I don't want to be a brick in a wall. All bricks look the same and they are cemented into place, kept in rigid order. And walls divide. And life is like banging your head...

I am what I am

Mark and I went to Uppingham school to talk to the English department about doing some creative writing with their students. We had a very pleasant meeting in beautiful surroundings. The result was that Mark and I will go there on November 6th to introduce ourselves, perform and generally promote the cause. If the students respond positively then they will be able to put a case forward for funds being made available to pay for us to work there on a regular basis.

Whilst on a dog walk from A to B and back again, along a natural line (I followed the river bank), I came, by way of a mentally convoluted route, to the conclusion that Descartes was wrong when he proposed, "I think, therefore I am." Or at least, he was not so much wrong as he was simply irrelevant. I know that I am, without having to consciously construct the thought. What is important is how do others know that I am? To think is not enough. I have to speak my thoughts. But then isn't thought just internal speech? Can we think without language? We need a record of our thoughts - I write therefore I am.

Philosophers attempt to make meaning. Meaning is derived from signs. A sign is a signifier and a signified. Writing is the word on a page and the idea; signifier and signified. What is a thought? A thought is the thing itself in its purity; it is the signified. But there is no signifier or sign and therefore no meaning. The thought has to be written to have real meaning.

It's true that the meaning may be different for everyone. In fact, this is not true at all. The truth is that the meaning will always be different for other people - that is the slippage of language. But a thought has no meaning, not to anyone. Not to those outside of the thought, because they do not exist in the world of that thought. And not to the thinker, because a thought has no meaning. It is too whole to be interpreted. It repels attempts to break it down, to decode, to deconstruct it. A thought exists in its entirety, separate from the thinker. A thought needs to be verbalised. Putting things in words destabilises. The words infest the structure of the idea like woodworm, weakening the beams and struts upon which the idea was built.

Whether writing or speaking is paramount is debatable. Derida would argue that a spoken word cannot be unsaid, but a letter can be ripped up, burnt, not sent. On the other hand a letter can be used as evidence, the spoken word is hearsay, pure and simple.

This is an example of what I mean. I cannot explain myself, my own idea, in words with sufficient clarity.Yet the idea is clear and true in my mind. Every word that I write, every phrase, clause, sentence, takes me further from the idea. The idea cannot be expressed. The idea has no meaning in this sense. I can not make it mean anything, it simply exists as an elusive idea. An idea is like grass. It exists. Grass has no meaning. And neither does a thought. Not until I write about grass, does grass have any meaning. Not until I write, do I have any meaning.

I think therefore I am? I know I exist. I don't need to prove it to myself. It's a no brainer. What I need to do is prove it to others and thinking adds nothing to simply being in the eyes of others. If I didn't think, I still am. Grass is. Descartes is not trying to prove he exists, he is trying to prove he means something, proving his importance or worth. If we exchange a pronoun for a proper noun we are left with Descartes thought therefore he was. But our only proof of this, and proof is everything, is that he wrote.

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