I Am Not Real

I Am Not Real

 

Precursor

I am going to lie to you.
Everything is a choice.

 

Poetry

I’m forgetting through the weeks.
Pushing down what the internal mind,
uneternal self think I should do.
I am to disappear,
and no one will notice.
So I’ll do as I please and suffer the consequences.
And I make this leap.

 

Complaint Letter

My dream in life is an amalgamation of my favorite and most joyous things, although they may be personal amalgamations, all the thoughts came from somewhere.
But if it hasn’t happened yet, it is only an idea, there is no permanence. It does not exist.
If my dream is not real then I am not real.
As my dream is as much of a built up configuration as my identity.
So if I am not real, but I am sitting here thinking, then I am within my own fantasy.
There’s no way to tell if it is real. We live in uncertainty, so why would it be certain I exist?
I do not exist as a human body. The body is so temporary, so interchangeable.
And so is the mind.

 

Manifesto

I choose every day whether I want to lie or tell the truth.
I could be lying right now.
I could really believe I am real.
I could be creating a carefree fantasy where I don’t exist.
The point is
You have no power over me.
This grade really would not matter.
Because that’s a construct.
And a cheap one at that.
And I know that is a very “cliché” thing to say.
It’s a construct for me to be in school.
And constructs create a functioning society.
But I want to slowly break down my constructs.
How can I push beyond my mind every day?
How can I look in the mirror and begin to see nothing at all?
How can I wake up, see the light, and reach freedom?
I began by realizing myself as a subject and no longer an object
I dress solely for myself in a way everyone claims to.
I do not worry about what people on the street think of me
Because I am interested in no one.
I am interested in working through this.
How can I make this perception of life a motion picture fantasy?
How can I fictionalize myself?
My mom always said that she thinks I want to be miserable.
It’s not that.
I just don’t want the easy way out.
I don’t want to just believe.
I don’t want to think like you.
So I put myself through breakdowns to find my way out.
I will break down
I do not exist.
I’m not real.
“I” do not exist.

 

I. The Physical

My surroundings can disappear. This idea is one that Descartes breaks down in his first and second meditations, explaining that sensing is an individual perception that can be deceived, and what we sense can change in form like how wax melts from solid to liquid.1 There is no one truth, one constant, and thus no certainty of my perception being the same as your perception. Casting it into doubt and invalidity. Descartes presents the idea that anything that can be put into doubt is then uncertain, and he initially suggests that the only thing that is certain is uncertainty. Although he changes his mind, his initial prompt into the breakdown of the foundation of beliefs is how I am looking at myself. The senses can be deceived by hallucinatory drugs, anxiety-attack-induced depersonalization in which one feels separate from one’s body and surroundings, and even things like virtual reality. Jaron Lanier, founding father of the term “Virtual Reality,” wrote about the consciousness in VR in his memoir, Dawn of the New Everything. He explains that entering virtual reality proves your existence, but also the lack of existence of the world around you. In VR, the surrounding world you once sensed can disappear and be replaced. You can look down to your hands and body, and they could possibly not look like the idea of your human hands and body as your sense of sight has come to make you believe. Lanier makes the point that everything around you can change, but you are still there.2 There is still a “you” experiencing all of this. This idea nullifies the certainty of sense and the physical body as existing, as the physical body is perceived through sense and sense can be easily deceived. If our senses (especially sight and touch) are not a justification of the existence of a body, then there is no substance to attach to the idea of a body. Therefore there’s no certainty of the perception of a body. Although, this idea may prove the existence of oneself.

 

II. The “I”

My name, identity, and body form the “I.” I may be an illusion or perception, and senses may sense me, but the me they see is just a body. A body they can see because they see their body and can attach their understanding of substance of themselves to me. A body, we’ve come to know, is something we can sense but is diminished from existence via the unreliability of our senses and inconsistencies of the surrounding world, as detailed in my first point. I myself, my thinking self, is nonexistent in the material world. My thoughts could be a fabrication of a world; I could be another system. Such is seen in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” when the speaker disassociates from the “I” at the end of the story.3 She splits her identity in two, and loses contact with the outside world, and so it is possible that in losing her mind, she also breaks down the construct of identity. The speaker in “The Yellow Wallpaper” breaks from the world in which she existed, a break her husband saw as insanity, but which may be freedom. Freedom from her mind, herself, and the constructs of her previous reality.

 Identity is given to you by society, thus making it not inherently yours, but something constructed for you to exist in. As a society, we connect identities to everything around us, and we realize the vagueness of communication when there is not an identity connected to everything. If we were to only speak in “we,” “this,” “they,” or speak in reference to a collective identity the world would not function the same. But in a world where constructs are broken, languages and words would break down as well, so the lack of clarity in communication would not be a concern. Identity is only created through speaking and writing.

