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a sense of Self / [inter]personal difference
May 5, 2011

June 2020: When I begin reading this again, I see no misconceiving in 2011, but I recognize that I’m working beyond this discussion, so I stopped reading after a couple of paragraphs. This note merely frames the page as more than six years passed: more than eight years, even nine years passed.

1 | There “is” value in enriching self understanding or psyche (psychality, mindality), thus value in prospecting differences available in individuation. No one would disagree, even though my sense of this (upcoming) may be only as interesting as one’s interest in where I am in my own explorations (not yet seeming useful for others, but interesting like a character in a novel may be—OK, I confess....).

2 | It’s easy to recognize in poise a sense of self presence beyond one’s being present. Indeed, attraction to someone is usually about an apparent aura of presence beyond their merely being present. We desire mystery, and we invest a lot in seeming to have it (when we don’t really). Deeply to evolution, the mating mind is about presence. Fashion is about auratic appeal and assertion (or insertion of one’s allure into the scene).

3 | But I have little interest in that (though great interest in the the mating mind as keynote of economics). Finding (or projecting) presence in a present—emplacing a psychal present (of others or for others) in “its”/a psychal presence (inferred or, as oneself, lived)—fascinates me: potentials of differencing a Difference between (1) being to-and-for others (or to oneself as if to-and-for others) and (2) being oneself—one Self in time (and Time)—in possibilities of mirrorplaying imaginability and remembrance in scenic worldliness.

4 | The presence of oneself to another can never be the same as the presence of oneself altogether—which is a trivial point, but potentially, well, potent. Wholly feeling an appreciability of worldliness in Time may inhabit us in high experience, thereby (retrospectively) giving us a possibly stark frame on our present life, our usual days. Likewise, any sense of luminous appreciation gives us a possibly stark frame on ordinary presents. Extraordinary differencing of presence into a present and its background is possible; likewise for psychal (selfal) presence (selfness) and psychal present (persona and [inter]personality]—though many persons (the younger, the more so) don’t distinguish personality and self; they’re satisfied to feel whole as a “personality” or identity. Yet, that’s a feeling of coherent self that already has some differencing already (possibly dressed in personae—one’s psychal complexion), but having little inner differencing of psychal complexity.

5 | A difference between [a] personae and [b] personality is an early (young, proximal) sense of difference between [a] [inter]personality (a rich sense of environmental character, possibly exhibiting many supplementary roles and personae) and [b] a “higher” holstic sense of self (authentically embodying multiple, complementary environments of one’s life and eras of one’s lifetime, genuinely expressing multiple rich characters, e.g., one life as art/scientist, old/deep friendships, intimate partner, teacher/parent, and public/professional figure—which may all merge into each other, of course). [This is not about split-off parts of oneself which are dissociated from each other, like persons who rationalize conscience in one guise, but forget that in another—let alone personality disorders.]

6 | So, differences can be useful for a psychal analysis (simply, e.g., like a difference between early-as-proximal and later-as-deeper; or complexly). [I’ll later distinguish (1) what I’m doing here and in upcoming pages; and (2) “psychoanalysis.”]

In a straightforward sense of differencing, being oneself can be like having multiple selves: One may drive a car somewhere usual and have little memory of the jaunt because automaticity of safe driving allowed one to be thinking of other things much of the way, as if a separate part of oneself was controlling the drive. What’s the nature of that difference? Is it an intrinsic transcendental aspect of oneself, as if the driver personality is apart from oneself thinking along the way?—as if flexible adaptability (capability for much automaticity, as years accumulate) is apart from (yet a part of) autotelic self efficacies. Countless automaticities of activity can be characterized as components of oneself, yet as if acting on their own. Retrospective gatherings of identified components may be like independent personalities. For example, most of a workday might go along well on “automatic pilot.” Experienced parenting becomes “second nature,” in getting kids off to their day. Of course, most of all that is very conscious and deliberate, but often much of it’s automatic, in a fluidity of “doing” the day.

