Thursday, August 07, 2014


I snapped up this serialized Iranian graphic novel, which was made into a movie in 2007 and nominated for an Oscar.  It's well worth reading, offered considerable insight into "normal" people living through the Iranian revolution, the Iran-Iraq war, and afterwards.

I bracket "normal" because of course we like our first-person narrator and her parents, they are just like us, or rather, like self-respecting intelligentsia of a European capital.  Smart, left-leaning, decent, hard-working folks.  They are the people we are supposed to like. The heroine goes through some ups and downs, away from her parents in Vienna for a few years, does some drugs, scandalized her Catholic school, lives on the streets for a few months.  She doesn't have an easy time of it.

But she can go home to her parents and her feisty grandma and find some comfort in the repressive landscape of fundamentalist Iran, but they're always running away from the revolutionary guard in one way or another, and eventually her parents and grandmother put her on a plane again back to the West.  She is a grown young woman.  The End.

And so, the West and our values win, of course they do.

My question is this, why is it that nobody tries to make the movie or write the book from the perspective of Islam or some other traditionalist culture, under threat from the cosmopolitan West?  Probably there are more than I know of, they just don't bubble up through the Western culture industry because nobody would want to read or watch them.  Or is the form of the first-person or single-character focused third-person novel or novelistic film somehow inherently western and aligned with individualism per se.  Without going back and reading Ian Watt's Rise of the Novel and some of the other stuff that grows out of it (Raymond Williams, etc.), I think this logic is embedded there.  The novel is the very form of the individual.

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