Forever Under Construction

Persian Literature & The West, Part VI

Posted in Germany, Iran, Literature, Persian, Persian literature, Poetry by homeyra on December 4, 2006

Where Nietzsche speaks about the Persian notion of history and cyclical Eternal Time, he writes: “I must pay tribute to Zarathustra, a Persian, for Persians were the first who thought of history in its full entirety.”…”It was much more fortunate if Persians became masters (Herr) of the Greeks, than the very Romans.”

Goethe‘s admiration for Hafez and his “Oriental” wisdom has been the main source of attracting Nietzsche’s interest in this Persian poet.

The first western country who began to study the Iranian literature and appreciate it was Germany. The German scholars were in touch with Persian literature and poetry through the translation of Sa’adi’s Gulistan and Bustan in 17th century.
Germany acquired a far better appreciation and understanding of the East than France and England. The scholars and poets of Germany were looking for inspiration from other sources than those offerd by Greek classics and mythology. They studied with zeal the literature of the East.

See Part V, sources in Part I

Persian Literature & The West – Part V

Posted in Iran, Persian, Persian literature by homeyra on November 28, 2006

Nietzsche‘s Zarathustra, like the original Zarathustra …goes to the mountain for meditation when he is thirty years old and, like him, descends ten years later to convey his message for humanity. By choosing the name of ‘Zarathustra’ as prophet of his philosophy…he followed the paradoxical aim of paying homage to the original Aryan prophet and reversing his teachings at the same time.


The original Zoroastrian world view interprets being essentially on a moralistic basis and depicts the world as an arena for the struggle of the two fundamentals of being, Good and Evil, represented in two antagonistic divine figures. In contrast, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra puts forward his ontological immoralism against this view, and tries to reestablish the primordial innocence of ‘being’ by destructing philosophically all moralistic interpretations. In this way, the ontological immoralism of the Nietzsche’s Zarathustra stands, philosophically and historically, antipodal to the moralism of the archaic prophet and thinker.

“What the name of Zarathustra means in my mouth, the mouth of the first immoralist: for what constitutes the tremendous historical uniqueness of that Persian is just the opposite of this. Zarathustra was the first to consider the fight of good and evil the very wheel in the machinery of things: the transposition of morality into the metaphysical realms as a force, cause, and end in itself… Zarathustra created this most calamitous error, morality, consequently, he must also be the first to recognize it…. To speak the truth and to shoot well with arrows, that is Persian virtue.—-Am I understood?—The self-overcoming of morality, out of truthfulness; the self-overcoming of the moralist, into his opposite—into me—that is what the name of Zarathustra means in my mouth.”

Another singular feature of Zarathustra, first presented in the prologue, is the designation of human beings as a transition between apes and the “Übermensch” (either the “overman” or “superman”; or, superhuman or overhuman) which alludes to Nietzsche’s notions of “self-mastery”, “self-cultivation”, “self-direction”, and “self-overcoming”.

See Part IV, Sources in Part I

Persian Literature & The West – III

Posted in Culture, Greek, Iran, Persia, Persian by homeyra on November 23, 2006

[In a posthumously published fragment, Nietzsche (1844-1900) deplores a lost of a historical opportunity: “It was much more fortunate if Persians became masters of the Greeks, than the very Romans.” In this note Nietzsche reveals, once more, his radical opposition to the Greek metaphysical thought, as developed by Socrates and Plato, which later, by supremacy of the Greek culture inside the Roman Empire, became dominant and then integrated into the other-worldly, ‘nihilistic’, tenets of Christianity. While, in his view, the dominance of the positive outlooks of the Persians toward worldly life and time would have prevented the prevalence of such a sinister event in human history.]

Maybe this same perspective is shared by Cyrus Kar, if you haven’t seen the preview of his movie, here it is.

[Nietzsche is known as a philosopher of culture. His analyses of, and critical views on classical, medieval, and modern European cultures witness his knowledge and profound concern with the historical development of human cultures, specifically their moral systems of valuation. Inquisitive about great Asiatic cultures, i.e. Chinese, Indian, and Persian, … Nietzsche’s curiosity for various historical developments of the human culture produced his unique philosophical understanding of the Oriental cultures and their traditional wisdom in contrast to the modern European culture. Here and there he puts the ‘Asiatic’ wisdom positively in opposition to the modern rationalism which he views despicably.

Nietzsche was a brilliant student of classical philology and later taught it at the University of Basel. His vast knowledge of Greek and Roman languages, cultures, and history is reflected in … innumerable references to them throughout his writings. His studies of the classical philology and deep involvement in Greek and Latin literature introduced him to the ancient Persian culture and history, as an Asiatic culture and imperial power challenging Greek city-states… or fragments fully reflecting his views on Persian people of the ancient times and their culture. He particularly praises their mastery of archery and horsemanship, their imperiousness and belligerency, and their emphasis on the virtue of truthfulness. These virtues positively correspond to the Nietzschean view of the valuable human life.

