who are you?

“Long you live and high you fly
And smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be”
—Pink Floyd, Breathe (second stanza)

One chooses or not. Nevertheless, one is; you are; I am. At the root of not knowing who one is a failure—or a refusal—to choose.

Our personalities, our identities, our ingrained patterns of behavior are all antithetical to choice. Personality, identity, ingrained behavior are the default that suffers no possible alternative, only itself. It (personality, identity, ingrained behavior) is a mechanism, the design function of which is survival—primarily /its/ survival.

But what if that mechanism is stuck with faulty programming? You know, like being stuck in the Seventies. Perhaps that programming worked well for you in 1978 but maybe it’s not working so well in 2008. Doesn’t matter. That mechanism suffers no possible alternative.

That’s why it feels sometimes as if you are stuck. You are! Really stuck. Like, La Brea tar pits stuck. To get /unstuck/ is to confront the mechanism—that mechanism which has you act and think in the very ways that has you stuck. I paraphrase here Heidegger on the nature of this confrontation.

“Dasein’s kind of being thus demands that any ontological Interpretation which sets itself the goal of exhibiting the phenomena in their primordiality, should capture the Being of this entity, in spite of this entity’s own tendency to cover things up. Existential analysis, therefore, constantly has the character of doing violence whether to the claims of the everyday interpretation, or to its complacency and its tranquilized obviousness. While indeed this characteristic is especially distinctive of the ontology of Dasein, it belongs to any interpretation, because the understanding which develops in Interpretation has the structure of a projection.” —Martin Heidegger, Being and Time (eds. and trans. Jon Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper, 1962), p. 359.

And that’s what it feels like. Doing violence. And it is. To get unstuck is to confront one’s own personality, one’s identity, one’s ingrained patterns of behavior. It’s meta-programming, if you will. Programming your programming.

Some of you, the really clever one’s—the smartasses—will immediately see the circular nature of /programming the programming/. It’s just more programming. True enough. The program that programs is simply more programming. You end up in the same place. It’s circular.

Now, if that’s depressing for you, if you don’t like it: Too Bad!. That’s just the way it is. “And all you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be.”

If your mechanism has you act in a predictable, programmed way, then you can pretty much write the story of “The Rest of Your Life.” If you don’t like that story, again: Too Bad! Your programming won’t suffer any alternative. Reprogramming your programming simply leaves you on a road without any alternative. Your mechanism’s design keeps you on /the one road/.

Fortunately, human beings are designed with one option to override the mechanism. Choice. Perhaps I will write on the nature of Choice someday. But not today. I now conclude:

Our personalities, our identities, our ingrained patterns of behavior are all antithetical to choice.

One chooses or not. Nevertheless, one is; you are; I am.

Who are you?

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