Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Soldier took his life in Iraq

Parents of a soldier who took his life in Iraq speak out.

Brutality of War!

In 1980, when Iran-Iraq War broke out in south part of Iran, I left everything (even my beloved son) behind and went to war zone to help the injured people. Devastated by the ferocity of war, I documented all the details and wrote my memoir. The result of being in the war zone and experiencing the brutality of war, was a hand written book and several poems. The modified version of it was published in a women's magazine under a Pseudonym...and the the original manuscript was destroyed by...

Art can always help to re-experience the real experience to learn from history and strive for humanity!

"Mehdi Monem's portraits of victims of the Iran-Iraq War are the result of years of effort. He was a photojournalist during that 8-year war and documented its impact on the people of Iran. With the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross, 96 of these portraits have been published in a collection titled "Victims of War". The objective is to pay more attention to defense-less civilians, prevent attacks on them during war, and ultimately spread the message of peace and friendship."
Pictures of victim's of the Iran-Iraq War

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

Last Tuesday in my Experimental Playwriting class one of my students respectfully asked: Why do we have to read all these depressing plays? (Last Tuesday's assignment was reading "Mud" by Maria Irene Fornes, and a week before was the short story "In the Grove" by Akutagawa)

Maria Irene Fornes

I asked myself: Why do these plays and works of art make me deeply happy but them unhappy?
These good questions require perceptive answers!
Watch a trailer of Rashomon an adaptation film by akira kurosawa based on "In the Grove" a short story by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm My Own Grandpa!

It's always great to laugh! Isn't it? Listen and watch:
I'm My Own Grandpa!
And... a different version!
Isn't this song a response to the play I'm My Own Wife?

No More War, No More Trouble!

Listen to series of global music playing for change, a solidarity around the world for peace:
War/ No More Trouble...What We Need is Love!
This song is a response to One Love
This song is a response to Don't Worry
This song is a response to STAND BY ME!

Dolor Of Autumn

On Sunday and today as I was walking by the Lake Michigan near Northwestern University campus, I remembered D. H. Lawrence...and a particular poem I used to admire in 1989 about autumn, the ripe apple and the beauty of getting old...I had never thought of beauty in old age. Lawrence showed me the depth of beauty...The incredible astonishing diverse colors of life.

Dolor Of Autumn
By D. H. Lawrence

THE acrid scents of autumn,
Reminiscent of slinking beasts, make me fear
Everything, tear-trembling stars of autumn
And the snore of the night in my ear.

For suddenly, flush-fallen,
All my life, in a rush
Of shedding away, has left me
Naked, exposed on the bush.

I, on the bush of the globe,
Like a newly-naked berry, shrink
Disclosed: but I also am prowling
As well in the scents that slink

Abroad: I in this naked berry
Of flesh that stands dismayed on the bush;
And I in the stealthy, brindled odours
Prowling about the lush

And acrid night of autumn;
My soul, along with the rout,
Rank and treacherous, prowling,
Disseminated out.

For the night, with a great breath intaken,
Has taken my spirit outside
Me, till I reel with disseminated consciousness,
Like a man who has died.

At the same time I stand exposed
Here on the bush of the globe,
A newly-naked berry of flesh
For the stars to probe.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Coco before Chanel

Today I saw “Coco before Chanel” a movie which I call “real art, real cinema”. The screenplay was subtly written with scrutiny and directed artistically by Anne Fontaine.

Fontaine portrays Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel with an in-depth view on her characteristic from all aspects of her life, circumstances, and impulses. Mesmerizing in every frame, every scene, the film focuses on Coco’s gaze into her surrounding, in order to explore her contradictions, her persistence of being obstinately herself and her tenacious longing to become a self-made woman.

Fontaine explains: “This girl, coming from the heart of French countryside, poor, uneducated, but endowed with an exceptional personality, was destined to be ahead of her time.”

Fontaine’s film is not about fashion, but about a striving woman who tries to be independent and conquering a world which governs by wealth and men. Coco does not sit back and hope for something to change her life, instead she questions, challenges and learns from all the instruments around her to empower herself.

