2/27/11

the verb "soul"

the seemingly spontaneous emergence of rich personality in a person gives the sense that the content of the soul is something pre-given (though mysterious and deeply buried); a destiny to be unraveled. the question "who am I?" is strangely phrased. what is the underlying truth you are groping for when you deliberate on who you are? isn't the question "who am I?" up to you, closer to "what am I going to do?" than "what am I already"?

"who am I?" is often invoked in the face of choices that define your values or when you deliberate on a destiny to set for yourself. maybe it is the contradiction between (passive) observation and agency that makes the soul's emergence seem so mysterious and spontaneous. our understanding of human selfhood is coloured by the "finding yourself" schema, in which you take on a quest to discover yourself. is "discovering yourself" just provocative language, or is there an underlying superstructure of the self we are supposed to find?

if your self emerges through agency, and that agency operates in the language and meaning of observation or discovery, a mystery will arise when you literally interpret that agential process as a search for knowledge. self-knowledge can causally predate the reality of the self; you think "I am" and in doing so shape yourself towards that "am" such that you're right. here, the answer to "who am I?" is not really a revelation so much but a self-determination. your "I am" is a resoluteness of desire instead of an expression of a clearly defined self. through pursuit, desire, and searching we continually create ourselves, with the illusion that we originate from an innate source that is forever hidden. we search for ourselves, but not selves already there to be found; we search for a way that we might be, for a projective self that is formulated open-endedly and eternally