Well, hello again. Perceiving a slight challenge from a couple of you [cough Mary, Teri cough], I swung into action. Yes, I am sneaky. You remain in the dark about my particular self, but I had great fun working through the statements I gave you and coming up with a cento.
Cento: An I For An I
I know that I exist; the question is, what is this ‘I’ that I know?
What was I before I came to self-consciousness? I did not exist at all,
for I was not an I. The I exists only as it is conscious of itself.
Any fixed categorization of the Self is a big goof.
The tension between “yes” and “no,” between “I can” and “I cannot,”
makes us feel that human life is an interminable debate with one’s self.
A self is an abstraction, a mythical entity, a philosophical muddle,
a center of narrative gravity.
The self which is reflexively referred to
is synthesized in that very act of reflexive self-reference —
I think, therefore I am —
When Thales was asked what was difficult, he said, ‘To know one’s self,’
to know the malignancy of one’s own instincts
and to know, as well, one’s power to deflect it;
to discover that we are capable of solitary joy and having experienced it,
know that we have touched the core of self.
People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself.
But the self is not something that one finds.
It is something that one creates.
(Descartes, 1641) (Fichte, 1794–5) (Ginsberg, 1963) (Kenny, 1988) (Nozick, 1981) (Dennett, 1991) [Diogenes Laetius (fl. early 3d cent.) Thales. ix.] [Anatole Broyard NY Times 13 Jan 76] [Thomas Szasz The Second Sin Doubleday 73] [Dr Karl A Menninger Vogue Jun 61] [Barbara Lazear Ascher Playing after Dark Doubleday 86]