I am a little concerned. Perhaps more than just a little. The source of this mild, yet slowly increasing, anxiety is simple: I am not sure if I actually exist. Yes I know, an ‘age old question’, by now trite and thoroughly cliche. That doesn’t seem to stop it preoccupying me more than I believe to be emotionally healthy. The sensation is rather like discovering one is becoming slightly fat because one’s underpants no longer fit quite right.
Such existential pondering began almost as soon as I had finished my previous ‘introduce yourself’ post. On reading it back I noticed that whilst I seemed to be clearly defined at the beginning (as a pen name for a mediocre mind), by the end I appeared to have a much less definitive character (a semi-fictional ghost-written entity that apparently owns a very real and non-fictional goat). Very disconcerting indeed. Clearly I need some answers.
But how does one inquire into the nature of existence, especially when said existence pertains to the entity doing the inquiring? It occurred to me that perhaps I could have a bit of a chat with my creator. I mean why not? Other decidedly ‘real’ people seem to do this all the time. Sure, sometimes these conversations are one-sided, or involve some sort of meta-physical middle man (or, perhaps, woman), but I figured it was worth a shot.
“Creator,” I asked, “do I exist?” Initially this question was met with a fairly profound silence. So profound, in fact, that I started wondering whether it might be prudent to have a look at that genre of ontological musings sometimes – or possibly all the time – called myth. But then an answer came in what I assume was supposed to sound like a voice both beautiful and majestic.
“What?” it squeaked, “sorry I wasn’t really listening, my guitar doesn’t seem to want to stay in tune, which is really very vexing. Could you repeat the question?” I repeated the question. “A good question, very … um … sentient.”
I thought on this sentience thing for a little, and then suggested that this was really part of the problem. I had thought that technically I was him, so any act or utterance on my part, from which sentience could be inferred, would really be his sentience. I would be fine with this, I continued, since that would pretty much prove that I did not exist, was therefore not real and, by extension, didn’t really need to feel so uneasy about it all. The difficulty, I added, was that I seemed to be a little more differentiated from him than seems usual. All concerns over my existence had pretty much followed from this.
“I see,” the creator said uncomfortably, “that’s a real pickle alright. Have you tried posting a photo? Real people most definitely post photos. I mean, you’d have to be real to have a photo in the first place, right?” I explained that I had posted a photo, a rather nice one of a goat, and that this had more contributed to, rather than mitigated, my troubles.
A long pause ensued, one accompanied by the sound of what I think was supposed to be a scale in the phrygian mode, but was more like that of a distant and dying raven. “Have you tried posting a photo of a cat?” he asked suddenly, “you should do that. All real people post photos of cats. Cats are like ‘reality anchors’, you’re definitely real if you post cat photos, especially cute ones.” Another, much shorter, pause. “Listen, could you look this up on Wikipedia or something? I’m really very busy with instrument related problems at the moment … did you hear that? That was supposed to be a C sharp; I can never seem to fret that one properly. Don’t forget to try the cat thing.”
With that he was gone, not even the echo of breaking strings left behind. No answers there then. I guess I’ll try Wikipedia, but just in case …