This sublime music video by Iranian Mohsen Namjoo arrived in today’s email from Vancouver’s Chan Centre, to promote a concert by Namjoo in April. It’s dedicated to Pouya Bakhtiari, a young Iranian poet and engineer killed by Iranian authorities as he participated in a protest last year.
The video, though challenging, is a welcome reprieve from a happy New Year that abruptly turned dark. To attend to global events, from the fires engulfing Australia and revealing the Pyrocene era, to America’s shocking assassination of a top Iranian official, is to court despair.
US president Donald Trump, who’d swapped insults on social media with the Iranian commander, ordered Qassem Soleimani’s killing from his golf resort, followed up with taunting tweets, then stated: “We did not take action to start a war.”
Iran’s take on that differs. Its official statement declared revenge on American “criminals” “in the right time and the right place.”
UN secretary general António Guterres impotently urged restraint: “The world cannot afford another war in the Gulf.”
Humanity has so many more urgent matters to deal with in this decade than another “unaffordable” American war. Our priority has to be cooling our feverish world – else the Pyrocene will be our end. And yet here we are, with the rogues and rogue states rampaging over our brand new decade, and we the people feeling powerless to respond.
It’s enough to drive a person to drink, as we used to say before the age of fentanyl.
But when Namjoo’s tribute arrived today I was reminded, sublimely, that an artful response to rogues is possible. There is power in art. And, at the very least, art can make bearing witness bearable.