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Human Rights situation in Iran

Dear Michael, three years after the 2009 post-election movements in Tehran, Swedish TV broadcasted a long documentary about the situation of human-rights in Iran (what means "situation" ? One can only see a complete absence of any human rights). The documentary seems to be an extended version of the one you posted recently about the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan. It is produced by the same US TV channel HBO. We watched it a couple of days ago with my mom and Shava, and we felt very frustrated. It seems that the violence against people, in particular state violence against woman, has not ended. We live here in the western safety, but we know that friends and relatives who did not left the country can be victims of this regime every day. For everything that is part of our normal life here in the west, wearing modern cloth, having our hair blown by the wind, going to the beach or to a bar, driving a car, reading whatever we like - friends and relatives in Iran would face prosecution, torture or even death. Take Care /ghazal


Shades of Grey Eyes

Saturday afternoon I used to spend at Hugendubels book store, to escape into the world of newly published books or to discover literary treasures I have missed so far. These days, EL James' "Fifty Shades of Grey" and the steam-hot reviews in some literary journals suddenly brought a lot of femal customers to the book-store, who are usually more interested in combinations of cooking-books, weight-loosing advisors and spiritual well being manuals. Internet book-sellers always try to attract lovers of this impossible triad by recomending: "customers who bought "The Complete Barbecue Guide for the Modern Lady" also bought "How I lost 30 Pounds in a Fortnight" and "Smashing the Mirror - The Secrets of Femal Pride and How to Achieve Total Selfsufficiency". Today, however, these ladies came here to have a look at this female day-dream of the journalist Ana and her obsession with a sado-maso type relationship between her and a young entrepeneur. A couple of woman quickly localized the table with the literary novelties, and some grab "Fifty Shades of Grey" from a big pile, hide it between some unsuspicious travel guides and return right away to the counter. It seems they all pay in cash today, thus avoiding the risk of their husbands discovering the secret literary interest of their wifes on the next credit-card statement.

But there is also another type of woman, undecisive rather than obsessed, the type woman who heard about the book from friends, but themselve are usually more in intellectual literature. They first want to give it a trial reading right here, browsing through some chapters in the bookstores coffeshop, where all the seats soon got occupied by other “Shades of Grey" readers.

What am I doing here, with my sober pile of Suri and Bals maths novel “A certain ambiguity”, the first ever German translation of Ayn Rands "Atlas shrugged" and the only book with a small erotic aspect, Philip Roths "My life as a man"? I did not saw a special announcement at the entrance of Hugendubels, warning everybody that due to release of "Fifty Shades of Grey" seats will be very limitted today and the stuff will be very busy ordering new supplies of the book. And in particular, there wasn't any note telling me that the subject of this book and its explicit language make it advisable to keep some distance to woman who are just in the process of reading. Does this mean I am better advised to leave this place, where woman deeply dive into the secret world of an rather unknown english author, who verbalises her fantasies of a sado-maso relationship, and easily fuels the readers own sexual phantasies. Perhaps they feel intimidated by my presence here, disturbed at a time when they would like to have all bookstores in town being declared "Womans only" for at least a month?

But I never before allowed others to chase me away easily, I rather develop a stubborn will to stay if somebody wants me to go. We life in an open society, I recall to myself, and I can sit and read in a public bookstore whenever I want. So I decide to carry on reading my books as I used to do on every Saturday. Even though I try to avoid any suspicious glance onto the cover-pages of the grey-shaded womans bestsellers or their readers all around me, I cannot ignore the feeling that at least some of the woman from time to time lift their eyes from their books and look at me. Is this supposed to be a hostile request to get me out of here? Or a polite hint to look for a more appropriate place to read my Philip Roth?

When I finally catch the eyes of one lady - the only one who does not turn her head back down to the pages of her book - I realize that her eyes have this innocent and hard to describe expression of looking to you, but at the same time also looking right through you into another universe. And aboard of this far-reaching glance she has already taken you away with her, into a daydream where she is the main character in "Shades of Grey". In her fantasies she has taken you hostage, captured you violently and kicked your books away. Her eyes are under a layer of misty blurr, her mind is so far away that she does not realize that here in the reality of the bookstore you have already catched her double-focussed glance that rested on you since minutes. What is she doing with you, in this parallel world, or what does she wishes to be done to her by you ? What character has she invented for you in a movie that has its scenes right from the book and its launch party is scheduled for today.

I dont want to be the party-pooper for this womans wellness afternoon, but I have to turn down my part in it, feeling that somehow I got misused as the cristallization seed for their hidden day-dreams. As much as all attempts to chase me away have always mobilized my will to stay, the more does the suspicion that someone wants to force me to remain causes an even stronger reaction, but in the opposite direction.

