Essay

Self-Relevance [Flash Fiction]

for Emerson

A man, a person, an American, a New Yorker, educated, we like to say, university so, speaks of himself in relation to his Self, mostly incidentally, on paper, but as if he were talking to friends over drinks waiting for dinner as they do sometimes, several of them, have diner together for no reason except to be together, the few of them that like meeting at Cafe Loup on Thirteenth Street in the West Village, or what might still be called the West Village on the edge of Chelsea, Manhattan, not London.

The confusion about the nature of the Self leads us to believe that there can be one and only one self I choose, need to, have to, should . . . but when is this singular plurality, or plural singularity; how does it function in me? Yes, the coordinates of time as well as those of place have some bearing on my options, the choice I make, who I become, who I am, how I act, which self is allowed prominence, what masks I wear, both outside in the world and inside in the Self. Relevance is not everything; but context is a variable in a person’s choice of self. Where then do they reside, you might ask? They are non-locatable, as I have concluded for mind and for soul. I know I have a prejudice for empiricism, or at least I have succumbed to the dogmas of our own empiricism (and there can be many), whereby my epistemology has been held hostage by this empiricism to the disadvantage of how traditional metaphysics could help me think. The only knowledge is knowledge verifiable by data collection, a scientific parallel of book keeping, which I have no interest in admonishing or denigrating, could have no sane interest in doing either. However, Our abilities to draw inferences or use metaphors to describe experiences that cannot be quantified, although they may be qualified in any one of a number of linguistic ways, has grown in proportion to the kind of science, as I have said, that mirrors accounting–no irony in this totalitarian capitalist America.

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