Nafisi Sacks

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A World of Darkness

The world can be a place full of darkness which can impact one’s everyday life. In Oliver Sacks’ essay, “The Mind’s Eye: What the Blind See”, the people discussed live in a world of darkness due to their lack of sight, while in Azar Nafisi’s essay, “Selections from Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books”, the author and her group of students live in a dark would under an oppressive government. No matter what kind of darkness one lives in, he or she must make the best out of the situation. Although living in a dark world can be very tough at times, there are ways to escape. People who live in a world of darkness can find hope in their lives through their imagination.

Living in a world of darkness is a constant struggle that can easily consume you. In one example of darkness, a man named John Hull developed cataracts at the age of thirteen and gradually lost his vision as he grew older. By the time he became fully blind, he wasn’t unable to visualize anything. Sacks stated that, “Hull meant not only the loss of visual images and memories but a loss of the very idea of seeing, so that concepts like “here,” “there,” and “facing” seemed to lose meaning for him, and even the sense of objects having “appearances,” visual characteristics vanished” (507). The darkness did not only consume him in a literal state, but also through the loss of his mind and thinking. Hull’s mind went into a state of complete darkness, a state where there was literally nothing he could imagine, nothing he could possibly envision. He lived in such a darkness that he could no longer even envision what the number three looked like in his mind (Sacks 507). Nafisi and her students also lived in complete darkness. The Iranian regime really had the women of the country in complete lockdown. Every aspect of life for women in Iran is controlled to the fullest. For one, a woman must wear black robes covering ones whole body. A Woman has to wear a covering over ones head, with only the eyes showing. This left every single women looking the same as the next, complete conformity. If a woman was found not wearing her coverings the right way, she was subject to a fine, jailing, or even public humiliation. But the clothing wasn’t the only source of darkness. Another example of the darkness which the women of Iran faced was the segregation issue. Nafisi speaks of the situation by saying, “If she gets on a bus, the seating is segregated. She must enter through the rear door and sit in the back seats, allocated to women” (430). The pain that these women feel on a day to day basis really gives off a horrible sense of darkness. It is really as if there is no escape, as if these women live in a horror movie, full of pain and misery. All in all, the darkness, whether it be by blindness or by political anarchy, caused pain and misery in all of these people’s lives.

When people live under the constraints of darkness, one can use their imagination to create a whole new world. One woman, Arlene Gordon, was able to use her imagination in order to live her life in a happy way. Arlene lived in a world of visual imagery, where she was able to use her hearing in order to use her imagination and mind. Sacks stated that Gordon said, “Listening to talking books, she added, made her eyes tire if she listened too long; she seemed to herself to be reading at such times, the sound of the spoken words being transformed to lines of print on a vividly visualized book in front of her” (514). At one time, Arlene may not have thought that she would ever be able to read a book ever again. She was able to, however, because of the fact that she was able to discover how her imagination could take her out of the darkness. She had her mind tricked that she was actually reading the book just by listening to it. Another person who used their imagination to escape the darkness was John Hull, As I spoke about earlier, John Hull did have problems fighting the darkness when...
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