This year, in my reading spree, I added the book My Dark Vanessa, which is the narrative of a girl groomed, raped, molested, threatened and abandoned by her teacher for years. It was a story that shook me to my very bone, it was a painful eye opening experience that left me angry, wise, sad and simmering.
In the book, the teacher presents her with a « gift » in the beginning, which is nothing but the book Lolita by Nabokov. It is obviously a great description of his character without actually saying anything. So when I finished the book, I added Lolita to my to read list.
Two nights ago, I received an email to my personal account from a guy named Tony, with the subject of “I just have a question” and started it with “don’t you differentiate between the author and the character?”
I finished the book more than a month ago and I left my review at Goodreads, I expressed my opinion that this book is only a guidebook for pedophiles, it has no literary merit and it should not be a part of the canon, as we don’t need to hear a pedophile’s side of the story. I ended my review with a big finger to Nabokov, losing all respect for him, deciding never to read any of his books.
And this was not the first person to criticize me for criticizing Nabokov for writing a pedophile story, a story which leaves little for imagination and much for speculation into whether Nabokov was the pedophile himself or knew one in person or just wished to be and this would be his story to get away with it if he ever got caught.
Article 19. Of the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
This took me right back to my time in graduate school in English literature where our “professor” who seemed to have stopped reading books at the age of 10 and did not show any interest in books, social matters or political subjects, who probably thought the earth was still flat and abused female students whenever he could just because he could get away with it, this same professor told us that turn of the screw written by the whitest blandest most boring heterosexual cisgender male writer of the 19th century, which he himself had NOT read yet by the way, was very important and “enjoyable” because it was in the canon, the same canon made by the same string of whitest blandest most boring heterosexual cisgender sexist racist males who did not read books themselves.
So in the story of Tony and the “professor”, Nabokov has the right to write all he wants and normalize sexualizing and victim blaming minor girls and we are supposed to applaud him for his canonical literary genius, in a world where the likes of R. Kelly roam the earth free because he generated revenue and his fame is more important than the lives of all the girls he raped, and when you google him, the results says singer and anthropologist and his crimes are only alleged accusations, in this world Nabokov gets to familiarize us with the “obscure” mentality of the predator and the rapist, because that was what we were missing all along! More white male voices in the crowd!
The problem with Tony is that he has the right to “Question” me for criticizing his favorite pedophile, but he does not seem to deem me worthy of “questioning” the existence, the popularity, the literary value of this piece of “work”.
The problem with the existing dominating systems such as patriarchy and its protégée religion, is that they abhor doubt and they despise anyone who dares to question their rule over our thoughts, our bodies, our entities, and our autonomy. We have to hush on our questions to keep forever the status quo, because god forbid Lolita loses some stars on Goodreads and it becomes obsolete and people stop shoving it down our throats for generations to come as a piece of art!
I believe the right every human should have is the right to question, and I will do that and I won’t stop.
So if you are a Tony out there, why are you asking the wrong questions? What are you hiding? And who and what are you defending?
It was a late November evening in Vancouver. I was walking the twenty-two minute road from my place to my boyfriend’s for maybe the last time, since he was going to move to his new place soon after.
It had become strangely cold during the past nights and temperatures hardly rose above zero that mixing with the hundred percent humidity made a dangerously freezing combination.
Yet, some people had already started the Christmas preparations and stream of light strings hanging from their awnings and shining from their doorstep, giving hope and light to the November night and the passers-by moving through it.
Resting amidst the houses was one white mansion that at first glance looked like the rest of the houses in that row, but on closer inspection was anything but. White stately covered in bright white lights in contrast with red and green lights that welcomed Christmas. The paint looked new, unblemished, weirdly inviting and yet, the inside was obscured by not total darkness but the absence of too much light. A contrast purposefully chosen by the people residing inside.
I didn’t see anyone move within the house, but I had a glimpse of the furniture and the rest of it I left for my imagination, I let myself wonder about the peaceful way people of this household moved around the house, or sat about reading their books, or just lounged in silence while one of the was washing dishes perhaps, lost in their own thoughts. They seemed so decided in their tranquility, that to me it seemed sanctimonious, untouchable and at the same time so inviting.
I tried to imagine myself auditioning for a role in that house, realizing soon that although aspiring for that life in my head, I can never make the cut, I am too quick to judge, too loud in my opinions, too set in my ways. I didn’t want to impose myself and unbalance their equilibrium.
But inside my head, that’s a different story, in that it exactly the same as that white mansion, outside looks bright, shiny, inviting and full of joy in the terms people find relatable but inside is happy in my own way, lighted by the natural light, cozy for the familiar people and a place to rest in silence.
I am an Iranian, by default I am maybe simultaneously the least and most qualified to write about this issue. I am not familiar with political terms so I am just gonna simply say what’s on my mind.
Ever since I was a child my government kept warning us about America the great evil, the one who installed the Shah, overthrew Mossadegh and the Iranian government was so adamant against America (or so they told us) that they raided the US embassy and took Americans hostage for a long time. And I believe that to this date we are paying back for it. I am horrified by what Iran did to those innocent Americans but there is one thing that America is good at is milking that cow, no matter how they get it, they use that milk to invade countries and steal their resources in the name of injecting them (against the will of their people (on both sides) with the so called American democracy.
I used to joke that the only difference between Iran and USA was the language. There is so much truth to that. Americans show their ignorance by mentioning they think we ride on camels and speak Arabic (hint: Iranian speak Farsi/Persian) and Iranians show their ignorance when they think most Americans are heathens, while I know that the average American is way more religious than any Iranian ever would be.
Most of us have not seen the inside of a mosque for years, while Americans go to church at least a few times a year.
Back in Iran, I could buy morning after pill for less than a dollar without a prescription or anything, and I recently learned that the so called plan B that has so much negative talk around it and is sold for 50 dollars is only the morning after pill! My mind was blown!
I only started this post to say, that if by any chance Americans decide to re-elect Trump, they will have no right to talk about democracy in any way under any circumstances at all.
As the collective fanaticism in America votes a dictator in, they will lose the right to call themselves a democracy, and the only difference between Iran and America would be that we didn’t vote for our dictator.
So we just have to wait and see, if America wants to really have democracy or they just pretend they want to have democracy ?
They say it is better to get wherever you want to go late versus never getting there.
In Farsi, we have the same expression but it is specific only to physical distances and locations, which makes it rather limiting in meaning than its english counterpart that is more circumspective.
In English when you say better late, it could include anything, and I like that infiniteness about it.
If you are Logan (and I am sorry for spoiling the ending if you haven’t watched the movie(s) yet), it is way better to be late in dying than never to die, because that’s all he wanted to do, having lost all his friends and seeing the worst. Who are we to judge a dying man’s wishes?
If you are a late-bloomer and it has taken you years to realize your gender identity or sexual orientation, it is so much better to come out late and embrace your true nature than to never be able to do those wonderful things.
If you are like me and you realized only when you were in your late twenties what you actually wanted to do with your life, and that you didn’t know much about it, had no formal training in, nor previous experience and no connections to the industry whatsoever, you might think it is better to give it all up rather than pursue it. what you should keep in mind is, it is always, always better late than never. and you should never say never anyway, right?
So, what I am saying is, it doesn’t matter if you are 15 and trying to come out to your friends and family or you are 50 and trying to start your life over, or you are 34 and trying to do a total career change, it is never late, because if you look at it from my point of view, your other option is NEVER and that is too disappointing.