Were you, the embodied and spatially extended organic pattern to whom this label refers, reducible to one essential element or fact – what would this be ? Are you that wielder of words and epithets, of worlds and tainted memories that you value as much for the perceived social (and purely contextual, disembodied and externalised) currency they provide, or of which you might weave some semantic habitation or mindmap and self-justification for your brief journey, your choices, your myriad errors and achievements while here ?
Are you a bank balance, a browser-history, or a litany of parking offences ? Are you that fool who never knew when to take a hint and left many of your greatest romantic mistakes and misunderstood opportunities in a disorganised shambles for your later self to cultivate regrets and neuroses around ?
I know that this self I carry around in some abstract space just there behind my face is many of these things but also seems to be mischievously none of them as no vector or trace of activity, agency, volition, or relational extension or influence is reducible to any single isolated fact or any such metaphorical perspectival and narrative subjectivity or vanishing point.
Were you reducible to one thing, it might be that warm, wet bundle of neurons you carry around within your skull – that jellyfish-in-a-vat of your brain and central nervous system. You might not even be simply that, as this whole show seems to function well enough without any necessary subjectivity, or, in as much as the compound effect of cultural evolution has surely generated selection feedback loops or effects upon the structural and neurological facts of this labyrinthine matter of intra-cranial experience, your “you-ness” is just as likely an adoptive and adaptive, reflexive vacuum. A void present only by virtue of its own logical absence and in this generative of an impression of momentum, motion and an experience (thus: an experiencing self).
You are not your own and for this you are not any fact at all, beyond very limited, very contingent cultural norms and as a bearer and producer of meanings; for this, hardly a fact so much as an obligation and orientation to an external world through which it is already clear that subjectivity is purely a debt and invalid transaction, a process of owing your self to the expectations of world which will never let you complete the payment. (And how we enthusiastically we internalise these little debts and pathologies of desire within our aspirations-to-self and generate entire economies of neuropathology and self-doubt, of inconsistency and obligation).
There is an aggregated electrical and chemical pattern through which information and energy flow – an elementary cybernetic revelation of form, motion and emptiness. It might be depressing or uncomfortable at first but it is a fact. You are nothing, bundled and folded upon itself in an intricate dance and patterned flow of iterative discontinuity and topological eloquence, but nothing nevertheless.