Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ali Morteza Samsam Bakhtiari

Today I thought of Samsam Bakhtiari, the head of the Iranian National Oil Company. He has been a notable voice in the Peak Oil movement, and I corresponded with him briefly a few years ago. I had the thought that I would like to send him an e-mail to wish him well, and to express my consternation and dismay at the aggressive stance of my country toward his.

I cannot recall what I first wrote to him about - perhaps it was that his writings and thoughts on Peak Oil seemed to possess those marks of spirituality and refinement, and a deep sense of history, culture, and roots, that are so rare to find today. I had posted an essay on my former website called "The Prophetic Literature of Oil Depletion," in which I had quoted from him, and perhaps I was inviting him to respond to it. I recall receiving a gracious reply. I cannot remember the sequence of communication, but I offered to send him a copy of my book of short stories, Earthly Nurturance -- which I duly did, in a little package bound for Tehran. Again I received a gracious reply, in which he said he particularly enjoyed the story "Two Sisters" -- a nonfiction story in a collection of fiction. It was a story about my mother's Aunt Jennie, from Rome, Georgia, who ended up as a Principessa Ruspoli in Rome, Italy. Somehow I thought that fit - he would like the story about the aristocratic princess.

Well, in order to find his e-mail, I tried to bring up his website, which it seemed, was no longer operative. I googled his name and found a bulletin from www. peakoil.com dated November 23, saying that Mr. Bakhtiari had passed away. Several persons wrote in to express their feelings, memories and regrets - and some, surprise. "Was he that old?" someone wrote.

I cannot explain how, after these several years, I would have had the thought to write to Mr. Bakhtiari again - nor why, just now. I would like to believe that the e-mail I thought to send has somehow made it into another dimension - not through the clumsy medium of computers, but through the medium of thought itself - touched with thanks and blessing.

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