The long braid, the balcony, the arrow

In 2003, Jerome Clinton, Shahnameh scholar and Princeton professor of Islamic studies died.  A fellow Shahnameh scholar and friend wrote of Clinton: “May he be showered forever with blessings out of our world of dust and ashes.”  I was lucky to have studied with Prof. Clinton, and the illustrations of the heroic text perused on repeated visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art vividly populate my interest in text and image.  When Rudabeh lowers the long hair that adorns her moon-shaped face and strong eyebrows to Zal, when geometric allotments of decoration within and without text envelop the connective gesture, when calligraphy, architecture, heroic deed and recitation on paper and aloud bring together national heroes and paper, I am brought together with the oral tradition.  Listening to visual dimensions of heroic stories and inhabiting the built universe of sound-word-scapes, natural and built planes, crags, trees, balconies, hair-ladders measuring time and space between people, between arrows and targets, between horses’ tails and turban-fabric flowing with the fast passage of riding bodies, I am brought back into the classroom of the first year of university study.  It is a fresh day, followed by many thusly-energized days.  It is unrivaled.  May it be showered forever with blessings of our world’s memory and the remains of paper thoughts that surround it.

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