Monday, March 17, 2014

Awareness of the Self

      In Percy's Lost in the Cosmos, the self is undoubtedly the concept that is the most frequently discussed, with sexuality close behind. Despite an entire book dealing with the self, the reader is ultimately responsible for coming up with his own definition of what the self is. He is constantly aware of the self and sometimes finds the necessity of masking the self when he is around others. The self is a personal and seemingly private part of the human existence; humans get touchy about the self and often find themselves at a loss for words when it comes to dealing with the self. Once a person becomes aware of the self (at whatever age psychologists or sociologists claim) he can never be unaware of the self again. In a similar fashion, once a child sees his shadow, he is aware of his shadow for the rest of his existence. What is the self? There is no single answer for this. As a species, humans are the most self conscious on the planet; some may claim this is because they are the only ones capable of recognizing the self and that even higher order animals have limited social awareness. No matter how one may perceive the self, there will always be some type of angst with the self, with much of this said angst being sexual. Many people do not like the self because it is not how they want it to be and they feel like they cannot change the self despite any efforts they may make. Is Percy merely highlighting a struggle that the reader has dealt with for his entire life? Is his book actually supposed to help the reader with the self? Or is this book ironically one of the self-help books that Percy mocks within his own self-help book? Despite the book mocking self-help books, it talks about semiotics enough to at least make the reader aware of the function of language, which can help the reader to better understand his relation with the self. Language ultimately is the key to understanding the self and where one stands in the cosmos. The human experience is greatly enriched by language and through it humans can learn to accept the self as an essential part of them. The more the reader becomes aware of the self, the more he is able to work on his relationship with the self.

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