A place of paranoia, secrecy, corruption, hypocrisy and guilt

Hooman Majd's new book on Iran, The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay, is his best yet

16 November 2013

9:00 AM

16 November 2013

9:00 AM

The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran Hooman Majd

Allen Lane, pp.272, £20

‘Is he a good writer? Is he pro-regime?’ an Iranian journalist in London once asked me of Hooman Majd. Majd is an Iranian-American journalist who was born in Tehran in 1957, but is better known in America. His father was a well-travelled Pahlavi-era diplomat, and his grandfather was an ayatollah. His cousin is married to the brother of Iran’s former president Mohammed Khatami. Majd is not religious, but his criticisms of the Islamic Republic have tended toward the procedural rather than the substantive. He is married to an American, Karri, with whom he has a young son.

Family is the great theme of his books. His writings give the impression that Iranians are a big family in need of reconciliation, not another traumatic reckoning on the model of 1979. That view is common in Iran, but Majd’s writing about Iranian ‘reformists’ and ‘pragmatists’ is usually over-sweet. It means something, then, that during the ‘annus horribilis’ of 2011 — when the state reacted edgily to the ‘Arab Spring’ and reactionaries gouged each other while oppositionists kept their heads down — Majd moved back with his family to Tehran, and wrote a bold and discerning account that puts Iran’s 20th-century style ‘security state’ at issue.

Majd’s Tehran should be recognisable to anyone who has been there in recent years. ‘It’s really quite dark,’ a friend remarks to him as they drive around, alluding to its atmosphere of sun-drenched noir, which Majd treats through themes of paranoia, secrecy, corruption, hypocrisy and guilt. The ineluctable romance of the troubled city is in evidence, too, in his evocations of its intellectual life, its hospitality, its historical burdens, even its unliveability. The word ‘dystopia’ emerges, but never without qualification or irony.

Majd believed that ‘powerful figures within Iran were working to advance a more democratic future’, and still does, but this book has a melancholy ‘no country for old men’ feeling, as the author contemplates fatherhood in his fifties and finds that his hero, Khatami, is yesterday’s man, as burdened by surveillance as any foreign journalist. Now Iran belongs to the young, not to ‘aging theocrats’. Majd judges himself ‘too optimistic’ about the ‘morality’ patrols, which to his surprise harass Karri for ‘bad hijab’. He quotes Iranians cursing the supreme leader Ali Khamenei in public, and interrogates his own ‘self-preserving silence’.

So here is Majd’s best book, written to answer those who found his previous reports, for all their illumination, pusillanimous or even sulphurous. He embarrasses the regime by revealing that its capricious, ill-coordinated representatives forbade him to write, tried to get him to write for them, and (though this is probably unverifiable) identified him as a US intelligence operative. It’s a pity that he neglects Iran’s role in Syria (an unmissable topic when he was there), won’t decide whether Khamenei’s Iran is an absolutism or a tyranny, and pursues interpretations of ‘Persian character’, an idea that, whether in the minds of imperialists or Islamic revolutionaries, has only ever obstructed Iranian freedoms. Still, it embodies a spirit of rapprochement.

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  • Miguel Lahunken

    Hypocritical society thrives on secrecy. Here’s an example of suppressed knowledge. Spread the most classic secret, the supreme grand secret of the “lodge”, which,
    thanks to modern medicine, can be printed on a bumper sticker:
    VAGAL STIMULATION IS AS EFFECTIVE AS LSD. Behind the old “Iron Curtain”
    there was a disease recognized that is
    deceitfully diagnosed to be schizophrenia in the West. It was called “shamans’
    disease” and is caused by scar tissue in the parasympathetic (muscarinic)
    nervous system. This nervous system is called “muscarinic” after the hallucinogenic drug
    muscarine, found in the fly aminita mushroom; and, muscarine doesn’t cross the
    blood brain barrier. It works by exciting the whole muscarinic nervous system
    and thereby overriding the inhibitory neurons in the brain. But, it is unpopular
    in the West due to the way it excites the digestive system.
    This has been kept secret by those who cash in on this secrecy, occult
    secrecy. In yoga, the plexuses of the muscarinic nervous system are called
    chakras, presented to the common people as “spiritual wheels of light along the
    spine”, but they are not in the spine, they are the major plexuses of the
    parasympathetic nervous system in the body.
    This muscarinic nervous system stimulation is called “kundalini” in yoga,
    and when yoga students reach the degree where they are allowed to know the truth
    about their own bodies they must sign contracts of secrecy.
    So, your children may have only acquired scar tissue in their
    parasympathetic nervous systems, which can be treated medically other ways, but,
    there are dopamine blockers to be sold, and, special interests want to keep
    their profitable secrets.
    Of course one international organization is behind this, a well known
    secret society, whose “temple” represents the human body, and whose “holy of
    holies” represents where the largest muscarinic nerve, the vagus nerve, emerges
    from the brain into the body in the nasopharynx.
    LSD used to be used to carry out a horrible treatment called the
    “Clockwork Orange” treatment. Here the victim has over 50% of the brain awakened
    consciously for use. It is called by “Grof Transpersonal”, “perinatal matrix three”, and
    here the victim experiences all the sufferings of people shown in a film by
    going backward and forward in time to inhabit each and every body shown,
    experiencing their torments as real as life.
    Today this is being done by exciting the parasympathetic nervous system by
    “waterboarding”. It was mentioned in an article about this, in a popular news magazine,
    that “efforts were made to have the water irritate the nasopharynx”, where the main trunk of the
    vagus nerve emerges from the brain, proceeding down into the body.
    Crucifixion also causes so much muscarinic nervous system stimulation that
    the victim will body switch into everyone he knows. God knows everyone, so it is
    known that Jesus Christ is in you and I and everyone this way.
    When a “schizophrenic” patient has more that 50% of the brain consciously
    awakened (it shows on an MRI) they are catatonic, but they are out body switching
    into everyone and every character they have seen, even in every movie they ever saw. Less severe
    schizophrenic symptoms occur with brain use percentages less than 50%.
    The solution, to establish better treatment for our children, and fellow man, is to spread
    this knowledge to common public knowledge.