was very much limited to social freedoms. A brief look at some of the web logs of the Iranian youth who currently live abroad and spent some of their earlier younger years in the first Khatami period you see how nostalgically they write about their experience of social freedom there (however limited it was) and the excitement of change; something that they do not have in North America. I would consider those web logs as one set of evidence to the existence of such a dream. Yet, as Kaveh has duly mentioned, and as Nasser to a degree has pointed to it from a different angle under the previous posting, such tactics, relaxation of crackdown on social activities and several political activities indeed prolonged the regime's life. Iranian Dream however ventured to go beyond the realm of social. Iranian dream, in this sense, was thus very much developed in the first period of Khatami: A sense of being able to achieve things by some primitive form of collective action (student organization, changing the atmosphere of the Islamic Associations that were largely by then occupied by hardliners and turning them into burgeoning nodes of reformist movement, as has been mentioned earlier by Yasser Kerachian and Bahman Kalbasi, by writing in the newspaper, and by pressing the Parliamentary deputies. As the Iranian Dream began to take a more political shape, it was at this point the Conservatives' newer versions, and I think this is what Hussein Derakhshan means by Neo-Conservatives, such as Mr. Rezai of the Revolutionary Guard or Taha Hashemi of Entekhaab, started voicing their concern and offering third way solutions. As the Neo-Conservatives, who are nothing but a moderated-in-degree version of the same old Conservatives, proved to lack popular support and faired no better than their previous version in the Parliamentary elections, the Conservatives' physical/psychological crackdown was scaled up. The crackdown targeted both the budding political freedoms and the social freedoms, and as Nasser has pointed out it is due to several other fundamental and stru ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Senior Grad at November 30, 2003 04:06 PM [permalink]:

Huh! I suppose we're mature enough not to get outraged and personal here, but now you're finding fault with my pseudonym. Which is fine. It's meant to be humorous, not to mention that to me it reflects one of my favorite traits: self-mockery. And let's leave it at that for now.

I am not calling *you* a pseudo-intellectual, although I realize I shouldn't have said that here. Truth is, I have been annoyed, even hurt, before by writings in --should I be specific?-- where the author, who I knew for a fact was not familiar with the alphabet of debate, posts a pensive-looking picture of himself near his nonsensical text and keeps on name-dropping to impress the reader without giving a reference (as if he is saying: if you haven't heard it, then you're an idiot) and sometimes without his quotes even making sense within the context of his writing. This kind of AVAMFARIBI [=demagoguery?] is what I find so prevalent among Iranian "intellectuals" and very much repulses me. Given this background, you now realize why I have developed a sensitivity to fakeness, which unfortunately is surrounding and suffocating me.

"Describing what is freedom is not a task for me because it is simply difficult." I appreciate it! Having the courage to acknowledge your (I'm not talking about *you*, Kaveh Kh. It's a figure of speech.) ignorance is the only way that may lead to your, uh, what's the word I'm looking for, enlightment?

Yaghoob Yazid at November 30, 2003 04:22 PM [permalink]:

Daash Senior Grad:

You said:

"It's meant to be humorous, not to mention that to me it reflects one of my favourite traits: self-mocker"

Kheili baas bebakhshid, excuse me really, but I have read through many pages of Free Thought and you sound both over-confident and often, with all due respect, too much interested in yourself.

Unlike that guy/girl/gay/lesbian saoshyant who always sounded unsure, you always sounded very certain. You have already stripped yourself of the benefit of the doubt, also, by your too much interest in getting the last the word. To your credit you have often forced to say that you have made mistake but your long responses and self-assuredness are the properties of three things in our Gowd: Tiriyak (opium), which is also a metaphor for addiction, and Narcissism, and loneliness, which is related to the other two.

Honestly, you often sound like an authority in methodology, and if you are a doctor of philosophy or something like/related to logic, I would not be surprised.

But your name, or rather pseudonym, does not convey any humility. Your many postings just confirm one's suspicion that you truly like yourself, which is in a way a good thing, because many of us don't, and in a way bad thing, because there is not humbleness in it.

By the way, we still consider you for initiation to Nasi Abad order, don’t worry.

