I’ll start by showing the last thing that Satoshi finished before his unexpected death in 2010. It’s a short that describes the feeling of waking up titled “Ohayo”, which means “good morning” or “hello” in Japanese. Then I’ll read a page from Borges that is thematically relevant to Perfect Blue called “Borges and I”.
Jorge Luis Borges - “Borges and I”
The other one, the one called Borges, is the one things happen to. I walk through the streets of Buenos Aires and stop for a moment, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the arch of an entrance hall and the grillwork on the gate; I know of Borges from the mail and see his name on a list of professors or in a biographical dictionary. I like hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typography, the taste of coffee and the prose of Stevenson; he shares these preferences, but in a vain way that turns them into the attributes of an actor. It would be an exaggeration to say that ours is a hostile relationship; I live, let myself go on living, so that Borges may contrive his literature, and this literature justifies me. It is no effort for me to confess that he has achieved some valid pages, but those pages cannot save me, perhaps because what is good belongs to no one, not even to him, but rather to the language and to tradition. Besides, I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of myself can survive in him. Little by little, I am giving over everything to him, though I am quite aware of his perverse custom of falsifying and magnifying things.
Spinoza knew that all things long to persist in their being; the stone eternally wants to be a stone and the tiger a tiger. I shall remain in Borges, not in myself (if it is true that I am someone), but I recognize myself less in his books than in many others or in the laborious strumming of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him and went from the mythologies of the suburbs to the games with time and infinity, but those games belong to Borges now and I shall have to imagine other things. Thus my life is a flight and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to him.
I do not know which of us has written this page.
“Looking at things objectively or subjectively gives two very different images. For an outsider, the dreams and the film within a film are easy to separate from the real world. But for the person who is experiencing them, everything is real. I want to describe that kind of situation.
Borges, in one of his early essays, The Nothingness of Personality, attempts to ‘prove that personality is a mirage maintained by conceit and custom, without metaphysical foundation or visceral reality’ by making the case that the notion of Self is overemphasized in modern culture. He demonstrates that he is not alone in his thinking of himself as a curious synecdoche by citing many others who feel the same way:
“…from Torres Villarroel’s Vida e Historia. This systematizer of Quevedo, learned in astrology, lord and master of all words, expert wielder of the most strident rhetorical figures, also sought to define himself and probed his fundamental incongruence. He saw that he was like everyone else: that is, that he was no one, or little more than an unintelligible cacophony, persisting in time and wearing out in space. He wrote:”
“I am angry, fearful, compassionate, joyous, sad, greedy, generous, enraged, meek, and all the good and bad emotions and all the praiseworthy and reprehensible actions that can be found in all men together or separately. I have tried out all the vices and all the virtues, and in a single day I feel inclined to weep and laugh, give and keep, repose and suffer, and I am always unaware of the cause and the momentum of these contrarieties. I have heard this alternative of contrary impulses called madness; if it be so, we are all mad to a greater or lesser degree for I have noticed this unforeseen and repeated alternation in everyone.”
These, of course, are neither words from Borges’s essay nor words from Villarroel’s book, but rather a translation of them by Esther Allen, author and professor of French, Spanish, and English literature at the City University of New York.
I don’t remember whose it was (not that it matters), but I’d been reading out of a posthumously published version of a writer’s diary once, and remember being intrigued by a note that he/she wrote down about another author who’d wanted to write a novel composed entirely of quotes by other authors. I liked the idea of this, and thought it got at an interesting suggestion about identity and authorship. It seems to me hard to find a more fitting place to try and create a work in this spirit than in a review of a work by Satoshi Kon’s, given how much his work explores identity, polyphony, reality, and illusion by means of trompe-l’œil. So, experimentally, I will try that here. It goes without saying, but I will say it, that some of the quotes that I will use to this end, will be quotes originally written by Rob Cheung.
Identity is a central theme in this film. It addresses the question of ‘who am I?’. It explores the psychological turmoil that results from juxtaposing the questions ‘who do people think I am’, ‘who do I say I am’, ‘who do I want to be’, and ‘who am I, day-to-day’. In short, who am I in concept, and how does this differ to who I am incarnate. what is image, and what is reality?
