MEDITATION II / DESCARTES

My first assignment for my independent studio in Rome has begun and I couldn’t be more excited and nervous. The loose prompt is simply to create a narrative series of images that articulates the feeling of being alone in a foreign country — a feeling I’m all too familiar with.

Something about this prompt coupled with my memory and current circumstances of feeling the overwhelming uncertainties of being a constant outsider made me very introspective — grappling with private and public representations of yourself in a foreign country, where your level of self-consciousness and propriety is subconsciously and inevitably raised, has been something I have experienced since a toddler. I also couldn’t help but think of this dichotomous relationship in the context of Freudian psychoanalysis, in terms of the topographic map of the psyche: the sudden and unsettling feeling of simultaneous self-awareness and constant doubt creates a feud between the consciousness, preconsciousness, and unconsciousness.

For this assignment, I will inevitably be drawing my inspiration from Descartes “Meditation II” from A Discourse on Method, which always struck me as an incident of the ego or superego attempting to articulate and resolve the universal problems of the id. The excerpt below will be my main focus:

1. The Meditation of yesterday has filled my mind with so many doubts, that it is no longer in my power to forget them; and yet I do not see how I shall be able to resolve them. And, as though I had suddenly fallen into very deep water, I am so taken unaware as that I neither put my feet firmly down on the bottom nor swim to keep myself on the surface. I make an effort, nevertheless, and follow afresh the same path upon which I had entered yesterday, and keeping away of everything of which I know I can concieve the slightest doubt, just as if I knew that it was absolutely false; and I shall continue always in this path until I have encountered something that is certain, or at least, if I can do nothing else, until I have learned with certainty that there is nothing certain in the world…

2. I suppose, therefore, that all the things which I see are false; I persuade that none of those things existed that my deceptive memory represents to me; I suppose I have no senses; I believe that body, figure, extension, movement, and place are only fictions of mind. What, then, shall be considered true? Perhaps only this, that there is nothing certain in the world.

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