Golden slumbers

Toulouse-Lautrec: Alone


She remembered the summer evenings all full of sunshine.The colts neighed when anyone passed by, and galloped, galloped. Under her window there was a beehive, and sometimes the bees wheeling round in the light struck against her window like rebounding balls of gold. What happiness there had been at that time, what freedom, what hope! What an abundance of illusions!
Madame Bovary

I've been lounging a lot lately...an activity foreign to me. Summertime turns the best-intentioned among us into silly, time-frittering butterflies. The heat here has spiked considerably, causing me to crank on the AC, shut tight the windows, and close the blinds. I retreat into my feathered nest and curl up for the long summer's sleep. Any venture outside must be accompanied by a bottle of water or lead to the pool. My seclusion inside has disdained the interesting and challenging works on aesthetics that I borrowed from the library, and instead chosen a lot of napping after work, and a healthy dose of reading.

C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, Borges' stories, those of Julio Cortazar, and quite a few childhood picture books have been rediscovered.

Last weekend I re-read my illustrated copy of The Little Princess, a book that used to occupy many a night, well into the small hours of the morning. I love Sarah Crewe and used to hope that perhaps I was a little bit like her. The magical transformation of the attic garret never ceases to send a thrill through me, and Sarah's gift of bread to the poor girl outside of the bake shop always makes me cry.

I read Dinotopia this past weekend as well, a book where the text is highly distracting, and the images much more intriguing. I have spent long hours memorizing each bit of these pictures, each detail, word, creature. In fact, I reailized upon this recent re-reading that I have added much to the story that is not there. It was a strange realization and I spent some minutes trying to see if there were pages missing from the book. But there aren't, I must have perused those pictures for so long that I began to elaborate upon the theme they set out, to add my own details, my own tragedies and joys.

One of my other favorite childhood books was this volume of greek myths which had been illustrated in black and white images. It had an orange and white cover, split by a greek key pattern running from front to back. I was mesmerised by the tales and learned them by heart, moving on past this book to other myths and stories of the pantheon of greek gods. I can't recall what the actual title of this book was, nor the name of the illustrator, but I can remember those images very vividly still.

A lot of silly reading and a lot of laziness. Thinking about the impending move as well, and the utter lack of free time that it brings with it.

Golden slumbers

Toulouse-Lautrec: Alone


She remembered the summer evenings all full of sunshine.The colts neighed when anyone passed by, and galloped, galloped. Under her window there was a beehive, and sometimes the bees wheeling round in the light struck against her window like rebounding balls of gold. What happiness there had been at that time, what freedom, what hope! What an abundance of illusions!
Madame Bovary

I've been lounging a lot lately...an activity foreign to me. Summertime turns the best-intentioned among us into silly, time-frittering butterflies. The heat here has spiked considerably, causing me to crank on the AC, shut tight the windows, and close the blinds. I retreat into my feathered nest and curl up for the long summer's sleep. Any venture outside must be accompanied by a bottle of water or lead to the pool. My seclusion inside has disdained the interesting and challenging works on aesthetics that I borrowed from the library, and instead chosen a lot of napping after work, and a healthy dose of reading.

C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, Borges' stories, those of Julio Cortazar, and quite a few childhood picture books have been rediscovered.

Last weekend I re-read my illustrated copy of The Little Princess, a book that used to occupy many a night, well into the small hours of the morning. I love Sarah Crewe and used to hope that perhaps I was a little bit like her. The magical transformation of the attic garret never ceases to send a thrill through me, and Sarah's gift of bread to the poor girl outside of the bake shop always makes me cry.

I read Dinotopia this past weekend as well, a book where the text is highly distracting, and the images much more intriguing. I have spent long hours memorizing each bit of these pictures, each detail, word, creature. In fact, I reailized upon this recent re-reading that I have added much to the story that is not there. It was a strange realization and I spent some minutes trying to see if there were pages missing from the book. But there aren't, I must have perused those pictures for so long that I began to elaborate upon the theme they set out, to add my own details, my own tragedies and joys.

One of my other favorite childhood books was this volume of greek myths which had been illustrated in black and white images. It had an orange and white cover, split by a greek key pattern running from front to back. I was mesmerised by the tales and learned them by heart, moving on past this book to other myths and stories of the pantheon of greek gods. I can't recall what the actual title of this book was, nor the name of the illustrator, but I can remember those images very vividly still.

