I first heard this word from a woman in admissions at the Art Institute, who in her earnest speech to convince me to attend, diverted to more interesting topics. In my last meeting with her, we spoke of art, religion, travel, and Persepolis.
Again, I was reacquainted with this when a friend informed me he was in process of reading it. So, finally, Friday night I found myself succumbing to a Starbucks craving, and while walking around I stumbled upon it, swept it up, and purchased it. But it wouldn’t be until Saturday night with a dead internet that I would turn the first page, and I closed it 2/3 through to finally sleep.
Simplification entails a beauty and genius that is often unnoticed. It is never how long the story can be, but how well it is crafted, whittled down to necessity, an enlivened finesse. Any writer will tell you that a simple sentence can inflict great agony upon the mind and hand. Because nothing should be wasted, no word without purpose. I find that one can tell when a writer has become successful because the books become more obese, the editing hand lax due from a freedom reaped from sales and profit. In my Theories of Religion course, I went through a phase where I thought many articles were unwarranted, and began leaving many out of my essays. One day, I went to my professor’s small office with hovering book cases and stacks of papers to retrieve an essay. He asked what was wrong with me, my writing was leaving out words, it seemed odd to him. I explained I thought some articles were frivolous, but I couldn’t quite win him over. In the end he told me the paper deserved an A-, but at the time, CofC’s grading system hadn’t incorporated a minus system. So he decided to give me a B+ rather than an A. I would have rather he omitted his reasonings for my grade.
In regards to mastering simplicity, Persepolis is a delightful example, but in a method I’m not accustomed to. It is a biography of a woman who grew up in Iran during the Islamic revolution and Iraq war, but her words are accompanied by comic strips. The merging of nonfiction with art is a fine marriage in this case. Only the words needed are provided, and all else is conveyed within the black and white sketches, shades of dichotomy that can prove quite powerful in particular moments. A face half shadowed can be poignant and rattle the nerves.
But, what I adore the most is the woman herself, Marjane. She is blunt, abrupt, careless, intelligent, crass, vulgar, revolutionary, passionate, rebellious, sensual, prude, lost, and found. All within circumstances that many will never know.
It reveals a flip-side perspective on various issues. The methodologies and goals of the Islamic regime seemed unsurprisingly similar to Christian extremist in the U.S. And if anyone wants to know why my heart is greatly filled with joy by our nation’s President-elect, it is because it restored my faith in the people of this nation, that they do not desire the road a conservative party has paved for years and with each step, has worked towards stripping citizens of rights. I hope in my lifetime I do not find myself living to see a Christian regime usurp the government and people’s rights like the theocracy Marjane witnessed and lived with.
And Marjane is critical of it all. When asked why she doesn’t like wearing a headscarf, she replies that if hair was meant to stir such passion within men, that Allah would have surely made everyone bald. The wit and insightful rejoinder made me burst in laughter, practically applauding while covered in my sheets.
But I also recommend this book because it does give a perspective of Westerners that needs to be seen. In Persepolis, Westerners are the foreigners, the exotic other, and the actions of these people reveal much about European and U.S. cultures. It deconstructs the sense of familiar one has with his or her own culture to view it as an outsider would.
This novel makes one think…and how a mind deserves to be shaken.