Gholam-hossein Sa’edi’s speech on the fourth night of Goethe Institute’s literary nights in Tehran (year 1977)
In the autumn of 1977, a literary festival was held in Tehran that has gone down in history. The Ten Literary Evenings at the Goethe Institute had an audience of 20,000 people. They brought together the Iranian public with the most important dissident intellectuals of the monarchist period. The unrest that began during these literary evenings is considered the beginning of the series of protests that led to the Islamic Revolution.
During the literary festival, Iranian intellectuals talk about freedom, censorship, true and false art. Below is a speech by playwright Gholam-Hossein Sa’edi (translated by Vladimir Mitev with minor abridgements) about fake artists. Gholam-Hossein Sa’edi is a psychiatrist who cared for the mentally ill in southern Tehran. He is known for his plays influenced by the theatre of the absurd. He was repressed by the authorities both before and after the Revolution. He died in Paris in 1985.
By presenting a seemingly trivial talk, I don’t want to follow the proverb “stone is the reward of a stone thrower” or the phrase “answers are heavy”, but rather I want to point the attention to a very important phenomenon that is very serious and like cancer in our time. All cultural and artistic trends have taken root in a phenomenon, called false art. It is a fake culture and a form and order of leaders and managers outside of the number that can be seen in every art field. These works of culture are accompanied by a lot of ridiculous old ideas, and their biggest goal is that the real art and the real artists of the Iranian nation are kept in the camouflage curtain under the dust, which fake culture makes. If I were to choose a title for this group – I would call them pseudo-artists, pseudo-writers, pseudo-poets and pseudo-painters because of the prevalence of their pseudo-plague. The explanation is that just as pseudo-cholera has the same complications and consequences as cholera, this category also has such properties as plague. Another explanation is to clear up the misunderstanding that because pseudo-artists have no art, the real artist has no relevance to them.. If, contrary to the usual and customary, I do not use the word “view” about them and do not say writer-view, poet-view, artist-view (such as student-view and Iranian-view), it is because this choice is considered a perversion of the Union of Iranian Writer’s essence. The unions is based on real writers and artists and said Qazi is the writer and Behazin, Daneshvar and Golshiri are the writers. Of course, Dr. Hazarkhani was well received on the second night and my further explanation is unnecessary.
Now that we have seen the similarity of this group with pseudo-plague, I want to state all the symptoms and complications and the origin of the issue and prevention – and as far as I can understand – the treatment of this disease according to my job. The reason for the growth of this phenomenon is 100% related to the social situation, just as a polluted environment can cause the spread of any kind of disease, the existing social situation has provided the necessary conditions for the emergence of these pseudo-artists. If the space was a different space and the pollution was not so high and it did not reach this level, there would be no possibility of growth for this group of drugs.
The pseudo-artist is not a phenomenon of the last one or two years, and it has been endemic like a pseudo-plague for years
It has entered, but the passage of time has made it possible for it to open a wider place for itself, to have various and impressive demonstrations, to penetrate into all branches of art and culture, and to rot and suffocate every healthy bud.
A pseudo-artist is a creature without culture but pretending to be cultured, who has learned one or two foreign languages, rightly or wrongly, and has memorized the names of a number of Western art schools – which have nothing to do with us – and in every corner and every situation he expresses his favor with the words of slang, the language contaminated with foreign words and using irrelevant and confused sentences. The pseudo-artist regularly mumbles the name of some unknown Western artist or pseudo-artist and talks about the fact that he has been lost for a long time in some corner of the world or stuck in some European country, as if others who did not have such an opportunity or such a possibility are their own fault and should definitely do so. He looked at them under his chin… He sets an example and completely ignores the national and folk music of his own country and has no objection to Gogoosh. If he has picked up a pen, he constantly uses western terms to spice up his words and mixes up the wet and dry, and in whatever category he speaks, he cannot be relieved from pretending to be gracious. If he works in the field of cinema and theater, it is the same, if he is in the field of painting, it is even worse.
In this way, the pseudo-artist has his roots outside his homeland, and it is like this that he goes to Diyar Farang several times a year and is lost for months, and when he comes back, he puts on a play on the stage with a disguise, or publishes poems, or organizes an exhibition, which of course the experts understand that they from which play or from which poet or which painter, and no matter how much he swears by the Quran, his works can never be called inevitable similarities.
