I've thought of all kinds of strategies to free myself from this cage, some of them mystic and some of them mundane, but in the end I've had to face the fact that there is no escape. A body insists on its existence in a way far more adamant than anything else. You can turn away from a chair, you can close your eyes to the sun, and you can dismiss your thoughts, but to know your body is to see your reflection in the mirror. It is a thing which, simply by existing, demands you acknowledge it as your property. What is even worse is that the body, insofar as it's a thing that you own rather than you who own it, is always attended by a sense that you can slough off, much like an article of clothing. Yet the body is the thing you're least capable of escaping. To exist is to furnish a self-sufficient proof of oneself; it is to be, without any need of reasons and qualifications. This self-sufficiency reaches its height in the neighborhood of the body; more than anything else, the body is that which insists on its presence while at the same time providing no justification for itself. The body is a sort of standard par excellence for contingency; though it is never entirely contingent, by being far more contingent than anything else, it becomes the measure of their dependency (which is the opposite of contingency and thus the thing which it highlights). By existing in that manner, the body presents itself as the thing least susceptible to meddling, since to be contingent is to be detached from things that could otherwise serve as leverage points.
There are two basic attitudes toward the body; one of them is identity, as when you glance in the mirror and recognize yourself; the other is contradiction in identity, as when you see your face, know it is yours, and yet feel distanced from it. To have a body is to experience both of these attitudes--contradiction and identity--at the same time and to varying degrees, and this same contradiction-in-identity extends to all of existence, making the world rather like a mirror reflecting "me" and my reflected "me's" in a million different ways. The relationship between my body in the purest sense and these "lesser bodies" establishes itself across both space and time; it is at once a transformation and a structure; it is a framework undergoing change. At the same time, any one of the points in the structure of identity-in-contradiction transcends time and space. When I look in the mirror, for instance, I am at once identified with the person looking back at me; it doesn't take me a moment to recognize myself, nor do I have to intellectually reflect on a structure binding us together. We are immediately and intuitively identified in contradiction, regardless of where I am in time and regardless of what structures I might derive from it.
If I were to effect that person over in the mirror, then, I would also be affecting my body, since my body is only a reflection. But it wouldn't be enough to affect that mirror reflection; if I were to reach over and smash it, I would only be affecting something external to me, something which defines my existence while at the same time I have a certain detachment from that definition. The mirror breaks, and yet a sort of phantom remains; the shards lie on the ground, and yet the person I identified with, that face and those eyes, is still real; in short, I have an ego. The ego, then, is where my sense of a body is preserved in the absence of the primordial experience of it. Yet, can we really speak of that experience as primordial? Is it not my ego that detaches from my mirror image? I recognize the glass as me, but not as me--in other words, not as my ego. So no, we can't speak of the ego and the body as arising at different moments; the ego is the source of, or at least a vehicle for that power of detachment that keeps a person from identifying wholly with his body. When I feel a sense of loathing toward my body without actually seeing it in the mirror--and I seldom look in the mirror--I can only be speaking of my ego, then. To the extent that I acknowledge that reflection as me, I'm simply indifferent to it; I'm lost in a sort of homogeneity with it that approaches a half-conscious daze. It's only when I consider myself from a detached point of view, such as through society's eyes or as weighed against my ego's ideals, that I can start to feel hatred, pride, loathing, and so forth toward the person before me.
Narcissism and self-loathing are equally impossible, then; we can only feel attracted or repulsed by that from which we distance ourselves. If we simply identify with our faults and refuse to see them from any particular point of view, they cease to be faults in the first place. If we ask ourselves whether this is desirable, whether it really corrects anything, we're only committing the same mistake all over again--we're recreating our flaws through an act of detachment. And yet, knowing that, I can't help but keep looking at myself from other points of view. I want to get involved with people, and this requires me to weigh myself against standards that lie outside me. It is well and good to say that all I have to do is accept myself, but the moment someone steps into the picture, whether it's my ego or another person, I have no chance. I can only hope to be judged favorably, a judgment I have little power over; the only power I have is to suppress the existence of others and myself, a power that I won't and literally can't bring to its culmination.
Nevertheless, all of this is helpful to know, as it has given me an outline of what kind of alterations I can make: using the law of identity, I can stifle the power of my ego and other people to judge me poorly. On the other hand, that still leaves me powerless to gain approval unless I take the practical route and try to appeal to their tastes. That may be all I can do, and if it is, I'm almost back at square one, since I can hardly bring myself to accept my flaws.
[ Ni > Ti > Fe > Fi > Ne > Te > Si > Se ][ 4w5 sp/sx ][ RLOAI ][ IEI-Ni ]