Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On a Role

In my college Ethics class, we studied existentialism and its influence on ethical thinking.  In particular, we talked about how some existentialists reject the concept of defining life through roles played.  At the time, I thought it was a beautiful way to live, and I've pretty much agreed with it without question ever since.

But the following from John Le Carré's The Constant Gardener gave me pause:

[S]omething was happening to Justin that, to his excitement and alarm, he was unable to control.  He had been drawn completely by accident into a beautiful play, and was captivated by it.  He was in a different element, acting a part, and the part was the one he had often wanted to play in life, but never till now quite brought off.

I've never heard so eloquent a defense (even if it may have been unintentional) for viewing life as a series of roles to be played, each with its own rough script.  Maybe a significant number of our decisions are made because of who we are--the role we're playing at the time--and for no other reason.

Just a thought.

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