Perfume River and the Yearning for Self

Perfume River and the Yearning for Self

“I think that if you dig deeply enough, the yearning at the center of great literature is I yearn for the self. I yearn for an identity. I yearn for a place in the universe. That’s the great thing, the great ‘Who the hell am I?’ which we ask ourselves every day. All the things we seem on the surface to be concerned about in this day and age especially — our race, our gender, our sexual preference, our politics, our religion, you name it — those things provide us with an answer to that question. WHO AM I?

I am black. I am white. I am Muslim. I am Christian. I am an atheist. I am a Republican. I am a Democrat. I am whatever Trump is.

Poor Donald, tweeting at 3 in the morning. He’s in desperate search of that answer. We all are. [T]hat’s from Anna Karenina to Madame Bovary to Huck Finn to Holden Caulfield, you name it. It’s ‘I yearn for a self.'”

~ Robert Owen Butler in an interview by Ryan G. Van Cleave, The Writer, May 2017

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