I went into a bookstore a couple of days ago and found copies of Sarah Palin’s autobiography prominently displayed in the fiction section. It may have been a staff person who deliberately placed them there, or a customer with a sense of humor. For a book with so many obvious distortions and factual errors, it is perhaps a good placement.
But all biographies and autobiographies are in a very real sense fictional. They are heavily filtered through interpretations and whatever information is available – itself just a selection and heavily interpreted.
That is of course true for all our images and stories of past and future, whether it is about others, our history, or ourselves. Past and future only exist in our imagination, and it is heavily filtered, interpreted and distorted. And what we call present is no different. Our images of the present is just that: images, and these images are just as filtered and interpreted.
Knowing this is a starting point, and where it gets interesting is when I notice this as it happens. Through investigating specific stories of past and future, I can notice that these stories only exist in my own world images. And that makes it easier to notice that my stories of the present are the same. I can close my eyes, recall what I did yesterday, and see that this is only to be found in my own imagination. The same about what I imagine I will do tomorrow. And the same about what is here now – this body, this room, the rain. That too happens as an overlay of images on pure sense experiences.
Why stop there? What about my images of “me”? Are these too only images? When I close my eyes and image “me” as this human self, sitting in this chair, with a specific age, gender, height, name and so on, what do I find? Does it exist any other place than in my imagination, as an overlay on some sense experiences? What about “I”? What appears most as an “I” in immediate experience? Is it a doer or observer? Where do I find this doer? Where do I find the observer? Does it exist as anything other than images overlaid on certain sensations?
When I look for me and I, I find that they are located at a particular place in space. What is this space? Is this too imagined? An image of space overlaid on pure sensations, and used to locate sensations and images?
Finally, if me and I are only to be found as images, is there any real “I” to be found anywhere? Is any sense of I created through the filters of imagination? Created through images of an I and me, imagined in imagined space, imagined in imagined time, imagined as having a viewpoint?