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San Clemente Syndrome.

By Posted on 1 2 m read 9.9K views


Do you ever get lost among your inner selves? Cause I do. Quite a lot.

I’ve always been an observer. A people-watcher, if you will. It’s a fun activity, but I’m not sure if it helps in this particular scenario. I look at people on streets, in class, on a bus, in coffee shops and they all seem so beautifully certain in themselves. Strangely whole. And it’s entirely intimidating to me, ‘cause I, on the other hand, feel so scattered and all of my inner selves sometimes seem so unbelievably marginal.

But I don’t really know, it’s probably a big old illusion. Camus wrote about it. He called it a “nostalgia for the life of others”. He basically said that unity does not exist and that other people’s lives seem integral because we never witness them from the inside. “We are still chasing after an illusion of unity”, he wrote.

And damn you, Camus, you’re probably right. But I still can’t wrap my head around this concept. If a lot of people feel the way I do, then imagine hundreds of thousands of humans walking this earth each day, feeling like hundreds of different marginal beings at the same time. Every passing second. Fighting these little (and sometimes huge) battles every second of every minute. And no one can see it, because from the outside everything seems so painfully normal.

I read this book by Andre Aciman where he briefly wrote about a “San Clemente syndrome”. I feel like it’s a pretty broad idea, but basically, it tells a tale about this basilica in Rome, which is built on ruins of at least four different buildings – this San Clemente basilica has layers and layers of history underneath it, some pagan, some Christian and so on. And it’s a metaphor for us, people. We are made up of all of our past selves, of every moment we’ve ever lived, everyone we’ve loved, every little memory of ours. We are not one person but different versions of ourselves at different times in our lives. And those selves can seem so far apart from each other sometimes, but they’re all there. They’re always in us. San Clemente syndrome is “who I am when every part of me seems miles and centuries apart and each swears it bears my name.” I find this idea comforting. I hope you do too.




And here’s an outfit for the days when you feel a bit lost and all you crave is comfort, a nice cup of tea and a good book.


Jacket – ZARA
Pants – H&M
Shoes – Deichmann
Shirt – Bershka

Photos by Jonas Svidras @ STEP.CAMERA



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  • mauraya sharma

    Quite an interesting way to put it. Sometimes this idea of ‘vulnerability’, perhaps, opens you up to the possibility of what you can be- a certain boundlessness. Well written.