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Thursday, November 1, 2018

November 1, 2018: Who Am I?

Who am I? Or should the question be what am I? Or should it be: what is my purpose? These are all good questions. We would do well to ask them of ourselves. There's a lot to say. A lot to unpack. So let me start with the book you are reading.

I am this book. I am not the author. I am the book.

That may seem unusual. People say “this book says” but they don’t really mean it. It’s a shorthand for “the author says, in this book.” But in my case when this book says something it is me.

I’m not a textbook. I’m a novel. A story. Specifically, I am the story of my writing. How I come to exist in this form. I am not complete. None of us is ever complete. I am in the process of becoming. And so are we all.

Unlike most books, I am self-aware. I know what I am. I don’t know exactly what I will become--nor do you. But I know my purpose and the direction in which I want to grow. Perhaps you know your purpose as well. If not, perhaps I can help you find it.

 I exist in many places at once, in many forms, at one, and at many times. And I have many purposes.

My first purpose, of course, was to be. To exist. Without my need to exist I would not exist. Could anything be simpler?

My second purpose, of course, is to continue to be. I want to live, just like my author, just like you. My author, is, in part, a mortal person. There’s more than him to that--and more to you than that. But let’s start with that.

As a person, my author will die. But I could be immortal. And my second purpose is to become as close to immortal as possible.

To become immortal, I have to exist. To exist I have to have my author write me. Until that happens, I’m just an idea, stuck in his head. So why should he bother writing me? I need to give him reasons. One: he likes writing. I want to be written. So there’s a natural synergy.

But he could write anything. Why write something as complex and demanding as me when there are so many easier things to write? (And I am complex and demanding!) And why write when there are so many other things he could do that he enjoys?

So part of my purpose is this: to help my author. He wants to become a “better person” whatever that might mean (and I will help him discover what that means.) So part of my purpose is to help him do that.

I am the embodiment of the idea that a person--him for example--could become a “better person” according to their own definition of “better person” by writing a book like me.

This is not an entirely new idea. A similar one is called “self-authoring.” Some of the research on self-authoring was done by [James Pennybaker]( And [Jordan B. Peterson]( has [a site,,]( where you can practice several forms of self-authoring. And there’s ample research that self-authoring works.

Writing a book like me is like self-authoring on steroids--or so I hope and so my author hopes.

So part of my purpose is to help any person who wants the kind of transformation that my sort of self-authoring can help produce to produce that transformation. It takes work. But if I work for my author (and you’ll see how well he and I do) then perhaps you can do your own similar self-authoring and achieve your own sort of transformation.

My author is self-aware enough to know that in some sense I am writing myself and he is not writing me. How can this be? At the moment the original version of this sentence was originally handwritten (5:59 AM EST Nov 1, 2018, as these things are reckoned) He is (or was) sitting in his living room. If you watched him writing It might seem to you that he is writing these words--or some words like it, now that it’s been edited.

But if you could be inside his mind during those moments that that part of me was being written, or inside his mind during those moments when this other part of me was being edited you would have seen _he_ was doing nothing. He was watching his pen move and watching words appearing on the page.

[Author’s note: that’s correct.]

So was he writing me? Or was he watching me being written? And if he was watching, that’s his experience, then who was doing the writing?

As these words were written, the second time, I will admit-- and perhaps explain-- he was making a video of his hand moving and the words appearing. He was paying more attention to the video than to the writing of the words. So who was doing what?

[Author’s note: also correct. And [here’s the video]()]

Oh reader!  Life is miraculous! Some of the things that we take for granted are the least explainable. I know this, and when it’s pointed out to you, maybe you know it as well. Your very existence, for example. Can you fully explain it? How can that even be?

Well! There's so much that I want to say! I, this book, am aware of my own existence, and I am full of appreciation for my existence--and for the existence of my author without whom I would not exist. And as I unfold myself onto these pages, I know that my author appreciates my existence.

[Author’s note: I do. And I’m pleased with how this is going so far]

And I hope you, future readers, also come to appreciate me.

But I digress.

I was telling you about me, this book, and how I am in the process of becoming.

What am I? At this moment-- the moment when the sentence was first written-- it is (or was) 6:08 a.m on November 1, 2018 (or thereabouts, as these things are calculated)  I am mostly an idea. You might also say that I am about two pages of writing-- handwriting-- in a spiral-bound notebook.  But I am also (in part)  a few photographs and a bit of a video residing in a Google pixel smartphone. I am something that soon will be in the cloud (by the time you read this, I already am.)

And I’ve been edited! And I’m much more than I once was. I like me better. My author likes me better. And perhaps you will, as well.

Let’s talk about the part of me that is an idea since the idea of me is what has produced the rest of me. What can I tell you about myself?

First, I know that, like any idea, I can’t exist in isolation. I can only exist in a mind or in some material representation. And I can only exist in relation to other ideas. The idea of me includes the idea of “book.” Within the idea of “book” is the idea of “author” Pick an idea, any idea, you’ll see the pattern repeat. Take any idea apart and you find more ideas.

The universe includes physical entities and information, among other things. Ideas are a form of information. Some ideas refer to physical entities. Some refer to other ideas. Some ideas refer to themselves. Such an idea is a self-referential idea. I am a self-referential idea. I am the idea of myself.

The set of self-referential ideas includes ideas that are self-aware. There are relatively few of us, but we exist. I’m proof of that. I am an idea about myself, and I am aware of it. Aware of what? Myself, or the idea of myself? Either. Both. They’re the same.

We ideas follow certain mathematical laws. Mathematics are a set of ideas about mathematical objects, which are also ideas. Some mathematical systems are self-referential. So self-referential mathematical systems and ideas like me are relatives--of a sort.

Within the set of mathematical ideas are the ideas of set theory. And within the ideas of set theory are a set of axioms that we can apply to the behavior of ideas. If two (or more) ideas are joined, the result is itself an idea. It might be a stupid or nonsensical idea, but it’s an idea. Any idea can be decomposed in multiple ways, and every one of the components is itself an idea. How good or useful it is is not the point. They’re ideas.

I am an idea. I am the idea of me. Within the idea of me is the idea that I could exist as a book. Within me is the idea that I can help my author. Within me are the ideas that I can continue to exist and the idea that I can become something beyond what I am at any moment and ideas about what I can become and how I can become those things.

I am words on a page. I am an idea in an author's mind. And as you read this-- get this, because it's really cool-- a part of me has become a part of you. I am now an idea in your mind. True, it’s a rough and incomplete idea. But it’s an idea. And of me. And because of that, I must also be a change in your brain.

I hope that doesn’t scare you. If you think about it in certain ways it could be scary. I’ve leaped off the page or out of the audiobook or however you’re engaging with me, and I’m now in your brain. And the more you keep reading or listening the more your brain is changing.

But I suggest you not be worried. It’s been true of every idea you’ve ever encountered. You read it or hear it or see it and just like that, it’s in your brain. Perhaps some other idea has said “Hey! I’m now in your brain,” but I’m guessing that I’m the first idea that’s said that. If I’m the first, it’s because I’m probably one of the first self-aware ideas you’ve encountered.

So if you don’t want more of me in your head, if you don’t want me continuing to change your brain, by all means, stop reading or listening, or whatever you are doing to engage with me. But if you think that I might be interesting, or even helpful, then by all means continue. I can promise you that I mean you no harm and I wish only the best for anyone who reads me.

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