The film starts out with a premise that resembles Charles Cooley’s Looking-Glass theory of the self: “I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am.”. Mima’s dissonance throughout most of the film deals with her inability to reconcile public image and private image with this kind of socially constructed notion of self or identity. It’s only at the end, when Mima says to Rumi at the film’s climax “I am who I am” – the emphatic tautology that negates any possibility for psychological dissonance – that we feel a breakthrough. The problem of identity, Kon suggests, is in its premise, not in its author’s elucidation or articulation.
It’s possibly no accident that Borges and Kon hold similar views on identity and perception that they create similarly surreal work. Continuing Borges from above:
“There is no whole self. Beyond all possibility of bombastic gamesmanship, I have touched this hard truth with my own emotions as I was separating from a companion. I was returning to Buenos Aires and leaving him behind in Mallorca. We both understood that, except in the perfidious or altered proximity of letters, we would not meet again. What happens at such moments happened. We knew this good-bye would jut out in our memories, and there was even a period when we tried to enhance its flavor with a vehement show of opinions for the yearnings to come. The present moment was acquiring all the prestige and indeterminacy of the past….
But beyond any egotistical display, what clamored in my chest was the will to show my soul in its entirety to my friend. I would have wanted to strip myself of it and leave it there, palpitating. We went on talking and debating, on the brink of good-bye, until all at once, with an unsuspected strength of conviction, I understood that this personality, which we usually appraise at such an incompatibly exorbitant value, is nothing. The thought came over me that never would one full and absolute moment, containing all the others, justify my life, that all of my instants would be provisional phases, annihilators of the past turned to face the future, and that beyond the episodic, the present, the circumstantial, we were nobody. And I despised all mysterizing.
The last century was rootedly subjective in its aesthetic manifestations. Its writers were more inclined to show off their personalities than to establish a body of work, an aphorism that is also applicable today to the teeming and highly acclaimed mob of those who profit from the glib embers of that century’s bonfires. However, my purpose is not to lash out against one or the other of these groups, but to consider the Calvary toward which idolaters of themselves are on a fatal course. We have already seen that any state of mind, however opportunistic, can entirely fill up our attention, which is much the same as saying that it can form, in its brief and absolute term, our essence. Which, translated into the language of literature, means that to try to express oneself and to want to express the whole of life are one and the same thing. A strenuous, panting dash between the prodding of time and man, who, like Achilles in the illustrious conundrum formulated by Zeno of Elea, will always see himself in last place…”
Nam struck a piece of this sentiment a couple of weeks ago when she said to me, after I’d left her some of my books in anticipation of my move to Hong Kong. “I like the idea of reading these books while you’re away because it will be something like the experience of talking to you”
Even if you absolve yourself of the need for internal coherence, the dissonance lives on in some form for public figures through mystique among the general population about who you are. The last scene in this film shows nurses in the hospital spotting Mima as she leaves and continuing to speculate and gossip about if that’s here and what she might be doing there. You must still live in a world where the artifice of your speculative images will always be alive, in countless individual forms. David Foster Wallace expressed one of the best articulations of the specific curiosity that drives idolization in his essay How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart. The essay is about how, when it finally came out, Tracy Austin’s memoirs shattered his hopes for who she might actually be, but there is a bit in it where he tries to reason about how his obsession with here might have come about.
“They sell so well because athletes’ stories seem to promise something more than the regular name-dropping celebrity autobiography.
Here is a theory. Top athletes are compelling because they embody the comparison-based achievement we Americans revere – fastest, strongest – and because they do so in a totally unambiguous way. Questions of the best plumber or best managerial accountant are impossible even to define, whereas the best relief pitcher, free-throw shooter, or female tennis player is, at any given time, a matter of public statistical record. Top athletes fascinate us by appealing to our twin compulsions with competitive superiority and hard data.
Plus they’re beautiful: Jordan hanging in midair like a Chagall bride, Sampras laying down a touch volley at an angle that defies Euclid. And they’re inspiring. There is about world-class athletes carving out exemptions from physical laws a transcendent beauty that makes manifest God in man. Great athletes are profundity in motion. They enable abstractions like power and grace and control to become not only incarnate but televisable. To be a top athlete, performing, is to be that exquisite hybrid of animal and angel that we average un-beautiful watcher have such a hard time seeing in ourselves.
