Problem of Narratives in Post-Revolution Iran and War

(A look at the book »Line by Line Memory«; the manual for editing documentary memoir books)

Compiled by: Franak Jamshidi
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


Note: Due to the thematic connection of narrative and memory with oral history, the present article has been provided by the author herself (without changes) to the oral history website.

The text of my speech about the book Line-by-Line Memory, which was held on November 13, 2023 in the Salman Herati Hall of the Art Department, in the presence of Morteza Ghazi, Masoumeh Ramehrrmazi, Razieh Haghighat and performed by Mr. Salehi, contains two parts; In the first part, I have tried to show what the story of the problem of this book is and how this story can be related to the social reality of Iran, and in the second part, I have discussed the book itself.


Part 1


What is the problem?

This book has a story whose reflections can sometimes be found and sometimes lost and ambiguous, from the first page of the book to before the discussion of editing is discussed. These parts, if placed together, narrate the issue of the book. My attempt is to narrate this story to you inspired by the contents that the authors of this book have specified, and of course in the language that I have translated myself, and with this excuse, I will also explain the problem of the book. The important part of the story is narrated by Morteza Ghazi in the only article of this book titled "Speech standard language and its characteristics". This article provided me with the most clues to complete the puzzle:

The problem is that "after three decades of the emergence of the phenomenon of war/sacred defense/sustainability memoirs" in Iran, we are facing the emergence of another phenomenon called "social narrative writing" whose distinctive feature is "the preservation of the narrator's spoken language", as much as the voice of the narrator it can be heard from within these texts. At least three factors can be listed that show why the language that produced these texts should be considered; It means to recognize the spoken language, to define it correctly, and to formulate its editing methods clearly: (1) "dignity" of these texts to become a book, (2) to have a large addresses as a result of the widening of the circle of the target society for such works in It is considered, (3) the significant influence of such books in the society.

Why is it necessary today to recognize the spoken language in the memoirs and to define it precisely and to prepare and organize and compile the guidelines for editing this language, due to the existence of numerous memoirs in which almost »none the characteristics of spoken language" are not spared from the danger of editorial interference or the writers of narrators' memoirs, and we witness that either "narrator's language" is "official standard language" and sometimes even "literary standard language" and then "rewritten" or things have been added or subtracted from the memories.

It goes without saying that such intrusions have simultaneously created two situations for memoir writing; The first situation is opportunity; It means the opportunity to find, grow, and flourish forms or "various types of editing in the field of memory writing" which these forms or types include: "organizing, reorganizing, rewriting, revising and re-creating". The second situation is the threat that, at least, two serious threats can be mentioned that have risen to the level of the mentioned opportunity; One is the threat of fictionalization of memories following the use of "narrative rules and elements" that occurs due to the necessity of seeking help from various types of editing, during which memoirists or editors of memoirs, crossing the "red line [of] documenting and memoirs" gradually They distance themselves from their originality and authenticity, so much so that "the title of documentary cannot be applied to the produced text" and secondly, the threat of blurring the boundaries between literary genres and the formation of intermediate genres, one of the most challenging of which is the result of mixing citation and story following actions such as " It is a re-creation" that the emerging species is not completely "documentary", nor is the title "story" suitable for it (inspired by Ghazi, pp. 26-23).

The second part of this story was narrated by Mrs. Haghighat. His words in the "Introduction" section show that the compilation of the guidelines for editing documentary memoirs, due to the importance of the issue of protecting the narrator's spoken language from the risk of distortions caused by editorial interference or the likes and dislikes of the authors of narrators' memoirs, should be based on two principles. It is important to "quote" and "transmit"; It means trying to preserve the authenticity of the "language" and "content" of the text and "transmitting" the narrator's message to the audience "in the most appropriate and appropriate way" (Haghighat, Introduction: p. 21).

Mrs. Ramehrmazi's words at the beginning of the book, titled "Overview of how to compile the editing manual from 2000 to 2021", without having a role in completing the above-mentioned story, merely express the considerations of those concerned about the editing manual of war memoirs/oral history in Marz-o-bom Publishing, as a place where It can be considered as a reference and transfer agent; That is, it has a role of agency in the institutionalization of its methods, and this is beyond the role of trustee and executive, because by compiling formalization methods in a language and defining it and compiling editing rules, it becomes the owner of discourse power or position. I have reached four keywords for the considerations that Ramehrmazi has considered for this purpose and pointed out some of the most important of them:

1.Purification or, according to Ramehrmazi's interpretation, "removal of verbal and narrative excesses" and "pruning the extra leaves of speech" (Ramehrmazi, p. 14),

2.Glorification or, in Ramhormzi's interpretation, "respect" for the "narrator's tone and language" and "keeping the exact words of [him]" and (if we are dealing with the written text of the memory), "respect for the author's writing style" and finally being satisfied with "the application of some signs of Sajavandi" (Ramehrmazi, p. 14),

