Essay

A Dialectic of Selfhood [Flash Fiction]

for Frederick , Michel and William

The non-locatable Self of many, many selves . . . is it necessary for me to draw this out? He could, you know, but then what does that say, really, all this drawing out in detail–is everything really in the details? He remembers something like this from his good and close friend Virginia, the last time he was with her was when, he wonders. He probably could comb his journals and find out the last time they were together.

The need for self-distance he recollected he had learned from his friend Michel, and that that was a long time ago; but the idea of this self-distance formatively in the way he has been able to articulate it he had learned from a Mr. Rider who he had met at a used bookstore on Coney Island Avenue sometime in the early nineties, a place called Here’s a Bookstore that he used to go to with a friend from college (what about her is not for these lines) . . . he too remembered he had felt undeveloped socially, as it was also with his friend Michel, being a me, as he said, that does not quite fit the die-cast roles of society; something–or is it still someone who–that does not quite exist yet? Yes, already, but not yet.

Then this existence, as we should understand, is something apart from being, his to be or not to be–and William did learn a lot from Michel in the ways soliloquy could function, the need for self-distance in an essay was what Will used in his soliloquies. I had to learn how to listen to myself, even to overhear myself thinking . . . if you will (and will pardon the double pun here). Here then is what has been for him a lifetime preoccupation, discovering the Self, for the undiscovered country is within:

I am not going to make a point of asking who I am or what I am, nor will I spend any time considering the question when am I? Confusion about the nature of the Self leads me to believe that there can only be one and only one self I choose, need to have, have to have, should have–I have many decisions to make with respect for time, but then tense is not time, if you do not already know this. But when is this singular plurality, or plural singularity; how does it function in an individual human Self, an individual human’s consciousness? Questions and more questions, questions always rising up at the right time, the wrong time, at other times with considerations neither right nor wrong. 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? You will want to know many of specifics of these? They are non-locatable, as we have concluded for mind and for soul, the many selves Self. I know we have a prejudice for empiricism, or at least we have succumbed to the dogmas of our own empiricism (and there can be many), whereby our epistemology has been held hostage by this empiricism to the disadvantage of traditional metaphysics.

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–I suppose you expect me to make the connections clear, but my points ring true (if we still believe in the capacity of such metaphors to say something about us seeing something . . .). No? You disagree?

To disagree with consensus in this society is not insanity as much as it is a loathsome form of anarchy, a ugly form of elitism rearing its monstrousness among the democratic averages, NO? Look again–we are really idiots, without any truly general or social concerns except those that have been packaged for us, prepared for us to consume, by the media elite in service of the monied and power elites. It used to be that you could always get half of the poor to bludgeon the other half of the poor, but now we have it where there will always be a fluctuating half of the stupid prepared to bludgeon the other half of the stupid, US.

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