The pseudo-artist is not interested in the national culture of his homeland and ignores the artistic heritage of centuries, but sometimes to show off and show off, and sometimes to participate in big and official celebrations, he also touches mythology, the Shahnameh, or mystical texts to make everyone laugh. And fortunately, it always goes to waste. In this field, the pseudo-artist is so dexterous that not an expert professor, but an ordinary book lover and a student can easily open his fist. Worst of all, he plays with religion and religious myths, and since he has no insight into these issues, he takes everything for granted. He mixes the incident of Karbala with lower-body adventures to fill his theater stage, and the funniest thing is that sometimes he takes refuge in mysticism and appears in the presence of a moldy dervish and shouts and laughs and arranges a handbook for his works from the words of these moldy mystics. With this account, he does not pay any attention to the culture of the people, but he has a very fleeting eye on the songs, legends and beliefs of the nation, because it might be useful for him from time to time. In this way, instead of people’s culture being the source of his work, it becomes an excuse to decorate his work, and because his work is nothing, the same bare excuse remains on his hand with dishonor.
For the pseudo-artist, the subject matter is irrelevant, because he has nothing to say. He fills the empty spaces with scribbles, and in this way he takes refuge in formalism and goes so far as to consider throwing a few spots of paint on the canvas or tying a few human beings on the stage and scribbles as the pinnacle of his work, and indeed, it is so. An artist creates something important out of nothing, but a pseudo-artist destroys everything. He destroys the work of his colleagues not only with his work, but also with his behavior and words, and even makes mistakes in the works of original and real artists, and this is where you can understand the extent of his hatred and malice towards real art.
I said earlier that the topic and words are not important for a pseudo-artist and I meant small and delicate human and national issues. The pseudo-artist is stateless and has no faith in the nation and the power of the nation, and that is why he considers himself and calls himself cosmopolitan, ignoring the fact that no artist can become global if he does not speak and write about the subtleties and issues of his environment. The pseudo-artist is trying to become global and his wish is that his work will be presented abroad. If he puts on an exhibition in the world and returns home with disgrace and backsliding, he will not bring anything to himself, because after all, a few Americans have seen his work and this, yes, is globalization. If his show is booed on the stage of some European city with complete shame, then this honor is enough, and yes, we should present our art to the whole world, but how can an art that is not understood in its hometown and an artist that is not accepted by his nation can be accepted elsewhere?
The pseudo-artist does not consider originality as a criterion, he does not care about people and if his book does not sell, he says that people do not understand. If the exhibition of his painting remains silent, it is the fault of people’s ignorance. If his play or film is met with people’s indifference or anger, then people are guilty of not understanding the subtleties of his gentle soul and the minutes of his irreplaceable works. Yes, people’s ignorance stigma is the only weapon that pseudo-artist uses in all defense scenes. The point is that this self-satisfied group, who have not measured the IQ of each person and the level of artistic taste of each people, what right do they have to do such disrespect to the nation, while these so-called ignorant people can push them to the corner of isolation with their reaction and the strongest fists. not on their chest but on their difference
The pseudo-artist is suffering from complete mental laziness. The book about Oblomov book by Goncharov is also printed in Farsi. The hero of the story suffers from such terrible laziness that he rarely gets up and because of his laziness, he deprives himself of all the manifestations of life. At the end of the book, one of Ablomov’s friends reaches their mutual friend and asks how the absent friend is doing. Another friend replies, Oblomov is dead. The party asks in amazement: “From what disease?” He hears the answer: “From Oblomovism disease.”
Yes, the pseudo-artist is caught in complete mental Oblomovism and there is absolutely no social issue for him. He is not moved by any trend and is indifferent to all the country’s issues. The world has been washed away, he has been put to sleep. But with so many deaths, there is no dead body at all. In everyday life, he keeps running and running and running, from this corner of the world to that corner of the world, from this city to that city, from this celebration to that celebration, from this assembly to that assembly, just because he is always present. Because he can be seen, because he can measure the space and see which direction the wind is blowing and which direction he should lean and which direction he should face. He makes his opportunism blatantly public everywhere. Yes, he runs and runs and runs and this running is just to consolidate his position. The pseudo-artist is a complete Oblomov and resembles a football player in his running and agility. The difference is that the famous soccer player gets a few thousand dollars to sign a boot or a used soccer ball and costs thousands of dollars more, but the unfortunate pseudo-artist without signing the boot and soccer ball just gets a favor and is petted like a puppy.
