My mind is my shelter

Felicia

I feel, therefore I am free

“I learned that if you want to destroy something in this life all you need to do is to surround it with thick walls. It will dry up inside. Now we all live in some kind of a social and cultural circle. We all do. We’re born into a certain family, nation, class. But if we have no connection whatsoever with the worlds beyond the one we take for granted, then we too run the risk of drying up inside. Our imagination might shrink; our hearts might dwindle, and our humanness might wither if we stay for too long inside our cultural cocoons. Our friends, neighbors, colleagues, family — if all the people in our inner circle resemble us, it means we are surrounded with our mirror image”

Untitled“It’s not healthy for a human being to spend too much time staring at his own reflection. Ironically, [living in] communities of the like-minded is one of the greatest dangers of today’s globalized world. And it’s happening everywhere, among liberals and conservatives, agnostics and believers, the rich and the poor, East and West alike. We tend to form clusters based on similarity, and then we produce stereotypes about other clusters of people. In my opinion, one way of transcending these cultural ghettos is through the art of storytelling. Stories cannot demolish frontiers, but they can punch holes in our mental walls. And through those holes, we can get a glimpse of the other, and sometimes even like what we see.”

“My imagination was the only suitcase I could take with me. Stories gave me a sense of center, continuity and coherence

“In the face of death and destruction, our mundane differences evaporated, and we all became one even if for a few hours. But I’ve always believed that stories, too, have a similar effect on us. I’m not saying that fiction has the magnitude of an earthquake, but when we are reading a good novel, we leave our small, cozy apartments behind, go out into the night alone and start getting to know people we had never met before and perhaps had even been biased against.”

” I guess one part of me has always been a nomad, physically and spiritually. Stories accompany me, keeping my pieces and memories together, like an existential glue.”

“When the interviewer tried to pigeonhole him as a gay writer, Baldwin stopped and said, “But don’t you see? There’s nothing in me that is not in everybody else, and nothing in everybody else that is not in me.” When identity politics tries to put labels on us, it is our freedom of imagination that is in danger.”

” When I say, “just a story,” I’m not trying to belittle my work. I want to love and celebrate fiction for what it is, not as a means to an end.”

“Identity politics divides us. Fiction connects. One is interested in sweeping generalizations. The other, in nuances. One draws boundaries. The other recognizes no frontiers. Identity politics is made of solid bricks. Fiction is flowing water.

“The Sufis say, “Knowledge that takes you not beyond yourself is far worse than ignorance.” The problem with today’s cultural ghettos is not lack of knowledge — we know a lot about each other, or so we think — but knowledge that takes us not beyond ourselves: it makes us elitist, distant and disconnected. There’s a metaphor which I love: living like a drawing compass. As you know, one leg of the compass is static, rooted in a place. Meanwhile, the other leg draws a wide circle, constantly moving. Like that, my fiction as well. One part of it is rooted in Istanbul, with strong Turkish roots, but the other part travels the world, connecting to different cultures. In that sense, I like to think of my fiction as both local and universal, both from here and everywhere.”

Audre Lorde once said, “The white fathers taught us to say, ‘I think, therefore I am.'” She suggested, “I feel, therefore I am free.”

“Come, let us be friends for once; let us make life easy on us; let us be lovers and loved ones; the earth shall be left to no one.” – old Sufi poem.

Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak_Polirom

 

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This entry was posted on 27/07/2014 by in Inspiring views.
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