 The narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” separates from herself and is no longer “I.” “I” is a construct, “I” was given, and so “I” do not exist. I can be conscious and unconscious, in control and out of control, feeling and unfeeling, remember everything or nothing at all, and so I am only fragments of being. My identity is simply a formation of the many identities I face and have based myself from. The belief of oneself as an individual is a construction presented by reality and society, i.e. your name, Social Security Number, gender, and role. This becomes who you are. Without all this we just are. We as a collective “we” and not as an “I” And quite possibly not as a “we,” as it is just a pronoun of language. Just as.

The possibility of being without fixed identity can be seen through, once again, virtual reality. You enter a virtual reality experience and everything can change around you, but you are still there. Confirming your existence and proving you are real. But not as “I,” as you are just a part of the system of reality presented. As a consciousness.

 

III. The Thoughts

Digging deeper, I will question consciousness. I am looking at the non-fixed development of consciousness. Even if there is a consciousness it could just be floating among the world with no body, identity, permanence, language, or consistency. As what I consider to be thoughts are only fragments of the world I am presented, which may not exist, and the self, which has been given to me. A consciousness is so easy to wipe out and forget that you wonder if it was ever really there. Without an identity there is not a “thing” to which a consciousness can attach itself. Even if you are freed from the construct of a physical body, and further freed by the concept of “I,” you’re trapped within your thoughts/mind as they’ve been fed to you. Everything you see is just a sense, as John Berger says in Ways of Seeing. Seeing is how we first know, sight and what you see can be easily manipulated and subjective, and words explaining these sights are an incomplete expression and construct. So the thoughts we carry from what we “see” are impermanent, with no impact on the surrounding world, no value, place, or substance.4 My thoughts are non-concrete and are just ideas I have formed, they, like I, could disappear and no one would know. The consciousness, even as a “thinking thing” like Descartes suggests, is not real because there is no certainty.5 I cannot be certain of my surroundings or my identity, and therefore the thoughts I connect to myself have no validity or truth. There is no certainty in anything, I cannot trust myself, especially because there is not a “myself.” My thoughts are inconsistent and impermanent; there is no reasoning in connecting them as a unit of thought or validating them as true. It is the idea of a unit of thought, and individual thought, that does not exist. Further still, if I am not real as a physical entity nor as an identity, then the thoughts I create aren’t real, because something that isn’t real can’t create real things. And if instead the thoughts aren’t “yours” but those fed to you, they are just fragments of external creations. Is there any thought that has never been thought of before? Thoughts may float across the cartesian plane, attaching themselves to the projections of beings and built identities. Maybe there is some larger mind putting on their own The Truman Show by creating a fantasy of life, people, and the illusion of thought when it is just like a fabricated television show for some greater entertainment.

 

IV. Fantasy, Flaws, and Lying

One may say, “now you’ve dug yourself into a hole, and there’s no way for you to continue to string meaningless words into popcorn tinsel strings to lay over the Christmas tree that is reality.” Which is exactly my point, and the flaw in my logic. I can continue to string words together, with no actual substance or truth. But as long as we subscribe to the language, ideas, objects, beliefs, and world that we have been presented, society can continue on. There is absolutely no promise of living and experiencing the same reality, so all of my logic is a matter of perception of if these words are “true” and have substance. We all live in our own perceived realities, and perception is highly manipulated by beliefs. So the inconsistency of “truth” of our individual realities precludes them from the term of reality. This is because we believe reality to be “true.” But since there is no consistent idea of what is “true” I think it is more accurate that we all live in our own fantasies. Everything I say could be a lie and part of my fantasy and no one has any way of knowing. Much like The Truman Show, each of us has the ability to create a fantasy. The flaw in my logic is that I could be lying, and that words don’t prove anything. If I am not real, I cannot create real things anymore. This creates a paradox that would prove my argument that I am not real, but also negate my argument. Someone who isn’t real can’t create real things because there is no one common understanding of a perception of reality or “real things.” I can only create fantasy. I can create lies. And I am lying to you.

 

the moon would be nearly full

  1. René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, trans. Donald A. Cress (Hackett Publishing, 1993).
  2. Jaron Lanier, Dawn of the New Everything (Henry Holt, 2017).
  3. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Herland, The Yellow Wallpaper, and Selected Writings (Penguin Books, 1999).
  4. John Berger, Ways of Seeing (Penguin Books, 1990).
  5. René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, 36.
 
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