Film has many layers, many brilliant moments, and many witty dialogues which remain in us forever. More than anything else is the stunning performance of Audrey Tautou which brings out the richness of Coco Chanel’s character, the mystery of her inner life as well as her sensuality, simplicity, elegance and exceptionality.

Before exploring love, Coco who believes love brings misery to women’s life (as she had experienced her mother’s agony) says: “Skin is skin, you just turn off the light!..” But understanding the essence of love changes her tremendously. Love strengthens her, flourishes her and elevates her to the highest level of determination and dazzling creativity. One of the captivating scenes is that after the death of her lover, Coco touches fabrics as if touching the skin of her lover knowing that life has blossomed out of death.

Now, as in the world of beauty industry women are enormously being exploited, I often remember “Top Girls” a play by Caryl Churchill and “What is to be done” a novel by Nicolai Chernyshevsky . I read a Persian translation of this book in my teen years, and I often wonder why no one has paid attention to Chernyshevsky’s vision of a constructive economic system for women's rights.

No Comment!

Panhandler in Oceanside, California

The Good Woman of Setzuan

By: Bertolt Brecht

In 1991 Nico and I had an in-depth discussion about Bertolt Brecht. As I was passionately expressing my love and admiration for Brecht, he smiled and with a German accent sarcastically said:
"A biographical book has recently published in Germany about your beloved Brecht!! which would give you a different perspective of him on women"
I stared at him, as a sign of uncertainty...
- Yes, I know, I know...nothing is absolute!
And, suddenly Pablo Picasso came to my mind....and his life with women!

Read an excerpt of Brecht's play: The Good Woman of Setzuan

Shen Te: Shen Te, yes. Shui Ta and Shen Te. Both.

Your injunction
To be good and yet to live
Was a thunderbolt
It has torn me in two
I can’t tell how it was
But to be good to others
And myself at the same time
I could not do it
Your world is not an easy one, illustrious ones!
When we extend our hand to a beggar, he tears it off for us
When we help the lost, we are lost ourselves
And so
Since not to eat is to die
Who can long to refuse to be bad?
As I lay prostrate beneath the weight of good intentions
Ruin stared me in the face
It was when I was unjust that I ate good meat
And hobnobbed with the mighty
Why are bad deeds rewarded?
Good ones punished?

I developed a sharp eye
The time came when pity was a thorn in my side
And, later, when kind words turned to ashes in my mouth
And anger took over
I became a wolf
All that I have done I did
To help my neighbor
To love my lover
And to keep my little one from want
For your great, godly deeds, I was too poor, too small.

Monday, October 12, 2009


"What is it in us that lies, murders, steals?"

"Don't you hear? Don't you hear the dreadful voice that screams from the whole horizon, and that man usually calls silence?"

Woyzeck by George Buchner

Woyzeck: It's us poor people that...You see, Captain, sir...Money, money! Whoever hasn't got money...Well, who's got morals when he's bringing something like me into the world? We're flesh and blood, too. Our kind is miserable only once: in this world and in the next. I think if we ever got to heaven we'd have to help with the thunder.

Captain: Woyzeck, you have no virtue!

Watch Werner Herzog's brilliant adaptation of this play It takes some time to appear.

In this film Klaus Kinski delivers a wild and stunning performance in a role only he could play. Franz Woyzeck (Kinski) is a hapless, hopeless soldier, alone and powerless in society, assaulted from all sides by forces he cannot control. Abused and tortured, both physically and psychologically by commanding officers, doctors, and his unfaithful Marie (Eva Mattes, Best Supporting Actress at Cannes), Woyzeck struggles to hold on to his humanity and his fragile sanity. In the film's shattering climax, he is finally driven over the brink into madness and murder.

Why should we remeber great works or art?

