ERGO SUM

By William Markiewicz

A 19th Century French poet advised: "Let yourself be sustained by your principles -- until they start to wobble." Just for the fun of it, I'd like to shake them right off the bat.

"I think, therefore I am" is accepted as a universal truth but I disagree and propose instead: "I feel, therefore I am." Perhaps I am not the first to claim it, as it seems pretty obvious. So, sorry for "rediscovering America."

I know, thanks to the mind, that 2 + 2 = 4, and everybody else knows it too. Also, everybody can see the tree I see in front of me. So, objective thought and external perception don't distinguish me from anybody else. But my visceral reactions do. The mind, the senses are mirrors by which the indifferent objective universe appears to us and our feelings make the difference. If I am who I am it is because the fabric I'm made of makes me react to the exterior.

It brings us to the next related question: how sure can we be that we are the same "I" all the time? Probably the majority of people don't doubt that from one instant to another, from one day to another, they are themselves for their lifetime. But I would like to challenge this. I've tried to make a connection between me being tired and in top shape; content and angry; hungry, thirsty and satiated; passionate and cool. I tried to catch the transition, and I failed. It is always an instant and total change, a quantum leap into "somebody else." When I learn something new my former ignorant self simply disappears. Maybe this is why it is so difficult to pretend that we don't know something that we know. Only my memory and the memory of others connect all those characters into one 'myself.' Ortega y Gasset said: "I am me plus my circumstances." Why not go even farther and say: I am my circumstances.

If we, as a game, tried to disconnect the whole chain of individuals who form our "me" and to live in the present instant as though newborn in this very instant, what a feeling of lightness, of freedom from the gravity of memories, guilts, regrets, reputation ... I don't propose it as a free licence for anything, just as a key for a fresh start, if only for a short time. 


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