paola anzichè shannon bool sunah choi kerstin cmelka ayse erkmen valie export parastou forouhar april gertler simin keramati julia kissina nayon lee sandra kranich anny&sibel öztürk susana ortizmaillo anna ostoya jeannette petri bianca rampas judith raum martha
 giovanna sarti francesca d. shaw simone slee jinoos taghizadeh zpugmai zadran 

soziologie in frankfurt experimental publicspheres entgrenzung dissolution leonhardi kulturprojekte radio axiom harald szeemann artworld shanghai hiphop culture exit andvoice log philosophy & socialscience afghanistan projects durban  kosovo projects ayse erkmen utopia station dani gal kriege / wars drucilla cornell lena inowlocki hyunjae lee heikki ikäheimo florian agalliu 


In Praise of Termites


By Jinoos Taghizadeh


March 2007 به فارسی بخوانیم




Neither their movements nor their nibbling gives off noise. They work quietly. They are the serious men in suits, nibbling all the time. There's no commotion because they already know that they are the victors.


The spring season didn't sprout in me this time around, unlike the last four years, when in the middle of February {Sohrab} would remind us of our New Year piece. This year, it was much like an office chore, filing a report, and like an office worker I reminded the other writers of it. In the spirit of a New Year report, I will recount what took place last year -- nothing significant.


Nothing significant is taking place. Everything appears to be as it should be, waiting for the disaster to come. They know that if they keep at it, it will rot from the inside. There is plenty of jingoistic talk, but nothing will come of it. Committed termites they are, termites with an objective. They go where they want to and set camp anywhere. They reproduce and take over, just to be on the safe side -- reproduction being their compassionate duty. Let the neighbor's dog work it out with the house cat. Termites won't care. They will chew their way in. In early winter darkness, that one won't have a nest and this one her worn out couch next to the fireplace.


Not even a tsunami, an earthquake, or an airplane crashing into a building, a serial killing or bustling ballot boxes spewing out a winner like the magic kind. Last year nothing moved us, not even the sad execution of that pitiable dictator. Nor did that Forty-day War create a stir (I know that Eight-year one is all but forgotten).


I don't feel like writing. The few lines above are just to fulfill an annual duty. I feel like I have been gnawed from the inside. Let the Chinese calendar say what it may, last year was the year of the Termite. Nibbled from the inside, this destruction takes place according to a planned program, without creating much excitement. A dam [1] was completed and its reservoir filled, to cover the rocks and hallow out the eyes of that soldier [2] who though he should stand watch forever. The train [3] will shake Rostam and his bas-reliefs [4]. What's to worry if telephone lines, which connect us fuzzily to the world outside, gash at the face of Bisotun [5]. What would happen if we have one less lover on this earth [6]? We have gone global and the keeper of our heritage is busy dancing in Turkey unbeknownst of two peeping cameras [7]. We have gone nuclear without swallowing the pith, and the only thing nucleus that is our "absolute right" grows like a fungus. A paved road will split the Lar National Park in half [8]. An asphalt factory will land right in the middle of poplar and oak trees by the Caspian. It seems as if all this is an indication of having nothing better to do in cities where the interval between desiring opium and obtaining it is less than 10 min and at every 300 m a body is being bought -- according to official statistics. A city is being gnawed at from inside out, no one knowing when the final collapse will come. Giant termites are busy next to streets and highways. They feed private banks, whose carbon and nitrogen compounds give me dyspepsia. Those with wings will fly to other places, to form families and new relationships. Their brass hats will live longer, seven times as much their servants, who have no retirement pensions. Functionaries gnaw in colonies and are gnawed at individually. I am hollow inside. Nothing will shake me, neither love nor fear or excitement. Nothing. I have no use for poetry and the moon and the patriotism of the flag. The flags are also being nibbled at, poles being their first victims. I measure the map to make sure what has been eaten away. To those who know nothing of the story of my being gnawed at, I will become an exotic treasure. I don't like the smile that appears on my face when I am being exotic. My eyes and lips are there, but behind them there is nothing. The termites work internally. They don't show off their skills. They do their job and I do mine. I am like a theater scene. The audience sees glamour and glitz, backstage is dark and empty. The termites are working backstage, in silence. The cylindrical building of the City Theater is being gnawed at [9]. The termites are also hollowing out the cement building of Diba [10]. They say that termites are masters of construction [11]. Bramble bush are flying everywhere inside theater halls, much like they do in Western movies, and gun-toting, club-wielding mobs receive gifts of paint brushes, cameras and tobacco pipes from the termites. The only silent witnesses of this destruction are the trembling figures of {Giacometti} [12], having survived {Hitler}'s gas chambers. Termites will also take care of the negative archives of {Alain Resnais}. I didn't mention libraries intentionally because books are the obvious first choice for termites.