7 | It’s not odd to think of oneself complexly, such that being an intimate friend can be deeply different from the intimacy of family—love of one’s partner deeply different from love of one’s children. How rich does a professional identity have to be before it qualifies to be characterized as if being a distinct personality (relative to a systemic environment) irt an old friendship (relative to so much change through time)? My point is not that oneself is intrinsically differentiated, let alone divided to itself (oneself). Rather, high individuation calls for more differentiated understanding of oneself, and I’m exploring differences. (But note: Much mental disorder is related to becoming divided against oneself, so to speak, lacking a way to cohere very different modes of one’s life. Exploring ways to understand constructive self differentiation can be valuable.)

8 | It’s useful to let “personality” be an environmental relativity of oneself—an authentic part of oneself whose heartful belonging has genuine boundaries (son/daughter, dear friend among dear friends, lover, parent, professional), such that the manifold belonging of one’s life (especially decades into a life) calls for a sense of multiple personality (environmental selves) that coheres as one life in/across one’s time (eras of a life), rather than as homogeneous personality related to so many presents (as if time is the series of equivalent presents)—or a domination of one environmental sense of self (tending to support egoism, which belongs to children because one environment properly does prevail).

9 | Such environmentality is temporally spatial, as our lives have eras, as well as landscapes (eras especially appreciable with aging). Childhood, for retrospection years later, was an era. The teen years, a romantic relationship, a city, a job/career (in a life of multiple careers), eras of parenting, a marriage, one’s thirties, life after parenting, living beyond the death of a partner, etc.

10 | Many persons easily appreciate self adaptability thinly as merely different “roles” of homogeneous personality in different ages of life. In fact, though, parenting (for example) embodies many different roles (and is an era of life). A rich friendship may embody many roles. Intimate partnership embodies many different roles. Granting richness to different modes of engagement and belonging calls for seeing our modes of being beyond mere differences of roles (or as role complexes supplementary to a homogeneous personality anchoring marginalities). Authentic differences between deeply lived modes of a good life deserve deeper appreciation than merely so many role differences. A highly individuated selfidentity has many kinds of authentic belonging. Granting high potential to intimacy or friendship or parenting or profession—which each of these modes of being already always have (potentially, i.e., in their authentic worldliness)—calls for giving more potential selfidentification to modes of being one Self than talk of roles and homogeneous self.

11 | There can be role confusion within a mode of being (an identity) only because the richness of an identity affords the variability. For example, one mis-relates to a peer as a parent would relate to a child because oneself as parent is an easily-automatic way of regarding others. If one is an experienced parent, then one may slip into more than a role confusion; one may slip into an unwitting way of regarding the other, but not seeing that, due to a focus on scenic role (“Well, I was just trying to help; I wasn’t implying you’re incapable”), due to a comfort with oneself as parent (not just as a person with parental responses in a repertoire). If one is not a parent at all, then one may be channeling parents in one’s horizon (as if unwittingly possessed by someone else’s way of being in a given situation), not just inattentively selecting responses picked up elsewhere.

12 | At least, such differencing may be useful, as ways of being are really like entire characters or personalities, more than role masteries that fleshes out each character in a richly flexible life (I surmise).

13 | So, differences between environmental/eraic self (in terms of kinds of personality) and a manifoldness of all one’s ways as one’s life (rather than thinly—even evasively, displacingly—reducing interactive difference to roles in a homogeneous personality relative to a single environment) can be useful, especially for appreciating how individuation may become highly differentiated or enriched complexly in very capable, flexible, and creative lives (which is especially my exploratory interest), distinguished in part by increasingly adaptive framing, distancing, contextualizing, relativizing, but relative to sustaining fidelity to environmental differences or modes of one’s life (modes of one’s ownmost worldliness), including realistic appreciation of interpersonal boundaries which aren’t allowed to unduly constrain one’s life (as a matter of fidelity to oneSelf), e.g., not getting engulfed by one’s career; nor reducing one’s sense of self to parenting; nor equating one’s identity with being a spouse.

14 | So, you see how I can find useful the rubric self/personal difference, which I’ve abbreviated privately for years as S/p difference—though I distinguish Self (capped) and self, but don’t write S/s/p difference.

