Reed Magazine February
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2003

A writer recognized

Much of the material for Ansary’s memoir came from writing he has been doing for years as a way of remembering. “What I find is that you can only remember something once,” he said. “After that, you’re remembering your memories of remembering your memories of remembering. You leave some piece of your life alone for a long time and then when you go back, the first time you remember it, there is a surprise and a clarity and a life and freshness to the memory that you’ll never get again.” Much of his personal writing has centered on his road trips, which for him have come to delineate the various periods of his life. He hopes someday to publish what he has written about his time at Reed and living in Portland after graduation. He says he was pathologically shy before he came to Reed and credits the college’s conference system and the encouragement of English professor Roger Porter with helping him find his voice: “With some great effort and fear and trembling, I finally got up the nerve to say a few things. They haven’t been able to shut me up since.”

Ansary is now writing about an episode in Islamic history when orthodoxy gained great strength. He is exploring the interconnected lives of Nizam ul-Mulk, the prime minister of the Turkish empire, whose actions led to the Crusades; Hassan Sabah, leader of a revolutionary anti-orthodox assassin sect; and Omar Khayam, astronomer, philosopher, mathematician, and poet. Ansary is intrigued by the evanescence of this story, both in the way great love of these friends for each other didn’t last, as well as the way the facts about their lives and the import of the story change the more he learns about it. This book, which incorporates his recent journey back to Afghanistan, will be called What Endures? That question is one that underlies all that Ansary dwells upon, and all that has gained him a share of public attention. He sees the book as a conversation that can begin to address this question, as well as others that occupy him: What is the set of principles you can embrace? What is there underneath it all that you can commit to? Through his actions and his words about Afghanistan, Tamim Ansary has given himself, and many others, a chance to consider some of life’s larger questions. End of Article

Nadine Fiedler ’89 is assistant editor of Reed.

 

Reed Magazine February
Go to Page 1 go to page two Page 3, you are hereLink to Reed Mag  Home
2003