Weekend Reading

Recollections of books carried back and forth on the elevated train -- in a long-term, though belated, attempt to learn something about the world.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Marjane Satrapi : Persepolis

Above is  Marjane Satrapi's depiction of  her first marriage -- and I can't imagine how words might better describe the discomfort of being close but distant with a mate one finds attractive.

Though given her self-centeredness, I am wondering how she could  stay married to anyone.

This is a fascinating book -- because Satrapi is self confident enough to depict  herself as a very difficult person, despite her many advantages.

She's really smart -- in math, languages, and graphic art.

Her parents are modern, prosperous, and well-educated but apparently immune to persecution by Muslim fundamentalists. (reminds me of some very smart industrialists who survived Maoism in China)

Her parents adore and support her -- as the only child of a quite distinguished family (her mother's father was royalty)

And yet -- her parents don't cling to her -- they encourage her to seek her destiny outside Iran, even if it means they will hardly ever see her again.

At the center of her story is the culture war between open-secular-permissive modern culture and closed-theocratic-restrictive fundamentalist Shia Islam.   Obviously she's a poster girl for the former, and just as obviously, she's not going to live in Iran.

And yet --- the picture she draws of herself is not very pretty.  Her primary virtue is how succinctly and honestly she reveals herself..  While it's surprising that she gets away with as much as she does -- the most glaring example being the mullah who approves her entry into university -- despite her sharp tongue.  ("if Allah were so concerned with women showing their hair, he would have made them bald")

I don't think her intransigence would have been quite so tolerated by the doctrinal purists who conducted the very secular Cultural Revolution in China.

As she suggests, some of these religious leaders actually are spiritual people who are uncomfortable with the hypocrisy that is the inevitable consequence of linking religion to politics -- and that has accompanied Islam ever since the Hijra.

If only she could have given us a more complete picture of her mother, father, and grandmother -- all of whom seem to be quite interesting.

But modern young person that she is -- her attention is all about  me-me-me.