Man is What He Hides

In “We Are What We Hide,” a piece about the (seemingly) double lives of Norman Rockwell, Ernest Hemingway, and J.D. Salinger, Lee Siegel concludes with, what I think, one of the best paragraphs I’ve read this week:

The miserable, repressed, cheerily idealizing Norman Rockwell is not so strange, after all. Rather, the law of opposites is a universal condition. The psyche is a clock with at least four hands that move in different directions simultaneously. We live amid the riot of our own secret counterpoints, some of which complete and fulfill our human promise, some of which betray it. As Malraux, the Resistance hero, adventurer, diplomat, and novelist, who is said to have suffered from Tourette’s syndrome, once wrote: “Man is not what he thinks he is; he is what he hides.”

I agree with this:

But the law of opposites is too rich, too weird, too universal to be classified and dismissed as a character defect.

Worth reading.

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