The most common question to every human being since existence; who is I? Followed up by; what is the meaning of “my” life? These questions arise when we are displeased in a situation. Our mind is adrift, we are sad, and pain is prominent because when we are content and experiencing pleasure, joy, and fulfillment, dopamine says so; in other words, it isn’t broken; why fix it? Our erroneous response ignores these questions by seeking our preconceived pundit associates’ judgments, perceptions, and quick fixes. Why? Quoting Franz Kafka, “Sometimes in his arrogance, he has more anxiety for the world than for himself.”
Let’s approach this with the assistance of Lacan. The ideal ego is the image you assume, and the ego ideal is the symbolic point that gives you a place and supplies the point from which you are observed. My relation with myself is constructed from the outside. I learn who I am because others tell me. So, in other words, we assiduously project an image without ratiocination; thus, our symbolic appearance is a façade, unidentified and foreign simultaneously subconsciously and consciously, for we have no words to explain who we indeed are to the outside world. However, we logicize our actions, fashion, and speech, based on pleasure obtained from the outside world deriving from the syllogism: The “pleasure” gives some verisimilitude?
Let’s explore questions and formulate questions we seek for knowledge – the questions present the answers. Seeking the most real question will return the most precise response or hypothesis leading to the next question, that cognitively is formed by you as all words have different meanings to others, except yourself. How you decipher those words depicts “your” translation, elucidation, and decoding providing a reasonable, rational, and logical proficiency satisfying your insight. After all, a word is a word. It is different from other words: “dog” has its value because it differs from “log,” “smog,” and “fog.” René Descartes’ famous resolution was “to take nothing for the truth without clear knowledge that it is such.”
The following scene from the 1976 classic thriller, directed by Martin Scorsese, “Taxi Driver,” is powerful because we identify with both characters. “So what makes you so high and mighty?” the 14-year-old runaway prostitute, Iris, confidently asks, “Will you tell me that?” staring through her vibrant green-tinted glasses at Travis Brickle, the 26-year-old ex-US marine now mentally unstable cab driver, awkwardly dodging her eyes to look at their table in an old café of New York City. “Didn’t you ever try looking at your own eyeballs in the mirror?” before removing her glasses—the power struggle between the contemptuous characters both recognizing their weaknesses while portraying an external image of their perception of confidence.
Do we ever “really” look in the mirror when we look in the mirror? Lacan’s reinterpretation of Freud’s mirror stage is the concept of our childhood between the ages of six and 18 months during our development with an incipient perception between the self and the reflected image, the “other,” as we attain the first realization of our bodily autonomy. We are fascinated with the “other” and attempt to control it and play with it as if it were “real” and eventually accept the image as our image, a reflection of ourselves.
Rock n Roll
In 1992, a band called Suicidal Tendencies released “Art of Rebellion” and a fascinating song called “Gotta Kill Captain Stupid.” The music starts with fast-beating on the drums, sounds of crickets, a few frogs croaking, an old alarm clock ringing, a rooster cawing, a bowling ball striking the pins before the upbeat heavy fast guitar kicks in. The associated sounds indicate arising from our sleep, to awake, enlightened and ready to face another day. The opening lyrics are more of a bold statement, an introduction of sorts, a proclamation, an identification that “we” are not in control of ourselves, even if we think we are, our “other” prevents us from being who we are:
Ah, damn, we got a lot of stupid people
Doing a lot of stupid things
Thinking a lot of stupid thoughts
And if you want to see one
Just look in the mirror
Moreover, interpreting my “real” “I” results from grasping my true desires, not to be mistaken with wishes. Still, the motivation of “I” is perhaps located between the lines of my desires that I think are mine based on my external influences directing me to be “I.” The sentient human wrestles with the subconscious, pleading for a savant-like guide to free it from the enmeshed confusion, dissolution, and frightening emotions so prevalent. Transvaluation is not a definitive end, goal, or something tangible; it is a process, journey, and a breakthrough for yourself to put an end to the omnipresent shelter of diffidence.
Let’s explore a common habit we all share: consuming things, fulfilling our needs and wants with stuff. Have you ever had buyers remorse? I have a lot, especially after an impulse purchase while shopping with my friends. I set out with a clear, concise intention to purchase a specific “required” thing, subsequently sidetracked by the perceived pleasure of my friend’s comments, “You should get that! That is, you!” And who better tell me who I am than the people who see me that I verily believe have the best intentions for my well-being purely based on their interpretations of my fumbled string of words attempted to convey who I am.
There are some things we know for each human, some things we don’t. The analysis of personal knowledge is a slippery slope and a primordial act of humans because we can think this way, separating us from all other creatures, we have the cognitive ability to question our existence, our very purpose of life, yet most often, we oppress this question by reason of avoiding the floundering, often dark, unperceived images and thoughts that we can’t articulate to communicate externally, let alone internally, thus labelling it taboo. The ramifications of sharing the nascent notion externally of the pragmatic quest for personal knowledge is perceived to be nonsensical, absence of logic and rational thoughts.
Meaning of Life
To question the meaning of life may result in an infinite predicament within ourselves, every step greeted with unexplained obstacles, denunciation of traditional beliefs, and shocking revelations of the absurd, to name a few but may lead to the transformation, resuscitation, and prosperity of breathing new life into yourself. Ignore the disapproval of the naysayers; vampiric-like qualities drain your energy to feed their selfish insecurity and lack of courage from their failed attempts of self-realization, which threatens their being, “If I can’t figure this out, nobody can.” They subconsciously pass judgment and deconstruct your positive journey with vitriolic passive-aggressive comments to hinder the newly discovered self-awareness, only to alleviate the pain of confusion they feel – if they don’t feel good, nor should you.
Questioning who you are will inadvertently transcend to the pragmatic theories of truth, the connection between truth and epistemic practices of assertion and inquiry of questioning statements of perceived fact toward what was meant by the speaker describing a comment as accurate. In other words, analyzing the engagement of a person’s functions and practices, their pledges to others, problem-solving, or claiming an affirmation is the view of truth. Who knows, right?
I could ramble on and on and present more questions than answers, but as for myself, asking the questions “I” want to be answered is what I am striving to get across to you. It matters not your interpretation of my questioning myself and my “other” along this ever-exhausting journey of truth and meaning for myself as I cannot summon the words to explain the knowledge acquired; however, the display of my external actions is all I can share.
Next time you take your vehicle out, I urge you to ask yourself this question, “What am I driving, and who am I driving it for?”