“Hamid Dabashi is one of the most
significant intellectual voices emerging outside of
Last night I had the opportunity to
sit at a talk by the
Masters & Masterpieces of Iranian Cinema
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His talk was titled “Donya Khaneh-ye
Man Ast: The Case Against Nostalgia and Diaspora”. In short he was discussing
the strange contradiction that while living in
He invoked Iranian cosmopolitanism and argued for it through the poetry of Nima and his followers. He read Sohrab Sepehri’s “Seda-ye Pa-ye Ab,” explaining to the audience the worldview of a poet who at the start declares that he is “Ahl-e Kashan,” but then puts the whole world as the focus of his poetry. He celebrated these poets’ courageous and out-of-the-mold wisdom. His close reading of Sepehri’s poem was like a revelation. I was in tears and the audience was stunned. At the start of his talk he said that it was the first time in years he was giving a talk in Persian, and apologized for any shortcomings. He was mighty humble! His Persian was superb. Dabashi’s voice reminded me of Ahmad Shamlu and his eloquence and wisdom matched the best of world philosophers. He is truly a gift: but not only to Iranians but to the world. I was one proud Iranian in his presence. One who doesn’t have to be “Persian” or proud of the Achamanids imperial warmongering and geographical expansion a la George W Bush style—“liberating” people by the sword (Dabashi discusses this in detail his recent book Iran: A People Interrupted).
Iran: A People Interrupted
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How embarrassed I was when an old and I would dare say senile man got up and boasted that despite having a PhD, he had not understood what Dabashi’s talk was all about! How embarrassing! Almost everyone in the audience, mostly the young and women, took turn to applaud Dabashi, thanked him for bringing a new vision and hope to their world, and spoke in gratitude to his scholarship and political courage for speaking for the voiceless. One woman asked Dabashi to travel around the country and give more talks to the Iranian community, the very people who need his wisdom the most at this time. In response to the older gentleman, Dabashi was a model of humility, while he could have easily outwitted the old man, he instead apologized for his inability to convey what he had in mind better—and left the audience in awe of his humanity.
As a reader of Dabashi, I had always wondered why he does not write or give lectures in Persian (he has a handful of articles written in Persian). As a “one and half” generation Iranian-American, now more comfortable in English than in Persian, I now think I have a clue. I think Dabashi may very well be Iran’s first truly globally-minded (and celebrated) modern-day philosopher—precisely because his audience is the world and his language and concerns are global (he cares as much about poverty in Iran as he does for in the US or for an Iranian child’s life as he does for a Palestinian). His vision of who and what we are is light-years past the last and lost generation of nativists—those whom Dabashi argues have a Shah and/or a Khomeini sitting in their hearts.
I have recently started reading Dabashi’s work backward, beginning with his most recent and going back to his earliest writings. His voice is addictive and gives me hope for the future.
... Payvand News - 5/24/07 ...
... Payvand News - 5/24/07 ... --