So I am writing, about our “I.” The metaphor by which we understand ourselves stimulates either our enlightenment or our confusion. If we transcend the western normative sense of “I,” and think in terms of “multi-plexity,” we think in terms of aggregate parts; the concept implies multiple units. If we think in terms of “zone,” we think in terms of area; the concept implies the movement across space. Either metaphor is flawed.
“Who am ‘I’?” Is not as important as “What is ‘I’?”
Sartre is valuable in that he breaks down a single conception of “I.” His understanding, or misunderstanding, of Kierkegaard provides the lever by which he moves this mountain. And his adaption of Husserl teases out the implications of the “so moved mountain.”
But phenomenology begins not with what the writer is writing about, but with that which is the “I” in the present tense of the writing. It is more productive to contemplate the “I” of its writing, than the conclusions which are argued for. My predicate is my subject; my subject is my predicate. Predication creates the subject in reverse.
Consider the application to a single predicated condition: “I am guilty.” What does this mean?
It implies that “I” is the same as “guilty.” But I cannot use the two interchangeably. What is more, it does not clarify as to whether or not all of “I” is guilty, or just part of “I” is “guilty,” or whether the action of “I” is guilty quite apart from the essence of “I.” The problem is not “guilty,” the problem is not “I;” the problem is “am.”
The most meaningful word in this three part phrase is the action/passive word “am.” And on this word all of the problems hinge.
It is difficult to separate my “am” from my “am-ing.” It is like trying to reach into a stream and grasp the same water twice (I am now twisting yet another well-used metaphor). Am I a drop of water, or am I the stream?
Does this mean that there is not some approximation of some wrong doing that equivocates with a charge “guilty?” It does not. But it creates untenable problems. For instance, how do I punish the guilty? If the “I,” which was “am-ing,” predicated in a form that can be condemned as guilt, then the only way to punish the “I” is to be able to grasp the same water from the stream again.
Am I against all forms of punishment? No. I am against the darkness which oversimplifies the condition within which I must survive. And in saying so, I resort either to pathos, or to irony. For the “I’s” which load the previous three sentences may not even be one in the same. I am this which is “is-ing.” And I cannot be captured by the cartoon of conceptualized existence.
I am both more and less. And it is this “I” which is writing, but not this “I” which having written, will write again. I am not my potential, I am it’s precise actualization.