Thoughts on the Plural I

So I’ve been thinking a lot about what we mean when we say “I,” how that is a convenient, singular screen for something very complex and not at all singular. Is “I” who I am today, who I was yesterday, who I might be? My work self or home self or first date self? My online flirting self, or the me you actually go out with? I’m starting to struggle with this question in some of my writing—more on that soon. For now, these two great quotes from that poet of the personal plural, Walt Whitman.

from “Song of Myself” 51

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

from Days Books and Notebooks

What a history is folded, folded inward and inward again in the single word “I.”


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