If you are still reading, thank you. This is the final part of the trilogy. (Shorter than “Hobbit” although with fewer special effects!) I have been writing about identity. Or should that be Identity as a proper noun. I think it should be. A proper noun “refers to a unique identity” according to Wikipedia.” Identity” certainly refers to a unique identity. One of my favourite scenes is in The Crucible where John Proctor will not put his name to his false confession. When asked why, he cries “It is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!” Whenever I hear that line, I never know whether I want to cheer or cry. Or both. It moves me beyond words. Proctor is a man who is aware of his identity.He knows he committed adultery. He is under no illusions about who he is. But he is desperately trying to make reparation. His identity is that of an ordinary man. He is no saint. But Salem seems unable to live with ambiguity or ambivalence. (Which might take us back to Saint Paul, struggling with being human and all that implies.)
I have always been fascinated by the concerts in Auschwitz. The guards would listen to the prisoners playing beautiful music. And then send them to the gas chambers. Then go home to their wives and families. Play with their children. Pet their dogs. And so on. And repeat the same behaviour tomorrow. I assume that the guards in Guantanamo do the same. Or those who water-board prisoners in the name of National Security. My point being that we are very skilled at separating off parts of our identity.I can happily torture people because my life “”is hid with Obama in America in Guantanamo bay”.
The work of therapy, as Freud pointed out, is not to make us happy. But to make the unconscious, conscious. Thus part of the work of therapy might be to allow the Auschwitz guard to understand what the “Other” means to him. What it so terrifying about this Other that it must be destroyed? To allow the psychiatric nurse to understand what part of themselves might be being secluded? To let John Proctor think about the meaning of his affair with Abigail.
This blog has been about Identity. I have put in a link to a song from my adolescence. It is by The Dave Clark Five. Listening to it again I’m struck by its energy. And its musical naivety. But the lyrics apply to our inner life as well as our outer life.
Here is the Dave Clark Five link. Despite its naivety, it still sounds brilliant. At least to me.