Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vaclav Havel: The Notion of Identity

Bon voyage, Vaclav Havel--and thank you.

That Shakespearean Rag has a great post on Vaclav Havel's passing here--go ahead and read it, it's a powerful obituary.

One of the texts from Havel quoted in that post is this:

The essential aims of life are present naturally in every person. In everyone there is some longing for humanity’s rightful dignity, for moral integrity, for free expression of being and a sense of transcendence over the world of existence. Yet, at the same time, each person is capable, to a greater or lesser degree, of coming to terms with living within the lie. Each person somehow succumbs to a profane trivialization of his inherent humanity, and to utilitarianism. In everyone there is some willingness to merge with the anonymous crowd and to flow comfortably along with it down the river of pseudo-life. This is much more than a simple conflict between two identities. It is something far worse: it is a challenge to the very notion of identity itself.

It touched me.  It drew me in--you know when you read something and a little piece of your brain goes, "Yes!  That's exactly what I've been trying to say!"?  

I'm sharing it here because, well, it deserves to be read.  But also because I want to keep it close, to mull over it. I feel there's a great truth hidden there--well, not hidden, but my brain just sparked at it and then went into shock over it, so I need more time to process.  I'll come back and revisit it, let it sink in, because this is so incredibly important.

1 comment :

  1. That quote immediately reminded me of the American artist Edward Hopper, how in his city scenes, there was always such a loneliness, a division between the figures, even when there were several together.

    I find it interesting how, as humans, we protect ourselves automatically when we are within crowds, the coping mechanisms we naturally fall into when we are unable to control our personal space. In cities, we become less human, less willing to connect with other people.

    Ah, sorry. I better stop or I'm going to write a novel here :)


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