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Monday, July 06, 2009

Myself and I
in which I demonstrate how self-absorbed I am

It seems to me that when we interact with other people, we're secretly hoping they'll be like us. I don't think that's only true with weird people like me, either. Each common interest is another opportunity for interaction. Each agreement means more opportunities to build on (or repeat) that point later. Each common personality trait means less confusion (and therefore frustration) over actions.

Of course, you could also say the reverse. Agreeing on the basics means it's easier to argue about the conclusions. Common personality traits can lead to an exceptional level of animosity if those traits are disliked.

I doubt anyone reading this is going to agree, but this is the conclusion I draw: You can't love another person like you love yourself, and you can't hate another person like you hate yourself. All human interaction is a faint echo of what you'd get (both in positive and negative interactions) if you got yourself a time machine, went back to yesterday, and met yourself.

We can't do that, obviously. Yet.

I think the person who gets closest (apart from identical twins, those lucky jerks) is the storyteller. All his characters are reflections of himself, because if they weren't he couldn't know how they'd act. I think writing these characters is closer to interacting with oneself than, say, raising kids, because even though some of the DNA is shared, the actions and reactions are usually unpredictable to both sides. But when you imagine a person, he is a perfect (if quite twisted) copy of yourself.

The fact that character and creator are operating on different planes of existence is a problem, I'll admit. The writer can bridge the gap a bit by introducing some lesson at the end, because then the character sees the hand of the creator, even if it's not recognized for what it is. But the only sustainable way to approximate self-interaction is to have multiple characters. Sometimes it'll be really clear that the characters represent specific aspects of their writer, and sometimes it'll be so subtle that the storyteller doesn't see it himself.

Myself, I don't do subtlety. The first story I remember writing (when I was 5) involved me interacting with a bunch of ghosts. Their names were Mory 1, Mory 2, Mory 3, Mory 4, and so on. And I'm still doing that today, obviously. Telling stories about "Ariel", arguing with the personification of this blog, talking with a girl who's a lot like me I am not.

Yes you are.

Oh, also, you never let me show up anymore.

Okay. The point is, these are all substitutes to getting to talk to myself. Which I haven't gotten to do yet.

So if I ever get unduly frustrated when you show a lack of interest in certain topics, or when you say perfectly reasonable things which I disagree with, or when you act a certain way, please understand that it's nothing personal. I was just kind of hoping to see someone else.



I agree with what you're saying - even with that bolded bit nobody's supposed to - but with one caveat:

What other people offer you that you can't truly offer yourself is surprise. It's an intellectual curiousity largely that keeps us interacting with people - I mean, even just reading a story is a sort of interaction.

The other thing others offer us - though this is a bit more complicated and I'm not sure you'd agree - is a sort of confirmation that we exist. If you express some of your inner world to a person and the fabric of space-time doesn't fold into itself or something, that lends your identity a feeling of reality.

We need other people as a sort of vessel to bring our inner world into the outer world.

It's true this'd be easier to do if they were us.


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