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By Roya Monajem, Tehran


The office of one of my publishers is just opposite to Tehran University. I like going there because their office reminds me of shops (hojereh-s) in old traditional bazaars. Books are piled there as for example large tins of cooking oil are piled on top of each other in a corresponding shop. The impression I get from all those men working there is that they never read any of those books that they toil to publish. I like the place because as soon as I enter it, I can’t stop laughing at my previous illusions about this trade. Before publishing my first translation, I thought they had to be less ‘capitalist’ than other ‘trades.’ I had to pay a high price to realize what Marx said in his Capital that it is not necessarily the capitalist who wants his capital to grow; it is in the nature of capital to increase, which in the words of an old proverb is money brings money. I wonder if they still give that composition to primary school children whether ‘knowledge is:

a)      more valuable than money

b)      less valuable than money

c)      as valuable as money

d)     others


Anyhow, I prefer them because unlike most publishers they at least don’t hide this fact under the mask of ‘intellectuality’ pretending that they value knowledge more than money! I do not remember who was the poet of the verse: “when a thief comes in with a torch/ he can select the commodities he steals.”


At any rate, while walking along the ex-Shah Reza and present Revolution Street - and being deeply absorbed in associations and memories this street automatically brings to mind from the days of revolution, something unusual wakes me up from that sleep. There are policemen standing every few meters opposite to the university. It seems something is going on there! But when I pay more attention to these policemen and see how cool and leisurely they are standing some chatting with other officers, some with seemingly ordinary passersby or perhaps members of intelligence service, judging from their air and appearance, my worried heart for probable casualties, for those mothers and fathers waiting anxiously on their doorstep for their sons or daughters returning home gets calmed down! No, it does not seem that ‘serious!’


Entering their office, my first question naturally is “what is going on?”  “Students are protesting,” one of them answered, but in such a tone that I knew “That’s it. Nobody is going to say anything more. So I better not continue interrogating them!”


They go over my ‘file’ and decide to pay me this or that amount. (Because I am practicing not to think negative nor get engaged in ‘talking behind people’s back,’ neither alone or with others, I censor the part about their payment procedures.) I say goodbye to one brother and go to another brother to fetch my payment.


While looking at his check-book, he ignores me for a certain period of time, long enough for me to try to get his attention.


. “Apparently, you should write me a check.”


“Yes, I know, but I am very reluctant and adamant to do so!” All his postures and expressions showed that too. The sound of my loud laughter and the immediate rule of silence and uneasiness in that men-filled - office, brings me back to reality. When he finally stretched his hand to hand me the check, it was as though he was departing from his beloved! (By the way, isn’t this ‘talking behind people’s back’?)


Back to the famous street of Revolution, policemen are still there. I hear this constant reverberation in my head “history is repeated.” In those days of unrest and insurgences, I went mad whenever I heard that famous saying. At that time what seemed more probable to me –perhaps largely because it was the fashion, the vogue of the time – was ‘evolution’ and not ‘repetition’ or ‘eternal return.’


I see a taxi and jump into it. A short conversation about what is going on passes between the driver and me. By his appearance, he looked pro-regime, but by his words, he was cynically complaining and protesting, like almost everybody else.


The same street, the same sort of scenes seen some twenty seven years ago – students protesting, policemen on guard – and interestingly enough even the same slogans or promises are uttered by top statesmen. Is this repetition, evolution or involution?


These days twenty seven years ago; the first thing that hit us after the revolution was the increasing rise in prices, the high rate of inflation. “No! I should stop taking notice of these things otherwise the resulting tension, stress and worries about income and expenditures will definitely drive me toward some sort of physical or psychological illness!” And for twenty seven years we periodically heard that the government is in such critical economic situation that will bring their fall. The reason their prophecy failed may lie in the fact that those economists who make such prophecies apply the rules working in advanced capitalist countries to this country where there is no rule that can not be over-ruled.


However, recently the rise in prices has been so high that it could not pass ‘unnoticed,’ ‘ignored’ even for a craze-wise sapiens like me! And by craze-wise sapiens, I mean the species emerging under autocratic regimes. “Cut and censor the rest,” orders the apolitical voice in me.




I had written this much when I heard that the subject of ‘inflation’ had apparently been the ‘debate of the week’ and our economists had apparently written an open letter to the President…


“What a shame! They robbed me of my subject!” Thus to prevent any misunderstanding, I decided to discard this article and start writing another one. And this is what appeared in the second article.




Amazing! As an apolitical craze-wise sapiens, I could never guess that I start writing about some personal emotional state toward the reality of life in the past few months here and later finding out that it had become the ‘hot debate’ of the week!


“You don’t want any misunderstanding, do you?” Asked that apolitical individual in me!


“It is better to forget it and write a new article.”


What I had said there was in short something like this; this is the first time after Islamic revolution that despite all my efforts to ignore politico-economic reality of life here, the high rate of inflation gives me a good shock to start thinking about ‘old days.’ Old days not in the nostalgic sense of some past, but in the sense of coming days, for I heard that the price of a grave in that large cemetery of Tehran has reached $8000! Some 10 years ago I sold my three bed-roomed apartment for that price…  




Here I like to interfere and stop that depressing train of thoughts - mainly as an act of medical prevention and remedy. What is the point of getting financially insecure and distressed by such thoughts? So I am censoring a couple of paragraphs and reproduce the rest of that article.



The second amazing point is how the whole scene of the present time-space seems like a miniature painting of the period extending from last months of pre-Islamic days to a few months into post-Islamic years. In fact, the period extending from “the few last months of any pre-revolutionary days – or democratic change of system – to a few months into the post-revolutionary days - no-matter where, when and among which people - is the period when those who wish to overthrow the existing ruling system – regardless of their ideological and philosophical belief-system- promise a ‘heaven on earth’ to their supporters. Don’t you agree?


Now let us see what may this popular ‘heaven on earth’ mean from their supporters’ point of view?


As the rest of living organisms, humans need first of all ‘enough’ food, a comfortable place of rest (shelter), and then good companies which can give them the feeling of belongingness, security, and love.  ِ


The first two, i.e. food and shelter are what all the searchers for power have always promised people throughout human history, regardless of time- space. And the amazing point is that people still believe them. Perhaps this is what is meant by magical power of words.


“At the beginning was word, and word was god” says Jewish Christian Holy Book. “God said ‘be’ and creation came to being” says Islamic Holy Book.


On the human level magical power of words lies perhaps in their mesmerizing or hypnotizing effects. Magical power of love works in the same way. Lovers act as though mesmerized, hypnotized by their beloved. This perhaps explains why popular leaders become so powerful. They become ‘leader-beloved’ and thus receiving double love from their followers. And love creates the highest amount of energy lovers which is then voluntarily and with pleasure is sacrificed for the leader-master-beloved. It is true that this kind of love can easily turn to hate as well, but as far as this circulation of instinctive-emotional love (or hate) which in reality is some kind of mesmerization and hypnotism is maintained with the magical power of words, the system can be maintained with the least efforts. History shows that a few crafty shepherds with awesome dogs are enough to lead any cattle home. This is human nature and as long as this state of affairs stay the same, all changes are superficial and in appearance only and history is repeated and ‘eternal return’ is actualized.


... Payvand News - 7/10/06 ... --

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