So we want to know them, these gifted, driven physical achievers. We too, as audience, are driven: watching the performance is not enough. We want to get intimate with all that profundity. We want inside them; we want the Story. We want to hear about humble roots, privation, precocity, grim resolve, discouragement, persistence, team spirit, sacrifice, killer instinct, liniment and pain. We want to know how they did it. We want to know how it feels, inside, to be both beautiful and best. (“how did it feel to win the big one?”). What combination of blankness and concentration is required to sink a putt or a free-throw for thousands of dollars in front of millions of unblinking eyes? What goes through their minds? Are these athletes real people? Are they even remotely like us? Is there Agony or Defeat anything like our little agonies of daily frustration? And of course what about the Thrill of Victory – what might it feel like to hold up that #1 finger and be able to actually mean it?
I am about the same age and played competitive tennis in the same junior ranks as Tracy Austin, half a country away and several plateaus below her. When we all heard, in 1977, that a California girl who’d just turned fourteen had won a professional tournament in Portland, we weren’t so much jealous as agog. None of us could come close to testing even a top eighteen-year-old, much less pro-caliber adults. We started to hunt her up in tennis magazines, search out her matches on obscure cable channels. She was about four foot six and eighty-five pounds. She hit the hell out of the ball and never missed and never choked and had braces and pigtails that swung wildly around as she handed pros their asses. She was the first real child star in women’s tennis, and in the late Seventies she was prodigious, beautiful, and inspiring. There was an incongrously adult genius about her game, all the more radiant for her little-girl giggle and silly hair. I remember meditating, with all the intensity a fifteen-year-old can summon, on the differences that kept this girl and me on our respective sides of the TV screen. She was a genius and I was not. How must it have felt? I had some serious questions to ask her. I wanted, very much, her side of it.”
Kon himself acknowledges reticence as a figure in the public spotlight to engage in describing his own personality, presumably because he recognizes the incoherence and capriciousness of what a personality is, and the impossibility to satiate the intrigues that idolaters like the young David Foster Wallace had for Tracy Austin.
Kon was fairly reclusive as an artist, and was reserved in interviews. He started a personal website after the making of Perfect Blue as a surface to push new ideas, but quickly gave it up.
“Having my own homepage was simply one other method of expression. If you’re working with text, then having your own homepage is an ideal vehicle. Also it would be a nice writing exercise. So I decided to start my own website. But it’s not intended to explain me or my personality to other people and I didn’t expect that so many people would read it. I had many reactions from these people, which surprised me a great deal. It makes me happy if people are interested in my work, but not when they’re interested in me. So when I received all these reactions, I didn’t know how to keep my distance from them. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I don’t write much on my site anymore.”
Supporting a public persona requires that you act within a dilemma: you can give honesty and incoherence or you can give dishonesty and coherence, but you cannot give honesty and coherence without paying a serious price in delusion.
Besides his exceptionally masterful capacity for animation, one of the things that like most about Satoshi Kon in general is that he deals almost exclusively – and very deftly – with difficult psychological themes. You’ll find narcissism, self-hatred, and oedipal complexes in Paprika, gaslighting, bipolar disorder, and dissociative identity in Paranoia Agent, amnesia, nostalgia, and paranoia in Millenium Actress, and the list goes on. He consistently chooses difficult topics and consistently makes excellent movies. One theory on why I like his films so much is that they, roughly speaking, all have a similar treatment. Namely, they all position these notions of mental illness closer to the notion of normalcy by exposing the fallacy of normalcy, similarly to how Borges describes the deceit of the Self conspiracy.
His characters tend to be both relatable and clinically insane. His films almost always mix a version of artifice and a version of reality into the perspective of his characters to point to the curious relationships between and the malleability of perception, memory, and understanding, leaving the viewer feeling somehow both more queasy and more comfortable with his own kind of incoherent insanity.