Pareh Kolaaheteem,

Daash YaaYaa

Senior Grad at November 30, 2003 05:06 PM [permalink]:

I initially wanted not to write anything anymore in response to YaYa, so he can have the last word himself, but now I'm "forced" to respond to him, although I hate this forum, that has so far provided, among many other worthy things, an unprecedented rescue for me from my "loneliness" and a great opportunity for my "narcissism" to finally manifest itself, and thus relieve me from the pain of being underappreciated by my fellow and much more banal (I have come to love this word) intellectuals, yes I hate this forum to be the battle-ground between two individuals. It's just so inane. (Another word you guys may wanna start using.)

But you make me smile, and I hope my smile does not fan the flame of your outrage, YaYa. I am also truly glad that you brought up some of the issues that have naturally been kept from my vision. You put a mirror in front of me, and I do appreciate your taking time and effort to do that.

I don't think saoshyant, may he be in peace, was more un-sure of himself than I am of myself. He was, however, over-apologizing all the time, which is so unnecessarily Iranian. It's not my style. I think it is OK, even advisable (for the following reason), to sound "over-confident" for a person who is willing to come out of his bubble once in a while and try, however unsuccesfully, to hear what others have to say. Alas, more often than not, all I hear is silence. Even my simple questions (for example, the one about what would happen to that brave hijab-less woman who would walk from Tajrish all the way down to Toopkhooneh) remain unanswered and ignored. I also find it advisable, and you may have a different opinion, because it should/would/could invite confrontation of other ideas, although my being "too much interested" in myself may have had the opposite effect of pushing 'em all away. My mission, however, may not be to convince, YaYa, but to question and to challenge. We all have our own missions on earth, you know. Yours seems to me to be inciting Mashrooteh-style riots. (Good for you!) And if there's no one to take up the challenge, of course not by libeling me by words such as "appeaser" (for which I do not want you to apologize, because I hate apologies), but simply by making rational arguments, then I guess it's their loss, and they will be all the poorer for that. (Do I sound too much interested in myself again? Surprise! Surprise!)

P.S. What is methodology anyway?

Senior Grad at November 30, 2003 06:52 PM [permalink]:

Eswin Oakman von Falkenhausen's comment helped clarify some obscure points. I do remember the VCR and satellite dish sagas, but I don't read weblogs (except one!) so I do not know much about the sense of nostalgia of the Iranian youth. The personal freedom vs social freedom distiction, however, remains out of my reach. Are they both referring to almost the same thing and should be viewed vis-a-via political freedom? And what, if any, are other possible kinds of freedom? A few lines to provide an outline of each of these, and not necessarily a "methodological" defintion, would be appreciated.

Nasser at December 1, 2003 05:15 AM [permalink]:

Dear Kaveh,
I am sure the Iranian dream is now getting rid of Mollas. Of course this is the dream of new generation, since previous one has shown that they do not care about social freedom, and loved Mollas. New generation just wants to have the sense of freedom.

Essam at December 1, 2003 08:59 AM [permalink]:

Interesting post. Check it out.

Senior Grad at December 1, 2003 09:15 AM [permalink]:

Ironically, I kind of vaguely remember a quote by Rumi's beloved mentor, Shams-e Tabrizi: "AAZAADI DAR BI-AAREZOOEE ST." Freedom is in not having a dream. Curious, eh? ;-)

Essam at December 1, 2003 09:22 AM [permalink]:

My apologies. Wrong link. Here is the correct one.

Señor Græd at December 1, 2003 12:02 PM [permalink]:

Okay, I guess Shams's alleged quote is in line with teachings of another great Eatsern Master, although from an altogether different school of mysticism. I am talking about Buddha who believed and taught that desire [AREZOO?] is the source of all suffering, and that Nirvana [AZADI?] cannot be achieved without ceasing to desire. Which is, well, nearly impossible. Which in any case makes a closer examination of the word "dream" kind of necessary. For example, how would one translate the term "Iranian Dream" to Persian? Or rather, as I presume it has to be the case, what is it a translation of? How do notalgia-stricken Iranian students in North America refer to this Dream in their Persian weblogs? Or is it the case that they have not yet come up with a term for it, but the notion is vaguely, invisibly, somehow present in the air? In which case, we should be thankful that the magnificent English language exists, so we can first put our concepts in it and *then* translate them to our own language.

I am going to offer the fruits of some of my pseudo-philosophical (seriously) meanderings in regard to the word "dream" in a later comment.

