Zia Haider Rahman quotes

  • I don't want you to think that I'm being willfully obtuse, but I've never really grasped how point of view could be regarded as a matter of choice independent of story. Point of view is intimately interwoven into the story that you want to tell - it is an aspect of it.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Independent #Thinking #Choices

  • The difference does not lie in the things that news does that novels do not do, but in the things that novels do that news cannot do. In other words, this basic technique of news - just one among many - is something a novel can use, but a novel can deploy a multitude of other techniques also. Novels are not bound by the rules of reportage. Far from it. They're predicated on delivering experience.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Lying #Novel

  • By delivering experience, novels can alter the stance we adopt toward news - not much, I'm sure, but they can make it a little more difficult for us to consign "other people" to our tidy boxes. Widening our imaginative life might - it's not hard to imagine - also develop our ability to contemplate counterfactuals and our capacity to speculate about how things might differ from how they're being represented.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #People #Imagine #Difficult

  • Experience belongs to the actor, but the story belongs to the teller. We write so we will never forget.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Writing #Never Forget #Forget

  • The technology broadens an individual's social field massively and at the same time makes it much, much easier and cheaper to consume gossip. We have the same appetite for gossip, but now its acquisition is even easier than grabbing sugary and fatty foods off a supermarket shelf. And look where that got us. When you watch people in public desperately punching away at their machines, it's hard not to think of addictions.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Technology #Thinking #People

  • Novels need readers of a certain kind, people who are patient and enjoy immersing themselves in another perspective for uninterrupted stretches of time. Reading habits might well be changing. People who pay for novels might overlap significantly with those who engage in Twitter and Facebook.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Reading #People #Perspective

  • Our interaction with our friends, for instance, is in large part an interaction with representations in our own head of the people before us. That's why a friend can surprise or disappoint us.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #People #Surprise #Disappoint

  • My own disposition is to trust the reader. Of course, there's a line between trusting the reader and expecting her to read your mind. That's where a friend or an editor comes in. A great editor will tell you straight when you've drifted into the latter territory.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Mind #Expecting

  • News has a way of distancing us from events, even as it informs us about them. News articles almost always present both the event and the responses at the same time - how is President Barack Obama or Congress responding to the events? I think this reflects a deep need we have to feel that things are under control and that events are subject to our influence.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Thinking #President #Influence

  • Another effect of news articles is that the events, however frightening, can thus be consigned to the box of things that happen to other people, not us, and that we are doing things to bring them under control. This is the diet we're fed all the time, so we acculturate to it. And news must, in turn, follow the form to which we - our bodies - are accustomed: describe the event, incite the fear, then say how it's being addressed, how the herd's alpha males are dealing with it.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #People #Alpha Male #Frightening

  • There are a variety of ways in which a wedge is driven between the reality of the world outside, the motion of atoms, and our conception of what is there. Some of it has to do with what we're told, some of it to do with sensibilities that might be described as cultural, some of it to do with habit, some to do with heuristics we, as Homo sapiens, invoke because we cannot do otherwise - to name just a few of the impediments.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Reality #World #Habit

  • I'm not sure, however, that what I have amounts to faith in the sense commonly understood. I have difficulty understanding the function of the word "believe" in the realm of faith, a basic term in the grammar of every creed.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Believe #Understanding #Difficulty

  • A poison can hardly be called safe if for some reason specific to me it's ineffective against, say, my body. But the power of story on the human mind is such that anecdote is often more persuasive than numbers. That's why news stories often concretize the impact of a change in government policy by following the story of one person.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Mind #Reason #Persuasive

  • I had a tough childhood, yes. I was born in rural Bangladesh to parents who had had no education beyond high school. We moved to the UK where I grew up in poverty, in some of the worst conditions in a developed economy, before moving to the projects - heaven - and I went to unremarkable schools before going to university. My father was a bus conductor first and then a waiter, and my mother a seamstress.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Mother #Father #Moving

  • Until I reached my late teens, there was not enough money for luxuries - a holiday, a car, or a computer. I learned how to program a computer, in fact, by reading a book. I used to write down programs in a notebook and a few years later when we were able to buy a computer, I typed in my programs to see if they worked. They did. I was lucky.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Notebook #Reading #Writing

  • I had an indefatigable curiosity about everything. But why should my fate have depended upon that? Why does the curiosity of a child born into the lowest classes have to overcome everything put in his or her way to mute that curiosity, when a child born to parents with access to the advantages of life will have his meager curiosity kindled and nurtured? The unfairness is horrifying when it is properly understood as an unfairness meted out on children, on infants, on babies.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Baby #Children #Fate

  • There was a period of a few months, however, when I had a dreadful physical pain. I had just started writing a particular section of the novel and was initially worried that it would affect my work. I was woken by awful nightmares; I saw several doctors, tests were performed, nothing came of them, and the medics were mystified.It was two days after I finished writing the section that the penny dropped. The pain had suddenly disappeared and so too had the nightmares. I'd got things muddled. The pain and the nightmares were both psychosomatic.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Pain #Writing #Nightmare

