La forza del carattere

Adelphi Edizioni spa

Non sempre è giusto cedere al fascinoso (e compassionevole) luogo comune secondo il quale chi muore giovane è caro agli dèi, perché «così come il carattere guida l’invecchiamento, l’invecchiamento disvela il carattere». La senilità, quindi, non è un accidente, né una dannazione o l’abominio di una medicina devota alla longevità, ma la condizione naturale e necessaria affinché il carattere si confermi e si compia. Come il daimon – il codice dell’anima – presiede alla rappresentazione di noi nell’età giovane, così il carattere delinea l’immagine di noi nell’età senile, vale a dire «ciò che resta dopo che ce ne siamo andati». Ma se il carattere sopravvive per immagini, invecchiare non è un mero processo fisiologico: è una forma d’arte, e solo coltivandola potremo fare della nostra vecchiaia una «struttura estetica» possente e memorabile, e incarnare il ruolo archetipico dell’avo, custode oculato della memoria e difensore non bigotto della tradizione – ovvero il compito cui siamo chiamati in tarda età. E non sarà secondaria, nell’adempimento di tale compito, la forza di impatto del nostro volto, che dal carattere è stato plasmato e del carattere è l’immagine più rivelatrice. Come viatico al seducente percorso cui Hillman ci invita in questo saggio, ci si potrebbe allora servire di un passo di Borges: «Un uomo si propone il compito di disegnare il mondo. Trascorrendo gli anni, popola uno spazio con immagini di province, di regni, di montagne, di baie, di navi, d’isole, di pesci, di dimore, di strumenti, di astri, di cavalli e di persone. Poco prima di morire, scopre che quel paziente labirinto di linee traccia l’immagine del suo volto». "La forza del carattere" è apparso per la prima volta nel 1999.
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Adelphi Edizioni spa
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Published on
Dec 16, 2014
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Medical / Psychiatry / General
Psychology / General
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“[An] acute and powerful vision . . . offers a renaissance of humane values.”—Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life
Plato called it “daimon,” the Romans “genius,” the Christians “guardian angel”; today we use such terms as “heart,” “spirit,” and “soul.” While philosophers and psychologists from Plato to Jung have studied and debated the fundamental essence of our individuality, our modern culture refuses to accept that a unique soul guides each of us from birth, shaping the course of our lives. In this extraordinary bestseller, James Hillman presents a brilliant vision of our selves, and an exciting approach to the mystery at the center of every life that asks, “What is it, in my heart, that I must do, be, and have? And why?”
Drawing on the biographies of figures such as Ella Fitzgerald and Mohandas K. Gandhi, Hillman argues that character is fate, that there is more to each individual than can be explained by genetics and environment. The result is a reasoned and powerful road map to understanding our true nature and discovering an eye-opening array of choices—from the way we raise our children to our career paths to our social and personal commitments to achieving excellence in our time. 
Praise for The Soul’s Code

“Champions a glorious sort of rugged individualism that, with the help of an inner daimon (or guardian angel), can triumph against all odds.”—The Washington Post Book World 

“[A] brilliant, absorbing work . . . Hillman dares us to believe that we are each meant to be here, that we are needed by the world around us.”—Publishers Weekly
In his bestselling The Soul's Code, James Hillman    restored passion and meaning to the concept of identity, arguing that each of us is born with an innate character, the "daimon" or "spirit" that calls us  to what we are meant to be. Now, in The Force of Character, Hillman brings the idea of character full circle, offering a revolutionary new vision of life's most feared and misunderstood chapter: old age.
"Aging is no accident," Hillman writes. "It is necessary to the human condition, intended by the soul." We become more characteristic of who we are simply by lasting into later years; the older we become, the more our true natures emerge. Thus the final years have a very important purpose: the fulfillment and confirmation of one's character.
Contrary to the current genetic determinism that sees increased longevity as a wasted aberrance created by civilization, The Force of Character presents an explosive new thesis: The changes of old age, even the debilitating ones, have purposes and values organized by the psyche. Memory for recent events may falter, offering more place for long-term recollections. A heart condition in later life brings an opportunity to remove blockages from constricted relationships, while changes in sleep patterns allow the old to experience the profound elements of nighttime that we usually overlook. As Hillman says, "Aging makes metaphors of biology."
In this empowering and original work, James Hillman resurrects the ancient, widespread, and socially effective idea of the old person as "ancestor," a model for the young, the bearer of a society's cultural memory and traditions. America disregards old people who aren't young-acting and young-looking. We don't realize that "oldness" is an archetypal state of being that can add value and luster to things we treasure, places we revere, and people's character. When we open our imaginations to the idea of the ancestor, aging can free us from convention and transform us into a force of nature, releasing our deepest beliefs for the benefit of society.  For all who read it, The Force of Character will be a seminal,  life-affirming experience.
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