Saved by Beauty: Adventures of an American Romantic in Iran

  • 306 pages
  • Anglais
  • Format Kindle
Saved by Beauty: Adventures of an American Romantic in Iran

ష Get Saved by Beauty: Adventures of an American Romantic in Iran online ಌ Book Author Roger Housden ಣ Chapter 1Writing IranThe innerwhat is it If not intensified sky, hurled through with birdsAnd deep with the winds of homecoming.Rainer Maria RilkeWhenever I think of the color blue, I think first not of the sea or the sky, but of a dome A dome in Isfahan, Iran It lodged itself in my mind some thirty five years ago, one gray afternoon in the British Library, that beautiful building, itself a dome, which at the time housed a few million books and manuscripts on every subject known to man Oblivious of the scholars shuffling to and fro around me, I gazed for the longest time at a full color plate of the dome of the Royal Mosque in Isfahan Its perfection of shape and its blue never left me It prompted me from that time on to marvel at domes, to appreciate their sensuous precision with a fresh eye, and to love that turquoise blue with a single mindedness that has dominated my wardrobe and my wall hangings for a lifetime.It was my Iran phase Around the same time, I discovered Iranian music and poetry While my peers were listening to the Stones and Bob Dylan, I would be poring over the Iranian music section of some esoteric record store in London, looking for ethnic folk music or the music of the Sufis, the mystical brotherhoods of Islam Or I would be in the Middle Eastern Bookshop on Museum Street, looking for translations of the great Iranian Sufi poets, Rumi and Hafez That music, those poems, had a visceral effect on me They would bring me down into myself, into my body and the rhythms of my blood another kind of heart murmur, you might say.It made for a potent brew a jumble of feelings and images that somehow conjured the fantasy of a culture that was both sensuous and soulful at one and the same time For all I knew, my imaginings were mere imaginings The Shah was in charge then, and his mission to modernize his country made the images of my inner world seem old fashioned at best, and reactionary at worst It wasnt cool in Iran then to have an interest in Sufis or anything non Western My fascination was probably no than a young mans longing for a romance and vitality that seemed hard to come by under the somber skies of his native Londona much grayer city then than it is now.Even so, those images of Iran remained through my lifetime, alive and innocent though never tested by reality Those colors, that music, that poetry, the beautiful dome, I realize, represented my own personal paradise a paradise that is neither here nor there, of course, but rather a living sense of presence in which nothing is lacking A sort of homecoming, you might say.Those same images linger today in the Persian art on my walls a large ceramic tableau of overflowing flowers that I bought years ago, and a detailed embroidery, a meter high, of the Tree of Life complete with birds of paradise, that I gave myself from the proceeds of my first book contract My Iran phase never really went away neither, it seems, did my nostalgia for the original home.We never know until it happens how the images stored in our brains may suddenly leap up out of nowhere to shape our lives Thirty five years later, in the early spring of 2008, I was walking through the redwoods near my home in California with nothing in my mind other than the savor of the forest and the deep trees I wasnt walking as a writer in search of a subject, even though I had no idea what my next book might be I was in the positive gap, the one that is empty of content, yet seems to sustain you, like floating in the Dead Seaas opposed to the kind of gap where you can go into free fall down some endless rabbit hole.Walking along that path through the woods, my mind was in neutral Into that empty space, out of nowhere, three words sprang fully formed into my mind the other Iran I do not know where that phrase came from I was strolling along with the clouds above and the ground below My images of Iran had not surfaced for years.It seems to be one of lifes enduring habits to sneak up on us unawares My next project or enthusiasm they are usually one and the same has always arrived unannounced and from left field, rather than through any deliberate attempt to figure it out with pen and paper Not that I dont try every now and then to dream up subjects and passions I could turn into a piece of workbut they rarely, if ever, materialize that way.So here I was, embarking on my sixties, out of a second marriage for three years, with a rewarding but precarious occupation that dispenses with the need for a weekly planner, not to mention a yearly one an occupation that encourages me to follow the lightning wherever it strikes, and in the lightnings time, not mine I had recently finished writing a long series of books on poetry, and once again, a variant of the perennial questionWhat do you want to do now with your life had been flitting about the edge of my mind.Except it was no longer about doing this or that so much as feeling which qualities and loves really mattered to me, and which I wanted to embody in this world before I left it None of this was in the shape of an anxiety, or even in the form of words but as a kind of readiness, or welcoming disposition toward something I could feel was wanting to surface.Not that I was sitting back waiting for my life to happen Of course I have wondered at times what on earth I am