Mehrad at December 1, 2003 01:15 PM [permalink]:

Dear Senior Comment,
We're all ears to read your serious meanderings...

Ordak D. Coward at December 1, 2003 01:17 PM [permalink]:

Use aarmaan for dream.

Señor Græd at December 1, 2003 01:29 PM [permalink]:
But before a crash course in pseudo-philosophy, I would like to say what *I* myself think freedom amounts to. No, not because I think my opinion is superios to others', but simply because despite my constant proddings nobody else here has so far volunteered to go beyond the cliche and define what "freedom" means (to them). To put it rather succinctly, freedom in action, in my most humble opinion, is secondary to freedom of thought, which, by the way, makes this comment perhaps the most relevant one that I have so far contributed to the discussions under Free Thoughts (on Iran). It may very well be the case that I have already hinted at what I think freedom is, the freedom that is undoubtedly "worth the experience", in some other comments, but here for the first time perhaps, I am going to muster all my vocabularial resources in the hope pf conveying an idea, which is, with all due respect, as hard to convey to someone who has not experienced freedom as it is to convey the idea of color to a congenitally blind person, which is, I agree, not a fitting metaphor, but read on to see better metaphors. Hmmm. How should I go about it? How should I even start? Let's just start with some examples. You see, there are many Iranian families who have left their land and settled in Western countries for good, but most of them, to different degrees, have not been able to let go (that's the key idea here: let go) of their cultural hang-ups. So even outside a country where there are explicit rules that oppress the *growth* (which is yet another difficult word to define) of the individuals, they remain subject to their habitual mental frameworks. All the circumstances around them have changed, but they refuse to change what they carry with them in their minds. For some, leaving the old patterns will of course lead to insanity, because they know of no other mental framework. For others, a great deal of courage is needed to *let go*. Many important concepts in our culture, one's ABEROO, for example, is placed above almost anything else. The situation is exacerbated due to the fact that Iranians abroad who tend to form Iranian enclaves to stay in their comfortable cocoons, remain subject to one anothers' scrutiny which makes their change, growth, and attainment of a sense of freedom virtually impossible. In all our decisions, we unconsciously take very seriously into account what others who know us would think. In other words, our hands are tied. Well, this sounded more like a boring sermon than an example. The example I have in mind is this: I know many second generation Iranians here who are sick and tired of their parents pushing them to become doctors and (wonder of wonders) engineers. There are many more, of course, who duly submit to their parents' purely Iranian dreams, ahem, and in fact become what they parents, who have not yet realized, after decades of living in the US, that, unlike in Iran, first of all, people can have a fully satisfactory life in the US without necessarily having to gain such degrees and titles, and secondly, that mature individuals have the right to plan their lives on their own. In other words, they have failed to acclimatize to the new realities of the new country. So they can be compared to an Eskimo who continues to wear his clothes in South Beach, Miami, during the Spring Break. Again a bad metaphor. Damn! Freedom means to start anew, to bare yourself, gradually, of whatever has been added to you since you were born, ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Correction and Acknowledgment at December 1, 2003 01:43 PM [permalink]:

Sorry! In my last comment, please change "they" to "their" in "they parents, who have not yet realized, after decades of living in the US ... right to plan their lives on their own." and add a "want" at the end.

Mehrad and Ordak: Thanks a lot and AARMAAN sounds good, although technically, it is already used for "ideal". A dream, in the sense of AREZOO, is somewhat different, though. For one thing, AREZOO has the potential of coming true, like my dream of coming to America, or your dream of having a son, while ideal, by definition, is something we should constantly approach without ever reaching it. Or am I just being a hair-splitter here?

Señor Græd at December 1, 2003 03:22 PM [permalink]:

Time for pseudo-linguistic meanderings.

Notwithstanding what I said about the word Ordak D. Coward has proposed, it is interesting to note that in English the distinct notions of AAREZOO and RO'YAA are (con?)fused into the same word. In Persian, however, the distinction is not blurred. (Fortunately, or unfortunately?) It seems to me that AREZOO is a potentially realizable desire, something that, by definition, we are uncertain of its eventually (in most cases, before we die) being materialized or not. It is in fact very closely related to OMID [=hope]: If there is hope whatsoever for something to happen, that thing cannot possibly be an AREZOO. It could be KHIAL [=fantasy], though. Both KHIAL and AREZOO seem necessary for human's psychological well-being. (The need to fantasize is partly addressed by fiction.)

