From the “extreme-krunk” department:
A couple of weeks ago, I woke up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and this is what I was thinking. In Philosophy in a New Key*, Suzanne Langer writes about static form and dynamic form. For an example of static form, think of a Henry Moore sculpture. And one example of dynamic form, a waterfall: the drops of water are all moving, constantly shifting. But if you step back, you see a form that seems to be stationary. So that morning in the Fairfield Inn, I was thinking, “what about us?” We seem to be “things” and static, but isn’t that really just a form that emerges from constituent components that are constantly moving, shifting, shaping, changing. We are more like waterfalls than sculptures.
In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins reminds us of the brilliant Mark Twain quote about death. “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” And then Dawkins goes on to suggest that we’ve had even closer experience of our deaths, that is ourselves in the past. Does the “I” who lived 20 years ago still live? 30 years ago? 40? Whoah, too far…
And on the subject of “I”, does that mean anything other than “present cognition plus memory”? Thought experiment: “you” and “I” switch “I”s. Would there be any difference at all? No, of course not. Perhaps we are all endlessly drifting from “I” to “I” every nanosecond, never repeating the same body twice.
Sometimes we like to think that the “I” is the little man inside watching the movie, and doing the commentary. But the little man would have to be blank, formless and non-individualized. All the content is in the movie, external to him, not in his little head-within-a-head. Otherwise, we would have an infinite regress of men-within-men.
*Mind you, this is just what I was thinking. She actually wrote about this in Problems of Art.