Not Saussure

October 1, 2006

Marjane Satrapi: ‘The prat is international. The prat is everywhere.’

Filed under: Books, Iran — notsaussure @ 3:53 pm

Interesting interview in The Independent with Marjane Satrapi, an Iranian graphic novelist who’s apparently very big in France but of whom I wasn’t hitherto aware. There’s a selection of pages from her autobiographical novel, Persepolis, on the Random House website.

Quite apart from her novels, she seems eminently commendable;

“I hate that man more than any other human being on Earth. If there is one creature on the planet that I detest, it’s that asshole. He is despicable. I loathe him. Because he’s nothing but a shit, a fucking asshole.”

Marjane Satrapi’s thoughts have turned to our Prime Minister.

“A Labour politician?” she goes on. “My arse. George Bush is a buffoon, manipulated by people much smarter than he is. I can forgive Bush because he is a bloody idiot. But Blair isn’t stupid. And with the intelligence he clearly has, to have legitimised this warmongering is unforgivable.”

Discussing stereotypes of Iranian women,

not every woman in Iran, she adds, is “a hysterical crow. My mother had an aunt who never married, who just had affairs. Her attitude was basically: I will do what the hell I like, when I like, and if you don’t like it, then fuck you.”

“I know that you encountered some harassment when you went back home in 1988…”

“In Iran, if a man touches you, you have to hit him. If someone touches me up, I punch him in the mouth. It’s that simple. It happened to me in the Métro, when I first came to France in 1994. So I hit the guy. The whole carriage was gawping at me as though I was crazy. He started it. I’m not saying I’m a feminist. If a woman touched me, I’d hit her too.

Her pithy analysis of Iranian society as a whole — all societies — seems eminently sensible;

“There’s this misconception in the West that every Iranian is scum, that all men force women into marriages, then beat them, and that everybody is a fanatic. It’s like arguing that Western society is typified by the Inquisition.”

“I remember you saying that, in any nation, 8 per cent of the population are prats. From an English perspective, that sounds rather a conservative…”

“I believe I said 15 per cent,” says Satrapi, not cracking a smile. “In France, 15 per cent vote for Le Pen. You have roughly 15 per cent in Iran who believe in extreme violence. The prat is international. The prat is everywhere.”

Iran’s problem is that, as the Czech writer Josef Skvorecky wrote of Russia in Talkin’ Moscow Blues, revolutions provide an environment in which the most violent and most ruthless will naturally succeed and rise to the top.
And I really approve of her attitude to militant Californian anti-smokers, doubtless learned from dealing with the Iranian police:

Recently, on a street in Los Angeles, she saw a woman glaring at her cigarette. “There were traffic fumes everywhere. I saw her staring, so I muttered: ‘Fuck you.’ She came over and said, ‘Did you say something?’ I said, ‘Yes – fuck you.’ She replied: ‘But I am so sensitive to cigarette smoke.’ I told her, ‘OK – be sensitive – and die. Or give me a break.'”

Marjane Satrapi


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1 Comment »

  1. […] see) didn’t like it, since she knew that meant I was about seriously to lose my temper – so it leads only to a post about the Iranian writer of graphic novels, Marjane Satrapi, a lady whom it is clearly unwise to […]

    Pingback by Curious searches « Not Saussure — May 13, 2007 @ 1:15 pm


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