Subjective Lives

Kerry Dawkins and MD, 2009

Caveat lector: This article is written primarily from the standpoint of ‘neurally generated’ subjectivity, and is targeted towards non-plurals who may have difficulty understanding in-system subjective experiences without explanation. Some portions of this article are from a journal entry that M.D. wrote previously.  

We’ve noticed that some non-plural people can ‘grok’ the idea of plurality itself as a neurological variation, but it’s harder to understand concepts like subjective worlds and individual histories. Sometimes that difficulty stems from the idea of not understanding having a full identity that doesn’t match the front’s history at all, or the idea of a larger world existing inside one collection of neurones and synapses. Sometimes people think that it can only be understood in a spiritual framework, rather than a neurally generated phenomenon.

It really doesn’t have to be like that. I think that subjective histories can be attached to a person in a system without spiritual explanations, or dismissing them as ‘fake’, and I (K.D.) think that it’s possible for them to exist within a human brain. After all, writers have worlds that exist within them. Just think of JRR Tolkien or Neil Gaiman’s worlds. Both writers have created complex, rich worlds with extensive histories and cultures. In those cases, they’re considered fictional and were deliberately created, but they’re still rich and complex, and contained within one brain. With plural systems with subjective histories, those worlds can be just as complex. Nevertheless, depending on the system, differences between fictional worlds and the subjective worlds of plurals do exist. For instance, plurals’ subjective worlds may or may not be deliberately created by an individual within the system, depending on the system setup. Worlds, as well as individual system-members’ backgrounds, can simply evolve with the system, just as people do. It may be subconscious, like the way I (K.D.) found out about my own history and identity. There are myriad ways in which plural systems can have subjective spaces, and there is no one ‘right’ way to be.

Having a subjective experience does not preclude your existence in all forms. If something that exists has some sort of effect on its surroundings, can we not say that things considered imaginary can have such an effect, provided that the stories are known by more than person? Do not some stories last longer than the memories of their flesh-and-blood writers? Legends take on lives of their own; apocryphal figures become more significant in people’s minds than their corporeal counterparts. Even with those who did exist physically in this world, the stories about them tend to be more real in the public mind than their realities.

This is the origin of gods, of folklore, of national myth.

I (M.D.) think that this can apply to some forms of plurality, as well. Just because you do not have a physical existence, bounded by your own skin, does not mean that you cannot have an effect on the world around you. You are still there in some form, interacting, thinking, being. We may not inhabit our own physical bodies, but I am aware that we exist. We have an effect on those around us, even when they do not know who we are. I would say that all of us, as individuals, are far more ‘real’ than our singlet persona, even though no-one can see our individual bodies.

In fact, I do not think that something need have a physical existence in order to be considered real. That which has no physical form can be just as important, or more important–can one see freedom, democracy, love or hope? No, one cannot, and one would not argue that those things do not exist in some form.

We know we exist, surely as we think, dream and imagine.