Inventing ourselves

Inventing ourselves.  We invent ourselves with what we have at our disposal, and sometimes this isn’t much, only meager things lying around.  We chance upon them and we’re forced to do something with them, even if it’s not exactly what we had planned, what the brain and the heart and the sinews of our body had envisioned.  It’s not so much compatibilism as it has been traditionally understood, nor is it simply a matter of dependency versus independency; instead it’s more of a collection of materials, we could call them perspectival shards, all meshed and muddled together, and from the pile of them, selected and padded for some outlook on them and to contribute to their manageability, some amount of them, some portion of them, stands out as our lives, what we want to say is our lives.  To be thrown into life the way we are is not to be abandoned to a foreign life, or set against it as a species unique in its distance from other living and nonliving things, not when everything is thrown together.  There is no dread in such a world, unless to be confused is to dread, unless to be at a loss for direction and horizon is to dread.  But they are not, at least not necessarily: there is such a thing as a joyous confusion and disorientation.  We invent ourselves, we say, but the matter is not as simple as all that.  We must discern, before we take another step, what it was that came together to invent us, to invent–our inventiveness.  We must discover–the only thing we discover, really–how necessary we are, along with how contingent, before we give our hands to creating anything, let alone ourselves, that standpoint from which we shall meet the world, or what shows itself of the world.  It would make no sense otherwise, much as it would make no sense if a painter set out to paint, without acknowledging color, the colors of the palette in his hand no less than the color of his hand itself.

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