This isn’t a story about me. It’s about a boy, Sam, I knew at school. He was pretty quiet which is why I never really got to know him sooner. I do remember the stuffed dinosaur key-ring attached to his bag though.
The first time I noticed something was amiss was during class. Out of the blue the teacher asked him a maths question. He laughed, held his dinosaur to his ear, nodded as if listening to something, then gave an answer. We all laughed at this farce, but soon fell silent as we realised there was a problem. The teacher, a chubby chap by the name of Mr. Carter had turned to the board, frantically writing. Uncertain, the class whispered and fidgeted. A minute later he finished, paused a moment, then turned to Sam saying “Yes, that’s right.” He started to ask something else, but Sam was saved by the bell and ensuing diaspora. Most likely the others forgot this curious event. I didn’t.
For those who are interested I have started a living Tarot page on the site, with the aim to update it daily with guidance and interpretations of all the cards, with room for people to add personal insights and reflections on this ancient and powerful symbolic language. I strongly recommend taking a look!
Like a lot of children, I was convinced that I had psychic powers. If I just concentrated hard enough, for long enough, I would be able to make miraculous things happen. The intently constipated look on my face, growing redder by the second, fixed gaze on the damned pencil that absolutely refused to move. I’m sure Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’ had fair responsibility for this fantasy! I even recall this intensity washing over into my dreams, as I acutely recall several occasions where my psychic experimentations actually worked, only to wake up moments later to find I could not actually fly after all.
Accepting that there are things in the world that you cannot achieve with the power of your mind alone seems to spare a great number of strokes and hernias. At least, that’s what they would have you think!
Sam simply stared. She lay on her back, spreadeagled, looking at the stars. Her bed was glowing softly in a blue-white light. The rest of her room had gone, leaving just her, her bed, and the vast starlit blackness. No breeze, sound, or heartbeat served to give any indication of time. In fact, the soundless vacuum denied every attempt to cough or speak. If Sam had the slightest interest in astronomy she may have noticed, or failed to notice, the missing constellations regularly adorning the night sky on earth. As it was, it all served to heighten the sense of detachment and strangeness of the moment. Her fingers twined uselessly in her sheets as her mind recoiled from the void stretching like a pit before her. It recalled childhood fantasies of falling upwards into the deep blue sky whilst lying supine on a summer’s day, alone in a grassy field with nothing but dandelions and pebbles for purchase.
There was a guy called Charlie. That wasn’t his real name, and frankly, he could have been a she for all you know. Suffice to say, not much was certain about Charlie except for two things. Charlie had an imaginary friend, and they didn’t trust each other.
Depending on how you interpret the question, there is potentially a lot of mileage in this. I want to address the concept of personal identity because I really fail to understand the problem that a lot of philosophers seem to have with it. If there is a problem, it is about accepting the way things are.
What makes a person a person? What makes a person the same person they were a minute ago? Or yesterday? What am I? I think a lot of the problem grows from a tension between general conceptions of identity in space and time conflicting with the idea that people are special in their identity.
Identity outside the realms of maths and logic is a messy affair. Ships get replaced bit by bit. People change their minds and behaviour. Organs are transplanted. Plant grow from seeds and people grow from infancy. Despite these changes, we still identify a person as that same person, simplistic matters of mistaken identity and error aside. Indeed, errors are possible, but in most cases the identity is sound and useful. Otherwise I’d not know if you were my mother, a stranger, work colleague or whatever. Cunning philosophers offer many thought experiments to eat away at this kind of identification, involving switching brains between people, removing parts of the body until the person ‘disappears’ and suchlike.
This is pretty fundamental to the entire ‘Egophage’ project. The idea that the subconscious can be a construct of multiple warring needs and desires – much like the kind of possession by demons seen in the Bible and other stories. In this concept, the person in question acts as an unwilling host for his subconscious assailants, who strut around garbed in his memories and personality despite his best efforts to cope. Here are some trial paragraphs.