A lot of silly reading and a lot of laziness. Thinking about the impending move as well, and the utter lack of free time that it brings with it.

S'Wonderful!

[Alfred William Hunt]

There are some things I'd rather just experience, study be damned.

Nature is the big one. I would make an awful, unwilling botanist, but a lover of the earth, of glossy vines and sticky leaves and carmine berries, that I am.

Everyday after the schoolbus would drop us off at the bottom of our long driveway, my brother and I (and later our sister as well), would make the long climb up to our house. Along the way we were faced with a myriad of diversions, especially during the spring and early summer. Where before we would hurry up to the house, cutting up through the steep hill and away from the driveway, in the spring months we would linger, plucking and picking and dawdling.

I'm sure we rushed at times as well, but I'll always remember the initial steps up the driveway, searching for the best honeysuckle vines to carry along the way. We would strip long sections of the vine, sometimes multiple sections, and slowly litter the gravel path with discarded, de-nectared flowers. The trick was to get there before the hummingbirds, and then to separate the green bit at the bottom from the long tube of the flower. If you were lucky, you'd pull the center stamen-thing with it and it's motion down the tube would carry the bead of nectar along. If you weren't lucky, or if you were just plain hasty, you would snip the bottom off with your teeth and suck the nectar out, bird-like. It tastes delicious, but came in such small doses that we needed a profusion of blossoms to carry long.

I have honeysuckle growing outside my apartment right now, and pluck some on my way in every day.

I found out recently that my other favorite plant on the way up the driveway is a variety of honeysuckle. I knew it simply as "The Tomato-Berry Bush," called such because the tiny little berries resembled mini-tomatoes, my all-time favorite food. The actual name of this plant is Arnold Red Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica 'Arnold Red'); we had one bush on the driveway and I was much more fond of it than anyone else.

(from birdmom.net)

The multiflora rose is considered a weed by many people in my area, but it smells so delicious, and its profusion perfumes huge areas of springtime air. I love the wild roses, with their smaller faces, sparser petals, and sunnier centers.

Other after-school remembrances:

hitch-hiker vines with their sticky, prickly leaves that we used to pick and stick all over our clothes. (with the little hitch-hiker balls that came from some other plant)
Mayflowers and the little secret flower that would bloom under the specially-structured canopy
Skunk Cabbage!
The smell of Zinnias, Mums, and Marigolds
The taste of bright green when you bite into a clover stalk
The gorgeous slanting of the sun through leaves and onto the gravel...I never encountered that effect without thinking: "This is what Heaven must be like."


There are some things I stubbornly refuse to know more about. I have found that it is easy to cheapen the wonder of a thing by learning all of the technicalities behind it. Of course, I don't think that to learn about something is to hate it, but there is a loud part of me that refuses to "study" those things which I find so wonderful.

It's the wonder that's the essential part: music is wonderful to me, all of the green growing things are wonderful to me, the stars are wonderful to me. Each of these is wondrous or wonderful for its own reasons, and each is enhanced by a happy interest. But I hate learning the facts about them. For me, the mathematics of the scale, the anatomy of the flower, and the mineral composition of the stellar body are in themselves very interesting, but they require a level of study which ruins the wonder of it all. It's as if I feel I am doing a disservice to the plant (or musical composition, or cosmic element) if I don't truly attempt to study it, and an equal if not greater disservice if I lose myself in the study of it so that the original is obscured by a mass of facts.

S'Wonderful!

[Alfred William Hunt]

There are some things I'd rather just experience, study be damned.

Nature is the big one. I would make an awful, unwilling botanist, but a lover of the earth, of glossy vines and sticky leaves and carmine berries, that I am.

Everyday after the schoolbus would drop us off at the bottom of our long driveway, my brother and I (and later our sister as well), would make the long climb up to our house. Along the way we were faced with a myriad of diversions, especially during the spring and early summer. Where before we would hurry up to the house, cutting up through the steep hill and away from the driveway, in the spring months we would linger, plucking and picking and dawdling.

I'm sure we rushed at times as well, but I'll always remember the initial steps up the driveway, searching for the best honeysuckle vines to carry along the way. We would strip long sections of the vine, sometimes multiple sections, and slowly litter the gravel path with discarded, de-nectared flowers. The trick was to get there before the hummingbirds, and then to separate the green bit at the bottom from the long tube of the flower. If you were lucky, you'd pull the center stamen-thing with it and it's motion down the tube would carry the bead of nectar along. If you weren't lucky, or if you were just plain hasty, you would snip the bottom off with your teeth and suck the nectar out, bird-like. It tastes delicious, but came in such small doses that we needed a profusion of blossoms to carry long.