I said that I wasn't in the mood for writing. I lied. The termites are yet to touch my dissimulation capacity. I live off of lies. Lies that you can believe in is my profession [13].



[1] The reservoir behind the controversial Sivand Dam was filled this year, despite objections by the Heritage Organization and a plethora of environmental groups.

[2] Referring to the reliefs of Pasargadae, the first dynastic capital of the Achaemenian Empire situated northeast of Persepolis, in the Fars Province that environmental organizations predict would be damaged from the rise in humidity after Sivand Dam.

[3] New railway tracks will be laid next to the stone reliefs of Naqsh-e Rostam.

[4] About 8 miles (13 km) north by northeast of Persepolis rises a perpendicular wall of rock in which four tombs are cut at a considerable height from the bottom of the valley. This place is called Naqsh-e Rostam (the Picture of Rostam), from the Sasanian carvings below the tombs, which were thought to represent the mythical hero Rostam. That the occupants of these tombs were Achaemenian kings might be inferred from the sculptures, and one of those at Naqsh-e Rostam is expressly declared in its inscriptions to be the tomb of Darius I, son of Hystaspes, whose grave, according to the Greek historian Ctesias, was in a cliff face that could be reached only by means of an apparatus of ropes. The three other tombs at Naqsh-e Rostam, besides that of Darius I, are probably those of Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. The two completed graves behind Persepolis probably belong to Artaxerxes II and Artaxerxes III. The unfinished one might be that of Arses, who reigned at the longest two years, but is more likely that of Darius III, last of the Achaemenian line, who was overthrown by Alexander the Great ["Persepolis."Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica 2006 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD 19 Mar. 2007].

[5] The stone reliefs of Bisotun are at the foot of the Zagros Mountains in the province of Kermanshah. One of them depicts Farvahar, a manifestation of the Zoroastrian God, Ahuramazda, hovering over a standing Dariush I the Great (reigned 522–486 BC).

[6] Bisotun was also made famous by a classical, love-triangle poem of {Nezami}, The Story of Leyla and Majnun, where a deranged Farhad chisels away at rocks to carve out the face of his beloved, Leyla.

[7] Referring to a controversy surrounding a video showing the head of the Heritage Organization and a Presidential Deputy, {Esfandiar Rahim Moshaee}, dancing in a gathering in Turkey.

[8] The Lar National Park is a protected basin near the city Tehran. A planned highway going to the Caspian is to split through it.

[9] {Sardar Afkhami}, a military commander with a cylindrical hat, and his troupe built The City Theater complex in 1972.

[10] Kamran Diba was the architect of Tehran Contemporary Art Musuem, the Niavaran Cultural Center, and the Heritage Organization.

[11] Referring to the cell that the group of assassins of reformist politician {Saeed Hajjarian}, who was gunned down in 1999 but escaped death miraculously.

[12] Alfred Hitchcock is quoted as saying that cinema (art) is a lie that people can believe in.

[*] Information about termites from Wikipedia.