Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Plural of Self

The plural of self is selves, and if elf, elves; a shelf grows into shelves. And yet, here we are, not really knowing which is self and what is selves.

The fact is that there is no such thing as self; self is an image in the real that is ideal in the way it exists — no evidence can proof or prove the self, but yet it is hard not to think of self. Self, it turns out, emerges from the cocoon of reality and takes flight, and metamorphosis ensures it never remains the same.

Some people think of self as identity, or of self as being. It is possible to see the two things as the two sides of self, bearing in mind that you cannot be immutable being if you are to have identity.

Why? Because identity is defined in terms of what you are not; if thing X and thing Y are distinct, then X cannot be Y. But if things that are not X are always changing, how is X defined in terms of things that are not X? X must change too, and so it is never an identity in the ideal sense. It is a shifting panorama, a landscape, a kaleidoscope of identities, conflated as self.

And so, I am selves. I am many. If I, Christian, am in the image of God, remember too that God can be many, for in Genesis he is not only God (singular) but Elohim (plural).

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