Who are you?
Who are any of us?
Might seem like a dumb question. Or not.
Might seem like a simple question. Or not.
How would you answer? Your name? Your station in life or what you do? Who your family is?
But no, really. Who are you?
I’m not sure I could come up with a really great answer for that anymore. Identity is a common theme in my fiction writing. As is the idea of “finding one’s self.” Even at this late stage in life, I suppose I’m still trying to get there...wherever "there" is located. Those who are “there” fall into two camps, in my opinion.
Those who have spent long years pondering the question and those who lie to themselves. I know. There are numerous who move through life without asking themselves any difficult questions. Ignorance is bliss. Wish I could be like that. But I can’t. Often times that sets me apart in my own mental and philosophical Antarctica.
When asked the question, do you fall back on old philosophical chestnuts? Like Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am?” Mmmm. Kierkegaard is closer to it, I believe: “A human being is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation that relates itself to itself or is the relation’s relating itself to itself in the relation.”
Wordy, but it is all relative as Einstein might say. We go through life colliding with things. With ideas, concepts, with dogma, with art, with philosophies. Certain items stick. The resulting conglomeration is what we call “self.” Maybe. That construct changes over time due to experience or from natural curiosity. We are the product of Derrida’s “ever-expanding archives,” none of us really existing in a vacuum.
The problem I have with this, however true or untrue it might be, is how much it is prone to fragmentation.
Different things dragging you in different directions. Losing that Zen center. There are things that can split one asunder. Most of them involve trying to appease many at the same time or in betraying whatever au courant dogma your societal container has you locked into at the time. Case example, a man with two wives…or two full-time partners at any rate…is frowned up heavily in the United States.
I have no desire to stumble even farther afield from the topic any more than I already have, so I have no intention to delve into the “right or wrong” of this stance. What I cannot keep from wondering though, is how the people involved in such relationships keep from fragmenting themselves? Is it possible for emotional attachment to run in both directions? Sure it can, but that saying from the Bible keeps creeping back into my head. That one about serving two masters. Either you’ll hate the one and love the other or vice versa. To me, that sounds like fragmentation.
Maybe it really is all in our minds. Identity and emotion, all products of neurochemicals in our brains. Our emotions are really just information. This information is shunted along through synapses and neuronets. Doesn't seem too far of an extrapolation to state that our identity...even our very consciousness itself is a product of these intricate workings. Here's an easily digestible break down of how it works.
Good news is that we can therefore learn to control our emotions. We can recognize and then limit our responses should we choose to do so. And someone might have numerous reasons to make that choice. I'm not advocating that we all become Vulcans, but rather affording ourselves enough cunctation in reaction to make a decision based on wisdom as opposed to unruly cranial chemical reactions. Because really, that's all feelings are.
Yeah, talking like that sends fundies straight for the Bibles. What, the soul is merely a chemical construct? Emotions are, yes. Identity, in part. But the soul? Whatever that is...might be a spiritual form far beyond what any religion has speculated upon. I have no great answers for that question.
No more than I have for who I think I am.
"Because I'm creating an imaginary — it's always imaginary — world in which I would like to live."--William Burroughs
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