Other People & Other Places
The past has piled up in my thoughts. The present is running faster than I can ever run. The future might have already happened and might be happening as we speak or might be waiting for the past to leave. All I know is that I have too much to say and that my thoughts and my experiences have been hesitating to turn into words. This blog is only an attempt to write, to talk, to tell, to narrate and to share.
Since many friends have pointed out this complicated characteristic of mine, I always find myself thinking and analyzing this phenomenon of multiple personalities and its role in my life. It seems to me that having multiple personalities is not necessarily a disorder, as long as it does not exceed a certain limit. A quick review of my friends’ personalities makes me realize that most of my friends who like me grew up in
For instance, let’s go over a simple day that I would spend at home, in school and outside when I was still in
My father would wake me up early in the morning. Before that, however, I was already waken up by the sound of the morning prayer that could be heard from the outside (for those who know we lived closed to the Mossala of Tehran). I, however, did not care much about the morning prayer and had simply taught myself to tune out the very loud sound of the Quran and sleep. In my pajamas, I would go to the kitchen, have breakfast with my father and if I had time I would listen to my Western music until it was time to go downstairs and wait for the school bus to come. Then, I would quickly wear my garment and tight scarf (maghnaye) and run downstairs. In school, my friends and I would not cease talking about this and that
Many of us were constantly advised to never share what goes on at home with our friends and our teachers. Although we often failed to abide by this ‘privacy’ rule and would share our stories with some of our friends, most of the times we would manage to keep these stories among ourselves and not have them leak to the authorities of the school or our teachers. The funny thing is that later when I was old enough to see things more broadly, I realized that our teachers and the staff of the school would do the same exact thing. They would talk about their controversial opinions and lives at those teachers who were in touch with the authorities of the Ministry of Education and other governmental institutions.
All in all, while being a teenager in
Anyhow, it is because of the kind of daily life that we(I am specifically talking about the middleclass, more Westernized middle class of Tehran) had during our childhood and teenage years that I think, many of us who grew up in Iran have developed more than simply one “face” with which we present ourselves to the society. We have learned from early on to be a certain way at home and to pretend almost the opposite of that in school and outside. This is why, I think, many of my non-Iranian friends or those who have not grown up in Iran tell me that I have many personalities and that I can easily switch from one “face” to another!
please join us(IAAB) this Thursday, June 21 from 6-9pm for the opening reception of TRANSFORM/NATION: Contemporary Art of Iran and its Diaspora. There will be live music, food, and drinks and a chance to meet some of the artists.
CONTEMPORARY ART OF IRAN AND ITS DIASPORA
Join IAAB and 21 Iranian artists from around the world
to explore Iranian identity, tradition and stereotypes
Multi-media exhibitions in DC, Tehran, & online
Exhibiting Artists: Samira Abbassy, USA · Haleh Anvari, Iran · Kaya Behkalam, Germany · Mina Ghaziani, Iran · Pantea Karimi, USA · Bani Khoshnoudi, France · Haleh Niazmand, USA · Amir Rad, Iran · Afarin Rahmanifar, USA · Jairan Sadeghi, USA · Samineh Sarvghad, Iran · Farideh Shahsavarani, Iran · Samira Yamin, USA · Siamak Nasiri Ziba, Iran
Exhibiting Artists: Ali Alavi, Iran · Nazgol Ansarinia, Iran · Amir Sabber Esfahani, USA · Bani Khoshnoudi, France · Farideh Shahsavarani, Iran · Maryam Shirinlou, Iran · Shadi Yousefian, USA · Mahboubeh Zadehahmadi, Iran · Shahnaz Zehtab, Iran · Siamak Nasiri Ziba, Iran
Just Violence and Retaliation in Nuruddin Farah’s Links
by Azadeh Pourzand
This poem is a gun
This poem's an assassin
Images mob my mind …
This pen’s a spear, a knife
A branding-iron, an arrow
Tipped with righteous anger
It writes with blood and bile
(Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac ‘Gaarriye’)
Nuruddin Farah’s Links, a narrative about the brutal Somali Civil War , is inevitably filled with descriptions of shootings, traumatizing deaths and bloody corpses. As Farah himself describes
