Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Not-knowing

Image
Let's leave a space for "not-knowing,"
One day it will be occupied,
with a "knowledge" we don't believe in now.
--Bijan Jalali

Bijan Jalali died four years ago. I had the chance to meet him in person a few times before I leave Iran, and talk to him about poetry. He was very wise, well-read, and at the same time a very humble, kind and sensitive human being.
He lived in Tehran. Never married. He spent his entire life in a house in Shemiran with a beautiful little garden ("Bagh-che") and 20-something cats. The characters of his poetry were the trees, window, sky, wind, leaves, words, cats, death, Persian language, and poetry itself... nothing else. Just simple things of his simple life in that small space he used to live. These were the subjects of his poems for his entire life. Neither revolution nor the war or any thing else affected his obsession with simple subjects of life in that small house.
Jalali reminds me of the Italian painter Giorgio Morandi. He painted bottles his whole life. Like Jalali, Morandi was not that famous either. They both created meanings by contemplating on a few ordinary items of daily life, and they both created their apolitical art under a totaliterian dictatorship.

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Painting: Still life, 1957 (Vitali n.1055) , Oil on canvas, 20 x 30 cm , Signed l. r.: "Morandi"