IN AZAR NAFISI’S book, “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” the act of removing the veil is a metaphor for transitioning from the world of black-and-white into colour, and of shedding the state-imposed self to be liberated into one’s authentic, willed identity. “Black and white” is itself a good description of the cruel and stupid absolutism imposed upon Iran by the Velayat-e faqih, its antithesis colour indicating the actual and liveable world of vibrant diversity: irony, dialectic, humour, uncertainty, skepticism and multiplicity — whether in literary, moral, or political matters. In the “clash of civilizations,” the West is on the polychromatic side of the ledger against the monochrome despotisms.
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