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Showing posts from February 26, 2012

See Your True Self -- Writer's Poke #372

In The Complete Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi’s parents make the decision to send her to Europe for her own protection. Once there, however, Satrapi discovers that she no more belongs there than she does in her own country. How Europeans view Iranians has changed, and Satrapi becomes a victim of stereotyping.

Interestingly, Satrapi is not above passing judgments on both Iranians and Europeans. For example, she considers her mother’s friend Zozo, not a “liberated Iranian woman” living in Iran; rather, she thinks Zozo’s “power” has turned her nasty. Zozo’s daughter, Shirin, likewise, doesn’t pass Satrapi’s inspection. To Satrapi, Shirin is too materialistic and too concerned about her looks.

Zozo doesn’t like Satrapi, either, and quickly finds a way to rid herself of the burden of taking care of her. Much of Satrapi’s problem with life in Europe revolves around being isolated from a more “traditional” environment. In Iran, she was a radical, but in Europe, she’s quite conservative. She’…

The Complete Iran -- Writer's Poke #371

The average American knows nothing about Iran. That’s my basic premise.

Marjane Satrapi’s The Complete Persepolis is the autobiographical account of one girl’s experience growing up in Iran. The period it covers is just before the Shah’s overthrow in 1979 through Satrapi’s ultimate exodus from Iran in 1994.

What’s unique about the story is that it provides the average American reader with an “insider’s perspective.” We learn, too, that what it means to be an insider is not uniform. That is, Satrapi presents Iran as a complex nation. It has its extreme elements, and those elements may currently be in power, but Iran shouldn’t be thought of as one person with one voice. Satrapi may be an outsider in her own homeland, but she's not alone. Not even close.

In the United States, we recognize that we are a nation of different religions, different regions, different political views, etc. We may have customs and traditions that unify us in important ways, but no American would make the…

Imagine God -- Writer's Poke #370

Is imagination everything?

Human beings love to tell stories; perhaps the stories we tell aren’t as important as what the stories say about ourselves. Why do people love Harry Potter? Why do we love science fiction? Vampires? Or why do we love good old-fashioned love stories? Why do we love The Transformers?

Human beings tell lots of stories, but almost every story ever told has one thing in common – the participants in the story are human beings. Even stories that don’t feature human characters feature human problems. Characters like Wall-E or The Iron Giant, for example, resonate because they seem somehow human. Imagined characters with real humanity.

Did human beings also imagine God? For those that believe that God is real, to say that God is a product of human imagination is probably not a welcome assertion; however, even most believers in a God or gods would have to admit after even a cursory study of mythology that human beings have been imagining gods for thousands of years.…

Making It Real -- Writer's Poke #369

What would it mean to turn myth into fact?

For Joseph Campbell, writing in 1970, one example is landing on the moon. Granted, 1970 seems like the distant past, but consider this: Eugene Cernan was the last person to ever step foot on the moon in 1972. That’s 40 years ago! Why haven’t we been back to the moon in the past 40 years?

Human/Moon direct contact last a mere three years (1969-1972), and only twelve American men ever stepped foot on its surface. Yet our relationship with the moon has been in some ways forever altered as a result. The moon is not unreachable. In theory, we could go back if we wanted to. For America, though, most people probably see the moon as, “Ho-hum. Been there, done that.”

Other nations, such as China, however, are still trying to turn the myth of the moon into fact. China has been able to send an unmanned moon orbiter crashing to its surface, but it has yet to turn the myth of the moon into fact. It’s probably only a matter of time, however, until the Ch…