The Tower June 29, 2009Posted by Mark Folse in literature, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
Tags: azarnoush, Iran, Iran Election, iranbaan, Jorge Luis Borges, persiankiwi, Salman Rushdie, The Tower
by Jorge Luis Borges
In a deserted place in Iran there is a not very tall stone tower that has neither door nor window. In the only room (with a dirt floor and shaped like a circle) there is a wooden table and a bench. In that circular cell, a man who looks like me is writing in letters I cannot understand a long poem about a man who in another circular cell is writing a poem about a man who in another circular cell
. . . The process never ends and no one will be able to read what the prisoners write.
Translated, from the Spanish, by Suzanne Jill Levine.
This appeared today in the Poetry & Fiction RSS feed from The New Yorker. I’ve thought about Iran a lot lately–remembering our own fascination with the original revolution as young journalism students, watching students (radical Islamist students, yes, but our peers) take over the embassy and a country. Our views were naive, the views of students, of the young: the Shah was one of the creatures of the CIA, so whatever overthrew him must be an improvement.
I now follow a handful of on-the-ground activists on Twitter, remembering my foolish and simplistic view of the world in 1979 and recall that Mousavi endorsed the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. And still the resistance of the young people of that country to an oppressive culture is an amazing thing to watch. They shout “Allah o Akbar” from the rooftops, taking and tossing back the cry of the original Islamic Revolution into the face of the mullahs as if throwing back a tear gas grenade.
Twitter and Facebook and all the rest are just conduits for words. Believe in the transformative power of words.