Quest For Identity
In the daily ordeals, whether man recognizes or not, he is always in the quest- a quest for success or a journey towards unknown destination. This quest of man takes him on a much deeper and arduous journey towards the self-realization and identity and turns into the most emotional chapter of life. Freeman and Watts emphasized the point that “emotional tension is the prime requisite for success in the Prefrontal Lobotomy and is described by Arnot, a fixed state of tortured self concern.” (Hillman, 1992, p. 3)
Emotions are truly a concern of one’s associated with the quest for self-realization.
My Architect: A Son’s Journey is Nathaniel’s Kahn most emotional quest to make a discovery about his father he knew of very little and who died the most unfortunate death. His discovery led him on a journey towards the meeting of the people and finding out his exclusive pieces of architecture he left behind. This whole film is a pilgrimage of Kahn that investigates into the exotic works of his father, the qualities he possessed as a man and an architect and above all his regret he himself felt all through his life as an unwanted illegitimate son. His feelings came into the front in one of the most emotional scenes when he is interviewing his mother. He asked his mother, “What Lou did to them was bad, wasn’t it? Doesn’t she ever feel angry with him?” (Greydanus, 2004) But his mother resisted and kept restricted to only those words she told him since the day his father died. She knew that before his father died, he had wanted to leave his wife and come to stay with them. Now at this moment and when Nathaniel has grown up, he is doubtful about this intention of his father, yet his mother remains stick to this version. This was just a myth for Nathaniel and a moment of great sadness and pathos, yet he did not comment anything nor criticized his parents yet inherent in his heart is his quest for his own identity and claim himself as a son of his father.
In yet more vivid and obscure scene, Nathaniel is in meeting with his two half sisters in a house which was itself designed by their father and they are remembering their past lives. Nathaniel and their half sisters remembered the day when their mothers got a call from one of the friends of Lou’s first wife who requested them not to come to the wake, yet they arrived at the place but were side lined. Nathaniel asked his half sisters, “are we family”? (Greydanus, 2004) To this there was no satisfactory answer yet one of the sisters said, “they are the family,”(Greydanus, 2004) and it was only because they had decided to take care of each other and not because they have one father. But this fact is also recognized that it was due to their father they are now together. It was the most complex moment for all children, though having one father they are finding their relationship with each other and their identity.
In yet another scene when the film ends, Lou is sitting at the table and creating his yet another artifact. When he folded his hands, there was charcoal all over his fingers and when the camera fell over the Lou, Nathaniel remarked, “this is a real image for me of Lou.” (Pederson, 2003) While at the end of the film, ultimate realization dawned on Nathaniel that Lou is his father and there is no denying of this fact as their face and nature too both resembles. By the end of the life his quest too ended. This is life, but for many people the quest continues.
The sharpest façade of life is seen in the quest for self-realization and identity in the Christopher Marlowe’s play “Dr Faustus”. Doctor’s emotional trauma started when he started his journey in his quest to attain the knowledge of black magic to achieve immortality. It is a quest of self hood or in other words failure of quest because in the end, his quest ended in tragedy as he lost his soul to devil. This play deals with the man whose quest and hunger for success never ends and in his role he forgets his duties and the role society has cast on him. In our personal lives too, our quest sometimes ends with success and sometimes with failure.
Though Nathaniel’s quest for his father and his self-realization would never have ended yet he found himself satiated when he saw his own image in the image of his father. With the documentary My Architect, Nathaniel Kahn craftly develops and reveals his intense desire to accept Louis Kahn as he was and with all his flaws and callousness he showed in his life. His whole endeavor was his quest to know more about his father and identify himself with him in which he attained success.
As said by Caroline Spurgeon, Marlowe’s play is a “preoccupation with the dazzling heights and vast spaces of universe- a magnificent surging upward thrust and aspiration.”(Marlowe, Bevington & Rasmussen, 1993, p. 39) Inspite of this, Dr Faustus quest was considered as against the nature and doctrine of God as no man can attain immortality whatever knowledge a person might attain. He had attained the gift of knowledge of black magic and immortal life but at a cost, as he had to forge his soul to the devil and face the most emotional upheaval during the time when devil was going to appear to take his soul away.
All human beings on this earth carry with them certain intensity of desire and ambitions that take them in the quest to achieve that and with this desire, they feel themselves so emotionally strong that they cannot dissociate themselves with at whatever cost.
Greydanus, S.D. 2004. My Architect. Retrieved on November 19, 2008 from W.W.W:
Hillman, J. 1992. Emotion: A Comprehensive Phenomenology of Theories and Their Meaning for Therapy. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press.
Marlowe, C., Bevington, D.M. & Rasmussen, E. 1993. Doctor Faustus A- and B- Texts (1604, 1616). Manchester, U.K: Manchester University Press
Pederson, M.C. 2003. My Architect, Myself. Retrieved on November 19, 2008 from W.W.W: http://www.metropolismag.com/cda/story.php?artid=365