Friday, April 18, 2008

Innovation and Flourishing

In an speech on the occasion of the Iranian New Year, Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei not only expressed his satisfaction with the last year’s government of Mahmud Ahmadinejad, giving him an A+, but he expressed great optimism about the coming years. He seemed confident that all the efforts of the last year should bear some fruit in the next. He scored the government’s performance well enough to predict that the coming year would undoubtedly be a year of “Innovation and Flourishing.”

As has been the pattern with the Islamic Republic, these kinds of speeches indicate not merely a wishful expectation but a suggestion for a future agenda. Whether this tradition is rooted in Islamic teachings or was introduced by the Iranian revolution I have no idea, but I do know that it appeared from the time of the hostage crisis, when Imam Khomeini would “hint” almost every day how the so called “students” would feel, think, and act, and they would do exactly the same by the evening.

And so, innovation started right after his speech. Ahmadinejad, who himself is always full of innovation, came up with something that surpassed whatever innovation an ordinary human being might have come with, i.e., “being appointed for the Divine Management of the world.” I’m sure there are some people more qualified to explain what he means; and while awaiting an explanation, I cannot hide my amazement at the visual as well as comical potential of this phrase.

While he was busy creating this amazing “Divine Management,” he forgot to mention to his vice president that he would change two of his cabinet ministers!

I do not think anyone would be surprised anymore to hear such statements from Ahmadinejad, or even raise a question as to why a president has so many consultants and advisors if he does not consult with them.

However, I was quite surprised when I read that our reformist friend Mohammad Ali Abtahi had “run over his head” at the Supreme Leader’s “signal.” Trying to explain the embarrassing situation that the fellow reformists face in regard to whether to participate in the second round of the elections, knowing that it is not even meant to be a fair election, he wrote in his blog that well, they decided to “participate passively.” (مشارکت غیر فعال)

But the one who did not hear the supreme leader’s speech, or if he heard it, played deaf, was Saffar Herandi, the Minister of Guidance. Without out any apology, and quite insensitive to the Supreme Leader’s signal, he continued the same outdated, boring, routine rhetoric. He said that all the artists who protested against the outdated, non-innovating system of censorship and who said that the situation is worse than before “must be out of their minds not to see all these achievements. We are not here to help creating cinema and film, but the right kind of film.” He then proceeded to call the artists some other not very nice names. These were exactly the sort of words that have been used over and over again for years. Even the insulting words were all copied from what Ahmadinejad has used many times before. Mrs. Elham (Fatemeh Rajabi) had also used them in the most variety of forms, in fact more elaborately and sometimes more graphically many, many times in her blog. Indeed, there was nothing innovative in Harandi’s speech, neither in form nor the meaning, as if he had not turned his radio or TV on in Norooz.

But seriously, a few words with the Supreme Leader. Why not? He called for innovation, didn’t he?

Dear Supreme Leader,

Once, the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, while contemplating, heard God’s Angel’s voice tell him, “Read!” and the Prophet answered: “I cannot.” The Angel then repeated, “Read!” Since it was God’s will, it happened that the Prophet, who was not literate, start reading.

With all due respect Mr. Khamenei, you are not God, and none of those whom you addressed in your speech are the Prophet Mohammad. Innovation is not achieved by orders, even yours. It is a kind of talent given to people by God. Some have it more and some have it less. One can learn to be more creative by various practices, but the kind of creativity that brings about innovation is not achieved even by regular exercises. Look at the former Soviet Union or China, your esteemed models. No art ever came from them since their revolutions except ballet and skating from Russia, and nothing at all from China. As a matter of fact, those arts they had before died away after their revolutions. Forced practices brought about good discipline, but did not produced good creative artists. Their painters are skillful at copying but not at creating. They have good players for various instruments, but not good musician or composers.

Being a tar player yourself, you should know the difference between what Master Ahmad Ebadi or Jalil Shahnaz do and those who have gone to some workshop and training school just to play. I’m sure there was a big difference between Ebadi, even the first time he placed that instrument on his lap, and those who were not and did not become Master Ebadi even after years of playing tar.

As for the flourishing, do you read at all these days? Did you hear of that wonderful article Ahmad Shirzad wrote on his blog and published on Emrooz Online? It was about Imam Khomeini’s project of Jenat, to make a green road from Behesht-e-Zahra to Qom, the multi-million toman project which any student of agriculture could have predicted would fail. The project materialized without proper research and worse without considering the nature of the landscape and soil. Pine trees were planted, dried, planted, dried and replanted and finally the project stopped. The next time you go to Qom, please turn your head to the side and ask your driver about those piles of brown tree logs on the side of the road and ask him how much money was used to “create” that spectacular landscape and ask him why those trees they planted did not flourish. I insist that you should ask your driver and not anybody else. Drivers in Iran are very good and know everything. They are the best sources of news. As a matter of fact, if you need any other information, ask him. Anyhow, I’m sure you know what I’m getting at. Those who executed that project had not even read one of the books that we would study before the revolution called, the Golestan by our wise poet Saadi, to learn that

زمین شوره سنبل بر نیارد، در ان تخم و عمل ضایع مگردان))

“Tulips won’t grow in salt desert, do not waste seeds and labor on it.”

Flourishing, whether human or plant, needs a proper cultivation of the ground and air and proper nourishment. In the present condition, when cabinet ministers obtain their diplomas from shady universities, when their scholarship is published only in commercial encyclopedias whose pages could be bought, when university seats are awards, when students are barred from education as a punishment (yes, this one is really an innovation indeed!), when the main occupation of government is to filter blogs, internets networks, and informational sites, when shutting down newspapers is routine, when rationing seats in the universities on the basis of gender does not bother you, when government decides to publish a different sets of textbooks for boys and girls (who has ever heard of something like that?), you are creating a salt desert in which nothing can grow, nothing better than Ahmadinejad and his cabinet members, and which bears no better fruit than Mrs. Elham’s blog. If that is what you meant by innovation and flourishing, then at least be a little innovative yourself, since they are there already in full bloom and every day open a new bud, so what else do you need?


Anonymous said...

Ahm..a..Bad..Jihadist is really In.No-Vasive with young boys...Just like that crackpot self-proclaimed Mohamed...

Mina said...

I don't know what Mohammad you mean. If you mean the prophet followed by
over a billion of our fellow-passengers on this earth, I say that insulting him proves nothing but the worthlessness of the one who utters the insult.

As for buggery and jihadery, well, the facts are too well know. See RAWA's website, for example. See also this link to a report on MSNBC.

Anonymous said...

could u please explain to us how is khamenei trying to say he is God or who among the ones he is refering to is a prophet..coz ur article is more of an O reily factor then an analysation...

you are trying to achieve what
the whole team of the past five presidents of the united states and the media assault brigade of rupert murdoch, combined with a the whole arab world plus 44 countries plus the MOK gang AND thousands of tons of chemical weapons could not achieve in 30 yrs...

well cry and wail like a barren old woman ur whole life...

tens of millions of people across iran through the streets of beirut across babylon and among the ancient ruins of indus valley civilisation are shouting VIVA IRAN..
"khamenie rahbar"

Anonymous said...

To the previous author:
What are you smoking and where can I get some? Must be great stuff!