chapter  2
23 Pages

The Contemporary Relevance of the Classics

In the previous chapter we began by looking at the life of Natalie, a young woman living a frenetic lifestyle rooted in the twenty-fi rst century. In many respects, Natalie is of her time and lives for her times. Her world-view is largely cosmopolitan, her orientations are ultra-modern, she is geared to the new economy and its culture of fast communication and fast travel, and in many respects Natalie lives a life which fi ts hand in glove with the short-term frame of reference promoted by our world of intensive

18 t h e c o n t e m p o r a r y r e l e v a n c e o f t h e c l a s s i c s

globalization. But Natalie lives not only in the moment. Traces of the past – of traditional ways of doing things, of inherited customs and habits – continue to shape her daily life and infl uence her sense of personal identity. This is especially evident in terms of values, of Natalie’s moral commitments and ethical orientations. When speaking of herself – either to friends or family, or indeed to herself (when refl ecting on where life is leading) – Natalie is only too aware of the sway of her parents. She is deeply aware of the worlds of their social living, of the times and troubles her parents have experienced, and of how these experiences have been ‘handed down’ to her. Sometimes Natalie thinks of her sense of personal identity as deeply divided. This sense of division hinges on what Natalie regards as her experimental self (all the risks she takes in negotiating the complex terrain of the brave new global age) on the one hand, and her inherited self (the social and cultural deposits made by her parents and their worldviews) on the other.