I have honeysuckle growing outside my apartment right now, and pluck some on my way in every day.

I found out recently that my other favorite plant on the way up the driveway is a variety of honeysuckle. I knew it simply as "The Tomato-Berry Bush," called such because the tiny little berries resembled mini-tomatoes, my all-time favorite food. The actual name of this plant is Arnold Red Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica 'Arnold Red'); we had one bush on the driveway and I was much more fond of it than anyone else.

(from birdmom.net)

The multiflora rose is considered a weed by many people in my area, but it smells so delicious, and its profusion perfumes huge areas of springtime air. I love the wild roses, with their smaller faces, sparser petals, and sunnier centers.

Other after-school remembrances:

hitch-hiker vines with their sticky, prickly leaves that we used to pick and stick all over our clothes. (with the little hitch-hiker balls that came from some other plant)
Mayflowers and the little secret flower that would bloom under the specially-structured canopy
Skunk Cabbage!
The smell of Zinnias, Mums, and Marigolds
The taste of bright green when you bite into a clover stalk
The gorgeous slanting of the sun through leaves and onto the gravel...I never encountered that effect without thinking: "This is what Heaven must be like."


There are some things I stubbornly refuse to know more about. I have found that it is easy to cheapen the wonder of a thing by learning all of the technicalities behind it. Of course, I don't think that to learn about something is to hate it, but there is a loud part of me that refuses to "study" those things which I find so wonderful.

It's the wonder that's the essential part: music is wonderful to me, all of the green growing things are wonderful to me, the stars are wonderful to me. Each of these is wondrous or wonderful for its own reasons, and each is enhanced by a happy interest. But I hate learning the facts about them. For me, the mathematics of the scale, the anatomy of the flower, and the mineral composition of the stellar body are in themselves very interesting, but they require a level of study which ruins the wonder of it all. It's as if I feel I am doing a disservice to the plant (or musical composition, or cosmic element) if I don't truly attempt to study it, and an equal if not greater disservice if I lose myself in the study of it so that the original is obscured by a mass of facts.

Delphic Dictums

Bruegel's Babel

I graduated for the third time last weekend, and can now string M.A. at the end of any signature I scrawl. There is no vivid sensation that goes along with this accomplishment, only a barely perceptible feeling of being out-of-focus. I have thus taken to reading titles which have accumulated a thin layer of dust while resting on my Read-Soon bookshelf, exercising to rid myself of the thin layer of beach-hostile padding which accumulated while I was immersed in study, and writing in this blog I would love to update more often.

In that spirit, here are some favorite passages of mine, both skim the surface of an idea that has long been buzzing about: the masks or identities we don so unconsciously. I have found this idea most clearly defined after reading through Foucault's Pendulum (Umberto Eco), finishing Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, and speaking with a friend about storytelling and life. I'm working on an entry regarding the penchant among scholars for "guilt" fiction like detective novels, and how it relates (how does it relate?) to masks and appearance, Art, and the way one lives.

But none of the feelings which the joys or misfortunes of a 'real' person awaken in us can be awakened except through a mental picture of those joys or misfortunes; and the ingenuity of the first novelist lay in his understanding that, as the picture was the one essential element in the complicated structure of our emotions, so that simplification of it which consisted in the suppression, pure and simple, of 'real' people would be a decided improvement. A 'real' person, profoundly as we may sympathize with him, is in a great measure perceptible only through our senses, that is to say, he remains opaque, offers a dead weight which our sensibilities have not the strength to lift.
Proust, Swann's Way


Durer's Adam and Eve


And here is Madame Merle out of Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James:

'When you've lived as long as I you'll see that every human being has his shell and that you must take shell into account. By the shell I mean the whole envelope of circumstances. There's no such thing as an isolated man or woman; we're each of us made up of some cluster of appurtenances. What shall we call our 'self'? Where does it begin? Where does it end? It overflows into everything that belongs to us--and then it flows back again. I know a large part of myself is in the clothes I choose to wear. I've a great respect for THINGS! One's self--for other people--is one's expression of one's self; and one's house, one's furniture, one's garments, the books one reads, the company one keeps--these things are all expressive.'

