Neglected Layers of Narration

Mehdi Abolhassani Targhi (PhD)
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


Narration enjoys a lot of layers and surfaces as the common point between memory, oral tradition and oral history. Finding a path toward the lower layers of the narration in personal memoirs and oral tradition is a bit difficult due to the passage of time and the unavailability of its narrator or narrators; But undoubtedly, in the course of using the mechanism of oral history and in case of correct and precise definition of the goals of the plan, accurate knowledge of philosophy and function of oral history and its correct application, one can remove the superficial, thin and weak procedure of events, and unmask the real face of the events.

Every type of narration and narrator has several dormant layers of reality and data; because its reference is an intelligent creature who has logic, the power of thought, and a world called the mind. The complexities of today's world are based on the complexity of the human mind and, consequently, the entanglement of the facts accumulated in it over time. Possessing special techniques, skills, and tricks of oral history, or borrowed from other sciences, enables the oral historian to explore the difficult but achievable levels of reality and show them to others. It is possible for a swimmer to feel the existence, cold and warmth of water by dipping his or her foot in it, but he or she cannot perceive anything from the depth, and breadth of the water without going to sea!

Among the areas of Iraq's eight-year war against Iran (Sacred Defense) is the use of the mechanism of "Oral History", scientific institutes affiliated with the IRGC and the army, Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, the Basij Resistance bases, the Martyrs' Congress and many other cultural centers have the largest share in view of the activities of various institutions and organizations such as the IRGC and Army combat units. Although this issue has led to the mass production and accumulation of memories and narrations, the publication of books and the content of cyberspace, it has also caused lots of damages.

The mechanism of "oral history" along with written documents can be an effective way to penetrate into the lower and deep layers, and margins around the military, political, social and cultural events during the years between the years 1359 to 1367 (1980-1988). In this line, military and civilian institutions, each with the goals and policies of their organization, using the method of oral history, have reviewed the various dimensions of the era of sacred defense from the perspective of its perpetrators in various sectors. The data related to this level can provide a small but imperceptible piece of the puzzle of war-related events despite many errors and mistakes.

By taking a look at the huge volume of memories and conversations with the community of war veterans, we can find out that only in the first narrative procedure of the war, the story of the revolution, the war and the presence of the narrator in that historical event has been considered. Most people who are interested in the history of the Sacred Defense have been satisfied with this level of narration and have not noticed its other levels and layers.

It seems that among the community of war veterans, the disabled veterans, especially those with a disability of over seventy percent, have stayed out of the circle of the historical narration of the Sacred Defense due to the continuation of wounds, and injuries caused by the war and difficult living conditions for them. Although it is possible that in any geographical area of Islamic Iran, veterans with a high percentage of disability are in the minority in terms of number, but their narration is different in nature from that of other combatants and veterans. In addition to the multiple nature of each narration, the narration of this group of narrators has a special multi-layered nature and is in a network with other neglected narrations and will call other authorities; That is why it is of special importance.

The multi-layered narration of this group of veterans depends on the type and severity of injuries, the duration of the injury, lifestyle, social class, the related individuals and institutions, and many other factors. Accordingly, the retelling of a common event or incident by them is also affected by this situation. If we cross the common denominator of all the narrations of the veterans, namely how they were involved in the war, the period of presence and the role and position of the narrator on the battlefields (visible and obvious procedure), we can enter the next layers. Regarding the veterans with a high percentage of disability, the second layer of the narration is devoted to the period of treatment, transfer from the battlefield to hospitalization and recovery. This level of narration provides researchers with unspoken facts from the battlefield, relief and treatment inside and behind the front, the country's health network during those years, the situation and quality of various treatments, medical facilities and equipment, and so on.

The third layer of the veterans' narration can display the social and cultural atmosphere ruling over the rural, nomadic and urban society of Iran and the process of its change and transformation in dealing with the veteran. At this level of narration, various issues and topics (shocking facts) of the interaction of the family and people with the veteran, his personal life and problems, the social status of the veteran in yesterday and today's society and the problems of veteran's treatment in the past and present and even moral, behavioral and psychological characteristics of the narrator are determined.

At this stage, the need for an oral historian to act as a network, opens the door for investigators, narrators and other neglected authorities such as parents, spouses, children, comrades, sympathizers and officials to investigate; because the war is not limited to the same period and battlefields and confrontation with the enemy, but the fate and current situation of all individuals and sections of society is tied to it. It is in this way that the subject called "Sacred Defense" finds its true meaning and concept, and its various dimensions and aspects are re-examined.

Since the mechanism of oral history, with its philosophy and nature, has the power to retrieve any historical event and experience, sufficing to the procedure of events, information and data, can burn the opportunities and have irreparable mistakes. Thus, the category of oral history is fully achieved when the oral historian, with the necessary knowledge of the narrator's personality, considers different levels related to the narration and the subject in designing the question packages and organizing and directing the interview process.

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