There is a famous passage in In Search of Lost Time (it is famous, probably, because like the passage about the madeleines, it is in the opening pages of Swann's Way, long before most people give up the book) where Proust writes about how he would wake from sleep in the morning and while the room around slowly took its time to take form, his mind would cycle through the different beds he has occupied over his life, tentatively placing him in them, into various episodes of his life, eventually figuring out where and who he was now. Well, I have that experience all the time, because almost every morning I wake up in a different episode of my life. I have come unstuck in time, as they say. Except these are not episodes of different times of my life, but episodes of different versions of my life too.
Every morning I wake up as a different person -- a lawyer, an office clerk, a weapons technician, a music critic -- and that person is always me, Y--- K-----. In that hypnagogic morning journey into wakefulness, I am aware of my unstuckness. I momentarily think of myself as one of the people I was in a previous day, concluding I am not him by clues and cues, and cycle to the next candidate. Eventually my identity comes together, and all the others fall away. Like the memory of a dream, my awareness of being unstuck inevitably fades. Sometimes it does so more quickly, sometimes less, but eventually the fog sets and I will assume fully my personality for the day and go on with its version of my life for the remainder, as natural as plain water.
Sometimes, however, you have a particularly memorable dream, and you can hang on to its world of internal logic and endemic causality for an especially long time. My identity of yesterday was like such a dream: I was a Randian, talk about internal logic! So yesterday I was a public policy analyst employed at an unnamed Libertarian think tank. I didn't do anything especially heinous over that day, but when I recall now what it was like to be inside the mind of a die-hard Objectivist, to be filled with abominable hatefulness, I do shudder. And the inevitable question is what turn of events, what version of my life would lead to such depravity?
The best explanation I have managed to come up with for the various mental constitutions of my different possible identities is rooted in the books I would read as an impressionable teenager. My parents' house did not have a lot of books when I was growing up. Nonetheless, I was a voracious reader, getting most of my reads from the local library and by loan from acquaintances. A lot of these books had ingrained themselves in my thinking patterns and had had great influence on my oncoming years. For instance, reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series has set me up to be open to new experiences, inclined toward unplanned travel, and perhaps most importantly cognizant of the myriad different ways things can be perfectly made sense of.
(I am talking, above, of my personality of today, which I guess I should have introduced in a nutshell sooner, depending on the eventual context of this note. I am trying to write this before I lose memory of my being unstuck and don't have an audience in mind yet. Today, apparently and conveniently, I am a wannabe writer: a Physics graduate student, come to post-graduate education after a long period of fruitless hanging about in different trendy cities around the world, and a contributor to an on-line writing community where this will probably end up.)
So, it seems like someone turned little clueless me of yesterday onto Ayn Rand, though why someone would do something as cruel to an unsophisticated mentally-defenseless kid is beyond me. I'm not saying books such as Rand's should be burned for being dangerous to teen-aged psyches. No, the responsibility for the wholesomeness of my psyche should probably have been mine, and I should have have fought the toxic ideology. That I evidently didn't manage to is very troubling to me. Thankfully, it was only for a day that I was trapped in that suffocating worldview. Suppose I were to come re-stuck someday, it is dreadful to imagine that I might have come re-stuck in such a mind.
This gets us to a topic I wish I could write more about: the foundational questions regarding my unnatural situation. When and why did I come unstuck? What accounts for the differences in my lives of one day to the next? And could I come re-stuck in one of those lives (perhaps through an act of human growth, à la Groundhog Day)? As I said, I wish I could write more about these questions. In those moments, sometimes long hours, of clarity interspersed between days of fog, I have often pondered them, but the answers are elusive. Even if I had some of the answers at one time, they have drifted away from me. I carry on.
Afterword: I have decided to add this afterword coming back to the manuscript the evening after composing it this morning. I remember very hazily writing this, and I am not sure what to make of what I read. Quite clearly, this was influenced by a dream I had at night, and was written while in its lingering fog. I am not sure how many of the details appeared in the dream and how many I have inventively added. Still, there is the logical possibility, raised above, that clarity and fog are in fact reversed, and for its charm I'm not sure I want to dismiss it. I guess I will find out for sure tomorrow morning.