3.Keeping or, in Ramhormzi's interpretation, "maintaining the line of narration" (Ramhormzi, p. 14),

4.Keeping away or, in Ramhormzi's interpretation, preventing the entry of editors who either do not know the indicators of documentary texts, or do not know the "kind of language and the way of expressing topics" in narrative texts, and as a result, by applying personal taste when editing the narrator's statements, to They harm the principle of "preserving documentation in memoir books" (Ramhormzi, p. 14),

I will complete the third part of the story because as long as the said problem cannot show its connection with the current situation and current social realities, it is an unfinished story. In fact, I, as an audience, must be persuaded why I need to buy and read such a book today, and how this book distinguishes itself from other existing books on editing. Therefore, my explanations will clarify the end of the story called "protecting the narrator's speech language from clumsy editorial interference or preventing editors from entering this field" and how that problem is related to the social reality of today's Iran. It is obvious in connection and ratio.

In my opinion, the main issue, which is not only an important concern of Marz-o-boom Publishing House for the production and publication of this book, but also the fundamental concern of all those who are working with the idea of creating immunity for the narrative of the sacred defense of the eight-year war, is the risk of distortion. My claim is that the issue of distortion has always been a problematic matter of narration in post-revolution and war Iran, and the discovery and development of editing guidelines (indeed, various guidelines and regulations, guidelines and guides centered on the defense of the sacred), is one of the evidences that can be used for this claim.

It is obvious that the appearance of each of the types of style sheets and regulations and instructions and guides indicates the appearance and growth of new requirements and needs. Regarding the manual for the editing of documentary memoirs, this need arises from a serious and never-ending struggle between making attractive and documenting, the former mainly considering the current audience and keeping them satisfied, and the latter, in addition to the present, also looks to the future and aims to Dispelling doubts and removing doubts is from the current and future generations. The shadow of this controversy is obvious on what Ramehrmazi wrote at the beginning of the book; Since he is concerned with the necessity of making the text readable while "preserving the integrity of the language and tone [of the narrators of the memoirs]", of appealing to the readers of these texts while bringing out the memories from the shadow of some ambiguities, and of trying to bring the text of the memoirs to "ripeness and perfection" from It speaks to their content through validation. Behind all these needs, we can see how the maximum attraction of the ideal audience with the help of producing an attractive narrative and the maximum rejection of distortions with the help of increasing the authenticity of the text, makes the narrative of holy defense in a problematic situation; That is, a situation where, on the one hand, in front of the narrative of holy defense, constantly changing crises arise, and on the other hand, parallel to these crises and in order to solve them and overcome difficulties or problems, the narrative of holy defense turns into a political, security, and law enforcement narrative so that it can control the crises and this once again adds to the diversity and severity of the crises, as well as to the methods and measures of preserving and spreading the narrative of the holy defense and this cycle continues and in this continuity, institutions and centers and foundations have been formed and are taking place, which, in my opinion, can be divided into seven categories:

(1) Institutions and centers and heritage-promoting foundations that are responsible for preserving, publishing and normalizing this narrative.

  (2) Institutions and document centers and institutes that are supposed to act in terms of the logistics of this narrative and protect the aforementioned narrative database from danger by identifying, collecting, categorizing, and leveling documents and scheduling them in terms of making them accessible to clients and researchers.

(3) Historical institutions and centers and institutions and foundations (both oral and non-verbal) with the authorial-descriptive-analytical-explanatory function of the narrative in the form of organizing diaries, atlases, maps and types of historiography related to operations and personalities, etc. in n the shadow of the mission to prevent the distortion of the narrative of the holy defense.

(4) Institutions and centers and scientific, cultural, social, educational and research institutions and foundations with production-educational-research functions that have the mission to create consensus-saturation for this narrative through the production of scientific, cultural, social, educational and research data.

(5) Encyclopedic, and dictionaries with the function of producing knowledge, developing knowledge, explaining concepts, drawing a pattern or model, etc. in favor of the narrative of sacred defense or, at least, paying special attention to this narrative.

(6) Institutions with encouraging-stimulating-advertising functions, one of the most important and prominent of which is the establishment of the reward system, and among the most well-known of these reward systems is the award system, which are awarded in the form of various forms of festivals, and the second is the establishment of ritual systems. Among its various forms, the three forms of unveiling, opening and closing are closer to the public mind.

(7) Compilation institutions with the function of compiling rules and regulations and distinguishing notes. These systems have emerged mainly in the form of regulations and guidelines and regulations and instructions, and after they are prepared and regulated, they can be considered as "insiders" in the decree, who, from the top of the watchtower of the rules and regulations, are responsible for preserving the told narrative from any kind of interference by outsiders.

Part 2

In the following, I would like to discuss whether what we see in the book Line-by-Line of memoirs is really a special method of editing documentary memoirs?

