/, Essays, Blesok no. 136/IDENTITY IS A STORY…


On the other hand, regardless of whether these are essays in which identity issues and dilemmas are dominant, although they may have a primary recipient, however, even after the first reading it can be noticed that the addressee is not necessarily only Us or Them, but also Us and Them at the same time, and often those who are outside those stereotyped identity frames. Even when it comes to an essay-sermon written for a specific event, the addressee is out of the context of the event. Therefore, during the reading of Goran’s essay, the dilemma arises whether according to the definitions of Umberto Eco, it would be an open or closed text, or maybe another category of semi-open or semi-closed text would apply to it.

However, there is no doubt that this is a text in which the determination for objective subjectivity is present. Goran’s essay is equally distanced from the adaptive interpretive strategy, and the strategy of systematic denial of the Other, and the competitive interpretive strategy, and the strategy of conversions, and the hegemonic megalo strategy. And that allows recognizing something new after almost several decades spent in discussions on identity narratives. In the absence of the current critical reception of Stefanovski’s essayism[2], now, this something new, should and must be recognized, emphasized, commented and evaluated. This time we point out only a few remarks about the peculiarities of the approach to identity issues and dilemmas in Goran’s essays, which can be one of the starting points of the readings through which this new thing will be recognized…


For the essayist Goran Stefanovski, identity is a story, and creating a story is a survival instinct. In his essay “On Our Story”, he notes: “All living beings are born with a survival instinct. Spiders, in order to survive, have a perfect innate instinct for weaving webs. People, in order to survive, have a perfect innate instinct for weaving stories – about who they are, what they are, where they come from, and where they go. For us, there is nothing more important than these stories. They are the core of our life, the pillar of our identity.” (Стефановски 2005: 13-14) Or in other words – for Stefanovski, identity is the fruit of human instinct and the need to survive – a prerequisite for survival. Without him, without the story that must be true, we “cannot survive in the harsh world” (Стефановски 2005: 14).

This creative-thinking perception of the essential importance of self-knowledge and self-identification in the story seems to be one of the basic reasons why identity is a leading thematic preoccupation in Goran’s essayism. Because, “identity is an expression of ‘identity strategy’” (Bayart 2009: 388), and the story is the concrete realization of the strategy.

However, although this essay is based on the determination that “no culture can survive without an accurate, powerful and authentic story” (Стефановски 2005: 15) and the view that there is an urgent need to “show our story – our truth about who we were, who we are and who we want to be” (Стефановски 2005: 16), Stefanovski’s essay is not a glorification of the story. It is a critique of the attitude towards it and an attempt to understand that the story should be told through its objective reflection in reality, and not through its reflection in the concave and convex mirrors with which it is surrounded. Because, “all this could easily pass as a theory, but it is difficult to implement it in practice.” (Стефановски 2005: 16)

It is with such a critical-objective approach to the story that Stefanovski opens a series of identity questions and dilemmas in his essayistic texts:

– Are childhood and home the basis of personal identity – the basis of my story?

– Is the collective identity part of us or are we part of it?

Is our story part of my story or is my story part of our story?

– Why do Others reduce I / We to their assumption about his / our identity?

– How does the inferior We react to the perception that the superior Other has about it?

Does it perhaps begin to uncritically believe that the values ​​of the Other are greater than those of our story?[3]

But the questions and dilemmas that are identified with the micro-reading of Goran’s essays, bring with them questions and additional dilemmas, which point to further readings and reflections…


Due to the factual consistency, it seems necessary to mention that most of Stefanovski’s essayistic opus where the identity issues and dilemmas are present was created in the days he himself says he spent “trying to find continuity between my two stories”. (Стефановски 2005: 65). Specifically, in a period that Stefanovski would mention as a time for changing the ground, which requires clarification of the story – after the changes of social reality in which his personal and collective identity fail to simply adapt after the beginning of the second (life) pre-essayistic story. Because, “exactly the processes of disintegration of one identity paradigm and the formation of a new one, will mark the end of the 20th century in the former Yugoslavia”, and “identity(-ies) is not a permanent category, he / they (are) is the result of cultural, political or ideological elaboration, he / she (are) is a historical construct…” ( Крамариќ и Бановиќ-Марковска 2012: 15)

[2] Unfortunately, Stefanovski’s essayism does not pass the curse of the belated real critical evaluation that previously happened to his dramatic texts. So far, Goran Stefanovski’s essays have received special attention in only two published papers: a review of the essay book “Stories from the Wild East” (Младеновски 2005) and a text which analyzes and comments Stefanovski’s views on identity and identity narratives presented in several of his essays (Смилевски 2019). The later paper is an adapted part of a previously presented doctoral dissertation on the exile and the art of moving into the creative works of Dubravka Ugresic and Goran Stefanovski (Смилевски 2013: 145-157). Stefanovski is represented in one of the published anthologies of the Macedonian essay, with his essay “The Nightmares of European Cultural Policy” (Џепароски 2008: 272-280). The spatial limitations for making that choice, as pointed out by the organizer in the preface (Џепароски 2008: 18) are the reason for presenting only one text by one author. Most likely, (and) because of such limitations, the specific one was chosen, and not one of Stefanovski’s other essays which are more extensive.

[3] Separately, the identity issues and dilemmas in Stefanovski’s essays are addressed in the master thesis
“Identity issues and dilemmas in Goran Stefanovski’s essays” presented in December 2020 at the Faculty of Philology “Blaze Koneski” in Skopje. The paper also includes a mini-catalog of questions and dilemmas, which addresses additional questions and dilemmas identified in Stefanovski’s essays.

AuthorIvan Antonovski
2021-04-03T19:30:48+00:00 March 31st, 2021|Categories: Literature, Essays, Blesok no. 136|0 Comments