Sunday, June 16, 2013

Invisibility as a form of respect

On Friday, Fresh Air replayed part of a Hilary Mantel interview. It included this bit on Mantel's experience of life in Saudi Arabia:
"But of course I was never introduced to her husband. And if we happened to pass in the common hallway, then his reaction was to look straight through me and at the wall. As if I was invisible, for all my newly gained flesh. And by doing this, he was showing his respect for me. Now, you have to work hard to get your head around that, that making someone invisible is a form of respect. I wasn't wearing a black veil, but he was dropping one over me."
Being able to understand and accept the validity of an idea like that, without accepting it as true, is a writer's skill I'm still working on.