Who Am I vs. What I Am

Who is for persons, what is for things, we know.  This is true except in languages that have masculine and feminine gender for the things they name. In these languages we know that tables are she, for example: la tavola in Italian; and that surrealism is he, for example le surrealisme in French. The same analogies can be drawn for any of the other Romance languages as it can be drawn for Slavic languages, too, where speakers of Polish or Russian or Ukrainian know that things can be he or she.   There is no problem created in Italian by referring to a table as she.  My wife sometimes uses ‘everybody’ for ‘everything.’ These languages know the nature of gender in a way different from how we do in English.  Nonetheless, all things in English are it.  He and she are used only in reference to male and female beings, human or otherwise.
So then, how does this help us to understand the nature of what humanity is, our humanity, yours, mine, his . . . her humanity?  Does it help; does it hinder?  To understand the nature of he, she and it in this unique, yet fundamental way would mean what?   If humanity is an it, then what is it?  If the appropriate reference for humanity would be who and not what, then who is this humanity? is the question.  Doesn’t it point to, I am sure you know, the question, who are we? And this question can be asked simply enough, Who am I?

Yes, the question is who and not what, yet most of us are more concerned for what we are than who we are–who getting buried by so many layers of what, what and more whats we couldn’t find ourselves if we spent time digging and digging. Who am I? I am me, of course; I am who I am when I am wherever I am with whomever I am? What could that mean for me now, here, at this moment, I do not know. All the world’s a stage, for sure. I am with Will about the world–all of us, each one of us playing many parts, not just the parts that go on through the stages (no pun intended) of a life. Who is the same person with his wife that he is with his best friend or his mother, the same with his mother today he was with his mother when he was  boy, the same when he was a boy that he was when he became a teenager, the same with his mother he is with a stranger, the same with that stranger at that moment where that he is with another in another place at another time, or with yet other strangers he is with his son tagging along or with his best friends or with his colleagues from work, or the same with any of these persons in any of these contexts he is in a strange city alone, or in another country apart from those he travelled with, the same as he is in his mind, in the mirror–how many are you in the mirror–I am I, I am he, but I am also often you. You are, I am, he is in the mirror. Who am I in fantasies? Who do I become when I talk to myself about my problems, or to others in my head about my problems? Who was I when I prayed? Who am I when I talk to the dead–and I do talk to the dead? The world is a stage–and my mind is the world, the universe. Who have I been as friend, as lover, as son, as student, as colleague, as stranger–I have been many things based on many variables in an equation incalculable?

But then this what I am becomes central for so many others around me with me against me for me at me that I need to consider what it is I am in the eyes of others. I know my wife considers this pasT when she should. I can’t as she does, or as others do. There is a point or a place when or where I no longer consider what others think about me. Whatever they do think about me is their problem. Not giving a fuck was a plus in the eyes of many I grew up with–it is nothing but the most central attitude for any advancement anywhere, it seems–at least advancing through the lower levels of the pettiest authority, which is why most managers and administrators are assholes–maybe I should have said something else, but how could I having the experiences I have had with those I have been in conflict with, those going along to get along to get their moderate advance through a system that rectumizes you. You do have to learn how to get along and most of what you have ton say or do to achieve this has nothing to do with your true self or your original self or your integrity, not really. Yet, there is enough of it that does and that is where many lose sight of who they are for what they are. Who I am is a tree in a forest of what I am of what I have become. Acting is imperative–knowing how when and with whom for whom is important to learn.

I am we is something I have already concluded. I am many; we are legion in the world and within. Inside me is a world of many selves. I wear masks in the world and I wear them on the selves inside. To know who I am, I have to get behind the masks, but most importantly, the mask inside me. There is no singular person who reveals itself himself to me. I don’t know who I am or even what I am, ultimately–the what I am is also anything but singular. I guess I must come to say that I am who I am which says that I am me. I am me whoever I am at anytime I am anything I am with whomever I change what I am or become at any time anywhere for whatever reason or unreason. If I were to wake up with amnesia tomorrow, I would still be me, whatever that is at the time it is. There is really no such thing as not being one’s self. There are exceptions to this–but even in how I am legitimately not myself I am not myself in only the way I could not be me.


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