Redefining Élan Vital

In 1907 the french coined a term: Élan Vital. Translated it means ‘vital essence’; more commonly it is understood as one’s soul.

Traditionally, we talk about souls in terms of a spirit that inhabits your body, divining your essence. Though the magical appeal for such an idea is strong, I find it to be an underestimation to the fascinating subject.

Leave spirits and magic out of the picture, for a moment consider that a person’s soul is like a quilt. If you think about it, much of our fabric is woven out of bits and pieces of other people. Normally we are very selective, usually borrowing traits that we admire or covert to add to our collection of ‘self’; changing our personality, growing our character, molding our temperament to be in accordance with that which we have perceived to have worked for others.

This process continues all throughout our life. We mirror what we admire; reflect what we desire.

Now isn’t that a much better poetic representation of how a person’s essence is formed? Like a beautiful mosaic, in the end, this suggests that each of us is a bundle of fragments of other people’s souls, simply put together in a new way.*

My inspiration to synthesize this piece came from my reading of Douglas Hofstadter’s Book: I am a Strange Loop.

*Quote from pg.252 of I am a Strange Loop

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