Choosing the Self You Want to Know

'You Choose (autoretrato),' by Alberto Varela on Flickr.com

[Image: “You Choose (autoretrato),” by Alberto Varela. (Found on Flickr; used here under a Creative Commons license — thank you!) The photographer says only that this self-portrait (Spanish: auto retrato) was inspired by another photographer’s work. That photographer, one Lex Wilson, has a whole Flickr album of “creative self-portraits” which presumably supplied the specific inspiration.]

From whiskey river:

No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention.

Well, get used to that feeling. That’s how your whole life will feel some day.

This is all practice.

(Chuck Palahniuk [source])

and (italicized portion):

There’s one problem with all psychological knowledge—nobody can apply it to themselves. People can be incredibly astute about the shortcomings of their friends, spouses, children. But they have no insight into themselves at all. The same people who are coldly clear-eyed about the world around them have nothing but fantasies about themselves. Psychological knowledge doesn’t work if you look in a mirror. This bizarre fact is, as far as I know, unexplained.

Personally, I always thought there was a clue from computer programming, in a procedure called recursion. Recursion means making the program loop back on itself, to use its own information to do things over and over until it gets a result. You use recursion for certain data-sorting algorithms and things like that. But it’s got to be done carefully, or you risk having the machine fall into what is called an infinite regress. It’s the programming equivalent of those funhouse mirrors that reflect mirrors, and mirrors, ever smaller and smaller, stretching away to infinity. The program keeps going, repeating and repeating, but nothing happens. The machine hangs.

I always figured something similar must happen when people turn their psychological insight-apparatus on themselves. The brain hangs. The thought process goes and goes, but it doesn’t get anywhere.

(Michael Crichton [source])

and:

A poem is a place where the conditions of beyondness and withinness are made palpable, where to imagine is to feel what it is like to be. It allows us to have the life we are denied because we are too busy living. Even more paradoxically, a poem permits us to live in ourselves as if we were just out of reach of ourselves.

(Mark Strand [source])

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What’s the Matter?

'Jeu injuste' ('Unfair game'), by  Rémy Saglier on Flickr

[Image: ‘Jeu injuste’ (‘Unfair game’), by Rémy Saglier (user “doubleray”) on Flickr.
Used under a Creative Commons license.]

From whiskey river:

The unreal is more powerful than the real.

Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it.

Because it’s only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die.

But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on.

If you can change the way people think, she said. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.

(Chuck Palahniuk [source])

and:

Since a three-dimensional object casts a two-dimensional shadow, we should be able to imagine the unknown four-dimensional object whose shadow we are. I for my part am fascinated by the search for a one-dimensional object that casts no shadow at all.

(Marcel Duchamp [source])

and:

Concerning the Atoms of the Soul

Someone explained once how the pieces of what we are
fall downwards at the same rate
as the Universe.
The atoms of us, falling towards the center

of whatever everything is. And we don’t see it.
We only sense their slight drag in the lifting hand.
That’s what weight is, that communal process of falling.
Furthermore, these atoms carry hooks, like burrs,

hooks catching like hooks, like clinging to like,
that’s what keeps us from becoming something else,
and why in early love, we sometimes
feel the tug of the heart snagging on anothers’ heart.

Only the atoms of the soul are perfect spheres
with no means of holding on to the world
or perhaps no need for holding on,
and so they fall through our lives catching

against nothing, like perfect rain,
and in the end, he wrote, mix in that common well of light
at the center of whatever the suspected
center is, or might have been.

(John Glenday [source])

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