This idea of narratives is key: in a sense, the Enneagram is just an organized and abstracted system of characters that already exist, in specific forms, in literature. And just like literature, it can give us ways to understand and mobilize our own stories and transformations; indeed, we can think of literature as a place where philosophies of personality are put into play.
Whenever I’m asked to recommend a modern Iranian novel, I have to keep three things in mind. First, unlike Persian classical literature—the works of such masters as Rumi, Khayyam, and Hafez—the modern novels are not widely known or usually excerpted in anthologies of world literature.
“I think that I have always resisted the idea of objective cultural criticism in a vacuum. The subject lends itself to drawing connections to yourself — when I look at someone like Britney Spears, it isn’t just at the level of public scrutiny.”