Self’s Spectre

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dear Maud,

Self-consciousness stinks.

Yesterday morning I walked from the bus-stop to work, aware not only of my surroundings, but of my awareness as well. Which led me to wonder: whence do I expect the attack to come – inside or out? (Assuming, of course, that awareness has a protective power.)

Is the ‘self-conscious’ man a danger to himself? Does he who acts ‘naturally’ imperil his own existence? Can self’s spectre be stilled without harming the humble heart?

Think on these things, Maud, as Paul the apostle once said.

Two other incidents have added to my unease: at the swimming pool, my coach-cum-wife commented that my stroke seemed short; and, owing to an electronic echo, I overheard a thin nasal creak on the telephone – my voice, it seems.

As usual, Maud, my ideas are all wrong. Evidently, I am not that perfect stroke-maker who swims flawless laps of my lobes; apparently, my voice is far from the full fruity burble that lulls and delights my mind’s middle ear.

Who better to set me straight than Socrates Superbum, who suggests that ‘all sensible things aim at an absolute equality of which they fall short’ – to be equal, that is, with their ‘absolute essence’.

To confuse a thing with its essence, then, is clearly not sensible.

Yours etc.