It is too often forgotten that man is impossible without imagination, without the capacity to invent for himself a conception of life, to ‘ideate’ the character he is going to be. Whether he be original or a plagiarist, man is the novelist of himself…Among…possibilities I must choose. Hence, I am free. But, be it well understood, I am free by compulsion, whether I wish to be or not…To be free means to be lacking in constitutive identity…

From Ortega y Gasset’s London essay, “History as a System” in Philosophy and History, ed. 1936 (“by compulsion” italicized by author), as quoted in Frank Kermode’s Sense of an Ending, p. 140 – 141)

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