But Nietzsche’s highest interest and respect for the Persians appears where he speaks about their notion of history and cyclical Eternal Time; a concept that resembles his own concept of the “Eternal Return”, emphasizing on the recurrent temporality of being: “I must pay tribute to Zarathustra, a Persian: Persians were the first who thought of history in its full entirety.”] … to be continued

Source: Nietzche and Persia

See also Part I, Part II

Persian, Not Farsi

Posted in Iran, Persian by homeyra on November 13, 2006

Some Iranians – especially when abroad, have an identity problem. Watching what is usually represented on foreign TV, I do not wonder why. One way of dealing with the dreaded question “Where are you from?” is to say “I am Persian”. There is a big chance that the enquirer has heard that word … but … somehow can’t remember exactly where it is … thereafter he proceeds to change the subject. 🙂

According to Professor Yarshater, the well known literary figure and an authority on these terminologies: [“Persian language” has a newly acquired name of “Farsi” … we unfortunately witness yet another usage of “Farsi” instead of “Persian” in English writings … This happens mostly by the Iranians living in The USA … If only they knew by using the word “Farsi”; which has no background in English language and its relationship to the identity of Iranian Civilisation and Culture that is reflected in phrases such as “ Persian Literature” and “Persian art” and “Persian Poetry”, is not clear at all, they would find themselves damaging irreparably the fame and cultural status of Iran. The damaging contribution of “The Voice Of America”, and some of the American Universities` planners have not been ineffective in this trend. We should … strictly avoid using the word “ Farsi” and instead use the same old and well-known word of “Persian” and to realise that usage of “Farsi” instead of” Persian” is the negligence of our national interests.] More in Persian language

Now the country, Iran or Persia? Long long time ago […Āryānā and Persis were used to describe the region which is today known as the Iranian plateau…During the Achaemenid dynasty (550-330 BCE), the Persian people called their provincial homeland Pārsa …However, the country as a whole was called Aryanam. The word Ariya, noble/spiritual/elevated, is attested in the Inscriptions of Darius the GreatI am Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan, having Aryan lineage“… ] later […Aryanam was modified to Aryan…then evolved to Ērān… On 21 March 1935, the ruler of the country, Reza Shah Pahlavi, issued a decree asking foreign delegates to use the term Iran in formal correspondence in accordance with the fact that “Persia” was a term used for a country called “Iran” in Persian.] Wikipedia

So, until further notice, Iranians speak Persian seems correct!

I must Email this Post to Firoozeh Dumas 🙂

I just found this link : Me e Parsi Speaker?

[edited] See also: “Farsi” or “Persian”


Call for papers: Persian literature as (a) world literature, Feb 2007

Controlling Question: The usage(s) of and relationship(s) between the terms “Persian” and “Iranian” in current discourse—literary, cultural, political and otherwise—is a complex one, with each term simultaneously concealing and revealing highly contested and politicized positions regarding the nature of cultural, national and personal identities … read more

Persian Literature & The West – I

Posted in Iran, Literature, Persian, Persian literature by homeyra on November 11, 2006

I was surprised to find an entry on Persian poetry in reclaiming space. I though it might be interesting to make a few posts on the subject. Persian literature has had influences on many writers and cultures outside of its boundaries.

When Goethe became acquainted with Hafez’s Diwan he wrote “Suddenly I came face to face with the celestial perfume of the East and invigorating breeze of Eternity that was being blown from the plains and the wastelands of Persia, and I came to know an extraordinary man whose personality completely fascinated me”.

Fredric Nietzsche says: 0 Hafez thou hast built a tavern of philosophy which is mightier than any other palace in the world, and in it, thou hast prepared a wine full of sweet words that surpasses the power of a world to drink. Who can be the guest in thy tavern but the mythological Simurgh?”

The late Professor Edward G. Browne believes that “the epic, lyric, didactic, mystic, satiric, or pessimist poets of Iran such as Firdowsi, Hafez, Sa’adi, Nasir-Khusrow, Attar, Jallal ad-Din Balkhi (Rumi); Ubayd-i-Zakani, and Omar Khayyam, each in his own different way appeals to some ground common to all mankind“. And these are the ones that are known best, outside Iran. He calls Iranians “the most ancient, gifted and original peoples of the world“… he write elsewhere about “an altogether inadequate judgment of the intellectual activity of that ingenius and talented people.

I am only quoting! 🙂

Sources: Wikipedia, Iranica, Mihan Foundation to be continued

Complicated Identity

Posted in Blogosphere, Iran, Israel, Persian by homeyra on October 25, 2006

[ Welcome toBeyond the wall“. My name is Kamran. I was born in Iran a bunch of years ago and live in Israel since 1994. Being an Iranian-descent immigrant in Israel is a complicated identity these days when the official rhetoric of my homeland and my adopted land is full of hatred. This is especially true in my case since I love the people of both countries. … ]

One of the nominees for the International Best of Blogs award, hosted by German group Best of the Blogs, Persian Langage category.