I found myself getting irked. Why such reticence to make a simple comment online that you don’t agree with an essay’s claims? One could maintain a level of tact within the discourse. “You have a wealth of knowledge and a compulsion to set the record straight,” I wrote, “and yet you decline to do anything but privately email me — why?” I thought of all the people who daily kick off their boots to plunge into the various mud pits of online forums. I invited this reader to do the same. She told me she had no intention of falling for that.
* Ashley David *
1) I ate Jimmy Page’s French fries and a bite of his steak. 2) “I have never been lonely, cause me so cool.” 3) Misplaced efforts to connect are carved enthusiastically and sometimes desperately from the dearth of options offered by a cultural context that relegates honesty to marketing, which it to say, largely omits the option for its expression in any significant way.
* Kaveh Bassiri *
Over the last few weeks, I have been following the social media posts of Iran’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Javad Zarif. Much has been written on the vital role of social networking during the Iranian Green Movement — how it helped to organize people and disseminate information. The Green Movement was even called the first Twitter or Facebook revolution. In the aftermath, Iran banned these sites, which probably reinforced their importance. I don’t want to rehash what others have already said — the role of social media in Iranian politics has been exaggerated — but I am interested in the innovative and progressive ways Zarif has been able to turn these banned tools into a resource for the government. What seemed to be a revolutionary venue outside of the regime may be re-purposed into a pathway for reform from the inside. Reading Zarif’s Facebook page lets you know more about the Iranian people than any article in an American or Iranian newspaper. It is like eavesdropping on conversations in cafes and streets. As this conversation unfolds in Persian, allow me to translate it for you.
by Greg Schutz
“What if, looking at those ducklings, we saw not some reflection of human bravery, some mental state for which we already have the words, here and now, in our gas-guzzling postindustrial lives? What if, instead, we recognized the ducklings’ abandon, as Wendell Berry calls it—the wordless, mindless, absolute passion with which the need to leave the nest has been not merely accepted, but embraced?”
by Nania Lee
Just the other day I received a letter in the mail from my friend James who, at the time, was completing a writing fellowship in Moveen, Ireland–a remote town that from what I’ve been told boasts scenic green pastures, writerly solitude (with the exception of an occasional peeping-tom-type visit from the neighborhood goat), and complete radio silence. That’s right… it’s a technological freezone… a place to escape the quick and easy distractions of cell phones and the internet so you can focus on reading and writing. As I read James’ letter, I realized something: It was the first real letter I’d received in years. It wasn’t mail sent for an occasion, not a birthday card or a baby announcement. It was just an honest to goodness, hand-written letter to say, “Hey. What’s up? I’m in this great place doing this and that. What are you doing?” Granted, the letter was written on 3rd of the month and I didn’t receive it until the 19th, so “this and that” probably changed quite a bit. But as I held the paper in my hand, I knew it was something I’d keep forever–not an email that would get filed away into the virtual abyss–but a paper letter marked with a culturally relevant stamp redeemed at the Cork Mail Centre, flown across the Atlantic Ocean and hand-delivered to my Chicago address. It’s a painstakingly slow process–but I think this time makes the writing and sending of letters precious and it’s sad to think that the fast-moving electronic age may be putting an end to this careful, age-old craft.