Now that we dared to "put our feet in the shoes of" -as we would say in Persian- the respected psychologists, let's treat psychoanalysts also and after claiming that RO'YA, on the other hand, is destined to remain in the real of the un-real, add: The unrealized (or unrealizabale) AREZOOs find their way in our RO'YAs (hence Ased Hamze's wet dreams) which I think explains why in English the same word is used to connote both concepts.

Now the pseudo-philosophical part: What's for sure, a lot of our AREZOOs, both personal and political, will never come true. In other words, we will certainly die with a lot of our desires unfulfilled. This loss is unavoidable, of course unless we reach Nirvana beforehand by getting rid of all our desires, which would be like erasing the problem.

The human life is about (am I stretching my legs far beyond my allotted kilim, as one would say in Persian?) 1) struggling to minimize this loss by either suppressing our desires or trying hard to fulfill them, and 2) coming to terms with the fact that we can't do anything about this loss.

End of my meanderings.

Corrections! at December 1, 2003 03:28 PM [permalink]:

"2) coming to terms with the fact that we can't do anything about this loss." by which I mean, the loss will not disappear altogether (forget about Nirvana), although it can be temporarily extingusihed. The imbalance that causes the loss is in fact what makes the world of humans go round, what makes us stay in this world. Right?

Yaghoob Yazid at December 1, 2003 04:32 PM [permalink]:

Extensive Sources for Possible use for Senior Gagoole:

narcissism n. Self-love, or sexual gratification obtained by contemplating oneself. In psychoanalysis, cathexis of the ego by sexual instincts, as occurs in homosexuality, according to Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) in his book Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905, Standard Edition, VII, pp. 130–243, at p. 145n). Freud later formed the view that it is a normal psychosexual stage of development, between stages of auto-erotism and object libido, and in 1914 he published an entire article entitled ‘On Narcissism: An Introduction’ (Standard Edition, XIV, pp. 73–102) in which he expounded at length his theory at that time. The Austrian-born US psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut (1913–81) viewed narcissism as a natural part of development, but the British based Austrian psychoanalyst Melanie Klein (1882–1960) and her followers questioned Freud's theory, arguing that object-relationships are evident from the earliest stages of sucking. The concept of narcissism was originally introduced in 1898 by the English sexologist Havelock Ellis (1859–1939) in an article entitled ‘Auto-erotism: A Psychological Study’. See also ego libido, grandiose self, narcissistic neurosis, narcissistic object-choice, narcissistic personality disorder, primary narcissism, secondary narcissism. Compare object relations. narcissistic adj.[Named after Narkissos, a beautiful youth in Greek mythology who pined away for love of his own reflection in a pool and was punished by being transformed into the flower that bears his name]

How to cite this entry:
"narcissism n." A Dictionary of Psychology. Andrew M. Colman. Oxford University Press, 2001. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2003

Ordak D. Coward at December 1, 2003 06:57 PM [permalink]:

Hope you get inspired by reading I have a dream -- MLK's speech once more.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at December 2, 2003 04:42 AM [permalink]:

Dear Kaveh,

unlike most of the comments to this article, I think the question you raised at the end was both interesting and serious. Thanks for a good article.

I don't have any answer to that, though. I can tell you of my 'Iranian dream":
That no mullah, I mean no mullah including the educated, modern, moderate, open minded, victim of this regime as well variety, the non-collaborating ones, the mistreated by those in powers type, the ones who weep in their heart for the lost respect for Islam type, that NO MULLAH WHAT SO EVER breaths and continues to pollute this planet with the filth of his existence.
Oh yes, I have a dream today! ;)

Señor Græd at December 2, 2003 03:06 PM [permalink]:

Annihilation of Iranian mullahs?


