Zadie Smith, English novelist, essayist and all-round literary bad-ass wrote a brilliant essay that was recently published din the New York Times. Called “Find Your Beach” this relatively short essay is, according to Brian Pickings, “about Manhattan, about our modern compulsions, about the artist and the anguish of the American Dream.”
Now, I’ve lived in South Africa my entire life and have never been to Manhattan ever, or to England (which she references in juxtaposition to America) yet I find her words surprisingly easy to relate to. Any wordsmith can identify with what Smith says on the supposed need for self-actualization and how that need is a delicately constructed ‘want’, or how the Self reigns Queen in a society that prioritizes the individual over the communal, without authentic integration with the Self..
The society we live in is paradoxical and nonsensical – for many writers, including myself, we write to make sense of it all. This essay succinctly highlights those dichotomies and weaves in the narrative of the good life to boot.