Farah writes, “With every cell in his body responding to his restless caution, he wished he knew where the danger lurked, who was a friend and who was a foe” (Farah10). Fearing his life in a city that is no less than a battlefield, Jeebleh initially has little understanding of the severe armed violence that every second determines his life and death. His stay in the
I. Jeebleh’s Initial Introduction to the Violence of the Civil War
On Jeebleh’s first day of arrival in a city ruled by guns, the Major who is sitting with him in the car bitterly and rhetorically asks him, “ Has it ever occurred to you that some of us carry our guns, as the good everywhere must bear arms, to fight and to die for justice?’” (Farah 28). Although in response to the Major’s statement, Jeebleh who fears his life tries to say otherwise, in his mind he condemns the active participation of different clans members in the wide-spread armed violence and murderings in the city. Farah writes, “Jeebleh considered the acts of all these armed movements immoral” (Farah 28). Still in disbelief, he compares the “peaceable” and “orderly”
Soon after having seen a few snapshots of the violence of the civil war before his eyes and having felt the concept of death as a reality that might capture him or any other person at any moment, Jeebleh begins to experience difficulties in explaining his identity in relation to the violent and brutal politics of a civil war to which he is now truly a witness. Farah writes, “His agitation was due, in part, to a lack of clarity in his mind—how to define himself here. His difficulty lay elsewhere, in his ability to choose whom he would associate himself with” (Farah 35). Traumatized by the observations of his first day in
Although the Somali civil war itself does not come to Jeebleh as a surprise, living the war for only one day seems enough to make him question his own presence in Somalia and to change his perception of himself. Farah writes, “(…) he felt alienated from himself, as though he had become another person, when he witnessed the brutal murder of the ten-year-old boy earlier”(Farah 42). In a way, only one day into his trip to
II. Jeebleh’s Involvement in Intimate Violence
In Logic of Violence in Civil War, Kalyvas states, “Revenge is probably the most recurrent feature in descriptions of violence in civil war, often leading to the metaphor of blood feud or vendetta; it is a central theme of novels and memoirs, and more generally of the folklore of civil wars(…)”(Kalyvas 59). Farah’s Links, too, in many ways evolves around the notion of revenge which becomes one of the main sources of the continuous and contagious form of clans and kinship violence in a country caught in a brutal civil war. Even Jeebleh who has been away for 2 decades and has been out of touch with not only the politics of the civil war and has been long out of touch with his family and relatives in Somalia eventually gets involved in the politics of violence and of taking revenge through physical elimination. Through his developing feeling of hatred and anger with his cruel half-brother, Caloosha, he, too, gets drawn into the cycle of violence—from which at first he tries to stay away.
After feeling threatened and humiliated by Caloosha’s follower, Af-Laawe, in his search for his dead mother’s grave and the true story of his mother’s death, Jeebleh takes up a gun for the first time in his life and appreciates the “beauty” of the gun in his hand. Farah writes,
This was the first time in his life that Jeebleh had held a firearm. What worried him was his spellbound, facile adoration of the gun. The muscleman had injected him with a potion that had altered his nature and personality, and soon he might no longer challenge a statement like the one spoken by Af-Laawe on the day of his arrival: the guns lack the body of human truth!(Farah 256)
As cautious and nonviolence as he was in the beginning, Jeebleh, now a changed man, finds himself fascinated with the gun that he has in his hands. His “adoration” of the gun comes to him as a surprise. After having felt so close to death in the presence of Af-Lawwe and his musclemen, Jeebleh seems to understand and appreciate the purpose of holding a firearm: to defend and to avenge. Due to his altered “nature”, Jeebleh now actually agrees with what the statement with which Af-Laawe had welcomed him at the airport: “the guns lack the body of human truth!” While at the airport, this statement had terrified him and had reminded him of the violent immorality that he had entered, Jeebleh now takes comfort in thinking about Af-Laawe’s statement about guns. Yet another armed man in the city, Jeebleh, too, feels the desire of fighting in himself by taking the gun in his hands with which he could act beyond his human conscience and to relieve his growing fear and hatred.
