Azar Nafisi Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 103 quotes)
We do not read in order to turn great works of fiction into simplistic replicas of our own realities, we read for the pure, sensual, and unadulterated pleasure of reading. And if we do so, our reward is the discovery of the many hidden layers within these works that do not merely reflect reality but reveal a spectrum of truths, thus intrinsically going against the grain of totalitarian mindsets.
The highest form of morality is not to feel at home in ones own home." Most great works of the imagination were meant to make you feel like a stranger in your own home. The best fiction always forced us to question what we took for granted. It questioned traditions and expectations when they seemed too immutable. I told my students I wanted them in their readings to consider in what ways these works unsettled them, made them a little uneasy, made them look around and consider the world, like Alice in Wonderland, through different eyes.
Such an act [testifying for an accused prison guard of the Shah's regime] can only be accomplished by someone who is engrossed in literature, has learned that every individual has different dimensions to his personality.... Those who judge must take all aspects of an individual's personality into account. It is only through literature that one can put oneself in someone else's shoes and understand the other's different and contradictory sides and refrain from becoming too ruthless. Outside the sphere of literature only one aspect of individuals is revealed. But if you understand their different dimensions you cannot easily murder them.... If we have learned this one lesson from Dr. A our society would have been in a much better shape today.
This is a good time to ask apologists for the Islamic regime, who degrades Islam? Who imposes stoning, forced marriage of underage girls and flogging for not wearing the veil? Do such practices represent Iran's ancient history and culture, its ethnic and religious diversity? Its centuries of sensual and subversive poetry?
I have a recurring fantasy that one more article has been added to the Bill of Rights: the right to free access to imagination. I have come to believe that genuine democracy cannot exist without the freedom to imagine and the right to use imaginative works without any restrictions. To have a whole life, one must have the possibility of publicly shaping and expressing private worlds, dreams, thoughts and desires, of constantly having access to a dialogue between the public and private worlds. How else do we know that we have existed, felt, desired, hated, feared?
It is only through literature that one can put oneself in someone else’s shoes and understand the other’s different and contradictory sides and refrain from becoming too ruthless. Outside the sphere of literature only one aspect of individuals is revealed. But if you understand their different dimensions you cannot easily murder them. . .
You ask me what it means to be irrelevant? The feeling is akin to visiting your old house as a wandering ghost with unfinished business. Imagine going back: the structure is familiar , but the door is now metal instead of wood, the walls have been painted a garish pink , the easy chair you loved so much is gone . Your office is now the family room and your beloved bookcases have been replaced by a brand-new television set . This is your house, and it is not. And you are no longer relevant to this house , to its walls and doors and floors ; you are not seen .
I searched modern fiction and poetry for clues to how we confronted and evaded reality, how we articulated our experience and turned to language not to revel ourselves but to hide. I was as sure then as I am now that by looking at contemporary Iranian fiction I could gain access to a real understanding of political and social events. (p289)
Tehran looked the way most of its remaining citizens must have felt: sad, forlorn, and defenseless, yet not without a certain dignity. The adhesive tape pasted on the window-panes to prevent the implosion of shattered glass told the story of its suffering, a suffering made more poignant because of its newly recovered beauty, the fresh green of trees, washed by spring showers, the blossoms and the rising snowcapped mountains now so near, as if pasted across the sky.