How Do I Know I Am Alive?
Inner Speech of a Lion
Wit has to ask what relation of sea and land exists in a proposition where a lion would speak or a dog feel and whether a rose has teeth (or teech, and if you change beach to teach, why not change two more letters and have teeth teach too?) Where would they be, in the heart of the petals? The sea and land without record, without writing, without teeth ephemerate into nothing, for that rose has thorns (and they are its teech, its teeth its speech) like a tree has bark in that world where leaves cover its trunk. We can reverse these teech-teeth nicely into mouse singers singing operas and dogs undertaking investigations of being. To pretend a dog or a mouse is like a man whose [thinking goes on within his consciousness in seclusion] when there is no one to [read the silent internal discourse of others], <222> how could they if they cannot read themselves. A man is a book or a land without reference to [a game of guessing thoughts] but if I say that [what is internal is hidden from us] like [the future is hidden from us] it is no wonder we have not discovered our land from which we observe the sea, for Miss Bentley still does not know what she wants to be and thinks it OK. But the future is not hidden from us, it is the past and in the same way that if [a lion could talk we could not understand him] it is not the talk of the lion past we seek but its thought, for even if it doesn’t talk it thinks, and that inner speech of the lion is our concern. We cannot guess from its face or its eyes of brightness and intelligence, just as a man enslaved whose eyes show such servility, while he waits his change, his chance to freedom, his inner speech, inner intent is freedom, but we don’t have to read either the lion or the man to know his nature is to eat and be free.
In all this back and forth Wit continues to ask what it’s like to feel another’s pain and how it is certain to know [that this man is in pain] which is not ask our reading of thoughts, which have many shades and color and are never just one thing but one thing doubted, then inverted, then smelled and weighted so that the thought, [the height of Mount Blanc depends on how one climbs it] is a belief tone, a color of thought, inner speech calculation, for the language no one speaks is a math of the mind that examines whether [a dog can be a hypocrite] transferring to the dog the inner speech of the man who is a hypocrite for his thousand thoughts unspoken, and how and whether any one of those thoughts emerges in action is remote to his knowing, for his impulse is his action and that is no inner speech at all. So if he has a dog [a dog cannot either be a hypocrite or sincere] it is only by his transference that he says this, for the dog is never anything but sincere and cannot hide his inner speech when it comes to the man. The dog will always show his affection, or not, to the man, but a dog is a hypocrite to his food. We know that from the sneaking crusts of bread out of the trash or the holes in bags of feed on the porch gnawed a little at the margin like there were root rats but we know the cause, and we say all this to say at the end that the concept of learning the past is revealed in the remembering of it and what it feels like to remember is a first awareness of the land you stand on before the sea of thought where the past is all the land there is to stand on. That ending/beginning in the past and in memory enables the man to stand and see and think. Like any sentient being, the dog, the lion awaits in anticipation of every moment that he hopes and waits in faith to come, so the past is hope too and memory. And that is Part Two.
We go backwards to know ourselves, for we wake and find we have been standing there a long time and the waves have made no impression washing up on us and going out and conducting their own lives with turtles and urchin and seaweed and driftwood that comes and goes in the tide. The question is not how do I know my image, but how do I remember it. This is not about the image of the imagination, the colors of red as a picture, conflating the image in my head with the land and its memory, that with the past enables us to ask [Could one imagine a stone’s having consciousness?]. Is a stone conscious like a lion or a man, or anyone who has thought about the stone as a lima bean of consciousness, but has no way to express it, no voice, no arms, no legs, no eyes, no ear, no skin, no teeth, but a mind thinking in the bean just the same as in the stone? Ipso facto, said this way, if I imagine [that each of the people whom I see in the street are in frightful pain but concealing it] and the waves and the sand and the sea and the mind of the land conceal inner speech that [the soul is in pain but what has that to do with the body?], feeling pain is like feeling memory the first time, waking on the shore to the wind and salt concealed all this time, now shorn, the same way the man is shorn who is in pain, for imagine that I see they are in pain or rather I feel it before the words of inner speech become conscious. After the words I think that the man is in pain but concealing it. Shades and shadows of the dog-hypocrite for food, the man is an actor imagining himself whatever it be, hypocritically for saying, I saw an image but not in my eyes.
