A timeless parable of the self-defeating quest for integration.
By Maria Popova
“A person’s identity,” Amin Maalouf wrote as he contemplated what he so poetically called the genes of the soul, “is like a pattern drawn on a tightly stretched parchment. Touch just one part of it, just one allegiance, and the whole person will react, the whole drum will sound.” And yet, inseparable as the parts may be from the whole, we each contain multitudes — not only psychologically, but even biologically — nowhere more so than when it comes to the bifurcation between our inner and outer selves. “Nothing and nobody exists in this world whose very being does not presuppose a spectator,” Hannah Arendt observed in her insightful inquiry into being vs. appearing and our impulse for self-display. For each of us, there is a public persona encasing the private person, an aspirational self radiating from the real self.
However integrated the our layered identity may be, our twined nature stands like a stereogram — two separate and noticeably different views, composed into a single three-dimensional image of personhood only through the special focal mechanism of our own consciousness./.../