I don't know whether it's a masochistic penchant for self-criticism, or perhaps a sense that Iran has been left behind by a world of globalisation-driven progress and change, but Iranian intellectuals (and that means anyone with an opinion on the matter) have strong need to interpret what it is to be Iranian. In its grosser forms it's a self-blame game for the nation's ills. Is it that Iranians are fundamentally too emotional? Or that they have in inherent suspicion of leaders? Are family ties too strong to allow a genuine meritocracy to emerge?

These are some of the pop-anthropology theories that Iranians use to explain themselves mostly in the context of a nation that's seen better days and deserves better. Of course the first port of blame is the government - and where is there a government in this world which is really looking out for its people. But from a very respected academic by the name of Dr. Haqshenas, comes the theory of the tragic and the epic. A breakthrough in Iranian self-examination.

The western mindset is tragic. We ourselves, as individuals, are alone in the world. The story of our lives begins and ends with us. Our value system rewards original self-expression, and indeed the pressure to be original can be one of the main reasons why the tragic mind often considers suicide. The tragic psyche welcomes change and pursues it as a goal, perhaps even for its own sake. And this cultural mutation has given the tragic West its greatest gift - modernity.

Iranians are, by contrast, epic by nature. And I'll get to that soon.