doing here of course, as a writer, I have suffered the peculiar sensation, like grasping at air, of not having a subject In the last couple of years I had flirted with several ideas that seemed promising book subjects But nothing had had the wings to lift words onto the page.Thats when the rabbit hole can appear out of nowhere the gap that can open up without warning between the last book, the last painting or start up project, and what you hope, at least, will be the next one The kind of gap where you realize that sweating it out means what it says I went through one of those gaps eighteen months or so before my walk in the woods, and not for the first time I was having ideas all right in fact I had ideas aplenty, but my publisher was not impressed The Greatest Joy Having a Purpose Bigger Than You Are I dont think so, she said On Being Useful Uh uh No Ten Meals to Eat Before You Die Journey to the Heart of Francehow could anyone say no to that, I thought.It would save my bacon, so to speak give me a way forward, let me run round my favorite country for a year I thought I would use food as the doorway into La France Profonde, the culture whose language and literature I loved I thought it would give my writing career a kick start into a new future But no, they were not impressed.How can you not be impressed by ten meals to die for Ten French meals my brother Mark had asked when I called to tell him But then he lived in France, was something of a gourmand himself, and ran his own business, the French House, selling the romance of French style to Anglo Saxons It was he who had come up with the idea in the first place.No, they were not impressed Too regional, too French, too traditional The publicity director killed it when she said she couldnt see herself eating any of those meals No confit de canard Really You dont like the sound, let alone the taste, of bouillabaisse A writers life is about moving on Theres always the hope of the next project, the next great idea My previous book hadnt turned out to be as great an idea as my publisher and I had hoped it would Now the Ten Meals project had gone the same way before even getting off the ground My agent tried to cheer me up as I was leaving New York after one of our periodic meetings.I have best selling writers nowadays who have to propose four or five ideas before they get a green light, she said consolingly How many does that mean I have to go Its tough out there, she told me People are not buying books the way they used to, so neither are publishers Theyre scared Theyre scared Dont they know that being a writer with nothing to write about is like being a sailor without a boat, a builder without a hammer, a painter without a brush Back home from New York I sprawled on the sofa and gazed unseeingly out of the big window that looks onto one of the most beautiful landscapes Ive ever beheldMarin County, actually, with its big Mount Tam stuck right in the middle distance there before me among contours of pines and madrone trees As I sat there, I let my eye travel down inward rather than outward for I dont know how long, and let in the true horror of my situationa writer without a subject, not so long without a wife, fresh from being madly in love with an unavailable woman, and with a most moderate bank accountand I started to smile.I started to smile, and then I started to laugh Maybe this was the end of the line for this particular writer, this couch on a Tuesday afternoon in May 2008 Maybe there was simply nothing left for him to say or write And yet what would be wrong with that I was still here, and a lover of life than a survivor of it I relaxed Where a moment before I had felt empty, now I felt full Not full of myself, in the way that I certainly can be, but full of relief, full of quiet, like after a big outbreath I had enough money to live on for a year or so, and I would just see what if anything came out of the blue.It was the other Iran that came out of the blue, several months later I knew instantly that a big fish had surfaced, and that I was going to land it, and soon When I reflect deeply on the color blue, deeper still than the image of the dome in Isfahan, I realize that what it really means for me is the sea inside the deep, uncharted waters of ones own interior life, where unlived desiresBoth readers new to Housden and fans of his poetry will treasure this memorable account of what may be a once in a lifetime trip Even better, his insights are also sure to inform and maybe even re form preconceived notions many hold about Iran It is impossible not to lose oneself in Housden s many faceted narrative Booklist, starred reviewAlyrical panorama of contemporary Persian politics and culture, this book gives contour and nuance to our idea of Iran, and introduces us to complex, very memorable characters Publishers Weekly, starred reviewThe eloquent account of a Western poets encounters with the land, culture andpeople of Iransoulful and uplifting Kirkus ReviewsMovingArdently pursuing his personal pilgrims path, Housden composes a poignant picture puzzle of modern Iran National Geographic Traveler Restoration Beauty Using Grapeseed Oil as a Last week, I shared with you my Sensitive Acne Prone Skin Journey Regimen and mentioned how USE GRAPESEED OIL AS A NIGHT SERUM Beauty Tips, news product tests Telegraph The latest tips, reviews from Telegraph New beauty products tried tested Bambi Does bambidoesbeauty k Followers, Following, Posts See Instagram photos videos Bambi bambidoesbeauty 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