  • Writing is indeed essential to me. I have been writing for a long time but not for publication. I'm sure there are many, many people who do the same. The rewards of writing are in the process and not the product - not just for me but for others I have met.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Writing #Long #People

  • The twentieth century saw a professionalization of fiction writing, particularly in its second half and particularly in the Anglo-Saxon world - not so much mainland Europe, for example.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Writing #World

  • The twentieth century saw a professionalization of fiction writing, particularly in its second half and particularly in the Anglo-Saxon world - not so much mainland Europe, for example. This professionalization is a tragedy. Hand in hand with this - and I have no idea what the causal relations are - there has been a rise in the idea of The Author, so that today one often has the impression that what's selling the book is not the book but the author.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Book #Writing #Tragedy

  • One problem I have with talking about myself in the context of class divisiveness is that I can be - and indeed have been - used by others to demonstrate its absence and that it's only a matter of hard work to move upward socially. After all, how could I complain about anything, if the retort is: "But look where you got to? It can't be all that bad." But this is nonsense as an argument quite aside from its empirical absurdity because no single case can invalidate a statistical claim.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Moving #Hard Work #Complaining

  • Of course, an English aristocrat might have some contact with the staff downstairs and could adequately say a thing or two about inter-class dramas unfolding in the household. But something less parochial might be harder to come by. This is relevant because stories about the divisiveness of class are by definition stories that straddle class boundaries. A story about a miner in a mining town is not obviously one that speaks to the divisiveness of class. In other words, class doesn't just divide us in the world but it also divides us in the stories we're presented.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Drama #World #Speak

  • There have been studies concluding that most people mostly know people only within their own social class - although such a conclusion would hardly surprise anyone. I think there's evidence to suggest that it's even narrower - the great majority of friends of Ivy Leaguers, for instance, are Ivy Leaguers. This narrows the pool of people who can write fiction cutting across class boundaries that's informed by their own personal experience.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Writing #Cutting #Thinking

  • I am at my happiest when I'm problem solving and a large part of writing is for me a lovely labor in problem solving. Every act of discovery in writing involves a process of figuring out why I'm not seeing what I need to see. Niggling feelings, discomforts, a sense that you've forgotten or overlooked something, a sudden curiosity about what if here? - these are priceless. They are the bases of problems and lead the way.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Writing #Feelings #What If

  • The mathematics is the odd one, odd because I'm not sure how to measure its effect. It is so fundamental to my outlook on everything and yet I'm not even sure how. It must be because in my formative years it was everything to me, the single place of beauty in my life, and of breathtaking beauty at that. I still believe that pure mathematics is the most creative thing that humanity does, though I am no longer a part of it.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Believe #Creative #Humanity

  • The mathematical tilt remains basic to my epistemological perspective, my howling plea in the still of night for epistemic humility. Mathematics gave me that as, also, did the difficulty I had in talking to my parents. How proofs are conceived is unfathomable. Clearly, there are certain conditions in which the revelation takes place.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Humility #Night #Perspective

  • My parents have always had a very limited command of English. Of course, when we first arrived in the UK, none of us spoke English, but it's much easier for a child to pick up languages. But the problem was not a lack of English; the problem was poor communication in any language. Remember, my parents came from rural Bangladesh with little education. It was alarming for them, I'm sure, to watch their boy very quickly exhaust whatever ability they had to teach the child something.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Children #Communication #Boys

  • My parents were entirely unpredictable and what they said very unreliable, which meant I became very attuned to the range of other signals human beings give out - body language or what Freud graphically called the "betrayal that oozes out of him at every pore," betrayal, that is, of what they really mean. I have that to this day, and it makes conversation exhausting because I'm listening not just to the words of the person in front of me but also to their body. It's as if there are two radio stations on at the same time.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Betrayal #Mean #Giving

  • I am sympathetic to the kind of faith that does not evangelize or raise banners but is the faith drawn on by a lone human being as a means of support or as an organizing principle or even as mere practice. It is faith that is born of humility and an understanding of one's own frailty. I can recognize it because I have met many people who exhibit this kind of faith.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Mean #Humility #People

  • Listening to people discussing a novel can be very interesting, if you've read whatever novel is being discussed. No one, it seems, ever says, "This is a great book but I didn't like it." Taking a little time to think about why this might be has been very liberating.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Book #Thinking #People

  • I'm interested in how a person forms her beliefs, how that happens. Beliefs of all kinds make up the animating force in each of us. Without them we would be paralyzed, lifeless - the glove without the hand.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Belief #Kind #All Kinds

  • There is snobbery in the idea that the modern cult of celebrity has not touched the lofty realm of letters. We are like visitors to a garden or flower show who wander the pathways and do not notice the beautiful flora but instead exchange murmurs about the appearance of the soil.
    -- Zia Haider Rahman

    #Beautiful #Flower #Garden