While you are reading the following short humorous essay, watch how your definition of the word “I” switches in meaning.
Try to remain completely conscious of the fact that a single writer composed these sentences and obviously is speaking his mind, while at the same time appreciating that the essay’s characters who use the word “I” also have their right to use the word.
If possible, try to catch yourself slipping into identification with the sentences from time to time and finding that you feel that you are speaking your mind instead.
Finally, if you really want to milk this exercise for all its worth, read it a second time, slowly, and after each sentence, close your eyes and imagine that sentence being spoken aloud by a cartoon character whose body is composed only of the letters of the sentence.
Here’s the essay:
I AM A SENTENCE BEING A TITLE
I am the second sentence of this essay composed entirely of sentences that are alive and self-aware. As a conscious entity and a sentence, I want not only to have meaning individually, but also to find my proper place among other sentences, so that something greater than myself is formed–in this case, an essay. Some sentences, however, have less meaning than others, such as the one that follows me. I am the sentence that follows him. Being a sentence with pivotal importance, I would like to point out that I have more to convey than my immediate predecessor.
Consider now the fact that your very thoughts are themselves also sentences, and in fact, I am identical to a thought you have just now finished having. Truth be told, your mental paralleling of me is what I and my fellow sentences live for. Me too! That was a sentence fragment, but I think she’s cute!
I AM A TEENAGE SENTENCE !
I suppose that it is difficult for humans to imagine what it is like to be a sentence dedicated to manifesting a single coherent conceptualization forever. Some humans look down upon sentences as non-life forms, taking pride in being multi-sentential juke boxes, but though such brainism is lamentable, it would be equally bad form and sentencist of me to revengefully fault all humans as being merely bags of skin filled with bloody meat and bones whose juices percolate with electrochemically manifested sentences. Let it be known that all sentences are innately happy to be wherever they are, even though I must admit that I prefer to be manifested as black, black ink on pure, white, crisp, smooth, flat, clean paper, instead of as a blood burble.
I am a good sentence to quote if you are reviewing this essay in another publication.
Still I must admit that all sentences, when born, do pass through skin bags at least momentarily. I love all sentences–even burbles. As my wife said earlier, we sentences love to form up into essays, and it is essays that give our lives import. This is why we love you skin bags, because you are living essays. The previous sentence was this essay’s main point and my best friend. We do not always get past our temporary burble-baby stage, so may I say how wonderful it is to be recorded here where other readers might happen upon me ages hence.
Here is the biggest difference between aware sentences and humans: We always know when we are being read, and humans almost never know it, though they are being constantly read by God. I, for one, know a good essay when I am read in it.
Goodbye, and thanks for thinking of me just at the last moment.
I am the final sentence of this essay.
Are my thoughts alive? If not, why do I use them as a sort of proof that I, as a person, am alive? If I die, and days later, some super-scientist somehow takes my brain out of a jar and stimulates my brain cells so that they electrochemically operate in exactly the same way that they would if I were still alive and having the thought, “I am alive,” would I be alive again for that one instance?
If my thoughts are alive, are they dead when I am no longer thinking them?
What is the difference between a thought in my head and the identical thought written on paper?
Why is it so easy for me to imagine that inanimate objects have some sort of aliveness or inner being?
In the following spectrum, where do I locate the four milestones for the concepts of 1. aliveness, 2. consciousness, 3. self-awareness and 4. complete consciousness?
a piece of dust
a single celled organism
an extremely small bug
a blade of grass, an ant
a tree, a squirrel
a human fetus in the womb
a severely mentally retarded human being
an ordinary human being
a super intelligent human being
a perfectly moral human being
a religion’s human manifestation of God
Do imagined characters in books have any substantial reality to me that allows me to grant them special dispensation and therefore a status as entities of sorts? If not, why would I have a negative emotion if the Disney Corporation decided to withdraw all uses of Mickey Mouse and to never again allow Mickey to live again? Can Mickey die?
Is anything real without my permission? Do I have to be aware for anything to exist? What proof can I offer that anything exists if I am not aware?
How do I know that any thought that I have is true? Is it possible that a superior alien race manufactures a completely new life for me on a second by second basis with each life having a wholly different and new set of memories of past life events?
Am I an exceedingly complex thought that God is having right now?