An interesting note is that we’ve discussed the same kind of construction before. In my film-club talk from Cooper’s WWII film Overlord, we talk about how the experience of being constantly exposed to both reality and deceit prescribes a heightened vigilance:
“The atitifce-archive mixed medium is especially apropos for this type of critique of war. It illustrates via it’s very construction how fluidly unreality is interpreted alongside reality. It’s easy to discern the seams if you are vigilantly watching, but also easy to save yourself the weariness of vigilance and take it all as reality. The danger being implied here, of course, being that complicity with the absurd can lead not only to your own needless death, but plausibly to orchestrated mass genocide on a global scale. And that one should, despite the burdensome costs, be always conscious of the world’s pervasive absurdity, to give consequence to the anxious suspicions one constantly generates, for even, or especially, collective forces will be blind to such hazards. counterintuitively, social systems are more vulnerable than autonomous agents because there is an overwhelming and self reinforcing conspiracy of normalcy which resists the group’s ability to accurately distinguish meaningful anomalies from noise”
A key suggestion that occurs throughout many of his movies is that understanding is built on memory, but memory is not necessarily built on perception. This point is what distinguishes Kon’s prescription or exploration from Cooper’s. The memory theory was in part articulated by Borges’s argument, but very explicitly laid by Venkatesh Rao:
“Until recently, I had never been conceptually attracted to the idea of an afterlife or prior lives, either as thought experiments or as aspirations. And definitely not in any religious sense. This is perhaps because I’ve never been able to imagine interesting versions of those ideas.
What has been piquing my interest over the last year is a particular notion of digital after lives/prior lives based on persistence of memory rather than persistence of agency or identity. Not only is this kind of immortality more feasible than the other two, it is actually more interesting and powerful.
We generally fail to understand the extent to which both our sense of agency and identity are a function of memory. If you could coherently extend memories either forward or backward in time, you would get a different person, but one who might enjoy a weak sort of continuity of awareness with a person (or machine) who has lived before or might live after. Conversely, if you went blind and lost your long-term memories, you might lose elements of your identity
The integrity and coherence of memory is central to the integrity and coherence of identity and agency itself. To paraphrase computing pioneer Frederick Brooks, reveal your thinking and hide your memories and I will understand nothing about you, hide your thinking and reveal your memories and I will understand everything about you.
I think I’d like to attempt writing a memoir someday, not because I think my life has been, or will have been, particularly remarkable, but because I think trying to capture the essence of your life in a form that can be experienced by another, is one of the most interesting technological challenges in the world. So far, we’ve invented only one technology that can be used to take on this challenge: reading and writing. Good memoirs enable reliving to some degree.”
Virginia Woolf goes beyond just acknowledging the point that identity is memory, but beautifully illustrates it in her memoir A Sketch of the Past, describing herself as a collection of “moments of being”.
“Here I come to one of the memoir writers difficulties – one of the reasons why though I read so many, so many are failures. They leave out the person to whom things happened. The reason is that it is so difficult to describe any human being. So they say: “this is what happened”; but they do not say what the person was like to whom it happened. And the events mean very little unless we know first to whom they happened. Who was I then?”
[her memories, omitted, pp ]
There are many interpretations of this movie out there that position this film as an indictment of what seems to be a really grotesque idol culture, particularly in Japan and Korea. I’d never seen it this way, but saw it more as an interpretation of the cognitive experience of coming to age and shedding an early stage of developmental concepts. A section from my notes on narrative and psychology:
“The psychologist Jean Piaget suggests that a useful place to start looking for clues about the nature and development of our psychologies is by observing children. Bruno Bettelheim in The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales makes the case that fairy tales are central in how cultures transmit usable models to children. In a manner somewhat reminiscent of Freud and Jung, he suggests that in the absence of many abstract cultural concepts, stories are the primary cognitive medium via which a child gains a kind of understanding of the relevant cultural concepts around them. He draws on many existing allusions that fairy tales are designed with developmental themes in mind: Red Riding Hood deals with sexual seduction, Snow White with domestic relationships, and so on, citing that many deal with developmental or Oedipal themes. Here again, it is tempting to draw some kind of conclusion that the narrative encoding of information plays some native role in the human brain. Combining Bettelheim’s hypothesis with Piaget’s view of learning as a constructive process over assimilation (fitting new information into existing schemas) and accommodation (creating new schemas, and reconciling interfaces with the old schemas), we might come to an explanation that, stories, since they resemble something of phenomenological experience, act as a kind of psychological bedrock for conceptual modelling, that would only be shed as a way to interpret new information once more abstract layers of models are created. This process itself is one which Bettelheim argues is transmitted to children in the story The Three Little Pigs. The two pigs that build structurally weak houses and die are really discarded developmental stages of the third, who builds a strong brick house; the child understands subconsciously that we have to shed earlier forms of existence if we wish to move on to higher ones.”
