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tv   The Republic of Imagination and Plato at the Googleplex  CSPAN  January 17, 2015 9:15am-9:48am EST

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a very dangerous job. the ones closest to danger, they manage that. >> host: "war dogs: tales of canine heroism" is the book, rebecca frankel is the author. >> azar nafisi has written "the republic of imagination". she talked-about book next on booktv. >> i would like to thank everyone especially my friends and put and everyone else who is here for giving me the pleasure and privilege of sharing what means so much to me. before beginning to share those thoughts and ideas i want to honor two groups yesterday i was in such a hurry to listen to
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others. what is the republic of imagination, you have people communities, publishers, this is the only time we are at peace with our publishers. booksellers all of us gather together, the most important thing is acts of imagination and ideas that you transcend the boundaries reality put in front of you and the boundaries of nationality religion, ethnicity, language race and gender. you go to these colorful boots and one of the things about books, book fares and bookstores or libraries is how essential they are. and some times like a naughty child going to a bookstore and
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you feel different books. each cover has its own story and one of the most intimate, i hate to use this word that is used by every celebrity and don't know what celebrity means, but i feel blessed by the fact that through the love of books i connect with strangers that become immediately intimate strangers, books become like your children you are so worried about them, you think oh my god what is going to happen especially now, can i pay for her education? will there be any public schools by the time this child comes into the world's?
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and i taking enough vitamins and then go through the labor pains and there is so much sarraute and the child comes into the world, and the amazing thing about children is not how you take some places but the places they hate you and amazing strangers they bring to your house and i feel so much at home here and i thank you, and i thought i would begin in honor of two groups. i didn't get a chance because of all the clashes to listen to my favorite authors and poets but i did get a chance to listen to one of my most favorite of all poets in this country and there is tom and i remember the appellates so i wanted to read something in appreciation, to
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respond to those who think poetry is irrelevant to us. this is by a guy you might know, this coat, his first name is solomon. there you go. to those people who tell us books are irrelevant what do they do? why do you want to kill and author? if books are irrelevant in a democracy why do you ban them? there must be something absolutely relevant to is them that certain people, mindsets cannot tolerate, so a book that is representative of what it means to be an american michael barry finn has been banned. so here is the pilot, the pilot's work is to name the and
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namable to point at fraud, to start arguments, shaped the world and start it from going to sleep and i think that should be the homage to the appellates. the next is to the readers and i think one writer, vladimir nabokov used to say readers are born free and not to remain free. we talk about writers and their rights and censorship. i constantly think of millions, billions of beaters, and their right to choose what they want to read. and who they want to read it. that aspect of it, books can become very fragile. the never-ending story, books
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need to be given new names by readers from different parts of the world and different perspectives to thrive. so i decided -- this is a quote from a writer who understands the dangers of writing and reading, who is in this room today and whose voice literally in books and i discovered yesterday and i love embarrassing people like you. and i am going to read from what she says about writing and reading and she is under the influence create dangerously for people who read dangerously,
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knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem someday somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read it and people think the act of writers and poets and artists and musicians has nothing to do with dangers nothing that reminded us again is more dangerous than ideas and imagination because you have to lay your soul and your body down. and any readers who i always think of in alice-in-wonderland who has the alternative imagination, whose seas and runs after that, without asking a question, some of our academics
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today politicians academics from politicians at times, imposing their theories, their ideologies on the books, taking the life out of these, and like life experience is something completely new and should be experienced even if you dislike it, that is a connection and the fact is the great readers have jumped down the whole, and as an american jump down the hole, i don't know what kind of assumption. alice is a polite lady and she goes down the hole putting the cups on the shelves, not letting
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anything dropped, but any way that is the british for you. so anyway the point i am trying to make is that we are taught today in this society that everything has become so ideological, so politically correct, no one expresses themselves, the whole idea of art and literature, the fact that the whole idea of the university of knowledge reminds us, baldwin says i'm a creature's son, let me remind you about the apple from the tree of knowledge, not and like one who wants keep children innocent and protected from the world, ball one talks of innocence as a crime because not to know, not to bite the apple
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would not make you human. the first act of becoming human was bleeding from the 3 of knowledge that now some of our leaders so cavalierly are dismissed. why do we need imaginative knowledge. for have been's sake, imaginative knowledge is not something you have today and tomorrow you describe because you have an iphone. you cannot have an iphone as walter isaacson constantly reminds us, you cannot have an iphone without imagination and you cannot have an iphone without a democratic society whose name is not just money, whose aim is telling you you are
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going to your garage and experimenting, some of us are behind you. go and do it. all whole idea of education in society like this is based on the fact that every individual has the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. therefore as those founders who certain groups sort of confiscated what it means to the founder what it means to different institutions and apparently all this revolution against the british and the civil war and civil rights was to hold secret the second amendment. that is a different story. i am in the state of florida so i had better watch it. and a governor who i quote in
