Unpacking My Library: The Confessions
|Bascove: Reading in Bed|
I found myself yesterday, rather to my own surprise, urging a client to read The Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a book which was written more than 250 years ago and which I last read about 350 years ago.
This is how it begins and I think you can read a Uranian sense of uniqueness in these words:
I have entered upon a performance which is without example, whose accomplishment will have no imitator. I mean to present my fellow-mortals with a man in all the integrity of nature; and this man shall be myself.
I know my heart, and have studied mankind; I am not made like any one I have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence; if not better, I at least claim originality, and whether Nature did wisely in breaking the mould with which she formed me, can only be determined after having read this work.
Whenever the last trumpet shall sound, I will present myself before the sovereign judge with this book in my hand, and loudly proclaim, thus have I acted; these were my thoughts; such was I. With equal freedom and veracity have I related what was laudable or wicked, I have concealed no crimes, added no virtues; and if I have sometimes introduced superfluous ornament, it was merely to occupy a void occasioned by defect of memory: I may have supposed that certain, which I only knew to be probable, but have never asserted as truth, a conscious falsehood. Such as I was, I have declared myself; sometimes vile and despicable, at others, virtuous, generous and sublime; even as thou hast read my inmost soul: Power eternal! assemble round thy throne an innumerable throng of my fellow-mortals, let them listen to my confessions, let them blush at my depravity, let them tremble at my sufferings; let each in his turn expose with equal sincerity the failings, the wanderings of his heart, and, if he dare, aver, I was better than that man.
Uranus is just about to oppose my client’s Sun, making her question her own unique identity. Pluto has just gone past the square, so she’d already had the total exposure of the truth.
I thought she might find Jean-Jacques a helpful companion on her journey into the next phase of her life.