Didn’t feel it this week
An interesting and unanswerable question brought up in class was if we would be alive the following day (Inouye Lecture 1/24). Our continued existence has never been guaranteed, yet our inexorable death is as much about the corporeal as it is about ideas of self. Am I the same person I was before? A more fitting question, maybe, is “how many times will you die by tomorrow?”
We impose ideas of self on our ever-changing existences as a means of tethering ourselves, and as new forms take place, old forms slough off. However, the form we adopt acts as a reference point to forms before, and ultimately, traces a path that is “I.” In understanding this idea of past selves and current self, I look to Joseph Kitagawa’s work A Past of Things Present. In a fashion that echoes the ancient Japanese perceptions of history, we reorder, misremember, or reallocate past experiences as a means of defining ourselves now: “the new ‘present’ called for the new ‘past’” (56). I no longer define myself as the little boy afraid of eating bologna and mayo sandwiches, but he used to be here, and he is part of me.