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this book for his amazingly why saying on education. to make a long story short tell me -- i always say in my talk you are a democrat until you get to the podium. this is very dangerous right now. i want to get to part of my talk that is important to me because the story behind this book which took 11 years to write it my editor keeps reminding me as i was finishing reading i was thinking of this book and at the end of the book one of the questions i bring belo was worried not just about the brutalities in eastern european
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countries, but what will happen to democracies. the question he posed with those who turn it survived the holocaust, how will they survive the ordeal of freedom and you know when you come from a society brutality is very obvious. those societies you know where you stand and all at the same time are not very imaginative. and so that is why they are so scared of the poet's, because there is that -- tyrants want to reinvent citizens in their an image and impose their voice on everyone. appellates 3 imagine everyone and give back the police to everyone and that is mortality, the great novels and great poetry and great art brings to us is most dangerous to tyrants
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so in the islamic republic, targeting individual rights and human rights and the first victims became women, minorities and cultures. the first attack on universities was not because the engineers were against the state. those in did -- those engineers were publicly against the state. the first thing they did was attack humanity and the first thing they are still doing is attacking humanities a great leader, the ayatollah khamenei said it is through humanities that the risk insinuates itself into the minds of the young. in those countries, reading banned books, becoming a human being by refusing to look the way these people want you to
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look, it is not good or bad but the fact that every person, every woman is the right to connect to god or not connected god and everyone has the right to dress and act and the master or mistress of her own life. that is what is at stake, freedom of choice, the same way a elizabeth stanton and harriet beecher stowe and harriet tubman and said turner truth, the same way they were fighting and people were saying a woman's place is at home, saying the same thing about slavery so that is what the fight is all about not about religion the abuse of religion, at and turning it into an instrument of the state where the religion loses its spiritual
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power. we see people trying to do the same thing here in this country. what i am trying to say is poets and journalists became the first targets some of them were killed and still in jail and being killed and the point of this is greenough books are objects for which people kill and are killed so everything everything is obviously drawn that is the question i started this book with connaught and that elliott bay book store he was in the queue for autographs and was from iran and it was all useless. these people meaning the
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american people said they are not like us, hundreds of pages of madam boveri or huckleberry finn. these people don't care about such things and that question stayed in my mind and stay in my mind because some of the this you go on book tours and some americans would ask the same question, didn't you guys or people in eastern europe need literature because of the fact that it was banned it was a repressive country as is because we have access to literature, we can go around the corner and buy it we shouldn't bite. what good is a book if you are free to buy it? don't be bloody ridiculous. honestly. you want to go to jail? to love books? that can be arranged. anyway, the point i was trying
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to make is the question -- the question that came to me and the question i wanted to pose to you, i feel this is not the time -- reading is an act. we readers and writers should get together and create communities in our communities to defend our turf so i am not just saying this to promote this book. i always say you cannot buy the book but the coverage. another amazing man. by peter's books even better. i don't know if you had in the festival. he is an amazing man. going back to what i wanted to say, the question was can aid democracy exist without the democratic education, without the democratic imagination? this was the question i had to
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put myself in. the reason for it was partly because what i was seeing in this country, the way the education is being standardized we all want our students to be disciplined and read it and take things seriously but the most difficult thing is reading philosophy, the obstacles they put in front of your eyes but not just the information that google provides you with. and they use your mind. things that are not free to use their minds. if education becomes private, people can afford to send their
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children to our president children's school and citizens who are responsible. they say that it is not relevant, people live in ivory towers, theoreticians and the congress might live in the ivory tower, not those people who pay $40,000 a year in order for it their child going to school. and get big money from corporations have presidents like ceos. and get money from saudi arabia. and that is not what founders wanted. i have to read american history to understand american reality. and at the soldier, the first
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president who along with benjamin franklin said we as public servants should not be paid because money -- also wanted to have at national university at the capitol. he along with madison or atoms or jefferson wanted to have public schools, public education and what he said the basis of public happiness is education founded on literature and science. now we have stem. again read walter isaacson. why is science segregated from humanity? some of the greatest scientists, he talks about einstein and steve jobs. and some of the greatest
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scientists, musicians, philosophers, literature, a einstein talks about the fact that knowledge meaning scientific knowledge is limited. and imagination encircles the world. steve jobs, when he gives the university, there was no pay pal person to pay him in college. and he does go and audit in calligraphy the most useless of all even more useless and literature today and he said halt of calligraphy he got apple. don't think the country will produce steve jobs or bill gates, should have just can't help and not entered what he doesn't know anything about which is humanity.