Pseudo-artist is a good dealer and trader and only his own interests are important. He bargains like any broker, he always takes the lead so that he doesn’t fall back, he is flattered. humble, slave and humiliated in front of the powerful, and on the contrary, he constantly changes his color in front of arrogant, self-satisfied and proud people. In short, this precious idol keeps changing.
He is always on the way to celebrations and festivals. Basically, these pseudo-artists arrange and launch the celebrations and blow the nation’s treasury. The pseudo-artist should be present in every gathering. If he does something, he does a thousand things. Award winner is a professional. He pulls the delegated honors always and everywhere. He decorates his home with the photos he took in different situations. He has very good relations with so-called public relations tools, from newspapers to radio and television, and thus his happy picture always adorns the pages of the press with different looks. The pseudo-artist appears on the TV screen with dignified expressions and his voice is broadcast on many radio programs. His interview is excellent. Whatever he does or doesn’t do, he always gives interviews: giving irrelevant compliments, beating his opponents, insulting the people, ignoring the real artists of the nation and what they are doing and what kind of eggs they will make. Yes, he constantly utters coarser words from his wide mouth.
The pseudo-artist is also a good hunter. For his survival and the credibility of his presence, he tries to gather some people around him, and with this intention, he hunts young people who are talented and fascinated by art and thought, young people in whom the bud of art is ready to bloom and blossom. The pseudo-artist hunts such an innocent creature with sarcasm under the pretext of guidance, closes his eyes, heart and ears, pours his poison and poisons him with complete numbness, without feeling any pain, and leads him towards absolute art and absolute painting, which has no meaning. If the hunter does not recognize the prey early or does not have the strength to escape, he is lost forever. Then, in a flash, he will stick the badge of genius and talent on his chest and erase all his beliefs from all human and national issues, and make a raisin out of an unripe gourd and throw it into the nation’s lives with ease. Yes, fake art is contagious; A pseudo-plague spreads a pseudo-plague and a pseudo-artist educates a pseudo-artist.
The pseudo-artist is ready and willing to take orders. Although he is not creative, he knows how to turn from one direction to another. Cheating is his profession. If a gallery wants to fill its walls for a few days, the lightning pseudo-artist organizes an exhibition. If a government publisher has extra funds, he will write a few books of his choice in a flash. The thing is, the field is never tight for the pseudo-artist, never. Yes, the important issue is that the pseudo-artist is not against censorship, he does not feel its existence and these two are twin brothers. In general, the pseudo-artist is a product of censorship, it is one of the benefits of censorship, it is one of the effects of censorship. Censorship crushes the true artist and spreads the seed of the false artist everywhere. When there is pollution, why not come to a pseudo-plague? When there is censorship, why not a pseudo-artist?
Now that I have talked about this disease in such length and detail, I can ease everyone’s mind that pseudo-artists should not become a source of pathological fear for the sake of people’s awareness, for the sake of the nation’s clarity and precision. My note was because familiarity with this phenomenon makes it easier to remove it. The loss of censorship closes the way for the ego on this stupid octopus. The serious and honorable work of the real artists of the nation does not allow him to pretend. If the sharp-edged critics are not heartbroken, they will put their foot on his throat. Indifference and conscious diagnosis of the people takes his life. Although it seems that the majority is with the pseudo-artists, but the real power in lasting art for all generations is done by the real artists of the nation. In front of Qazi, Behazin, Daneshvar, and Golshiri, there are dozens of footnote writers, pseudo-storytellers, and translators who prepare fodder for the vulgar press, and to confront Shamlu and the Akhwan, hundreds of poets work day and night and issue voluminous manifestos, and against Hazarkhani, there are three hundred critics. But remember a southern couplet says:
Three hundred red flowers and one white flower/ you scare us
If we were afraid of being cut off, we wouldn’t dance in the assembly of lovers
Photo: The cover of a book about the Ten Literary Nights (source: collage)
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