Who am I? Who are you? (The Self)
“If I hadn’t been born rich, I might have been a really great man.”
~Charles Foster Kane: The Enigmatic Void
All concepts are constituted by a plenum and a void. Abundance and lack. The essential and the non-categorical. Who are you? Townshend’s question of identity in a mutable cultural landscape is symptomatic of the times, likewise it expresses them. Constructing and constructed by the zeitgeist.
Yeats: “The center will not hold.” The Second Coming is something cerebral, for the social world as socially constructed, the world of ideas, is its domain, its liminal space. No physical reordering will take place. Social institutions remain as such. But the perspective from which they are viewed shifts as we as individuals shift, reflecting cultural shifts as we make them.
The change was nascent before Yeats, but primal and aggressively showing its face in brief moments through individuals disconnected from one another by time and space. Those most heightened minds whose intellectual quarry, the mystery they pondered, the objet petit a to their insatiable sapiential being, was the self. We are and we aren’t.
We are our bare life, our biological facticity. We are social beings, our social facticity. We exist on both these plains as well as the abundant plains of desire, of the imaginary register of being: the Borromean Knot. We, as one, are the knot, but not the knot. I, as one, am the knot, but not the knot. The knot is we and I, but not one or other, and not both.
Orson Welles knew this on an instinctive level: “For thirty years people have been asking me how I reconcile X with Y! The truthful answer is that I don’t. Everything about me is a contradiction, and so is everything about everybody else. We are made out of oppositions; we live between two poles. There’s a philistine and an aesthete in all of us, and a murderer and a saint. You don’t reconcile the poles. You just recognize them.”