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the whole point is to promote useless people you don't have an all-around education. what does it mean to be a responsible individual. the first thing is to make choices. and as the fate of new york now, to the sunni, that american history and global history is not necessary? that students can take tech. how could you not know what america is, its history and principles and values and nukes. how could you know what to say to the syrians all all these people you are constantly talking about and having drinks
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with -- never mind. the whole point about it is how can you do that if you don't know where these cultures come from. students come to me during my talks and they tell me we are encouraged to go and learn our incursion because this department would hire as for translation. i tell them don't you ever learn any language, any language just to be hired. you are in love with another civilization. because you want to know. because you are dying to know about this amazing -- who live the thousand years ago in iran and the women in thos the were far more -- you are being
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i finish soon, i'm sorry. it's not my fault really i was sitting here for half an hour. okay. now, the whole point that i want to make, and i will make it quickly is that what i decided to do then was there were two things happened to me that i decided to do something about it. one was that in december 2008 i became an american, and when you become -- [applause] thank you. we'll see. you might want to kick me out. [laughter] and the reason i became an american was that when you love a place, when you want to call it home, you don't just praise it and say how great we are you start complaining. [laughter] because you want your home to be best. if you only are passing by
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miami, you don't care. it's either the greatest city in the world, or it's not. you pass by. but if you live in miami, you're concerned. every little detail you're concerned. i was complaining so so much i thought this is the time to become an american or maybe i'm already an american and don't know it. [laughter] i had to learn what america was, and the only case i could go, like in the case with iran, was many literat became an american. thank you i will end by giving you an outline of what i thought about it and we can talk about it later. the point about it, i went back to my childhood since i was a small child. my father would read the stories that he was very democratic. in the methodology of iran and would go to italy with pinocchio
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and france with the little prince and denmark, come to america with the wizard of oz. that was the first book i learned from my tutors and my english tutor's. the other thing about america that i learned, the imaginary map of the world, and realized i could stay in this small room of mine in the middle of tehran and the world will come to me and come through these books. about america he would also take me to movies every week at the end of the week and we would see egyptian movies, french movies, american movies and with the american movies the thing i remembered was the musicals because people are politely sitting and eating and in the middle of eating all of a sudden gets up and sings.
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and do weird things. soon enough americans and persians and others were doing the same thing. it was that portable world, that america that i turned to. i want to end by saying it was very hard to choose these books because we are all promiscuous when it comes to art. and so i had 24 books. i had to condense it to books that express my feelings and the books i chose where i realized how the american novel the american fiction goes against class materialism of the american dream. there are two sides to this dream. the fact that most of the important american heroes are outcasts and strangers not just
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in huckleberry finn but in the mystery tails in that magnificent writer named raymond chandler, the, quote, little people, ordinary people who do not want material success. they are, in henry james's words, perfectly equipped failures. i wanted to talk about them beginning with huckleberry finn who is america's literary declaration of independence and i felt at the end of huckleberry finn people started moving out and going to other fictional landscapes of america. the standardization of thought is really threatening today. indifference, atrophy of feeling, sleeping consciousness which is all the things we talk
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about and then of course the incomparable james baldwin who was not just the writer not just an african-american writer not just the gay african-american writer, who speaks to all of us and is so important today and we should remember -- i don't have time to go into it. i want to end with a quote from mark twain. of mark twain gives but talk to what he calls the mayflower stripe defendants of the mayflower. he teaches -- magnificent as always tells them, you guys is remind me of my ancestors. he begins with the first native american league goes through quakers and ends with the slaves and he says these are my
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ancestors and exquisite, many shaped mongrels. that is the america i want to live in. land of exquisite, that little kid named hawk in. decided he would go with his heart. he would save his friend was jim and risk going to help for doing the right thing. that is the question i leave you with. how many of us today would rather go to hell but listen to our heart. [applause] >> booktv is on twitter, and to talk directly with doctors for
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live programs. twitter.com/booktv. >> next on booktv senator john mccain recounts america's armed conflicts through the eyes of 13 soldiers with the profiles joseph plum marvin a 15-year-old soldier in the revolutionary war, army reservist mary rhodes in the persian gulf war. and international press club for 45 minutes. >> senator john mccain you know about him. we will tell you a little bit, serve in the u.s. navy from 1954 to 1981. he was elected to the house of representatives from arizona in 1982 and the senate in 1986. and the republican

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