Illustration by Rachel Urkowitz for the cover of the February 2013 issue of The Journal of Experimental Medicine, based on the work of Yang et al., who “show that immune tolerance to self-antigens impedes the generation of some broadly protective antibodies that bind to HIV gp41. One self-antigen, kynureninase, is mutated in opossums, allowing these marsupials to generate high serum antibody titers to the corresponding HIV epitope. The cover image depicts a HIV virus (orange) with viral spikes containing gp41 subunits (blue) and Y-shaped antibodies (green).” (source)
Mohammad Reza Shajarian reciting Surah al-Fath
One of the reasons why I like Shajarian’s Qur’an recitations so much (I’ve posted two others here and here) is because he recorded them in honor of his deceased father — the album the recitations are compiled in is titled Be Yaad-e Pedar (very roughly, “in the memory of [my] father”) — and I can sense an underlying layer of sadness and nostalgia whenever I listen to them.
غصه خوردن (ghosseh khordan)
To be sad; literally, to eat sorrow.
Hannah Landecker, “Living Differently in Time: Plasticity, Temporality, and Cellular Biotechnologies,” in Technologized Images, Technologized Bodies, ed. Edwards, Harvey, and Wade.
Another excerpt: ”These practices [cell freezing and cell synchrony], now standard in contemporary biology and biotechnology, are also standard in that they assume and exploit a certain plasticity of organisms - that is, the ability of living things to go on living, synthesizing proteins, moving and reproducing, despite catastrophic interference in their constitution, environment or form. The very ability to grow cells outside of bodies in artificial environments or on scaffolds, to puncture eggs and inject foreign things into them, to cut and paste genetic material and so on without killing the organism in question altogether, are also good examples of this. […] the history of biotechnology from 1900 to now may be described as the increasing realization and exploration of the plasticity of living matter. And, like cryobiology and cell synchrony, the manipulation of the plastic matter of the organism is often, if not inevitably, linked to a disruption of temporality, whether that be of lifespan or continuity or smaller scale cycles of growth and metabolism. “
Landecker also refers to the “commodification of human biological material” that has resulted from the rise of biotechnology companies and depositories like the ATCC: “The ability to make cells live differently in time, so important to changing concepts in cell biology, connects at this juncture with the infrastructure of exchange through which the material base of research gets spread around the world. The techniques exploiting the malleability of biological time, which treat a living cell population as a thing that can be expanded in space and suspended in time, literally get packaged and delivered into disparate laboratories at disparate times, yet they can all say they are working on ‘the same cell.’”
The revising of the works of poets like Rumi and Hafez goes hand in hand with the appropriation and revision of Sufism by the “spiritual movement”. Apparently the only way that Islamic mysticism can be palatable to the American population (the only population that matters?) is by being stripped of its history and contexts, many of its characteristic practices, and even its roots in Islam.
Forget about hundreds of years of spiritual scholarship (and even the basic pillars of Islam) — apparently Sufism is really only about the whirling dervishes of the Mevlevi order, New Age-y “Sufi” music and practices like the “Dance of Universal Peace”, watered down and rewritten poems by Rumi, and non-Muslim “Sufi masters” whose teachings have little to do with Islamic mysticism.
We need more discourse on women of color in science.
Clonorchis sinensis, or the liver fluke, is a parasitic trematode that exists as eggs in freshwater, hatches into its first intermediate form in snails, encysts under the scales of freshwater fish, and is released into the small intestine of individuals who ingest the fish. Once the worm excysts in the intestine, it can travel to the liver, where it feeds on bile and and releases eggs through the biliary duct. Chronic inflammation of the biliary duct as a result of C. sinensis infection can eventually lead to cholangiocarcinoma, a very rare cancer of the bile ducts. (source)
Antoin Sevruguin, Shah Abdol Azim Mosque, c. 1895-1900, Rey, Iran (source)
When I was younger, my mother often reminisced about what she called “having picnics in cemeteries.” One of my sisters and I grew up thinking that it would be a really fun thing to do – what better way to spend a weekend afternoon than eating sandwiches among gravestones?
Years later, I realized that she was probably referring to childhood visits to the shrine of Shah Abdol Azim in Rey, Iran, a site that many Iranians visit as a “minor pilgrimage.”
Interestingly, in Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan, published in 1891, Isabella Lucy Bird wrote: “In the evening, when I was hoping that Tehran was at hand, we reached the town of Shah Abdul Azim, built among the ruins of an ancient city, either Rhages or Rhei. The gilded dome is the shrine of Abdul Azim, and is a great place of pilgrimage of the picnic order from Tehran.”
Rumi isn’t the only poet who’s been co-opted and mistranslated/misinterpreted by the so-called “American spiritual poetry” movement and those involved in it. Hafez has, too; you don’t need to look much farther than The Gift, Daniel Ladinsky’s “translations” of Hafez’s ghazals, for an example.
My father, a fluent Persian speaker and reader who frequented Hafez’s tomb in Shiraz during his university years, often tells me that he became interested in Sufism and “dervishhood” because he thought that it would help him fully understand the poetry of Hafez. Even now, as he translates select poems into English, he’s uncertain of the underlying meaning of Hafez’s words. Why, then, do people without a working knowledge of the Persian language or the cultural and historical context associated with poets like Rumi and Hafez feel that they are qualified to introduce them to the American public?
”[…] the intent of giving examples of defective interpretations (which include some of their most glaring errors) is to show how badly Rumi’s verses have been mangled by well-meaning individuals who tried to make dry, academic, and old-fashioned-sounding literal translations more poetic and attractive.”
Click on the link to read the complete article, which includes examples of poorly “translated” versions of Rumi’s poetry.
On Coleman Barks’ “versions” of Rumi’s poetry, Majid Naficy has noted that “Barks not only ‘frees’ Rumi from the historical limitations of his time, but he also tries to disconnect Rumi from the Islamic society in which he lived and the Persian language in which he wrote his poetry.”