Señor Græd at December 2, 2003 03:31 PM [permalink]:

First a couple of corrections in my meanderings: "If there is hope whatsoever for something to happen" and "the real of un-real" must be changed, respectively, to "If there is no hope whatsoever for something to happen" and "the realm of the un-real". Secondly:

I was browsing through an interesting book this morning (The Progress Paradox; NewYork: Random House, 2003) when I came across a section titled "WAKING UP FROM THE AMERICAN DREAM". I don't mean to draw conclusions from author's point of view, but I thought a paragraph from page 186 is worth reproducing, because I had mentioned "American Dream" in a previous comment. The rest of the section, and the book, deal with author's concerns and reflect his unconventional viewpoints that are not related to the topic of this column. He writes:

"From the beginning of the American Republic, what the majority of [American] citizens sought, and oriented their lives around seeking, was the American dream. Once, that meant you owned the farmland on which you toiled. Then it meant a decent job in industry and an education. By the early postwar era, the American dream meant a home, a car, some spending money, Saturday night out. By roughly the 1970s, as home- and car-ownership became common, the American dream also meant graduating from college, having a professional career, being an individualist. Europeans have been seeking their own version of this dream for centuries longer. In all these dreams, material security and personal liberty are the essence."

Now in light of this paragraph, I think what the Iranian dream *is* is close to what Ased Zia Hapali, Esq. (and myself) has put forward. Some of the comments above, however, are geared toward what the Iranian dream *should be*. One comment, in particular, seems to encourage us to learn from Martin Luther King's famous speech, or even perhaps *adopt* this dream as ours, with obvious adaptations of course, such as championing the rights of women and minorities instead of those of blacks.

I don't know to what extent we can "impose" a particular dream on a nation who simply do not have it. Iranians' *pronounced* collective dream these days seem to me to be captured by one word: democracy. But what democracy is remains to be further articulated on, much better understood, and finally *absorbed* as a (genuine) dream, not merely a fashionable cliched slogan.

Author's website:

Señor Græd at December 2, 2003 03:42 PM [permalink]:

I don't necessarily agree with Gregg's point of view (although I find myself quite sympathetic), but the following excerpt from page 200 is also interesting:

"In another nature's-revenge outcome, rising freedom may constitute a source of unhappiness. ... We have complete sexual freedom, but that hardly means the person you are interested in will sleep with you, or that anyone will. We have complete freedom to marry for love, but this does not mean the object of your affection will reciprocate, or that anyone will. When there was little marital or sexual freedom, people ached but ..."

Also check his outlook on Freud. :-)

hichi at December 3, 2003 10:27 AM [permalink]:


Señor Græd at December 3, 2003 12:55 PM [permalink]:

Some dreams can't be shared.

Massoud Amir Behrani, an Iranian immigrant, has spent most of his savings trying to enhance his daughter's chances of a good marriage. Once she is married, he spends the remaining funds on a house at an auction, unwittingly putting himself and his family in the middle of a legal tussle with the house's former owner. What begins as a legal struggle turns into a personal confrontation, with tragic results.

Julianna at January 10, 2004 04:53 PM [permalink]:

American Dream: it's an unfortunate thing. I am an American and this "dream" has it's drawbacks, especially encouraging the world to desire what American's have been fed for centuries; that the American Dream is to consume more, appreciate less. Have more, want more, don't stop until we've accumulated as many "toys" as possible. Yes, we have many things at our fingertips, but our charachter is the price we pay. Instead of seeking more joy, love, passion, peace, we are encouraged by commercialism and some innate sense of competition to seek more things. Things burn up, people steal things, moths destroy things. We purchase more storage units just to put our things in them. Our attics and basements are filled, yet our hearts and minds are full of confusion, wondering why we feel so empty. Dreams shouldn't be full of emptiness. The "American Dream" needs to adopt more charachter, and I hope that each person who reads this will do their small part to put into perspective what kind of dream you really want to live. Peace.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at January 11, 2004 03:36 AM [permalink]:

You know Julianna I don't really buy this stuff anymore. In Iran the Mullahs use the earthquake to smuggle arms to Hizballah, in America after 9/11 we saw how people stood by each other and risked their lives to help others. Sorry but your kind of whinning is thankfully getting outmoded gradually, better keep up with the fashion, hurry up!
The Success of Western social structure has really spoiled the likes of you. You have no idea what misery means, sister. Sorry that you don't live in a paradise where you would be the princess your momy called you. But please spare us this whinning, ok?

Julianna at January 13, 2004 05:09 PM [permalink]:

"Whining," "Fashion," "Success;" has the Western social structure actually gotten to you as it seems? Perhaps you would consider spending your energy creating and sharing ideas across borders that bring peace instead of strife and finding the courage to stand for what is right instead of playing the sophomoric game of trying to ignite blame and hostility. Peace, brother.