Monday, April 24, 2006

Hafez at Stanford

The hot-headed outbursts that Iran’s leaders hope CNN will carry to a worldwide audience are often attempts to direct US foreign policy towards a more informed approach in the region. Last night, however, a group of Iranian-Americans held a joyful event at the Stanford Faculty Club that will one day dwarf the gesticulations of Iran’s leaders in its impact on US foreign as well as domestic policy. Here too there were cameras but this time operated by amateurs--proud parents of scholarship awardees videotaping their children. As a parade of high achieving Iranian college students spoke their zeal and drive into the microphone, it became more and more obvious that these young scholars will soon join the ranks of American decision makers. These Iranians will earn their influence on America by contributing to her civilization.

And when they do become Surgeons General, Supreme Court judges, Cabinet members, senators, and CEOs of corporations with clout, they will take with them their love for the culture that gave the world Hafez and Khayyam. This is real human history, not the manufactured kind that comes in dramatic events. The influence accumulated is the slow result of dedicated work by foresighted people. And the price is not billions of dollars spent on weapons of deterrence, or the moral cost of supporting violent groups to maintain leverage on the US. In comparison the price is insignificant. The Iranian Scholarship Fund is the smartest money Iranians have ever invested in the advancement of their culture. And the moral factor is a huge payoff, not a cost.

As with most fundraiser galas the speakers were often drowned out by the sound of forks on plates and sociable party chatter. Hafez, however ran chills up our spines when he spoke through one of the students reciting a verse. Characteristically, it wasn’t what Hafez said that gave us that famous Hafez moment; it was how he uses sound to reveal meaning. The master let it be known last night that his words shine with fresh beauty when spoken in a slightly Americanized Persian accent.


Anonymous said...

What? Hafez and Khayam are in America speaking Farsi with an American accent and poised to become cabinet members, CEOs and Senators to help America? If this is true, then ask them to please hurry up, because America has never needed more than now.

Anonymous said...

What? Hafez and Khayam are in America speaking Farsi with an American accent poised to become cabinet members, CEOs, and Senators to help America? If this is true then ask them to hurry up, because America has never needed them more than now.

Anonymous said...

So Hafiz and Khayam finally found their way to America and are now poised to become Senators, cabinet members, and CEOs? If they are speaking Farsi with a thick American accent, it is probably because they want to demonstrate that they belong to America too. I just wished Hafez and Khayam would hurry up and save America before the Americans do what the other guys tell them to do.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ari,

I share my birthplace with Hafez: Shiraz, city of love, wine and poetry -and as such I am gratful to you. The only change I would make in your piece, is replacing Farsi with Persian. For more information, please refer to:



Ari Siletz said...

Dear Anonymous,
Thank you for the very informative links about the Persian vs. Farsi debate. You are correct. "Persian" it is from now on, and I will make the change in the next edit of this article. But since you are from Shiraz and I understand Shirazis love a good debate, I won't disappoint you: Hafez having been born in Shiraz and Khayyam being Neishapoori, lived in the current geographic boundries of Modern day Iran and so technically did not speak the Tajik or Dari dialect of Persian. By default they must have spoken the Farsi dialect.
But all that aside, the point that Dr Yarshater makes in one of your links is very well taken: the word "Persian" carries a cultural and historical prestige that "Farsi," doesn't, so "Persian" is a better word to use for our language.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous blogger from Shiraz: Is it still legal to produce Shiraz in Shiraz? I heard that the Shiraz in New South Wales is better than the Shiraz from Shiraz. Maybe not better, but at least it is legally available.