15 | Favorite exemplifications of s/p difference are (a) understanding friendship as interpersonality relative to one’s life-wide selfidentity beyond the boundaries of a loved friendship’s depth; and (b) to distinguish creative fidelity to an art or calling (a “vertical” temporality of self) and fidelity to a valued relationship (a “horizontal” temporality of interpersonal life).

16 | The eraic dimension of environmentality is manifold in its own way, providing potentials and risks of its own. Being 15 or so remains a possibility forever after, as any era of one’s life may be returned to or return of its own accord (so to speak). The good of this may be a general ease of enthusiasm traceable to that era, as well as being able to feel wholly attuned to oneSelf. The risk of this may be an unwitting disposition to regress relative to issues especially associated with an era (e.g., facing relationship stresses in ways “inherited” from earlier life). Being 50, say, divorced and falling in love again may be, more or less, authentically being 25 again, if one authentically fell in love at 20, now with a wisdom of lived time (hopefully) unavailable to 25 year-old freedom of feeling truly reborn. That doesn’t have to mean that one confuses new love with past love, nor does it have to mean that one forgets the decades between. Potentials of flourishing and self formation may increase with time, allowing a richness that doesn’t wholly enter into a given eraic environment, but enters into a manifold of flourishing unanticipated by one’s excited youth. As interpersonal life becomes deeply interpsychal (again or as a First), a richness of Self‚ quite distinct from self presence in the early relationship, imparts itself to the mutual growth, such that appreciating a Self/personal difference can be immensely honest (and a preventive measure irt misunderstanding—given good communication).

17 | In my early 30s, I gained a friend in her 70s whose intellectual accord with my interests was something I didn’t have elsewhere in my life, including in my own partnership, which I loved. Living with the difference was difficult at times. Apart from the intellectual accord, my “old” (to early ‘30s) friend let me be 70-something, as well as I could (in synergy with her, as much as she’d allow), in ways unimaginable with my own grandparents or older colleagues—or even beyond other older friends. I can easily imagine how it might not have happened at all. Decades before I face later years in my own way (she’s dead now), I gained a dimension to selfidentity that certainly dramatizes my sense of S/p difference in current life.

18 | The eraicness of life, including senses of one’s lifelongingness, as well as senses of one’s past, transcends a manifold of contemporaneous environments, but a flourishing of the manifold is just what a fullness of life—selformativity—might be, which I (with others) call an autotelic selfness (or psychality—or selfality, love inwordness). It’s great to be a 10-year-old again with a 10-year-old (for a short while), or 15 or 35 (e.g., in solidarity with someone’s teaching teens), or love anticipating elderly serenity and sense of peaceful completeness to one’s life (not as discernible ending, rather as trans-eraic cohering, in light of which each new day is a gift that may continue for years—the unflappable optimism of flourishing elderhood).

19 | Over the decades, one gains a good sense of oneself (we hope) as wholly cohering selfidentity, yet a best sense of that is an Openness—some appreciation of intrinsic Opening in being of time that keeps oneself a mystery of Self in learning that never ends (thank Good Luck), allowing for surprise of oneself or anewing oneself in mirrors of inworldness, i.e., in experiential discoveries which “teach” one the always-developing (ever receding) horizon of one’s life or oneSelf altogether in time as an omnitemporal way of being, ever prospecting, yet ever in the giving of receding pasts (as our openness of being basically futural recedes a given past as ever-revisable narratability of who one is).

20 | One’s selfidentity (small-s feeling of wholly cohering) is the articulable domain of Self (of being, to my mind). OneSelf includes [i] inarticulable aspects of psychality (e.g., capabilities, mentability) which we represent as concepts of inquiry. OneSelf includes [ii] much nonconsciousness affecting one’s dispositions (so much to still learn about oneself easily, given desire to do so). And oneSelf includes, likely, [iii] unconsciousness mirrored in “threatening” “things.” Selfness or oneSelf is expressed in the mirror of worldliness itself presencing in scenic presents. Such presencing is the generativity of Self in developing selfidentity, in principle toward higher individuation. The presencing of oneSelf in time is also the basis of very articulable epistemic reliability through experience (know-how and “things” that one knows), as experience is both/or outer-directed (epistemic) and inner-directed (appreciative, self reflective, and individuating).