Raasta’s return —his half brother, Bile’s very dear niece who is recognized as the symbol of peace from the time she was born—after having been abducted by Caloosha and hearing what she has gone through in the confinement of Caloosha, make Jeebleh even more hateful of Caloosha than before. Ready for retaliation, it is as though pulling the trigger of the gun he has come to appreciate becomes an easy task. Although the story does not get into the details of Caloosha’s death, we know that Jeebleh plays the key role in taking revenge from Caloosha and having him murdered. In thinking about the murdering of Caloosha, Jeebleh assesses his old and new philosophies on the enforcement of violence:
Now getting rid of Caloosha was no mean feat! Given the choice, Jeebleh would appose all forms of violence. But what is one to do when there no other way to rid society of vermin?(…)So which would he rather be, someone who kills for justice, or someone helplessly unable to do anything? He would rather he killed than twiddle his thumbs, waiting for others to do the job” (Farah 332).
At this point, Jeebleh enraged by Caloosha’s crimes, considers violence the only just way for retaliation and for preventing more violence to take place by this cruel man. Jeebleh considers the murdering of Caloosha an act of violence in the name of justice. Although he wishes that he could always remain opposing to “all forms of violence”, he does not think that the society could get a rid of a vermin as malicious as Caloosha without using absolute violence. In other words, Jeebles has grown so hateful of Caloosha that nothing else other than having him killed could satisfy his resentment. Thus, he chooses to kill than “waiting for others to do the job”.
Even though the nature of life in the civil war changes Jeebleh’s “personality” and his initial strict principles that rejected violence altogether, it does not take away his compassion and sensitivity as a human being. Farah writes, “Presumably his general personality would be unaltered. No doubt, something in him had given here and there, the way fabric stretches. But the basic remained, gathered at the seams, where the stitching might be faulty” (Farah 329). Despite his change of principles on the use of violence, Jeebleh never approves of the political violence that has taken over this beloved homeland,
One day before his departure from
Although Jeebleh, the protagonist of Link, eventually chooses violence as a form of justice, I argue that it is not Farah’s intention to justify violence in the Somali Civil War. Farah, however, uses his literature in order to portray the ruling of violence in
Jeebleh thought of how the country had been buried under the rubble of political ruin, and how Somalis woke to being betrayed by the religious men and the clan elders who were in cahoots with a cabal of warlords to share the gain they could make out of ordinary people’s miseries (Farah 331).
Although Jeebleh remains extremely critical of the civil war in
*Bavella, Rahma. "The Poetics of Displacement*." 09-01-2006
Farah, Nuruddin. "A County in Exile." Transition 57(1992): 4-8.
Kalyvas, Stathis N. Kalyvas. The Logic of Violence in Civil War.
 Since simply by being in Somalia Jeebleh’s life like many other Somalis is at risk at any given moment, he cannot be fully detached from the situation. But he is still more detached than those who have personal reasons for their violence and anger.
Boryana Rossa (Bulgarian, b. 1972). Celebrating the Next Twinkling (Praznuvane na sledvascia mig), 1999. Single-channel video, Edition of 2, 2 min. 45 sec. Private collection. Photograph courtesy of the artist
March 23–July 1, 2007
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art and Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, 4th Floor
In celebration of the opening of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, the Museum presents Global Feminisms, the first international exhibition exclusively dedicated to feminist art from 1990 to the present. The show consists of work by approximately eighty women artists from around the world and includes work in all media—painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, installation, and performance. Its goal is not only to showcase a large sampling of contemporary feminist art from a global perspective but also to move beyond the specifically Western brand of feminism that has been perceived as the dominant voice of feminist and artistic practice since the early 1970s.This exhibition is arranged thematically and features the work of important emerging and mid-career artists.
The Brooklyn Museum presents exhibitions that give voice to diverse points of view. Global Feminisms contains challenging subject matter that some visitors may find disturbing or offensive. Children 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Discretion is advised.
This exhibition is co-curated by Maura Reilly, Ph.D., Curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum, and Linda Nochlin, Ph.D., Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Modern Art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.
Global Feminisms is sponsored by Altria Group. Additional support is provided by the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation and the French Embassy Cultural Services.
She was dragged out of her house, her head held in a headlock. For just a second a close up of her face showed it distorted by fear, her eyes wild. There was shouting from the crowd. A sense of pandemonium. The raised fist clutching a rock dissolved in a blur of motion as the cell-phone video lost focus. You could only imagine the fury with which she was attacked. Imagine the impact of the rock on her skull, the screams. The rocks that followed. Blood streaming down her long dark hair. You had to somehow force yourself to imagine it because she had lived it, and had not lived through it. In the end there was only her body sprawled on the ground wearing a red cardigan sweater and dark pants. She had been kicked, beaten and stoned to death.
