The main rhythm
On Sunday, May 14, the first meeting related to the concept of diaspora series was held with the focus on the Diasporas of immigrants in Iran at the Rokhdad Taze by showing the film titled “Between Two Migrations” by Robert Safarian. This film deals with the life and works of Matian, an Armenian-Iranian poet, satirist, and translator – a poet who is probably known by few viewers because he writes in an old language that few people understand, that is, the Armenian language. Then, the camera is supposed to explain the Diaspora identity to us by shining its light on the poet’s life. Therefore, the camera is supposed to shed its light on the poet’s life to show us the Diaspora identity. For this reason, the camera shows us the school where Azad Matian studied, his relation with his family, the gaps within a group of Armenians in Iran, the position of the poet towards the Iranian revolution until the days of isolation and, of course, the desire to return to their homeland. Robert Safarian speaks about Diaspora: “When the expatriate Iranians speak about their homeland, they mean Iran and not America or France, even if they have lived in those countries for a long time and they are citizens of those countries or even if they were born there. They consider themselves part of Iran – parts of which are scattered all over the world for whatever reason. This dispersion is called Diaspora. No matter how we define ‘Diaspora’, the existence of a spiritual homeland is necessary regardless of the issue of legal citizenship as the eyes of these displaced people are focused on it and their hearts beat for it. Physically, you live in one place, but you know your place is elsewhere. “In this connection, Pooria Jahanshad describes the characteristics of diaspora communities such as the collective memory, belonging to a particular land, and attempting to improve that society. Then, he discussed the relation between the larger society and the Diaspora to come to the conclusion whether the definition of these attributes is to limit these societies or to raise the issue to their own benefit? Because we observe the limitation of the Armenian community and the lack of communication with the larger society in Armenian communities. In fact, you should ask ‘what groups reap the benefit of Diaspora’?
Matian writes about the relation of poetry to language: language was created by the first human beings and, since then, language has remained for us. The work of the poet is to reach the first rank of human beings who were able to create language. Thus, the poet’s work is the creation of language, which means he intends to rebuild the world with his concepts. Let us see how Robert Safarian’s camera depicts such a world that the poet has promised us.
Multi-rhythms do not integrate and they adopt opposing positions against a seemingly unanimous combination. This is how multi-rhythms remind us of the disagreement, where cooperation never happens and different rhythms and the tunes that have never had a chance to be heard in the creation of the unseen areas all come forward.
The first multi-rhythm was produced by Pooria Jahanshad. Referring to the Greek Diasporas, he said that the minorities of the first Diasporas were not associated with being subordinate and this has been the same for the colonists. Then, the formulation of the Diaspora identity with subordination should not be presupposed. Jahanshad spoke about the two sides of the diaspora’s position: First, the hearing ears of the larger society and then the communicative and expressive tools of the smaller community to connect with the major society. Therefore, not only the kind of encounter with the larger society is important with relation to the Diaspora, but the way to call the larger society and use these groups to advance their own interests is also visible. In the film, this quality can be seen by the gap between the two groups of Iranian-Armenians.
Then, another member of the audience asked: Can language be a form of homeland, a shelter that creates a form of privacy? Referring to the ability to speak a language other than the official language, Robert Safarian pointed out how the language could create a safe place between the minorities in some situations to escape from the dominant position. The ability to know another language, which the older society does not understand, is an opportunity for defending and advancing the minorities.
Here, one can get an idea: the production and plurality of the minority languages. The language of minority is a language that will not be dominant, that does not know its grounds and always confuses the domination. These few multiple rhythms, that is, the understanding of the diaspora’s position towards the larger society and the language of minorities were the concepts that were addressed. Nevertheless, when it seemed that the language of the minority could be a different point for the harmony against domination, the harmony was formed on the side of cooperation with the dominance called ‘homeland’.
Co-rhythms are the result of unanimities, the consensus, and the coverage of all the existing gaps with a narrative of the unified forms. Although co-rhythms might occur at the moment of change on the subordinate side, they are usually the outcome of an unwritten agreement in accepting the rules that consolidate the situation from the submissive sides.
The co-rhythms created were about the homeland that means the place where these people’s homeland exists. In fact, the main problem ended with the question whether the Armenian homeland exists in Iran or Armenia. In this regard, one of the audiences asked, “What is their feeling towards the homeland in which they were born?” And someone else claimed that the first homeland of the Assyrians living in Iran was Iran itself. In fact, the struggle about the homeland created an agreement that it is important and vital to have your own homeland and to identify with it. Nevertheless, after the issue of ‘homeland’ that could be defined in terms of borders, languages, and geographical locations, the concept of homeland was also linked to progress. One of the audiences had this to say about the return of the Diaspora communities: “They will return, if they think their country is progressing and has the required standards.” This agreement was the notion that questioned the last constructs of homeland by linking them to the economic affair. Speaking about the homeland and attributing it to the idea of progress and development replaces the diaspora identity with economic development – a wider and more multilateral dominance instead of a more limited domination.
Arrhythmias are born in several places. Some are created at the moments of failure, when every door is closed, and these moments have some potential – potentials to exit the rhythm and find some alternatives to the other modes of life. Another area where arrhythmias are used is not the moments of failure, but the moments when the cries of pure harmony are heard. Only a quiet noise has the potential to create arrhythmia.
Once again, we return to the concept of Diaspora. What does Diaspora want to tell us? Diaspora says there is another large community without any gaps and the desires stop once it is embraced. This means that there is a homeland where one can calm down by entering it. But what does the film show us? At the end of the film and after a few trips to Armenia, the poet says: “I won’t go back to Armenia because we have no value for the people of Armenia and we do not have any role in turning the wheels of the state.” And his friend goes one step further and says: “The people of Armenia do not have a role to play either.” In the end, when the poet wants to talk about his homeland, he says ‘neither Iran nor Armenia, nor elsewhere’. In fact, Azad Matian tells us: There exists no ‘other’ without gaps, and the desire does not become calmer anywhere. This is precisely the opposite of the diaspora identity, which promises to calm down the desire; the identity of the diaspora promises the ultimate calmness with an emphasis on the Promised Land. But what the film produces is not the production of satisfaction and the fulfillment of the promise, but the growth of dissatisfaction and the failure of the promise, and what is more magnificent than revealing all imaginary promises?
Nevertheless, the question is why the film could not create such a situation for the audiences. The reason for this is what the director mentioned at the beginning of the program: “I did not go there to make a film about Diaspora in the first place and this matter became important to me later.” Then, in fact, the burial of this happening beneath the masses of different images about the poet did not allow such an arrhythmia to be seen. Instead of placing Diaspora in the center, the film placed countless events about Matian in the center. In the very beginning, such dispersion did not highlight the unity that was produced in all the scenes of the film in such a way that those unique situations could not be seen between the two emigrations.