Had my answer reached you, let's say, have a couple of weeks ago, I would have answered your letter:
The process of gaining one's self identity is an inner one. Or to be more precise, it ends into one's inner world, thus completing a full circle: and we can find Lacan's concept about the 'looking glass' stage as a part of this same round movement. Lacan claims there is a stage in the growing of a child, when, in answer of the question where his mother is, the child confidently points to his a reflection in the looking glass. It is the authority of the mother which gives him the ultimate guarantee that the reflection he sees is himself.
We have been trying really hard these years to grasp the West as the ultimate authority that would guarantee our own identity for us, without knowing that what we perceive as our true identity is only our reflection in the looking glass . . . Ten years will hopefully be enough to know better what is 'home' and to dismiss, once and for good, the idea of being an 'outsider', the misery of feeling like one. We, having put on the shoes of outsiders, we turned out to be in the middle of nowhere, homeless, hoping for the charity of passers-by, dependent on their moods, their philanthropic whims and 'generosity impulses'. That is a tiny step away from prostitution: be it intellectual, virtual or real.
We tore out the roots of our world and placed them out of us with the pretence to make them convertible. We give it a hard try indeed to make our existence convertible, our thoughts - convertible, ? and the burden of our past keeps dragging behind. This is the past we cannot just ignore or leave, the past we can neither bring back to life, nor change. The only thing we can do about it is to 'reinterpret' it, i.e. to grasp it and hold it gently. The past is a personal holding, after all. It may not be placed elsewhere, our past is inside us: our birth, our love and passion, our effort to grasp the world, free of ideology, . . . all these belong to OUR past.
The last step in the strenuous effort to 'construct' the self is to come back home. The reckless adventure that we undertook to replace our home with the swanky hotel named EUROPE, turned out to be useful, in the end. Come to think of it: what happened? We were invited to stay as guests there. The first visitors were the dissidents (that's how they named them). What came out next, was that we were to make 'belated' payments for our stay at the hotel. Since we were out of funds, we had to put our future for sale, then our past - for sale, we even put our souls for sale in the end. ... In the end they kept us as lower staff at the hotel, with the miserable job description to clear up the remorses of the West . . .
Anyhow, the utopia called 'Go West' fell apart, all around us. The only thing we were left with was the way back home. We had one single option only: to go back to our abandoned and devastated home inside, to find the roots of our world, the fireplace in the heart of the house.
How to recognize ourselves and to know us better? How to grasp our true self, how to seduce our dark side and find the password to the unconscious of the self, and further, to the collective unconscious which some time ago pampered communism towards its full bloom. (Communism itself has been 'extensively explored', enough is as good as a feast). We need to 'break the looking glass and see what lies hidden behind. We need to say 'no' to our misleading multiplied reflection. Because what you see in the looking glass while you shave in the morning (or make up in the evening) does not give you (sometimes) the tiniest clue about the world hidden behind your eyes. The authority which tells you that what you see in the looking glass is YOU, tells you lies, backed up by appearances only. The looking glass, in this story is not useful anymore, . . . you can still use it now and then, though, to meet certain cosmetic needs . . .
At this point, I would have claimed 'the West' to be irrelevant to us: as I come to think of it I don't care much about this. Because to me the West now remains in the background, it's not on the focus, yet it is present somewhere behind as a part of the landscape which we usually refer to as life. To put it in a different way, the West is neither turned down, nor accepted, it needn't be for it is just where it belongs.
Whether the other find me interesting or not, I don't know, it's their concern. It might have been my deepest concern if I had lost my interest in myself, ?.this feels a bit suicidal, doesn't it? I am not very happy with the idea to jump out of the window, at the EUROPE hotel room . . . it feels much better to go back home instead. Just go back home, feel the coziness of our mother tongue, the comfort of our body, the high tide of personal integrity.
Just come back to ourselves, fill in our size, find the window to the world and have a look through it.