Foucault’s phrase encrypts a series of truths and the act of deciphering it could represent a pathway, a pathway in which something could be given to you, in the form of pieces of truth.
“I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am.” Foucault refuses to identify himself, to define himself, both through the attributes that are given to him in the interview, namely, philosopher, historian, structuralist, Marxist, and through the title he holds in the College. Foucault’s refusal is not an antithesis to “Know Yourself” inscribed on the temple of Apollo in Delphi, it is a refusal to identify with one of your sides or roles, it is a kind of denial of them that will let you enjoy each one in a freeway. You must lie to each one and use them. You can be all these attributes at the same time, but without identifying yourself with any of them, because no one manages to capture your essence.
You are a woman, mature, immature, Romanian, Orthodox, ex-lover, lover, daughter, you have passions, you love, you hate, you frustrate yourself, are you what you want from yourself? Are you what your parents want as their daughter? Have you been as each loved one wanted you? One by one you identified with each of these positions, you saw your identity through each of your life contexts.
Maybe you can say that you took each role so seriously that you thought it was defining for what you are. You have confused each of the roles and contexts of your life with your truth, with the essence of what you are and you get lost. And you get lost, without knowing, in each of these places, believing that you are each of these things, identifying with each of them.
Then you felt you wanted to lose yourself, you wanted to lose yourself in a few glasses of wine and you wanted to lose yourself in dancing. But what do you want to forget? And you felt perverse happiness in yourself thinking that you wanted to slip on a self-destructive slope, but kill what? And it came to you to cry, to tear the flesh from you, to break everything around you.
Because you saw that it wasn’t what was needed, that Ivan Ilici’s “Must be”. Because you finally felt the foresight, that you identify with all kinds of positions that are not in full agreement with you, that you do not take into account the signs of your life, that you are afraid to see them. And it came to you howling, tearing the meat off of you, breaking everything around you. It was a war in you, one that only you knew. In the meantime, you were smiling, you were cute, you were living the same life, nobody saw beyond the smile displayed. You lost again, you maturely wasted yourself, with work, relationships and reading. It doesn’t seem like a waste of yourself, it seemed like what it should be.
“The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.” You start with just a rhythm in yourself, a kind of intuition, without knowing exactly where you will end up and what will be given to you on the way, and what is calling you is still unknown. But how to become someone other than you were in the beginning in life? Probably one of the most representative images of this becoming of someone other than who you were at the beginning is offered by Lev Tolstoi in the novel “The Death of Ivan Ilici”. Ivan Ilici in his initial version, was a respectable bourgeois, with a respectable family and life. An insignificant accident leads him little by little to the deathbed. In this context, Ilici, before dying has the revelation that his life was not what it should have been.
In philosophy, Heidegger termed this state with the concept of being-towards-death. The man becomes aware of himself, his authenticity and is no longer lost in the world of society.
Becoming someone else than you were at the beginning, means the fall of all your roles, managing to see that you can’t define who you are by the concerns you have, through studies, job, relationships, passions. And then you get to see the reasons behind the elections, you begin to understand.
And then it becomes quiet. It’s quiet, maybe there will be peace, maybe. Peace in you and maybe some kind of melancholy. Or is it sadness? Or is it exhaustion? It no longer matters. Now it’s quiet. And you can put your head on the pillow, take a deep breath, and listen to the quiet within you. Your thoughts and your state are like musical notes. You don’t know exactly what they want to tell you, but you understand them. It’s peace, peace, and sadness in itself. And it is lonely and it is a void from too much waste.
You wasted yourself, you ran, you begged in your knees, you cried, your soul broke in you. Your fury has seized you, you hated it, and you ran away. You never saw anything around you, and every day and every night there was a loss of self. And you wanted to forget about yourself and everything. And you sinned by forgetting to love your life and every moment when you didn’t love it hangs hard over your head. But now, now it’s quiet, and a kind of peace is in you. It is quiet and a kind of sad peace, it is the rhythm behind your happiness. And it’s a kind of holiday, happy as any holiday, but with a sad peace. Somehow that whole story of your life has been completed from the beginning to the present. As if you were dead. But you didn’t die. You live. Maybe the holiday is about this. About the fact that you are living. And something just got to the end. What ended? Nothing specific, nothing visible had changed. Just in your eyes. And you laugh and at the same time, your eyes are filled with tears, because it is a kind of peace and it is a holiday, as happy as any holiday.
And you could be anything, you could do anything as long you feel free and you feel that joyous creativity and you smile at the leaves you step on and feel with each cell in your body as you breathe.