Delphic Dictums

Bruegel's Babel

I graduated for the third time last weekend, and can now string M.A. at the end of any signature I scrawl. There is no vivid sensation that goes along with this accomplishment, only a barely perceptible feeling of being out-of-focus. I have thus taken to reading titles which have accumulated a thin layer of dust while resting on my Read-Soon bookshelf, exercising to rid myself of the thin layer of beach-hostile padding which accumulated while I was immersed in study, and writing in this blog I would love to update more often.

In that spirit, here are some favorite passages of mine, both skim the surface of an idea that has long been buzzing about: the masks or identities we don so unconsciously. I have found this idea most clearly defined after reading through Foucault's Pendulum (Umberto Eco), finishing Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, and speaking with a friend about storytelling and life. I'm working on an entry regarding the penchant among scholars for "guilt" fiction like detective novels, and how it relates (how does it relate?) to masks and appearance, Art, and the way one lives.

But none of the feelings which the joys or misfortunes of a 'real' person awaken in us can be awakened except through a mental picture of those joys or misfortunes; and the ingenuity of the first novelist lay in his understanding that, as the picture was the one essential element in the complicated structure of our emotions, so that simplification of it which consisted in the suppression, pure and simple, of 'real' people would be a decided improvement. A 'real' person, profoundly as we may sympathize with him, is in a great measure perceptible only through our senses, that is to say, he remains opaque, offers a dead weight which our sensibilities have not the strength to lift.
Proust, Swann's Way


Durer's Adam and Eve


And here is Madame Merle out of Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James:

'When you've lived as long as I you'll see that every human being has his shell and that you must take shell into account. By the shell I mean the whole envelope of circumstances. There's no such thing as an isolated man or woman; we're each of us made up of some cluster of appurtenances. What shall we call our 'self'? Where does it begin? Where does it end? It overflows into everything that belongs to us--and then it flows back again. I know a large part of myself is in the clothes I choose to wear. I've a great respect for THINGS! One's self--for other people--is one's expression of one's self; and one's house, one's furniture, one's garments, the books one reads, the company one keeps--these things are all expressive.'

Memory Lane: Ireneo Funes and Orlando

Millais: Mariana (1850-51)


I have just finished reading Virginia Woolf's Orlando: A Biography. I am astounded at how prescient Mrs. Woolf is--how could she have known that just last week I was toying with an idea for a novel, some account of personality traced through an accumulation of disparate events, stages of life, and occurrences. A Whiteheadian novel in a certain way. And then I discover that not only did Mr.s Woolf write this book already (ten fathoms more profound than any of the vague notions I entertained last week), but that she wrote it in 1928, the very same year that Whitehead ended the series of Gifford lectures which would be the source of his massive tome Process and Reality. (W. James, Dewey, and Peirce were all concerned with the same sorts of themes, and I'm sure many others who I do not know of).

Anyway, the coincidences abounded and I shook my head in rueful resignation. Then I shook myself out of recognition and applied some of her more profound passages on self-creation and self-perpetuation to a little story by Borges that I read in passing last night: Funes, the Memorious, and again to some of Whitehead's more astounding passages, a couple of descriptions from Leibniz, and the project undertaken by Adam in the garden (as reminded to me by Paul Auster's City of Glass) .

It comes down to something Whitehead was critically interested in: the frenzied flux of the world that we do not, and cannot know in its detail as rational human creatures. The infinite complexity and variety of existence, from particles careening about in random motion, producing reliable, stable objects, to the complex nervous functions that control and execute out basic reactionary motions. We necessarily abstract in order to survive, to move, to make the most basic decisions. We pry out forms and species and color patches and we reconstruct the world with them, a world that is conducive to extended existence and enduring life. Leibniz describes (in the Monadologie) the variety of a pre-destined harmonious world in terms that I believe will be much like the frenzy of Whitehead's world:

There is a world of created beings - living things, animals, entelechies and souls - in the least part of matter. Each portion of matter may be conceived as a garden full of plants, and as a pond full of fish. But every branch of each plant, every member of each animal, and every drop of their liquid parts is itself likewise a similar garden or pond.

Whitehead's world would thrive with this same variety, but it wouldn't be limited to living things, but rather to every speck of existence.

