An Undistorted View of Iraqi Misery; Recalling the Golden Age of Arabic Intellectual Life

MEMORY AND LOSS: This past spring Muhsin al-Ramli, an Iraqi émigré living in Madrid, wrote an essay for a Spanish newspaper complaining about the distorted view of his homeland that people were getting from television. What they were learning, he wrote, "is how to count oil wells." Viewers saw images of "the mustache of the dictator's machismo" but never understood the role of poetry in everyday Iraqi life. He recalled how a blood feud between his hometown and a neighboring