01 Sep

Shade of Shahrivar

It’s Shahrivar again, month of honey-sweet grapes and golden melons. For a Middle-Easterner, it’s also a month of uncertain feelings and mellow breezes hesitant between heat and cold.

Shahrivar roughly equals 23 August to 23 September, matching summer’s lunacy with fall’s frenzy, departing from the joy of leisure for the pleasure of learning.

Shahrivar is the time of worries for school, anxieties of change, butterfly feelings of a new beginning. For the tech-phobic elderly, as for late Sohrab Sepehri,  it’s a journey in time to Pink-Floyd memories of school:

“School had scissored my dreams, broken my prayers. School had hurt my doll. I would never forget my first day there. They kidnapped me betwixt my games and plays and forced me to the nightmare of school… I found myself lonely there, like a stranger. And then it was Fear which went to school every time, instead of me.” (from I’m Still On Travel)

Shahrivar is the most abstract month in the Persian Calendar, owing its title to an Amshaspand (Zoroastrian Spirit whose name literally means Sovereign) that represented Divine Power, Glory and Dominion. In the celestial world he stood for the heavenly kingdom and upon the earth, he manifested an ideal kingdom in which God’s will manifested itself through conquest over evil forces and elevation and illumination of the destitute and the poor. He was the Guardian of Metals and would resurrect and assess the people and their deeds at the end of the world with molten metal. Ergo, he is known as the spirit of Rewards and Punishment in the after-world.

Shahrivar’s counterpoint, Sawrwa, is a demon representing chaos, misdeed, and bad government.

Shahrivar in the present world has also cradled one the greatest catastrophes: September 11 is not an incident but a turning point in our history and culture, whose aftershock is still felt and perceived all over the world, a time when Sawrwa won the battle with Shahrivar.

From a Manichean viewpoint, Shahrivar is a cauldron of myths and incidents, a battleground between Good and Evil. Demons may win a battle or two, but that won’t be be the last battle and as true Manicheanists by nature, let’s pray for the conquest of goodness once again and for all.

01 May

Labour, Literature and More

I simply could not ignore the Labour Day while writing the editorial of Parsagon’s May issue. So happy Labour Day to all! The irony of the Labour Day is that many people all over the world (including myself) call it a day. It is a good opportunity to set one’s mind free from the hectic days of the labour while you continue to be vehemently conscious of it. It has happened to many of us that while sitting at our desks in our offices, we are craving for an hour or two during which we can release our minds of the obligations of the everyday work and life. Many are blessed to gain such an opportunity but many only regret it. Let’s wish that our blessed friends take the best advantage of those hours and have a suggestion for many of us who have not.

Our existence obliges the space within which we leave. Our corporeal body assumes for itself this space but the mind never complies with the requirements of space. Inevitably, however, unless the body achieves a safe space, the mind won’t embark on its mysterious journeys. Many of us having been denied the safe individual haven have resorted to the more private, safer and more personal space in literature. I perceive that it is the reason we gather together here.

Literature is also the result of labour. So rejoicing in another one’s labour without being able to be appreciative in the normal sense of the word might not seem moral. However, the nature of this labour obliges reading which is, in turn, an appreciation itself. Many benefit from the minutes spent commuting to and from work while others put the baby to sleep to just read a few pages. This is while many of us even do not care about reading at all. Labour is necessary for leading an earthly life but for the mind we need to create the individual space.

May your labour never get taxing!

01 Jan

Time and the Parsagon Journey*

In the early snowfall of September in Calgary-my adopted home, and the short and windy autumn that ironically followed the snow, I imagined this moment. This day in November, that I knew I would be out of the country, sitting in a San Francisco cafe and write down my thoughts on Parsagon. When I was in Tehran, autumn was my favorite season. In Calgary it is short and heralds a long and cold winter, so I savor every hour like I would every drop of a good coffee.

When temperature fell below zero, I imagined the future in present, the time when I would get a second chance at autumn in another country. And now I am present in the future I had imagined in the past, and I wonder about time and what it means in our lives.

What is “time”? Are we right in measuring it the way that we do-by its relation to present? To our present? Aren’t our experiences of life highly influenced by our understanding(s) of time? Can we feel differently about our lives if our conception of time was dramatically different?

Perhaps time is regressive. We grow old, we move to places far from family and friends. We lose loved ones to change or to death. With much hope we look to the future, only to see that future often brings loss and pain. In fact, in those times of hardship that we wish to pass soon, we are at the same time wishing the passing of our time on earth. Most of us have stories to tell about “the good old times;” these stories accumulate as we grow older.

Perhaps time is redemptive. Don’t many of us long for a better time to come? When our personal problems are solved, when the world is peaceful, and stories of wars and epidemics are no longer on the headlines. After all, isn’t hope-our motive force in life, the child of redemptive time?

Time is repetitive. Seasons pass. Routines become tedious and wear down one’s creativity. Yet we need repetition; a new day is a new chance. A new year is a new beginning.

Time can also be understood as rupture, the infinite possibilities of the future are ahead of us. Time will bring new opportunities that our focused mind, trapped in the limitation of “the now,” can yet not see. It will bring new challenges as well.

People understand time differently in different cultures. It is a beautifully ambiguous concept. For me, as a parsagoner, time is not one of these. It is all of these together. It is measured by my experiences with the people I have had the privilege to know since my academic journey started in 2002. I reflect with nostalgia on my time as an undergraduate student in Tehran, collaborating with some of my fellow parsagoners in student journals and poetry clubs. The passage of time has only improved our relationships, introduced us to more possibilities, and made us more creative in our collaborations. The Parsagon Review is an outcome of these, and an outcome I am proud of. And sure, we have all been bored at one point or another with routines and with issues that may arise in any collaboration, but working together has become only better and more interesting through time. Every new project is more exciting. Every month is a new Parsagon! I am only looking forward to what time will bring.

* This editorial is inspired by Felski, Rita. “Telling Time in Feminist Theory.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 21.1 (2002): 21-28. JSTOR. Web.
Artwork: “Present”, by Iran Darroudi