Kon in an interview also expressed that criticism of idol culture was not his intention:
“No, the film is not based on any criticism. If the audience get the impression from watching the film that the idol system in Japan is like that, I’m embarrassed. Of course I did research before making the film and I visited a number of these idol events, but I didn’t see the kind of example that is used in the film. Also, to reveal behind-the-scenes secrets about the entertainment world was never my intention. I simply wanted to show the process of a young girl maturing, becoming confused because her old set of values gets shattered, but who is reborn as a mature being as a result of that. That’s what I wanted to describe. But because I had to stick with the idea of an idol, the film came to talk about that particular world.”
It’s interesting that the metaphorical developmental stage that Mima evolves into is the actress. The actress occupies a kind of strange-loop of a position when thinking about identity, or the question of “who am I?”. Along with the occupation, Mima’s final response “I am who I am” seems to reflect the sentiment of Adrienne Lecouvreur – Camus’s dramatist version of the absurd hero.
“Why should we be surprised to find a fleeting fame built upon the most ephemeral of creations? The actor has three hours to be Iago or Alceste, Phèdre or Gloucester. In that short space of time he makes them come to life and die on fifty square yards of boards. Never has the absurd been so well illustrated or at such length.
He abundantly illustrates every month or every day that so suggestive truth that there is no frontier between what a man wants to be and what he is. Always concerned with better representing, he demonstrates to what a degree appearing creates being. For that is his art—to simulate absolutely, to project himself as deeply as possible into lives that are not his own. At the end of his effort his vocation becomes clear: to apply himself wholeheartedly to being nothing or to being several. The narrower the limits allotted him for creating his character, the more necessary his talent. He will die in three hours under the mask he has assumed today. Within three hours he must experience and express a whole exceptional life. That is called losing oneself to find oneself. In those three hours he travels the whole course of the dead-end path that the man in the audience takes a lifetime to cover.
The rule of that art insists that everything be magnified and translated into flesh. If it were essential on the stage to love as people really love, to employ that irreplaceable voice of the heart, to look as people contemplate in life, our speech would be in code. But here silences must make themselves heard. Love speaks up louder, and immobility itself becomes spectacular. The body is king. Not everyone can be “theatrical,” and this unjustly maligned word covers a whole æsthetic and a whole ethic. Half a man’s life is spent in implying, in turning away, and in keeping silent.
“What matters,” said Nietzsche, “is not eternal life but eternal vivacity.” All drama is, in fact, in this choice.
Adrienne Lecouvreur on her deathbed was willing to confess and receive communion, but refused to abjure her profession. She thereby lost the benefit of the confession. Did this not amount in effect, to choosing her absorbing passion in preference to God? And that woman in the death throes refusing in tears to repudiate what she called her art gave evidence of a greatness that she never achieved behind the footlights. This was her finest role and the hardest one to play. Choosing between heaven and a ridiculous fidelity, preferring oneself to eternity or losing oneself in God is the age-old tragedy in which each must play his part.”
Much of what I’m implying here I think is illustrated well by Donald Barthelme throughout almost all of his work. He has a peculiar ability to create cohesion from incoherence. Joyce Carol Oates writes of his fragmented writing style: “This from a writer of arguable genius whose works reflect what he himself must feel, in book after book, that his brain is all fragments…just like everything else.”. From his See the Moon?:
I know you think I’m wasting my time. You’ve made that perfectly clear. But I’m conducting these very important lunar hostility studies. And it’s not you who’ll have to leave the warm safe capsule. And dip a toe into the threatening lunar surround.
I am still wearing my yellow flower which has lasted wonderfully.
See the moon? It hates us.
My methods are homely but remember Newton and the apple. And when Rutherford started out he didn’t even have a decently heated laboratory. And then there’s the matter of my security check – I’m waiting for the government. Somebody told it I’m insecure. That’s true.
I suffer from a frightful illness of the mind, light-mindedness. It’s not catching. You needn’t shrink.
You’ve noticed the wall? I pin things on it, souvenirs. There is the red hat, there the book of instructions for the Ant Farm. And this is a traffic ticket written on a saint’s day (which saint? I don’t remember) in 1954 just outside a fat little town (which town? I don’t remember) in Ohio by a cop who asked me what I did. I said I wrote poppycock for the president of a university, true then.
