Azar Nafisi: Politicizing Nabokov

Azar Nafisi:  Well I wouldn’t call myself political. First of all Nabokov was very sly. I think he was far more political than he let on. His deep hatred of that system comes . . . I ... what he did; that he wouldn’t talk to Roman Jakobson because he just traveled to Soviet Union. He wouldn’t talk to people who even traveled or talked with the Soviets. He was that . . . But for me, “Reading Lolita”, the political matters that come out there are existential. If as a woman, a writer, teacher, and a human being, your core values are being assaulted, you need to protect them. And if this is a political system, then you have to confront it. So for me . . . And I think for many women in Iran they didn’t confront it politically. They more we were who we were . . . and that’s why it makes me very close to Nabokov . . . The more I was who I was, the more subversive I became in relation to the regime. They would tell you to wear the veil. At first I refused. It wasn’t a political statement. It was a statement of the fact that as ...says in “The Power of the Powerless” and...says in “Captive Mind”, these systems try to turn you into a lie. They try to make you negate who you are. So the individual becomes a political entity. As an . . . As a woman walking down the street and letting this much hair down, I would become a political sign. You know I couldn’t help it. That is what I wanted to try and say. And the second thing I wanted to say in that book . . . And I on purpose chose writers that were apolitical – James Austin, “Gatsby”, Fitzgerald – because I wanted to show the more work of literature was faithful to itself, the more subversive it would become of society. Books with messages have the same kind of mindset that tyrants have. They want to impose their message on you. It is books without messages that genuinely subvert you and make you think about politics. That was another “message” if you . . . if I should contradict myself with “Reading Lolita”. So I wouldn’t call it political, but it’s useless not . . . for me to deny it because everybody would call it political.

Recorded on: 2/22/08

Nabokov, Nafisi says, was a lot more political than he let on.

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

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  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.