Issue 25.3, August 2010

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Essay Excerpt -

Co-incidence and timing, as in music, are the tricks of politics. In Iran religion is part of the music, and so are the ideals of secular constitutionalism. Listen first to the passage of the month of Muharram 2009: the doubled tomback drum beat of Ashura (“the tenth” of Muharram) and the dohol drum beat of the death of Ayatullah Hossein Ali Montazeri (on the third of Muharram). Second, listen to the new instruments of our times that have been transforming the public sphere in Iran – the low-tech green armbands and scarves (the green wave, or moj-e sabz), and the high-tech Internet and cell phone cameras, inscribing and filling the spaces of perception. Third, listen to the pulse, the long fetch, the waves receding and returning, the long term respirations of the social revolution (1873, 1905, 1953, 1963, 1979) and the struggles against clerical reaction. The actors need to catch the beat and move in harmonic concert, carrying minor notes and dissonance along.

-- Michael Fischer, “The Rhythmic Beat of the Revolution in Iran”