Where then the image of the pain, and where is the image of the world, of the sea, of the waves or the land if not in the eyes inverted into the mind? The image is in the feeling evoked by the image, the field of flowers in a field under a cliff in Blanco, a plight of Immortal Amarant calling. Do not ask if flowers are sincere, but do ask about the feeling the image gives, the flower hanging down, for the thought is the image, the imagination is the image whereby I do know whether I or anyone else is in pain. [Imagine people standing in a circle and among them one connected to an electric, and try to see which one has been shocked, for one has, except now I know it is myself [123,] If I suppose [I can feel the shock even when someone else is electrified] I am connected with them and feel them, unless I am anesthetized or paralyzed the way the angels are who cease to remember themselves. If paralyzed what is the difference from that prior state where we stood on the shore but did not know it or the waves breaking, because knowing is every case for us, that is real knowing, which is feeling and feeling is remembering. The first time we feel a thing we do not know what it is but building up a pattern of memory we know and can say in our inner speech those very words, he is in pain, I am in pain, we are in pain. All because we feel.
Nor can we account for all those not in pain or who say they are anyway, but ape their pain, or those who act as if there is an [unbridgeable gulf between consciousness and brain], for them consciousness is feeling, not thinking, which only comes after feeling and is abstracted to memory from which the ape asks whether it is conscious and feels pain, which is as if to ask if there are [witnesses that they have consciousness], how can there be witnesses to inner speech? These charades are species of automata [can I imagine that the people around me are automata, and lack consciousness……with fixed looks (as in a trance?)] <126> When I admit that [while he was speaking I did not know what was going on in his head] should I like to see into his head it is the same as with the pain of shocks in a circle. I cannot know his pain or his thought without connecting it to my own and my own thought and pain are memory of feelings cataloged in the past. Retrospectively without his pain and memory and my pain and memory I am a Robinson Crusoe of the mind and [it is as if I have imagined that the essential thing about a living man was the outward form] <128>. Outer form, inner speech, shared feeling, mutual pain, mutual thought, I knew what he was thinking and I said it, my stone, my block of wood.
The possibility that there could be human beings unattached to their words, to whom speech is an alien is the case. And everything is the case. What would it be like for a human being to never find a word on the tip of their tongue however is not the case, for they always do find the word that they then speak. This is a measure of what they hear. The tip of the tongue is thus the ear and the ear is thus the mind, for they hear the word in their mind as something inchoate, vague, a glimmer now in the eye, the mind’s eye. So in mind-ear or eye they say it’s on the tip of the tongue. I just can’t think of the word but it will come.
But what is hearing, seeing, thinking, speaking, imagining? What is the silent internal speech that saying inwardly or singing inwardly but read silently is to be learned? The learning is in the listening to that hearing that is no voice. Voice had to be invented for thought, prethought and afterthought to emerge. All you have to do is speak, but speaking evaporates in air, but to write, the writing is engraved. Thus transcribed thought can be heard and seen as many times removed from the tip of the tongue, for what anyone says to himself within himself is hidden from me. This not knowing is not as strange as the desire to know what another is thinking to himself on the tip of the tongue when we do even not know ourself what we are thinking to ourself.
Our thoughts come in waves of particulars and themes over and over like the sea rolling up and falling back. They always have and always will but it is as though we never knew we stood on the beach (the teach, just change the initial letter) and hear them, smell them, feel them. What even if the beach is our thought within ourself as waves, who am I otherwise as land and if my soul anyway is not of the land but of the sea? Hold on to that land, it is the point of departure that grew slowly in mind and took permanence as the ID as much permanence as it has to, and the longer the life land exists the more wonder it holds in its memory of itself. There on the shore is its history, for the place is its face, the place is its land on which its feet stand and watch the waves roll in. And that is how I know I am alive.
Note: Wit is of course the name of the author of the Philosophical Investigations, translated by Anscombe (Blackwell, 1997, Second Edition. reissued German-English Edition) to which the cited pages refer.