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    7 Strange Ideas About The Inner Depths Of The Self

    What is the difference between discovering and expressing who I am? Do I only exist when I am trying to express myself? What if no one's listening!

    1. Why Can't I Remember Everything?

    In the midst of his Confessions, St. Augustine rhapsodizes about the unfathomable nature of his own memory. "Great is this force of memory, excessive great, O my God; a large and boundless chamber! Who ever sounded the bottom thereof? Yet is this a power of mine, and belongs unto my nature; nor do I myself comprehend all that I am. Therefore is the mind too strait to contain itself. And where should that be, which it containeth not of itself? Is it without it, and not within? How then doth it not comprehend itself? A wonderful admiration surprises me, amazement seizes me upon this."

    2. Swimming in the Sea of Self

    Augustine figured God had something to do with memory's apparent generativity, that the fathomless depths within were ultimately intimations of the divine. One ultimately needed God to understand what and who one was, otherwise one was consigned to swim in that ocean of remembrance forever without ever reaching solid ground.

    3. Gimmie Shelter

    The boundless inner depths, that is, were once regarded as a kind of curse; the idea that one could never get to the bottom of oneself brought on a terrifying psychic vertigo that drove one to the shelter of organized religion.

    4. Truly! Madly! Deeply!

    But we're no longer afraid of seeming too deep to ourselves. Philosopher Charles Taylor argues in Sources of the Self that the Enlightenment begat an "expressive turn" by which "a human life is seen as manifesting a potential which is also shaped by this manifestation." Expressing the self defined it and realized its purpose simultaneously.

    5. Originality as Vocation

    Taylor argues that this view of the self forces on us the obligation to "live up to our originality." Artists become high priests of this new religion, paradoxically modeling modes of individual inimitability.

    6. Stuff Inside vs. Stuff Outside

    But nothing has done more to substantiate this aspiration than consumerism. It has aspired to manifest the fathomless depths within as an endless plentitude of goods to acquire to express the self and limit it at the same time.

    7. Dialectic of Appropriation

    Online, consumerism can operate in the field of images and information, bringing originality and appropriation even closer together. You can insinuate yourself into any number of signifiers, and proliferate identities as a way of expressing the originality of the master self. But what does the synthesis of the apparent opposites of originality and copying ultimately yield? Is this solid ground we're seeking?

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