The attentions of others matter to us because we are afflicted by a congenital uncertainty as to our own value, as a result of which affliction we tend to allow others’ appraisals to play a determining role in how we see ourselves. Our sense of identity is held captive by the judgements of those we live among.
What we are we are, nativity is answer enough to objections, we wield ourselves as a weapon is wielded, we are powerful and tremendous in ourselves.
What do you expect, one is what one is, partly at least.[Que voulez-vous, on est ce qu’on est, en partie tout au moins.]
We have to forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to become like other people.[Dreiviertel unserer selbst aufgeben, um uns den andern zu verähnlichen.]
We can spend our lives letting the world tell us who we are. Sane or insane. Saints or sex addicts. Heroes or victims. Letting history tell us how good or bad we are. Letting our past decide our future. Or we can decide for ourselves. And maybe it’s our job to invent something better.
There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his.