Essay

He is therefore He Thinks [Flash Fiction]

A man discusses another man and in discussing this other man touches on a few significant points that could appear in anyone’s theory of being, what it means to be, what it might mean not to be—and how this not to be is either the cessation of being or the endurance of becoming. This limits of being . . .

You must understand that to become is not to be, while becoming we exist, but what we are becoming we are not yet; life is flux, constant change . . . so therefore, all living is in a perpetual state of becoming, no? In one sense? To be is not to become . . . while being anything, one is not becoming it.

He probably will not get to touch on the notion that to become and to be are antipodes in this man’s ontology; this man spoken of by another man herein . . . how many do the talking here will become clear. What should I say about this to be or not to be  could be the primary philosophical question, as others have said; although some of these others have suggested that it is the question of suicide that is the focus of the soliloquy, when it is not exactly this, although, it could also be this. To be is one thing, but not to be is another, and one way not to be is, as I have shown, to become; to be in becoming is a way to displace being. When I am in becoming, I am not, at that moment. I am not yet what I am becoming, so to become displaces to be, no?

What he says about the Self he has thought about for a very long time, considered for many, many years beginning with his decision to be a philosophy major as an undergraduate how many years (decades) ago he does not care to examine . . . the twelve thousand or more pages of notebooks, and the hundreds and hundreds of essays written can attest to the time taken in consideration of his first philosophical position, I am, therefore, I think–something other than the Cartesian starting point or the Kantian variation on Descartes, or so he thinks he can remember having believed, having had conviction for, journals from his university days attest to this; although mostly this remains dim because he did after all switch his major from philosophy to literature, the latter being less displaced from the fictions he had been writing, as all philosophical essays or theoretical discussions are fictions of a kind.

I have not given up on the existence of soul, nor have I decided that mind is of greater valency than any of the ancient or traditional notions of soul, regardless of what my contemporary world might view as correct and dogma, at least in one or another cultural variations on its pseudo-scientific understanding of its science.

What does he mean by soul he does not examine historically or through the history of religion, nor how various cultures or religio-centric ontologies have managed the existence of soul; neither Egyptian, Greek, Jewish, Christian, Platonic, Aristotelian whatever have we in variety or variegation in the matters and manners of expressing what the soul is, where the soul is, how the soul is. He does not debate the existence of soul, nor does he confuse it or confound it for mind, as do the French; nor does he keep it separate and mutually exclusive from mind as do Americans in general.

I must remember that what psychologists refer to as mind is not more tangible than this thing soul, which can still be understood as transcendent and absolutely irreducible, as I believe it is. The mind is not more empirically verifiable just because psychology has hegemony over philosophy or religion in American culture. But all psychology began as philosophy of mind, and most philosophical inquiry had an inception or parallel rise along with theology.

What more need he say, or I say about him, about his where, his when, his how and why, his what, what and what more could you want to know about this man who thinks and imagines he has thought for a very long time about things that we just do not thin kabout anymore, and that’s not in the mainstream, where no one ever thought about these things, but among the educated elite, which, under a different pedagogy, once included undergraduates, but now could not; not very many of the educated elite think about what has concerned him for many, many years. It no longer makes him sad as it used to make him sad, or so he imagined that it made him sad . . .  it is, for him, very simply put, that he is, therefore, he thinks; you do understand this, don’t you? Being is in itself thinking, thinking in itself being.  A purely sensual life is not being; it is existence, as we say when we say a pig exists; but does the pig have being, Is the pig?

I am, therefore, I think is everything in his being, my being, your being, to be or not is certainly the question, and the operation of Hamlet in his soliloquy is in itself the exemplary way to be. Yes, I am too, and therefore I also think. So, what can we say from what he says is that it is not only thought that takes place in language, but that being too takes place in language; that is, if thought can only take place in language, and the fact that I am, I think . . . because, again, to be is not to exist, so if I do not think, I can exist, but I cannot be. To be is to think and if to think is to be in language, then being itself takes place in language. Existence is something else, no?

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