22 Sep


Television, Clive James apparently quipped, was simply about being yourself, provided, that is, you had a self to be. My. Self. Is this equivalent to that spark of divine fire: the image with which I conceive the soul? Is there a true picture of it? Of the soul, of the self? Does it even exist?

Why brand they us with selfishness? With self? Selfishness, self-indulgence, self-attention, self-seeking, self-absorbed. Self. Westerners are selfish, say Korean friends. Japanese too, apparently. We are selfish. And the social cost of a world in which we are free to move in the marketplace unencumbered by the dictates and opinions of others (ha ha) is atomization.

Self. Self. Self. Selfish bastard! Selfish bitch! We are all selfish, that is natural. We all selfishly crave love, that is natural. We seek to love, we love sometimes for nothing in return and that is natural too. The Self must love and be loved or else it’s not itself. Most of us, it would seem, can’t properly be ourselves without some significant other.

The Other as accessory, as the necessary complement of one’s Self? S/he that lives up to the Standards. Like everything else market principles apply. And our market-value, we’re constantly reminded, is largely determined physically but, unlike not so long ago, you have choices. My choice. May I see the catalog please, I’d like something in blue-eyed, chestnut brown. Or reject this, aspire to be half of some mystical whole as evidenced by common obsession with Bob Kane’s characters, Manchester Glam Rock bands and cars from Czechoslovakia? Just another marketing ploy? Typical girls get the typical boys? Or maybe just someone good. Someone normal? Someone I can get along with. Someone, anyone, pleeese!

The self is a modern thing and requires wealthy soil to grow in. Our soil is very wealthy. And everywhere there are images designed to attach your dreaming to a product that enhances your Self: your place on the sexual marketplace, your defiance of same, your interest in the history of trademarks, your desire to read a good spy novel, your collection of Pride and Prejudice movies. Our Self, our shelf; where does one end and the other begin?

Our environment is entirely artificial. At work: take one unit human labour resource and assume a machine. At home: watchbox/microwavephone/pizza. Occasionally: Tonight we’re going sit down as a family! (Whatever that entails) Or meet up with the usual gang, talking the usual jive, drinking the latest cocktail, downing the season’s drugs. Isn’t it all less than fabulous? Our brave new world has such disappointed people in it.

Sometime around 1980 the hippie generation sobered up. They started selling aerobics tapes and psychpop titles viz the vital importance of finding your Self. Oh dear. Find myself? Moi? Wherever can I be? Whoever am I really? Save your money. Go up into the mountains and find a place were you can look over the valleys. Cry! Shout, holler or screech your name out, full blast. And wait for it to come back.

That’s who you are.

Don’t like your name? Change it, I’m serious. Don’t like your voice? get some elocution. Don’t like your nose? go on get the Anglo-Saxon jobbie number two. You can do all these things if you’ve got the cabbage. You can alter yourself. Do you thereby enhance your Self?

Why isn’t it simply enough to find a vantage from which you can cry aloud into a valley? It’s not enough is it? We’re just too, um, selfish.


One Response to “SELF”


  1. ALT/ME « STILL CHAOS - October 9, 2010

    […] haven’t the answers. I don’t even think there are answers. Answers to what question? Who am I? All I know is that there’s a soul and I’ve got one and I’ve got tend to it. That […]

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