In every great work of art, there are traces of human's past, present and future:

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Blanche: .....but Stella my sister...there has been some progress since then! Such things as art and music...such kinds of new light have come into the world since then! In some kinds of people some tenderer feelings have had some little beginning! That we have got to make grow! And cling to, and hold as our flag! In this dark march toward whatever it is we're approaching...Don't ...don't hang back with the brutes!

Watch this clip...Do you remember: Hey Stella....?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

To be or Not to be!!

Hamlet: To be or not to be
--that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--
No more--and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to.

Now Please Earn it!

Michael Moore in a letter congratulates president Obama for noble Peace prize:

"You have to end our involvement in Afghanistan now. If you don't, you'll have no choice but to return the prize to Oslo."

Friday, October 9, 2009


Living is no laughing matter:
you must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example-
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation.
Nazim Hekmat

Today I received this piece below from Persis in her email:

". . . Don't live in the world as if you were renting or here only for the summer, but act as if it was your father's house. . .Believe in seeds, earth, and the sea, but people above all. Love clouds, machines, and books, but people above all."
Nazim Hikmet

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I don't want to be an Emperor

Charlie Chaplin in the Great Dictator.
Now watch this clip: "I'm sorry, I don't want to be an emperor..."

Why "a Love Story"?

Today I saw Capitalism, a Love Story a documentary by Michael Moore. Why "A Love Story"? I asked myself!
"The film explores a taboo question: what price does America pay for its love of capitalism? Years ago, that love seemed so innocent. Capitalism meant productivity and security. Now, as financial institutions run amok and families lose their savings, the American dream is looking more like a nightmare."
What does Capitalism mean?
Joel wrote to me about Moore's film in an email: "He hits hard on the banks' takeover of our government and the hardships of foreclosure, as millions suffer while a few get very rich. It's even worse than this, though, with equity firms having bought out companies and borrowed on equity (the value of the companies) leaving once healthy companies in debt and ailing, having to fire many workers and cut pensions. The social damage is huge that these galloping bankers have done, all legally.

Unlike the Great Depression, the banks, generally speaking, are not in as much trouble as the citizenry, with an effective unemployment rate of 17%, or 1/6 of the workforce. This is horrendous. But it could stabilize this way, without the political will to correct things for the mass of people, while our middle class is destroyed, and our banks continue to make profits, while seeking markets abroad, abandoning the US population. These giant banks simply bankroll the Democrats, so there is no party with the will to reign them in. Moore communicates this, and he gives us historical background for it, too, going back to Reagan."

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Art of Seeing...

"Marguerite Duras"

I always start teaching my playwriting class with some clips of multi layered, anti war film: Hiroshima Mon Amour. A remarkable film directed by Alain Resnais with a screenplay by Marguerite Duras which offers the most significant lesson: "The art of seeing has to be learned."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I'm Nobody, Who Are You?

I'm Nobody, Who Are You? by Emily Dickinson

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Thanks Azam!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Reinventing Collapse

"America must work on starting a new economy and not restarting the old one or it will resemble the former Soviet Union", says author and blogger Dmitry Orlov.
Dimitry Orlov the author of Reinventing Collapse, in respond to the question that how the American people should be prepared for the economic collapse Says:
"The most important thing that people have to do in this country is to meet their neighbors. Everybody walks around talking on their cell phones. There's a little face to face communication. There's a little sense of community...People should try to know each other and try to share what they have...."(More)
Listen to his interview and read Joel Simpson's blog.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fairy tale!

(Romeo and Juliet painting by Frank Diksee)

Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
(Scene V of Romeo and Juliet)

When you're weary of harsh reality, you will be drawn to fairy tales!
Listen to this story!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Nina Simone

It was a wonderful discovery to listen to Nina Simone's voice a few years ago. Thanks to Carl who introduced me to her world!
Now Nubia sent me a song that I did not hear before: To be Young, Gifted and Black
Some more of Nina! I've listened to this song for over a year almost every night, amazed by her poetry of HOPE.
Don't let me be misunderstood...
My Man's Gone Now!
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Love me or Leave me
Don't Smoke in Bed
Turn me on
In the Dark
Who am I?
Turn! Turn! Turn!