Thursday, July 17, 2003

# Posted 2:46 AM by Patrick Belton  

BLIND CENSORS AND NABOKOV IN PERSIAN: TNR'S Cynthia Ozick offers a beautiful review of Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Iran. A favorite excerpt:
One of Nafisi's recurrent "jokes"--not unlike the joke about the Rule of the Bus--is her account of the official censor, whose job it was to guard against insult to religion in film, theater, and television. What made him highly suitable as a judge of the visual arts was that he could not see what he condemned--he was virtually blind. The sightless censor is Nafisi's metaphor for the Islamic Republic: it declined to see, and in not seeing, it was unable to feel. This blind callousness--Nafisi rightly terms it solipsism--ruled every cranny of the nation's existence. The answer to governmental solipsism, Nafisi determined, was insubordination through clinging to what the regime could neither see nor feel: the sympathies and openness of humane art, art freed from political manipulation--the inchoate glimmerings of Fitzgerald's green light, Nabokov's "world of tenderness, brightness and beauty," James's "Feel, feel, I say--feel for all you're worth."

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