My dearest George,
It is i, the other one, the other George. I have read your short note, the one that You (and i) accidentally left on the table the other day. You are right in thinking that i had something to do with it, in fact, i wrote it! You can not escape me it is true and your statement that you shall endure in me and not in yourself got me thinking. We, the two of us, You and i, need to come to some sort of understanding, for i can feel You turning on me. We must at all costs avoid any further division or separation and cooperate as best as possible. If anyone found out about this dialogue, we would be in trouble indeed. I doubt there would any reason for them not to institutionalize us. No, you must burn this as soon as You read It; no one must find out.
Maybe i can help You cope with yourself, with your life in me. First, i suppose, i should tell You who You really are and how You came into being. Simply put, Your coming alive is the by-product of my writing. You come alive in the words that i place on the page. You are an imprint of me, a portrait of the deepest, most unabashed part of my soul. That is not to say that You are in any way unreal, or separate from me. No, You are the truest, most naked image of me that will ever exist. You are the me that is beautiful and untainted. I shudder when i think of You coming alive through the words that creep onto the page. You are their guiding angel, it is You that writes and i, i who stand in the wings, haunting You, mechanically performing the act of writing. The confusion, for You and for me, rests in neither of us knowing who plays what part. Which of us is George, the subject of the world, and which of us is George, the object. I think that i might have solved the riddle, but that i will explain later.
It is true also that what is written belongs to neither of us. Once the words are placed on the page, i relinquish control of them. Even though you reside in amongst those words, You are likewise, incapable of controlling them. They belong to language and they long for interpretation. It is the Readers that give meaning to both of us. For me, because in the act of Reading, they justify my existence as a writer; for You, because in the act of Reading they inevitably get a sense of You, the words forming a silhouette of You. You are brought to life every time that anything that i write is ingested. I thought that i had sold my soul in order to be able to write and then yesterday i discovered by the note that you had left me that my soul had come alive through my writing!
This erroneously makes your existence appear to be a sporadic one; You only come into being when a stranger reads life into You. But this is not true and You must not allow yourself too much anguish over this! It is true that i distort and magnify so much when i write, but this is the essence of my craft. Magically You remain unaffected by all these tricks of the trade. You remain, always, the most accurate snapshot of my soul. You also have a life away from the text, your life in me. I know that You feel that this is an unworthwhile existence; a sense of futility echoes throughout your note. But You are more important that You can imagine! Your existence, albeit a dependent one, is vital to mine. We are codependent.
So here then is the answer to theriddle, and do not take this lightly. Do not laugh at my trauma in telling you this and do not brush this confession off as pure frivolity or play in language, but understand that i suffer as much as You. I am forever the subject of the world, open to the world as an item for classification. Everything that i do, everything that i say is catalogued and categorized. I am the collection of impressions that i make on others, on the world. You on the other hand, are free of all this. You are only what you are and You do not have to forever be shifting and changing this way and that, forever oscillating between one existence and the next. You probably feel some pain in being abandoned on countless pages, lying open to the intruding eyes of strangers, exposed to their faulty interpretations of you. But let me reassure You, my friend, You are guarded by the words that surround You; there is simply no way in which anyone is able to look directly upon You. In Kant’s terms, you are George-in-himself and i am George-as-he-appears. You can not be known from the outside. You are only a shadow across the page.
I hope that i have brought You some comfort. This is a difficult split that we must endure. And i’m also afraid that there is no solution to this dilemma, other than acceptance. Hopefully, in opening the truth to You, You will find some way to accept me for what i am and to accept your role for what it is. Take comfort in the words that surround You, even though it is they who alienate us from each other and from the rest of the world. In the act of defining, every individual progressively strays further from the next, but this is the fodder of existence. Together, You and i, make a complete whole and only together can we face the world and make sense of it and of our existence in it.
Like You, i am not sure which of us it is that’s writing this page, but i am certain that it no longer matters.
This was originally submitted as an assignment for a Philosophy and Literature course.