"If the majority of people were right, we'd be living in paradise. But we are not living in paradise, we are living in hell. What does it mean? That means the majority of people are wrong. So I never believed what people told me."
The Guardian; 2008.
Why this quote? 1) It shows her rebellious side; and 2) it refers us back to the idea of truth, which is the reason why the novel was written (see Marjane Satrapi’s introduction to Persepolis).
Marjane Satrapi wrote Perespolis as an attack against ignorance, prejudices, and stereotypical images of Iran. This was mostly directed at the Westerners, in particular America. We also found this quote which recalls a specific moment about her experience in France:
Il y a une chose super incroyable qui m’est arrivé en 1998 pendant la coupe du monde de foot : je revenais d’Iran, j’avais la tête dans le sac, je n’avais pas regardé les matchs. Et le soir de la finale, une de mes amies m’appelle et me dit : " On a gagné ". Là j’ai pensé, c’est bon, ça veut dire qu’elle ne fait aucune différence entre elle et moi. Même si je ne suis pas de la même nationalité qu’elle par les papiers, pour elle c’est notre victoire. Et moi aussi je le ressentais comme ça. (bdselection; January 2002)
The Football World Cup of 1998 was a turning point for Marjane; it represents a moment where she finally felt part of the French community (“On a gagné” = We have won). She arrived in France in 1994, which means it took her four years to overcome French ‘ignorance’ and prejudice and write herself into the French collective. This idea of constantly feeling othered, different, and excluded was therefore continued as she moved to back to Europe. She began writing Persepolis in the following year.
Marjane wanted to show the connections and parallels between each human being: “The culture similarities. The human similarities. Maybe the biggest problem is that there’s no empathy”; “Now my job is to defend everybody. But I don’t mind. Because I travel, and I like to talk to people and really listen to them. And I have no prejudices. I figured out a long time ago that, whatever I think I know, I don’t know anything. Once I realized that, I really started learning. That’s a great strength: I know that I don’t know. There are some people in Iran who are fundamentalist and others who are not. I have very good Israeli friends. And I have very good American friends. We come from different cultures but share points of view. It’s humanism, which we’re steadily losing.” (the Believer Mag; 2006)
Satrapi’s novel, which follows the story of a child growing up in war, was therefore a way for her to create this empathy.
Marjane remains very neutral in her Politics…
"Now China has become capitalist, we are all going in the same direction. I am not defending communism, but when you have a power that goes in one direction, you need a power that goes in the other direction. Another thing is that for 10 years we have been naming the evil - pointing to 'the axis of evil'. Naming the evil is the most dangerous thing to do; that is the beginning of fascism. If the evil is the people of one place or one country, well, let's go and exterminate all of them... I am just an artist and my duty is to ask questions."
… and religion...
"Religion is a very personal affair. It's between someone and what he considers the god, or the supreme spirit or whatever, and it's very good while it remains personal. The second it becomes public, it's no good. And that's why I don't make it public either." (the guardian; 2006)
… because she does not believe that life can be reduced to such a naïve and simplistic reading:
“The world is complex. Even in my book I show a mullah who is good, the one who accepted me at the ideological test. He accepted me. So I can never say “All the mullahs are bad.” There was a man who believed in honesty. It would be so much easier to say they are all shit. My life would be easier. But everything is so much more complex. There is so much good in bad, and so much bad in good” (bookslut)
She is a stern believer in freedom and equality:
"I don't understand when people say it is so natural to make children... I want to devote my life to my art. And I know if I'm a man and I say that I would be this great artist who sacrifices life for his talent, but since I am a woman I become this ambitious bitch who doesn't want to have kids. Some people think like that, but I don't care."
"I really believe in a society where if someone wants to walk in the street completely naked they will be able to, and if someone wants to wear a veil they will also be able to.
All these points are echoed in the formal and thematic dimensions of Persepolis. Today, Marjane Satrapi believes that one should enjoy the pleasures of the moment - carpe diem. This is not only reflected in her humour, but also rather amusingly in her smoking:
"Anything that has a relationship with pleasure we reject it. Eating, they talk about cholesterol; making love, they talk about Aids; you talk about smoking, they talk about cancer. It's a very sick society that rejects pleasure. Why should we live like sick people just to give some fresh meat to the ground? I hope my meat is so rotten no worm in the whole universe will want to come and eat it. I want to be rotten to accept the idea of dying. Every day you live you get one day closer to death. If you are never born you will never die. Giving birth is also giving death." (the Guardian)
The interviewer for the Guardian, Simon Hattenstone, jokingly states that she cannot bear London because of the smoking bans.