You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place, I told him, like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way ever again.— Azar Nafisi
The most charming Azar Nafisi quotes that may be undiscovered and unusual
I see people who talk about America, and then undermine it by not paying attention to its soul, to its poetry. I see polarization, reductionism and superficiality.
A novel is not an allegory.... It is the sensual experience of another world. If you don't enter that world, hold your breath with the characters and become involved in their destiny, you won't be able to empathize, and empathy is at the heart of the novel. This is how you read a novel: you inhale the experience. So start breathing.
Those in the west who dismiss the repressiveness of laws against women in countries like Iran, no matter how benign their intentions, present a condescending view not just of the religion but also of women living in Muslim majority countries, as if the desire for choice and happiness is the monopoly of women in the west.
The stories from Iran's present and past are reminders that freedom, democracy and human rights, or fundamentalism, fascism and terrorism are not geographically and culturally determined, but universal.
That, of course, is what great works of imagination do for us: They make us a little restless, destabilize us, question our preconceived notions and formulas.
Look at Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution and the slogans that they used: anti-imperialism; anti-colonialism; the struggle of the have-nots against the haves; the state monopoly over economy, which was very much patterned after the Soviet Union. All of these things did not come out of Islam. Islam is not that developed.
It is amazing how, when all possibilities seem to be taken away from you, the minutest opening can become a great freedom.
The crisis besetting America is not just an economic or political crisis;
something deeper is wreaking havoc across the land, a mercenary and utilitarian attitude that demonstrates little empathy for people’s actual well-being, that dismisses imagination and thought, branding passion for knowledge as irrelevant.
In the past 30 years, officials of the Iranian regime and its apologists have labeled criticism, especially with regard to women's rights, as anti-Islamic and pro-Western, justifying its brutalities by ascribing them to Islam and Iran's culture.
The negative side of the American Dream comes when people pursue success at any cost, which in turn destroys the vision and the dream.
Memories have ways of becoming independent of the reality they evoke.
They can soften us against those we were deeply hurt by or they can make us resent those we once accepted and loved unconditionally.
After the rigged Iranian presidential elections in 2009, the Islamic regime attacked the 'humanities' as the main source of protests, the most effective tool used by the West, especially America, to corrupt and incite Iranian youth, and finally closed down all the Humanities departments in Iran's universities.
I am suddenly left alone again on the sunny path, with a memory of the rain.
The worst crime committed by totalitarian mind-sets is that they force their citizens, including their victims, to become complicit in their crimes. Dancing with your jailer, participating in your own execution, that is an act of utmost brutality.
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?
We in ancient countries have our past- we obsess over the past.
They, the Americans, have a dream: they feel nostalgia about the promise of the future.
When I walked down the streets, I asked myself, are these my people?, is this my hometown, am I who I am?
Art is no longer snobbish or cowardly.
It teaches peasants to use tractors, gives lyrics to young soldiers, designs textiles for factory women's dresses, writes burlesque for factory theatres, does a hundred other useful tasks. Art is as usueful as bread.
Unfortunately for governments like that of Iran, when they forbid something, people become more interested.
When I first left Iran at the age of 13, Iran had become such a shining star - it was the point to which all my desires and dreams returned.
Lots of times you can feel as an exile in a country that you were born in.
The revolution taught me not to be consoled by other people's miseries, not to feel thankful because so many others had suffered more. Pain and loss, like love and joy, are unique and personal; they cannot be modified by comparison to others.
Once evil is individualized, becoming part of everyday life, the way of resisting it also becomes individual. How does the soul survive? is the essential question. And the response is: through love and imagination.
Empathy lies at the heart of Gatsby, like so many other great novels-the biggest sin is to be blind to others problems and pains. Not seeing them means denying their existence.
America was based on a poetic vision. What will happen when it loses its poetry?
Do not, under any circumstances, belittle a work of fiction by trying to turn it into a carbon copy of real life; what we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.
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 to immutable.
What we search for in fiction is not so much reality, but the epiphany of truth.
Reality has become so intolerable, she said, so bleak, that all I can paint now are the colors of my dreams.
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.
those who judge must take all aspects of an individual's personality into account.
A good novel is one that shows the complexity of individuals, and creates enough space for all these characters to have a voice; in this way a novel is called democratic - not that it advocates democracy but that by nature it is so. Empathy lies at the heart of Gatsby, like so many other great novels - the biggest sin is to be blind to others' problems and pains. Not seeing them means denying their existence.
Every culture has something to be ashamed of, but every culture also has the right to change, to challenge negative traditions, and create to new ones.
Art is as useful as bread.
I finally returned to Iran in 1979, when I got my degree in English and American literature, and stayed for 18 years in the Islamic republic.
The dearer a book was to my heart, the more battered and bruised it became.
I think Islam is in a sense, in crisis. It needs to question and re-question itself.
With fear come the lies and the justifications that, no matter how convincing, lower our self-esteem.
I no longer believe that we can keep silent.
We never really do, mind you. In one way or another we articulate what has happened to us through the kind of people we become.
My passion has always been books and literature, and teaching.
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.
I believe that it is only through empathy, that the pain experienced by an Algerian woman, a North Korean dissident, a Rwandan child or an Iraqi prisoner, becomes real to me and not just passing news. And it is at times like this when I ask myself, am I prepared - like Huck Finn - to give up Sunday school heaven for the kind of hell that Huck chose?
I'm a perfectly equipped failure.
A bad author can take the most moral issue and make you want to just never, ever think about that moral issue.
I have a recurring fantasy that one more article has been added to the Bill of Rights: the right to free access to imagination.
Every great work of art ... is a celebration, an act of insubordination against the betrayals, horrors and infidelities of life.
For more than 30 years the Islamic regime and its apologists have tried to dismiss women's struggle in Iran as part of a western ploy.
Living in the Islamic Republic is like having sex with someone you loathe.
The reason I am so popular is that I give others back what they need to find in themselves. You need me not because I tell you what I want you to do but because I articulate and justify what you want to do.