And now, as she realizes that I grab my pile of books and are about to leave without even finishing my coffee, she arouses from her wet day-dreams. And just as a little child who just listened to the last words of a beautiful fairy-tale, a smile forms on her face. And when I pass along her table on my way to the counter, I ask almost in a routine sounding voice: "Is it worth reading?", and a multi-vocal whispering expresses their deep affirmation. There was, however, also some note of disappointment in their reply, about me leaving this place too early, before they finished their "Fifty Shades of Grey" reading session.

Shall I read the book myself now ? I think the afternoon in the bookstores coffeeshop has given me more insight into womans hidden wishes than all three volumes of EL James oevre. Words, not only the ones whispered into their ears, but equally well those written down in a book, exert a magical power onto woman, they can seduce them to all sorts of irrational activities. And when their eyes suddenly hide behind a veil of shaded grey, and they look through you as if your face is an open door into another dimension, you must beware of the spell they might put on you.

PS: Later I read in the weekend literary supplement, that the management of an English hotel offers their guests to exchange the holy bible, which usually lays in all rooms, with EL James “Shades of Grey” trilogy. And mens clothes shops recorded an increase demand for grey-shaded ties, whereas some urban DIY shops suddenly had to sell steel chains, pad-locks and carabiner clasps to a new class of femal customers.


"The Opposite of Loneliness" - Leaving home with unknown destination

Marina Keegan, still a Yale student in her last term, 22 years old, on track to become a writer for "The New Yorker", wrote this essay "The Opposite of Loneliness", that became her emotional legacy. Shortly after publishing her text in Yale Universities "Cross Campus", Marina Keegan died in a car accident. 
Throughout her essay she expresses a very clear, rational view on the conflict between our destiny as members of a complex, more and more annonymous society and our archaic desire to find a safe place in a community. She knows about the impossibility to harmonize these two forces, but she does not end in despair.   

" We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life. What I’m grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I’m scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place.
It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt. The hats.
Yale is full of tiny circles we pull around ourselves. A cappella groups, sports teams, houses, societies, clubs. These tiny groups that make us feel loved and safe and part of something even on our loneliest nights when we stumble home to our computers — partner-less, tired, awake. We won’t have those next year. We won’t live on the same block as all our friends. We won’t have a bunch of group-texts.
This scares me. More than finding the right job or city or spouse – I’m scared of losing this web we’re in. This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.
But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd “should haves...” “if I’d...” “wish I’d...”
Of course, there are things we wished we did: our readings, that boy across the hall. We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping too late. Procrastinating. Cutting corners. More than once I’ve looked back on my High School self and thought: how did I do that? How did I work so hard? Our private insecurities follow us and will always follow us.
But the thing is, we’re all like that. Nobody wakes up when they want to. Nobody did all of their reading (except maybe the crazy people who win the prizes…) We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves. But I feel like that’s okay.
We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lay alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.
When we came to Yale, there was this sense of possibility. This immense and indefinable potential energy – and it’s easy to feel like that’s slipped away. We never had to choose and suddenly we’ve had to. Some of us have focused ourselves. Some of us know exactly what we want and are on the path to get it; already going to med school, working at the perfect NGO, doing research. To you I say both congratulations and you suck.
For most of us, however, we’re somewhat lost in this sea of liberal arts. Not quite sure what road we’re on and whether we should have taken it. If only I had majored in biology…if only I’d gotten involved in journalism as a freshman…if only I’d thought to apply for this or for that…
What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.
In the heart of a winter Friday night my freshman year, I was dazed and confused when I got a call from my friends to meet them at EST EST EST. Dazedly and confusedly, I began trudging to SSS, probably the point on campus farthest away. Remarkably, it wasn’t until I arrived at the door that I questioned how and why exactly my friends were partying in Yale’s administrative building. Of course, they weren’t. But it was cold and my ID somehow worked so I went inside SSS to pull out my phone. It was quiet, the old wood creaking and the snow barely visible outside the stained glass. And I sat down. And I looked up. At this giant room I was in. At this place where thousands of people had sat before me. And alone, at night, in the middle of a New Haven storm, I felt so remarkably, unbelievably safe.
We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I’d say that’s how I feel at Yale. How I feel right now. Here. With all of you. In love, impressed, humbled, scared. And we don’t have to lose that.
We’re in this together, 2012. Let’s make something happen to this world."


Kim Jong-Un in Graceland

For all those who still had doubts that the King of Rock'n Roll is still alive: Here is the proof that Elvis Presley is doing quite well, and will start his comback soon in the first North-Korean Hard-Rock Cafe. Thanks to ground breaking medical rejuvenating methods in the country, the King looks younger than ever. Rumors have it that Kim Jong-Un, the interims leader of the communist state with its single ruling party will soon make space for the King of Rock'n Roll to take over power. North Korea will soon be renamed Disney Desert and the capital Phoeng-Yang will be Graceland.