Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Danger of Identity

This theme of identity has always seemed dangerous to me, because unless it is enclosed in the exclusive sphere of the individual, I find it at odds with freedom.  The only admissible identity is that which signifies self-creation, a continuous effort by the sovereign individual to make himself, defining himself in the face of those impositions and legacies of the environment in which he develops, the geography that surrounds him, the history that precedes him, language, customs, faith, and the convictions within which he was raised.  But none of it is nature, an inalienable condition; it is culture, in other words, something that the reason and sensibility of the individual can accept, reject, or modify thanks to his critical conscience and as a function of his own inclinations, ideas or devotions.  An identity cannot be a prison from which an individual, due to the banal reason of having been born, is held captive…
  - Mario Vargas Llosa, “Welcome to Fernando de Szyszlo” (1997)

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