Friday, March 18, 2005

The two volumes of Persepolis, the implacably witty and fearless "graphic memoir" of the Iranian illustrator Marjane Satrapi, relate through an inseparable fusion of cartoon images and verbal narrative the story of a privileged young girl's childhood experience of Iran's revolution of 1979, its eight-year war with Iraq, her exile to Austria during her high school years, and her subsequent experience as a university student, young artist, and wife in Tehran after her return to Iran from Europe in 1998. That Persepolis 1, a book in which it is almost impossible to find an image distinguished enough to consider an independent piece of visual art, and equally difficult to find a sentence which in itself surpasses the serviceable, emerges as a work so fresh, absorbing, and memorable is an extraordinary achievement.

...The double life Iran has forced on her has made her neither a cynic nor an idealist, neither an atheist nor a fanatic. No Molly Bloom, she says both no to the world and yes, with the shifting proportions of dissent
The Beginning and the end of Patricia Storace's article/review in The New York Review of Books

There are paragraphs here that I'd love to push down Brad Delong's throat, or for that matter, Tyler Cowen's.
It is not toward the idea of God that Satrapi is irreverent; it is toward a too credulous approach to the ambiguities of human motives and the temptations of moral aspiration. She sees how religious faith may serve as an exemption or protection from the discipline of self-knowledge, can function as a way of freeing a person from the work of moral inquiry, can create an environment in which a person's will and desires are so identified with the divine that he feels anything is permitted to him. Satrapi is the moral equivalent of an insomniac; she allows herself no moral repose. In a powerful and funny moment, after a conversation with her mother about the need to forgive people who had done harm in the service of the previous regime, Satrapi draws herself making speeches about forgiveness to a mirror, rapt in the image of her own invincible goodness. Satrapi may very well be a believer in God; it is above all toward herself that she is an agnostic
Can either of DeLong or Cowen imagine the logic of being agnostic towards oneself, towards one's own desires?  I think both Patricia Storace and Marjane Satrapi would say mature adulthood is defined by such agnosticism.

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