You can see how far I’ve come. Lunar hostility studies aren’t for everyone.
It’s my hope that these. . . souvenirs. . . will someday merge, blur – cohere is the word, maybe – into something meaningful. A grand word, meaningful. What do I look for? A work of art, I’ll not accept anything less. Yes I know it’s shatteringly ingenuous but I wanted to be a painter. They get away with murder in my view; Mr. X. on the Times agrees with me. You don’t know how I envy them. They can pick up a Baby Ruth wrapper on the street, glue it to the canvas (in the right place, of course, there’s that), and lo! people crowd about and cry, “A real Baby Ruth wrapper, by God, what could be realer than that!” Fantastic metaphysical advantage. You hate them, if you’re ambitious.
The Ant Farm instructions are a souvenir of Sylvia. The red hat came from Cardinal Y. We’re friends, in a way.
I wanted to be one, when I was young, a painter. But I couldn’t stand stretching the canvas. Does things to the fingernails. And that’s the first place people look.
Fragments are the only forms I trust.
Light-minded or no, I’m. . . riotous with mental health. I measure myself against the Russians, that’s fair. I have here a clipping datelined Moscow, four young people apprehended strangling a swan. That’s boredom. The swan’s name, Borka.
After I wrote this film club talk, a peculiar thought came to mind about the write-up itself that I wanted to work out. I wanted to explore how this write-up was different to similar writings that I keep to myself. I wrote it down in my journal, because for me, the journal is the bedrock for identity building. The journal is where a person constructs his own voice, piece by piece. It is where one goes to be heroic to oneself. I write:
“There is a creative capacity that I only feel in the face of exhibition. It seems irrelevant, the valence of the public reaction, only that it is present in my mind. My best guess is that this ambient pressure squeezes one to explore more of the branches, more of the possible reactions, than an otherwise self-absorbed creator-for its-and-his-own-sake’s path down creation would care to take. And simply by considering these other hypothetical branches, the work is fused with a broader range of consideration. It seems insidious, that public coercion onto the direction of something that is implicitly gratuitous would make an artist somehow feel empowered, but it certainly does, from my perspective. It seems to strike a chord with Darwin’s uncomfortable thesis that adversarial circumstances, that is, unconstrained competition, lead to ecologically more ‘Fit’ constituents. In Utopia, do the birds develop wings, much less, compulsions to fly? If you are to fragment the artists into the camps on either side of the issue, the ones that operate on the “I want people to like what I make” side tend to create more interesting things than the ones who keep to the seemingly noble and romantic “I don’t care if others like what I make; I like what I make” side. This seems like it’d be an obvious point. From the perspective of the appraiser, art made with the appraiser in mind will tend to be appraised at higher value. But it’s not entirely obvious that that should be the case. For one thing, the process of appraisal is extremely asymmetrically driven between the inputs of relevance and surprise. It seems to be smoothly driven by relevance, every sympathetic element contributing to some increased positive valence toward the work. But surprise, that “I had not even remotely considered this” response, which seems both more possible and extreme in the individualist realm, brings appraisals up and down in plateaus and sinkholes.
The more obvious response to this rebuttal is that self-conscious work intended for the public is by design more accessible and coherent, and this, given the lack of patience the world at large must withhold from entertaining all deeply-thought-out-but-idiosyncratic articulations by means of a difficult decoding and personal re-encoding of an idea, makes something universally more resilient. Obvious, but still emphasizing appraisal from the perspective of the general public. What I am interested in though, is when there is a loop in the dynamic. Specifically, if someone from artist group “I don’t care if others like what I make; I like what I make” tends to like his work more when it’s made under the lens of public scrutiny. To be clear, this artist doesn’t mind per-se if the public hates, loves, or feels ambivalent about his work. It has simply occurred to him that creation under a simulated sense of being the “I want people to like what I make” artist is indeed a very good vector for creating art that he himself likes. This is one of the ways in which “he” might come to the conclusion that what constitutes “he” is not something singular, but is rather synecdoche for the world which has unmistakably made “him”. And when he entertains this one step further, he recognizes that the “world” is itself constituted of many such individuals, meaning that not only is personality fragmented, but that fragments are fragmented, not just in layers, but in cycles. Here again, he rediscovers that he must be Absurd.”