THE CRUCIFIXION OF THE SELF
It was not that long ago, around 75 years ago, when the Argentinian poet J.L. Borges wrote “The Aleph”, a short story that quickly became a mind-bending reference in contemporary literature.
In it, Borges argues, there is a given place (under the stairs of a musty basement in Buenos Aires) where “everything” converges. It was “The Aleph” and in itself, all possible permutations between time and space were present. Not just a magnificent feat in physics, but specially one in mental projection.
Time and time again and throughout his extensive -read prolific- career, Don Borges would incessantly navigate around meanders made of the most intricate and sublime conjectures just to find himself, at the very last minute, facing an ocean of paradoxes . His uncanny mastery of language tells us that even if a single image is worth a thousand words, it is with words that we invent the most powerful imagery, the narratives that hold humankind together.
Generations in and generations out, if there is a truth we could agree on, is that we rely on language and symbols to build systems capable of interpreting our ever-changing reality. So if J.L. Borges goes ahead and creates The Aleph, his very own version of the Absolute and a fundamental coup d’état to Newtonian physics, shouldn’t we all proceed like him? Even more frightening is, how do we know we’re not all doing it right now?
No more Gods and no more state
every man is a freestanding universe
Typically, when the mists of religious or political indoctrination dissipate and the skies clear out, men are left alone to face the abyss of totally terrifying freedom. The paradoxical nature of this equation, made like The Aleph from an inordinate number of variables, is that it appears to be the very same reason coercing us back to machinate again new derisory structures out of thin air, out of fear, out of uncertainty, out of colorful shamanistic illusions… not even meant to help us thrive but realistically, meant to help us survive. And survived we did.
Back in ancient Greece, the Greek philosopher Parmenides launched the intellect as the formidable vector meant to pave our future, and while doing so, severing the Self from the Spirit. At the birthplace of western science, we relegated the Spirit to a vaporous belief and called it a faith. And for very valid reasons, we proceeded to comprehend and prioritize the laws of nature through our senses.
Many centuries later, the fierce pragmatism of Rene Descartes cemented what would soon become the climax of the Intellect. In the twentieth century it finally rose; the Ego became the pinnacle of evolution. Ever since, every thought, every action and every word would go through the lens of a man-made construct, a most powerful symbol, the Ego.
In practical terms, if the Ego rose to replace the Self, wouldn’t then improving our Self-Esteem equate to reinforcing the Ego?
And this is the question, the central tenet of the Light Box Totem.
Generally speaking, we are raised to build an identity primarily designed to respond to an immediate environment. Throughout this process, the “Locus” or location of our Self-esteem develops outside the Self, specifically, in the eyes of those around us, in their opinion of us, and it is out of this relationship that we build our Ego, an artificial representation of the Self built like a radar, from referential feedback.
But as we acquire knowledge through experience, as we build our own moral trees and as each one of us undergoes the necessary and personal revision of the moral precepts laid upon us by our environment, we will move -consciously or not- the Locus of self-esteem towards our own Self, towards our own convictions.
It is a progressive shift, a very relative one, nonetheless a most critical one. A curious paradox arises as we walk up this road, as our self-esteem becomes more and more impervious to third parties, constantly striving towards self-reliance building resiliency.
Self-esteem will then proportionally displace the Ego away from the center of the equation, it will push it away from ourselves. By that I am inferring that Self-Esteem and the Ego are not only distinct entities, but fundamentally exclusive ones. Could I say then that Self-Esteem is in fact engineered to replace or to defeat our Ego? How a concept so deeply intertwined with the notion of the individual could be by itself the catalyst of its very own dissolution escapes me.
The Box Light Totem is designed to instigate you to reflect about your own identity; to ask yourself about your Ego, about your Self-esteem. These days I’m inclined to say the Ego is a man-made construct cutting our ties with the world and even within ourselves while Self-Esteem is acceptance of ourselves, acceptance of the world. Unity.
Personally, I find that we’re going today through a period of identity crisis, a loud cry for connection and realization, a product of an inadvertent cult of the Ego.
May the warmth of these light rays
accompany you far away
from the slavery of the Ego
and deep into the wonderful lands
of genuine ever-lasting connections.