Talk to me

We all know that we have moods, that we shift between many internal states of being over the course of a day. The causes vary – food, rest, stress, who we’ve just talked with, how much noise there is in the room, what we happen to be doing. In this sense we all have multiple selves, somewhat different versions of the “I” that swap in and out as needed. Most of the time when people look at us, they can’t tell right away (unless they know us very well) which version of us they are dealing with.

In most contexts – generally those that involve people we don’t know very well – we learn to mask this highly charged variety, to present a uniform front, dispite the continually changing landscape within. For this reason, most of us go through a day with the odd sensation that, whereas our internal mental state is changing from moment to moment, the internal state of those around us is not. Of course this is an illusion, the result of social conventions playing out.

I wonder what it would be like to have a conversation with yourself – between the “I” in one mood and the “I” in a very different one. I don’t think this is an experience most of us are likely to have. You can read things you’ve written while you were were in a particular state of mind, or watch a video tape, and perhaps have that “aha” experience of recalling what it was like to be in that mood. But that’s not the same thing.

I suppose you could simulate such a conversation by patient turn-taking. Write something down while you’re in a thoughtful or reflective state of mind, then wait until you are in a giddy mood to respond. Keep going back and forth like this over time, until a conversation emerges. Surprising things might come out of this. It could turn out, for example, that one part of your personality does not particularly agree with another part about various issues or beliefs – the kind of disagreement that only comes to light over time, through conversation.

Unfortunately I can see a problem with attempting such an experiment: Right now, in the state I am in as I write this – somewhat contemplative, wanting to look inward and to learn more – I might think that such a conversation is a fine idea. But at some other time of the day, when I’m in a very different mood, I might think it’s just plain dumb.

And you can’t have a conversatoin with somebody who doesn’t want to, can you?

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