Sunday, October 16, 2005

1
Early this autumn, as today's Iranian rulers defied the new Rome by pressing ahead with their nuclear program, I traveled for two weeks through what is now the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the year of their Lord 1384, I talked to mullahs armed with laptops, regime supporters in the religious hotbed of Qom, and Islamic philosophers highly critical of the regime. I met intellectuals of all stripes, artists, farmers, politicians, and businesspeople. Most memorably, I had long, intense conversations with some of the young Iranians who make up the majority of the country's population. I see their earnest faces before me as I write, especially those of the women, framed in the compulsory Islamic head scarf, the hijab, which they somehow manage to convert into an accessory of grace and quiet allure.
2
The cold war ended in 1991, but a continuing flow of books on the subject testifies to our deep fascination with it, and to the contested meaning of its legacy. This is particularly true of its ideological component, the "cultural cold war," for as David Caute has noted, the "mortal 'stroke'" that buried Soviet communism was not just economic and military, but also "moral, intellectual, and cultural." The opening of the archives east and west over the past fifteen years has greatly contributed to the debate over what exactly happened, by allowing commentators to reexamine, for example, the role of the CIA in front organizations in the West, like the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and that of the NKVD/ KGB and its affiliates in Communist fronts of a similar nature.
...they somehow manage to convert into an accessory of grace and quiet allure
...the "mortal 'stroke'" that buried Soviet communism was not just economic and military, but also "moral, intellectual, and cultural."

Thousands of years of philosophies in any language the vast majority declaiming one or another of the varieties of asceticism, and the current descriptions -in this country- of the recent epic, absurd, violent and tragic attempts to impose those values by force on the people at large devolves inevitably into a defense of the moral superiority of sheetrock and McDonalds.

All culture is artificial, be it in the culture of Tehran in 2005 or that of whatever public school Timothy Garton Ash was attending when he first had a cock in his ass.
The hijab becomes 'an accessory of grace and quiet allure' precisely because it is mandatory. Anything that is obligatory becomes used, becomes transformed by use. Please, please, speak of what is gained and lost.

You would consider yourself an intellectual. Act like one.
idiots. idiots idiots idiots idiots idiots...

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