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.
In four decades of family history on the ranch no immigrant had ever made contact. The effort to capture them, though, is omnipresent in the post-9/11 militarization of the borderlands. The number of vehicles on constant patrol in the Big Bend Sector has more than tripled. Helicopters circle, sometimes for entire days, scanning the hills, bearing down on migrants, driving them to the point of collapse.
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.
“George Platt Lynes photographed a naked man, curled / into a snailshell’s infinite regress, and I want / to follow suit, my body a starfish, my skin seized / with a Polaroid purchased on a serious / whim: may I become Lincoln Kirstein or Monroe Wheeler, / wide palms full of fortune, or the sailor / my master of the pick-up / stick picked up and froze in a print / hid in the Kinsey Institute until too recently!”
“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.”