That morning, when 17-year-old Dua Khalil Aswad put on her red sweater, did she have any premonition of what lay ahead? When she heard the men outside her window did her heart sicken? When her cousin came into the house did she know then? When he grabbed her, holding her head in the crook of his arm like a cowboy dragging down a steer, she knew. But it was too late then to escape. Perhaps she saw the police looking on and thought they would save her. Perhaps she thought her mother would burst through the crowd and save her.Where was her mother? Was she in the house, screaming too, being held back from saving her by the father she had dishonored?
I wonder about the man who videoed the carnage with his mobile phone. Was it only a spectator sport? Did he have hopes of selling it to American television for a sum that would support his family for years? Or perhaps, as I like to think, he was the only hero in the crowd. He intended to show the world that medieval brutality still exists, knowing there was nothing he could do could stop it. Whatever his motive, Dua’s murder has been broadcast around the world. People are angry. Governments are appalled. Suddenly, it is as though nobody ever heard of honor killings and they are demanding both revenge and reform. Four people have been arrested in the murder of this 17-year old Kurdish girl in
It hasn’t taken long for the media to uncover another photograph of Dua. This one is reminiscent of most school photos where you are told to look into the camera, and so her beautiful almond eyes gaze directly into our own. Except for the slight smile on her lips, her expression is calm, almost placid. It is a photograph taken light years ago.
Only when studying the photograph I notice that she is wearing one small earring. Is this acceptable? Or is it too modern? And the way her hair dips slightly over here left eye. Is this too suggestive for a religion that expects sensuality to stay in the recesses of imagination? Perhaps these were clues that led her family to suspect an independent mind was in their midst. Clues radical enough to worry a cousin to follow her, and to finally catch her with a Sunni Muslim man. But was she only talking to him? Did they touch? Did the cousin watch them smile into each other’s eyes? Nothing is clear. It is only reported that she was seen with this man. But for a girl who knew her Yazidi religion forbade mixing with other faiths, she had done the unspeakable. The minds of family members raced towards the inevitable: How could it have been anything other than lust that persuaded her to be seen with this vermin? Had she already had sex with him? Were they planning to elope? There was no time to think further, only to act.
Now they are hunting the cousin, but are they really looking that hard? Or when Dua’s face fades from the world’s consciousness, will their attempts to bring these men to justice fade as well? After all, this has been going on as long as men have tried to control a woman’s actions, thoughts and desires. It doesn’t matter that the United Nations and human rights groups have condemned honor killings. They still take place by the thousands around the world. Houzan Mahmoud, spokeswoman for the Organization of Womens’ Freedom in
And so when women in Muslim fundamentalist families are raped, they bring dishonor and must be killed. Their brothers do it. Or cousins. Or any male relative macho enough to wipe the sin from the family‘s name with the girl’s blood.
Years ago, the voice of a Muslim father in
Two brothers gun down their sister in
“A woman shamed is like rotting flesh, a Palestinian merchant says. “If it is not cut away it will consume the body.”
In some communities, women who have the temerity to refuse a marriage, ask for a divorce, survive a rape, or who simply talk to a man, are guilty of bringing shame to the family. If she has the misfortune to be born into an Islamic fundamentalist family she can be beaten, burned, strangled, shot or stoned to death. Her death is often ruled a suicide. She is often buried in an unmarked grave, her very existence removed.
The light and intelligence in Dua’s eyes looked out onto a poor village in
I go back to the videotape on CNN and watch it again. There seems to be more footage this time. It shows Dua on the ground trying to get up. She is kicked again and collapses again.
It is a small village where she lived. These men knew her, and had probably known her since she was a child playing with their own children. It makes me wonder if those men who watched her die are obsessing over these images as I am. Do the pictures of Dua’s bloody and blackened face haunt their sleep? Perhaps, like me, they can’t turn away because bearing witness is so little to offer her. We must force ourselves to watch this inhumanity because she lived it, and she did not live through it.
Organization for Women’s Freedom in