The same word is used for denoting a governing body (typically, that
of a country) and, more generally, the condition of being in a certain
configuration: state. The state (in the former sense) is the same as the state
of our collective matters. The link to an individual’s status becomes even
clearer once we remind ourselves that all the connected words of the
important languages of feudal Europe – estate, état, Stand (which later
becomes Staat) – originally all refer to this, i.e., the individual conditions
we would call status, or class in a more collective sense.
Status also means my particular stance in the world, how I see and live
myself from the inner core to the outermost social representation.
Székesfehérvár is a particularly fitting example to embody these state-
layers in a collective space. To be a citizen of Székesfehérvár is to
constantly be confronted with a task of self-identification – traversing all
the layers, from a subjectively universal to a familiar, urban, national
level, with the personal and the collective representations mutually
reflecting each other. How do I stand in front of the city, and how does
it stand in front of me?
Cities, states, even companies (like Videoton and old Ikarus, both
belonging to Székesfehérvár and both shaping the industry of
Socialist Hungary) are all founded. The same holds for churches – be
them basilicas or synagogues – and the religious communities they
are hosting. That is, none of these is given a priori, but are instead
the expressions of a collective desire. Thus, to say that these are
determined by ethnic, linguistic or other social bonds is probably not
looking deep enough. We learn in school that the coronation of Stephen
I marks the birth of the Hungarian state. I have a more or less direct
evidence about my own birth – but how is it related with my state (in
any thinkable sense)? To solve this riddle is the ultimate aim of our lives,
and the research methodology is that mysterious thing called art.