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It's Friday, which means that my room-mates have inexplicably decided to rearrange furniture. Go figure living in a place where the punk rocker student is the *quiet* one.

Anyhow, last night I *finally* finished Reading Lolita in Tehran. Since last week I also finished Persepolis 2 (and I wonder how I find time to read since it always seems I'm on my computer anyhow), I feel kind of half-absorbed in Iranian women's lives.

The book isn't really about reading Lolita, or any of the other works of great literature that are name-dropped like....names....throughout the book. It purports to be about the transformative power of Great Literature (insert trumpety sound here), but it's really about the escapist power of literature. For instance, the Thursday class of women meeting secretly at their professor's home spend a lot of time talking about the romantic hotness of Mr. Darcy, but they spend even more time talking about what it means to live in a culture that is not only built around the idea of preventing open expression of sexuality but any expression of anything not inherently religious. There's a haunting bit where a 27 year old woman says angrily that because of the education they receive, she knows nothing of her body, or of love, or anything at all--all she knows is how much she hates her life and wants to escape. She finally makes a run for the border, but we never find out whether or not she escaped.

Real life's a bitch that way.

The strange thing about reading these books is that, living where I do, I get to see the Americanized version of that same repressive lifestyle. Over the summer, every day on my way to work I'd pass this older Indian Muslim couple, the woman clad entirely in a brightly printed shroud (because a leopardy print is *so* much more American than the classic black chador, n'est pas?) walking five steps behind him. And every day I'd just watch them, and just really wish I could shake woman and ask her why she does that. Does she *really* believe it would be shameless and she'd burn in hell if she wore a regular shirt and jeans, and walked at a pace with her husband? Does he? How much of culture is engrained in belief and how much in would-be cultural superiority?

(My Muslim room-mates think that eating pork is unclean....but they have no problem imbibing alcohol. Is that hypocrisy or just weird?)

I don't know, on the one hand I'm used to thinking your beliefs are your own thing, but on the other hand, what if your beliefs are just stupid? Because it IS stupid to have to walk behind a man and cover yourself completely in 90 degree heat, and all the other silly sexist crap things that religion--not just Islam, ANY religion--dictates!

And yeah, I don't get it.

What I liked about Persepolis 2 was how the writer managed to fight all those rules. She didn't really submit, and luckily wasn't caught and punished. There's a great bit where after her exams for university, she has to sit down with a religious scholar, and she basically tells him what she thinks: that if men are so easily aroused by a couple strands of hair peeking from a veil, then surely men are the weak ones and not women. And because he is a truly religious man, he totally respects that interpretation, and lets her into art school.

Anyhow, no way to wind up after that, so I'll just say some random things.

Phil, get me a picture of Dewi, ASAP.

Professors are stupid and annoying. And I *hate* encoding.

FTP is also stupid.

I plan to be good and work on stuff this weekend.

I started Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel last night and it is good!!!!

Plus I think the Hobbit skeletons are cool.

Oh and The Books of Magick: Life During Wartime came in and it's like a weird mix of all the Middle Eastern crisis shit I've read about with Silent Hill 4-like imagery and John Constantine and Tim Hunter. Yeah, weird and scary and awesome!

Okay, done now. Witness me homeworking.

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