"Six Characters in Search of an Author" - By Luigi Pirandello - Born 6/28/1867 - And the Search for One's True Self
An argument has been made by Psychologist Roberto Assagiolo that each of us has a set of sub-personalities all vying for center stage in the story of our lives. At any given moment, each of us is playing a part depending on circumstances: parent, child, lover, friend, employee, student, etc. And yet, even as we play these roles, an age-old question persists: Who am I really? Who is writing the story of my life? Where is the author?
Enter Luigi Pirandello, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1934. His most famous work, Six Characters in Search of an Author, was not written to illustrate Assagiolo's theories on sub-personalities. But you know what Freud said: With every one of my theories, a poet was there first.
If you've never seen the play, a fine black-and-white film version starring John Hurt is included here via YouTube. It's preceded by an excellent 9-minute clip that sets the drama up for you and provides a bit of background on Pirandello's life and art. After you've seen the play, you might try a Google search for Roberto Assagiolo, his ideas on sub-personalities and his "psychosynthesis" approach to finding the author within. There are others far more qualified to discuss all this than I, but I couldn't let Pirandello's birthday go by without offering some small homage on this website. (The 9-minute set-up begins in frame 2 and is labeled Luigi Pirandello Part 3. It's part of a larger work, but only the relevant section about the play is included here. The play begins in Frame 3 and is labeled SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR, Part 1 of 7. The other six parts follow.)
Most people live life dying. It shows in their attitude, their response to circumstances and ultimately in their physical health and appearance. But there is an alternative, an open secret, which is also the key to a happy and fulfilling life: Live life living.
The foregoing paraphrase is my key take-away from Robert Henri's wonderful book, The Art Spirit, which was loaned to me years ago by an 80-year-old sculptor, who was also my neighbor in the island-country north of Seattle and one of the most youthful people I have ever known.
I mention it now because Robert Henri was born on this day, 6/24/1865. He was a leading figure in the Ashcan School of American Realism, a founding member of "The Eight," and a gifted an inspired teacher.
If you check out comments and reviews for The Art Spirit on Goodreads or Amazon, you will find a common theme — it’s not just a book for painters, though it contains technical guidance they will find useful. It’s a book for anyone who wants to live a richer and happier life. In the end, it’s about connection to spirit. Connection to source. Make that connection, and you find the secret to life, the key that makes it possible to “life life living” instead of the daily dying most people settle for. That quiet desperation Thoreau spoke about.
You don’t have to be a painter, sculptor, poet or musician in order to life a creative life. If your goal is to live life to the fullest, to remain youthful in spirit all your life, here are five ideas you’ll find in Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit, which offer a bit of motivation, inspiration, and guidance.
I like big books, and I cannot lie. My background includes talk radio, newspapers and TV news. I've hosted a morning-drive classical music program on the California coast and published nationally in Reader's Digest, the Christian Science Monitor, and Playboy. I've won awards for my journalism and my fiction. One of my essays even made it into an anthology for college English courses. For real? Yes, for real.
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