Monday, July 30, 2007

from the Notebooks: the Authentic Life

To live an authentic life is to walk the talk. Among 20th century individuals, I so much admire Simone Weil because she spent--literally spent--her short life in the attempt to do just that. I have long thought that there are only three human types whose lives are potentially fully authentic; men or women who are what they do: the saint; the outlaw; the artist.
The saint, being Goodness personified, transcends the rules that the rest of us fail so miserably to live by; he has no need of them. The outlaw steals his freedom from the rule-bound herd of humanity; he is all eros and libido; he does that which he wants to do. The outlaw, therefore, is to evil what the saint is goodness. The artist combines elements of each of these types. His erotic pursuit of Truth and Beauty is analogous to the saint's loving quest of God. But his refusal to take a number; his refusal to patiently wait on line; his refusal to don the monkey suit, is definitive. In the violent power of his all-consuming creative urge, the artist claims a freedom that is analogous to the outlaw's.
Of these three types, which fascinates us the most? Billy the Kid? Vincent Van Gogh? Mother Teresa? With which type do we have the most in common?