Graphic art by Fomenko (from Giornale Nuovo)

To move on, both Woolf and Borges describe this multiplicity of experience. For Borges, (in this story, in other places he too raises the concept of the multiplicitous self), the experience of the world can be in degrees of excellence. Ireneo Funes is a man suddenly paralyzed who gains an ability to perceive and remember which is so heightened that the world is an infinite wealth of unique and utterly distinct events. Just like the system of naming that Adam must have had in the Garden, each name capturing the exact essence of the thing named, a mind of this sort would be able to know each individual instance or reality exactly as it is.

A circumference on a blackboard, a rectangular triangle, a rhomb, are forms which we can fully intuit; the same held true with Ireneo for the tempestuous mane of a stallion, a herd of cattle in a pass, the ever-changing flame or the innumerable ash, the many faces of a dead man during the course of a protracted wake. He could perceive I do not know how many stars in the sky.


Orlando, at the end of Woolf's biography, is a woman who has lived through hundreds of years, and multiple professions, loves, obsessions, solitudes, conversations, and even deaths. Orlando has been a boy, a man, a girl, and a woman. And at the end, at the very end, the moments of innumerable selves rush upon her, forcing their individual weight on her present and eventually culminating in a unity. Woolf is concerned with the multiplicitous self, the crazy variety of events that define a "person," but are not all of what it means to be a person. Here's a passage describing the multiplicitous self (it helps to think of Kant's description of our sense of "inner" life as the perpetual, inexorable tick-tock of a metronome. We know the "I" because of our inner sense of time-sequence)

For if there are (at a venture) seventy-six different times all ticking in the mind at once, how many different people are there not--Heaven help us--all having lodgment at one time or another in the human spirit? Some say two thousand and fifty-two. So that it is the most usual thing in the world for a person to call, directly they are alone, Orlando? (if that is one's name) meaning by that, Come, come! I'm sick to death of this particular self. I want another. Hence, the astonishing changes we see in our friends.

A crazy world that would be! But there are survival methods: we busy our bodies so that the many selves retreat into silence, or we engage just one of them, the loving self, the self at work, the self that reads poetry (and recites it aloud as if she were Gwyneth Paltrow playing Sylvia Plath...don't ask me why I do that...). Examine your daily life, or lift the truth out of those common sayings like "I don't know who I was when I did that" or "He wasn't himself." This happens and we turn a negative eye to it for it is much harder to imagine how I might be a conglomerate of many personalities than just one that occasionally "swerves" from its norm.

But there is a dominant self, a regnant self, the monarch of our many-faceted soul. This is how Woolf describes the reacquisition of unity in Orlando:

The whole of her darkened and settled, as when some foil whose addition makes the round and solidity of a surface is added to it, and the shallow becomes deep and the near distant; and all is contained as water is contained by the sides of a well. So she was now darkened, stilled, and become, with the addition of this Orlando, what is called, rightly or wrongly, a single self, a real self. And she fell silent. For it is probable that when people talk aloud, the selves (of which there may be more than two thousand) are conscious of disseverment, and are trying to communicate, but when communication is established they fall silent.


We are many and one and we do ourselves a disservice if we doubt either of those ways of characterizing a human life. How else can life remain new, surprising, wondrous? We are equipped with many pairs of eyes through which to engage the world and some see much more clearly than others. Some see differently than others. Some are just plain wrong in what they see. But taken together, in some culminating unity, the many ways of seeing that one person has creates an astounding vision of clarity, interestedness, and profundity.

Memory Lane: Ireneo Funes and Orlando

Millais: Mariana (1850-51)


I have just finished reading Virginia Woolf's Orlando: A Biography. I am astounded at how prescient Mrs. Woolf is--how could she have known that just last week I was toying with an idea for a novel, some account of personality traced through an accumulation of disparate events, stages of life, and occurrences. A Whiteheadian novel in a certain way. And then I discover that not only did Mr.s Woolf write this book already (ten fathoms more profound than any of the vague notions I entertained last week), but that she wrote it in 1928, the very same year that Whitehead ended the series of Gifford lectures which would be the source of his massive tome Process and Reality. (W. James, Dewey, and Peirce were all concerned with the same sorts of themes, and I'm sure many others who I do not know of).

Anyway, the coincidences abounded and I shook my head in rueful resignation. Then I shook myself out of recognition and applied some of her more profound passages on self-creation and self-perpetuation to a little story by Borges that I read in passing last night: Funes, the Memorious, and again to some of Whitehead's more astounding passages, a couple of descriptions from Leibniz, and the project undertaken by Adam in the garden (as reminded to me by Paul Auster's City of Glass) .

