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Fr. 593

February 10, 2015

As a manner of showing the difficulty latent in self-articulation, we can engage in a series of warm-up exercises as it were. Consider for instance a situation in which we are asked to recall various memories from the recent or distant past. Ordinarily, these come simply enough. Yet the exercise becomes decidedly more complicated if a wrinkle is added to the exercise and we are asked instead to visualize these same memories from the third person perspective with ourselves as one object amongst others. With recent memories, the question arises to what degree we can assume the other position and view our person as mere object rather than embodied life.

The exercise takes a further turn when we move on to distant memories and try to recall and picture ourselves as being considerably younger. The object takes on a still stranger appearance with the attempt to fix the appearance of a different self, as it were. This apprehension meets with greater difficulty than the former to the extent that the object of apprehension is no longer that which we meet in the mirror on a daily basis. Perceiving self as object is difficult enough without the object diverging in appearance from the object as it appears under the most familiar modes of apprehension.

Thus far, attempts have been made solely at visualizing and thereby apprehending past self as object. We can add one last hurdle to the exercise by asking ourselves, once apprehended, to attribute qualities to ourselves from this observer or other position. These qualities might first be physical in kind and later emotional, mental, spiritual, etc. To what extent, even with the privileges of first-person access, however far removed, can we reliably assign ourselves quality and state at any given moment?

Although our exercise does not belong to the same modes of self-articulation and realization as those normally examined, it can perhaps be instructive to consider the ways in which this exercise illustrates pitfalls analogous to those in self-knowledge and -expression such as we encounter in a grammar of identity, the articulation of subject and individual. It is, much the same, something around which we must wrap our minds.

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