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Marjane Satrapi

This afternoon we hopped in the truck and tootled our way over to the Ballard Library for a reading and book signing with Marjane Satrapi. Marjane Satrapi is best known for her books Persepolis, Persepolis 2 and Embroideries.

I was shocked at the turnout. We spent the first part of the talk standing in the doorway between a tall woman who was kind enough to occasionally turn around and summarize what was just said, and the old woman who kept pressing her cane into my toes – I’m sorry I’m as far over as I can get, I’m not standing in your way just cuz I don’t like old people, I literally can’t move.

I spent the first few minutes of the talk wondering why I was actually still standing there. Aside from the fact that my husband really wanted to be there, I couldn’t see a damn thing, I was being jostled around by people with absolutely no manners, packed in like sardines with lots of people and let me make this very clear – I hate people. I had my eye’s closed straining to hear Ms. Satrapi over the chatter of the people behind me talking about how they couldn’t hear, when I was shoved again, this time from the front as people were trying to make their way out. I let the lady with the cane in ahead of me and after a few more people left we were able to inch our way inside the room and so was able to hear most of the second half of her talk – which was the question and answer section. I didn’t hear most of the questions, but her answers were illuminating anyways.

She has another book coming out in the fall that will be called Chicken with Plums and Persepolis will be made into an animated feature film, it will be black and white and the role of her mother will be voiced by Catherine Deneuve.

She made it clear that she didn’t have answers to questions about Iranian foreign policy or nuclear weapons “If I say I support Iran’s right to have nuclear weapons, then I am siding with the Islamic Regime; if I say Iran should not have nuclear weapons, I’m saying ‘Please Mr. Bush, invade my country.'”

When asked about the American war against Iraq she mentioned that 80% of the world’s population live under evil dictatorships, but few of the other countries have resources of interest to the United States. As far as the Islamic fundamentalists are concerned, she said that fundamentalists of any persuasion, whether it is Islamic, or Jewish, or Christian, or Secular (yes there are secular fundamentaists too) ARE the problem, the fundamentalist point of view precludes thought and reason, and especially learning.

Ms. Satrapi grew up in revolutionary Iran. The revolution occured when she was 10 years old, and Iraq attacked a year later. The Shaw was an oppressive dictator. The Iranian Revolution, like the French Revolution centuries earlier, overthrew and evil government that oppressed the people and had to go. Unfortunately, in both cases, the government that rose up to fill the void was just a different kind of evil. On the topic of democracy she said “Democracy is a cultural shift more than a political one. It will take time. You cant force democracy.”

The world is full of idiots and that wont stop. Often the idiots are more alike than different. George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have more in common than just a messiah complex. On the topic of dictators, she was careful to specify that it was not a comment against men. “Dictators are raised by their mothers. Their mothers teach them how to be.”

Ms. Satrapi currently lives in France with her Swedish husband. She speaks 6 languages and is a huge supporter of education. Continuous learning for everyone is the most important thing. She also believes that the more you travel the better a person you become because you can shed the brainwashing by experiencing the truth. The more points of view you can understand the better a person you become. She finds that often, in France, she is the defender of Americans to the French, because she has been to America and experienced American people despite the brainwashing against americans she experienced as a child in Iran and in France.

She talked for quite a while, and there was a lot that she said that I missed, but I would stand in a croweded room to hear her speak again in a heartbeat, and you can bet I’ll be getting Chicken with Plumbs as soon as it hits the stores.

Seattle writer, Judy Schwartz Haley, blogs about raising a toddler while battling cancer, finishing a degree, and fending off ninjas. Also, she needs more coffee.
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