It comes down to something Whitehead was critically interested in: the frenzied flux of the world that we do not, and cannot know in its detail as rational human creatures. The infinite complexity and variety of existence, from particles careening about in random motion, producing reliable, stable objects, to the complex nervous functions that control and execute out basic reactionary motions. We necessarily abstract in order to survive, to move, to make the most basic decisions. We pry out forms and species and color patches and we reconstruct the world with them, a world that is conducive to extended existence and enduring life. Leibniz describes (in the Monadologie) the variety of a pre-destined harmonious world in terms that I believe will be much like the frenzy of Whitehead's world:

There is a world of created beings - living things, animals, entelechies and souls - in the least part of matter. Each portion of matter may be conceived as a garden full of plants, and as a pond full of fish. But every branch of each plant, every member of each animal, and every drop of their liquid parts is itself likewise a similar garden or pond.

Whitehead's world would thrive with this same variety, but it wouldn't be limited to living things, but rather to every speck of existence.

Graphic art by Fomenko (from Giornale Nuovo)

To move on, both Woolf and Borges describe this multiplicity of experience. For Borges, (in this story, in other places he too raises the concept of the multiplicitous self), the experience of the world can be in degrees of excellence. Ireneo Funes is a man suddenly paralyzed who gains an ability to perceive and remember which is so heightened that the world is an infinite wealth of unique and utterly distinct events. Just like the system of naming that Adam must have had in the Garden, each name capturing the exact essence of the thing named, a mind of this sort would be able to know each individual instance or reality exactly as it is.

A circumference on a blackboard, a rectangular triangle, a rhomb, are forms which we can fully intuit; the same held true with Ireneo for the tempestuous mane of a stallion, a herd of cattle in a pass, the ever-changing flame or the innumerable ash, the many faces of a dead man during the course of a protracted wake. He could perceive I do not know how many stars in the sky.


Orlando, at the end of Woolf's biography, is a woman who has lived through hundreds of years, and multiple professions, loves, obsessions, solitudes, conversations, and even deaths. Orlando has been a boy, a man, a girl, and a woman. And at the end, at the very end, the moments of innumerable selves rush upon her, forcing their individual weight on her present and eventually culminating in a unity. Woolf is concerned with the multiplicitous self, the crazy variety of events that define a "person," but are not all of what it means to be a person. Here's a passage describing the multiplicitous self (it helps to think of Kant's description of our sense of "inner" life as the perpetual, inexorable tick-tock of a metronome. We know the "I" because of our inner sense of time-sequence)

For if there are (at a venture) seventy-six different times all ticking in the mind at once, how many different people are there not--Heaven help us--all having lodgment at one time or another in the human spirit? Some say two thousand and fifty-two. So that it is the most usual thing in the world for a person to call, directly they are alone, Orlando? (if that is one's name) meaning by that, Come, come! I'm sick to death of this particular self. I want another. Hence, the astonishing changes we see in our friends.

A crazy world that would be! But there are survival methods: we busy our bodies so that the many selves retreat into silence, or we engage just one of them, the loving self, the self at work, the self that reads poetry (and recites it aloud as if she were Gwyneth Paltrow playing Sylvia Plath...don't ask me why I do that...). Examine your daily life, or lift the truth out of those common sayings like "I don't know who I was when I did that" or "He wasn't himself." This happens and we turn a negative eye to it for it is much harder to imagine how I might be a conglomerate of many personalities than just one that occasionally "swerves" from its norm.

But there is a dominant self, a regnant self, the monarch of our many-faceted soul. This is how Woolf describes the reacquisition of unity in Orlando:

The whole of her darkened and settled, as when some foil whose addition makes the round and solidity of a surface is added to it, and the shallow becomes deep and the near distant; and all is contained as water is contained by the sides of a well. So she was now darkened, stilled, and become, with the addition of this Orlando, what is called, rightly or wrongly, a single self, a real self. And she fell silent. For it is probable that when people talk aloud, the selves (of which there may be more than two thousand) are conscious of disseverment, and are trying to communicate, but when communication is established they fall silent.


We are many and one and we do ourselves a disservice if we doubt either of those ways of characterizing a human life. How else can life remain new, surprising, wondrous? We are equipped with many pairs of eyes through which to engage the world and some see much more clearly than others. Some see differently than others. Some are just plain wrong in what they see. But taken together, in some culminating unity, the many ways of seeing that one person has creates an astounding vision of clarity, interestedness, and profundity.