The Desire for a Narrative



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“The deepest human desire is the desire for a narrative.”
-Francesco Clemente

I recently watched this Charlie Rose interview with the Italian painter Francesco Clemente and I could not help but pause and reflect on the depth of Clemente’s words (6:02). The desire for a narrative… when you break it all down, human experience is all about having your own story.  People need to have a some sort of anchoring to a place or people or object so that they can navigate themselves in society. Clemente’s discussion relates to this sort of Hindu philosophy that we are all inherently of the same consciousness, but each experiencing it through a different set of eyes.  The experiences we have throughout our lives and the land and cultures that shape our thinking are the building blocks that form our individuality.  These stories are ethereal mortar that defines us as individuals and connect us with places and other people.  These memories that are scarred on our brains, like ink to paper, are carried with us until we expire. The wonderful thing about this life, in this free world,  is that you are the director and editor of your story.  You can make your narrative whatever it is that you want to be…your story is yours and yours alone. 

But we should also consider that as we get caught up in the creation of a narrative and identity, there is a danger in becoming too comfortable with our static situations.  To lose the passion to keep developing your narrative is like a writer stopping his novel halfway through and walking away from the potential success.

Clemente goes on to discuss his biggest worry in life…”clinging”. (33:35)

“There are moments of balance, where you area in a state of  grace, but when you cling, it is over…It is a narrow path to let the narrative of life unfold gracefully without stopping it, without clinging, without attachment, without making it die on you”

Our most basic desire is to create or to have a narrative, but as a corollary sometimes it becomes difficult to accept that our lives change, people change, and we are going to have seismic shifts in our lives that we should not try to control or fight.  Clemente is saying that it is better to let go and to accept the change rather than try to fight an uphill battle. It is better to accept this realization and let the narrative take its own organic form. We are in control to a certain extent, but the reality is that we live in a chaotic and dynamic universe. Sometime you have to go where it wants to take you.

You must have a passion for a narrative, you should never settle for what you know is not enough.

This blog is an attempt to explore a few different notions. The first of which is a general mission to investigate the idea of narrative between different cultures and peoples and to understand how Place can affect identity. For me personally this is my way of considering my own narrative by looking and exploring outside of myself, to gain some experience, maturity, and a general forward momentum.  Enjoy.

“I think the most interesting time is always now.” 
-Francesco Clemente

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