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Bridging the Void

September 16, 2013

I think we can trace all human sadness and loneliness to one maxim:

“You are what you pretend to be, so be careful what you pretend to be.” (Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night)

Every conscious being actually exists as two persons. One person is internal and is composed of the thoughts and feelings only perceived by the conscious being. The other person is external and is composed though how other conscious beings prescribe meaning to the actions of the singular conscious being.

The internal person and the external person are two different people. The internal person perceives the external person as what the internal person is pretending to be, but not fully representative of the internal person’s thought and feelings. As a consequence of the internal person’s solipsism, it fails to realize that the external person is what they are in the eyes of every other conscious being, but more importantly in the eyes of other internal persons.

“This is the only story of mine whose moral I know. I don’t think it’s a marvelous moral, I just happen to know what it is…” (Kurt Vonnegut’s thoughts on the maxim above from Mother Night)

I want to extend on Vonnegut’s claim and say that this is the only moral I’ve so far found 100% applicable in life.

It’s striking when put in the context of sadness, depression, and loneliness (which are emotions that act as a triumvirate).  The triumvirate grows in proportion to the distance between the reality of the paired internal person and external person.

Simplified, you will be depressed when you don’t believe you are the person you’re pretending to be.

Think of any time you’ve been depressed and/or felt lonely and I can guarantee that the cause can be traced back to the distance between your two persons.

For example, let’s look at it through the context of divorce. Why does the divorce cause sadness? How does it lengthen the divide between persons? When you’re divorced, the action happens immediately for the external person. The external person is recognized as divorced by the government, recognized as divorced by the external person of their partner, and acknowledged as divorced by friends and family. These perceptions create an external person very different from it’s internal counterpart.

The internal person is made of one conscious being’s thoughts and feelings. When the divorce is finalized, the internal person doesn’t instantly stop missing their partner. The internal person is still accustomed to the familiar emotions generated by the presence of their ex-spouse. The internal person probably will still have the same thoughts that a spouse will have (thoughts about their ex, thoughts intertwined with how to affect the destiny of their other spouse).  The conscious being is pretending to be divorced because the internal person thinks like that of a married person.

This is what causes subsequent depression post divorce.  To alleviate that depression, you must reconcile the differences between the internal and external person. This is what people are actually feeling when they feel and say that they have “moved on” from a relationship. The moving is the motion of the internal person becoming more like the external person.

Divorce is just one of infinite examples of human experience that are affected by the gap of our two persons.  I could write a million words detailing examples, but I don’t have to. Simply look to literature, to film, to your own life and experience. It may be hard for some of you who a bit more solipsistic, but in every singular event, two people are changed.

They don’t change the same way.

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