I answer this question in two ways; one is to show whether the discovery and growth of style books is a sign of what absences, deficiencies, and bottlenecks, and from this point of view, is the mentioned book a type of style book? And the other thing is to discuss the accuracy or correctness of naming this book as a style book.

In my opinion, the birth of style books occurs following three principles:

a. Within any knowledge, in addition to the common principles and rules, some special principles and rules also gradually emerge, whose discovery and rooting are caused by unexpected challenges and unforeseen bottlenecks that the users of that knowledge face during the application of the established principles and rules. In fact, the emergence of guidelines and guides is an attempt to overcome those challenges, to solve the shortcomings and to get out of the bottlenecks, one of the most important results of which in the best conditions is the fragmentation or differentiation of a knowledge into multiple specializations; Specializations, each of which, while having its own principles and rules, are also loyal to the general principles and rules of that knowledge, and this puts them in continuity with each other. The knowledge of editing war memoirs also follows this rule; That is, while the editors of the books of war memoirs have inevitably edited following some general principles and rules, the high frequency of their encounters with special situations in the text of such memoirs has been the main reason for the necessity of compiling a special style book for editing these texts. However, what we see in the book Line-by-Line Memory includes a selection of formal and linguistic editing rules and a few points in the specialized editing of Marz-o-bom publishing which was collected from many editing sources and compiled in one place and "for the preparation of any text [among others] documentary memoir texts are suitable for the topic of holy defense, and writers and editors... can put it as their work manual" (Haghighat, pp. 20-21).

b. Compilation of manuals, as prescriptions for better performance and reduction of error rate, shows the importance and necessity of teamwork and collective wisdom and distance from tasteful methods and personal likes and dislikes. However, this book, considering the compilation of formal and linguistic editing rules, using already existing editing resources, has the least reflection of the call of collective wisdom and working group to compile a style book.

c. Preparing and compiling guidelines or practical guides about anything indicates a serious need to rethink, revise, reproduce and reorganize existing data or information or knowledge about that thing, and it is obvious that the result of the action that is accompanied by the prefix "open" is often the occurrence of positive changes in the format should be more clear, and we see this clarity in the examples that the style books provide to show that they have been able to create their own territory. While in this book, we do not see any effect of rethinking and revising the pre-formed rules of editing in favor of compiling a style guide for editing documentary memoirs, and whatever it is, it is passivity against the previous rules of editing. Even the presentation of examples for "better understanding of the content and editorial rules", contrary to what Ms. Haghighat stated on page 21 of the book, is not entirely from the "texts of the sacred defense literature" (except for a few pages written by Mr. Ghazi and we can see that the examples are completely from his experiences with numerous narrative texts). Therefore, the manual could not be a "specialized manual" and "excellent from other manuals", as claimed by Ms. Haghighat. Because in order to confirm or reject the claim of being specialized and privileged, it is enough to ask who/whom the mentioned style book is assigned to and how it can be distinguished from its equals and falsehoods. His own answer is that this stylebook can be used for preparing any text, including a memoir on the topic of holy defense, and for all writers and editors.

Additionally, in my opinion, at least three factors confirm or validate the application of appropriation, exclusivity, and privilege for something like a instruction:

1. Provide a clear and comprehensive definition for its main concepts. It is reasonable for us to see a definition in this book for the fundamental concepts on which the style book is based; It means memoirs and documentary memoirs and documentary memoir books. While in the book we are faced with a special emphasis on standard speech language, the definition of which remains unclear until the end, and it is unclear why the term standard speech language is used instead of speech language.

2. For the provided definitions, give specific examples of the field in question. For this purpose, he must know the main challenges of that field and show the way out of those challenges in the form of examples. If we accept that the most important challenge that guides the necessity of developing a manual for editing documentary memoirs is the challenge of making the text readable and smooth for the reader while maintaining the authenticity of the text with minimal manipulation of the narrative text, the examples must be able to demonstrate this difficulty in order to be specialized, create a monopoly, so that they have an advantage over their peers.

3. Identify slippery surfaces or fragile boundaries in the target area and give them stability and strength. In the field of memories related to the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq, these levels and borders are many; From the most fragile border, which is the border between reality and imagination and the source of all the challenges of citation, we can take the very concept of memoir and its difference from memoir writing, as well as documentary memories and its difference from non-documentary memories. Even the forms of compilation mentioned by Mr. Ghazi need specific definition.

In my opinion, reducing or reducing the function of the style book to discussions of form or appearance and limiting it to the linguistic level and not addressing topics such as structure and content, etc., is a sign of abandoned challenges and unsolved knots, the solution of which requires the call of collective wisdom.


Part 3


And the final word

I think that the book line-by-line memory is a kind of thinking out loud. The contributors of this book have thought aloud to themselves about the difficulties of editing documentary memoirs and have called others to share this thought.


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