Wednesday, September 30, 2009

From Lolita to Polanski

I was 16. She was 13. But I never forgot the name. It always meant ugly things. Pedophilia, rape, degradation and other things my mother didn't want to talk about. It was there throughout my life.

Roman Polanski. Great director. Artist. Fugitive. Sicko.

My mother was always one to warn about the evils that women could face. "If he hits you once, you leave," she would say.

"Roman Polanski is a pig," she would also say.

I just read Nabokov's "Lolita." I really never thought I would. But after "Reading Lolita in Tehran" I felt I had to.

It's an amazing book. You are forced to suspend yourself from reality. Because if you don't, you will commit crimes as well.

I laughed. I cried. I was disgusted. I was amazed. Nabokov brings to life the evil of pedophilia. He warns the public of this crime when society would just as soon sweep it under the rug. Contrary to what I believed about the book, he does not blame the victim. Humbert Humbert is the sole perpetrator of a crime that steals lives, his, Lolita's and others.

After being surrounded by crimes against children, whether from the pews or parents, and seeing the sexification of children (which Nabokov points out in Lolita) -- I was happy when Polanski was arrested.

I am now an adult woman, like Polanski's victim. It's easy to let time forgive the wounds of crimes of 30-plus years ago. But reading Lolita, a book written longer ago, makes you realize the crime of pedophilia is timeless. Bringing perpetrators to justice is just one step to redemption. There are others. But the road is long and difficult, experts say.

Polanski's arrest is just that one step on a long and challenging road. No one shouts with glee that such a path is welcome. Yet there is some hidden joy in the fact that Polanski, like Humbert, must take responsibility for his actions. We'll see if he meets the same end.

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