The Innermost Self

July 25, 2021 - 15 min read

A plan was to invite all of them, set a table and waste an evening in rants and ramblings on our past, present and future. But I could not get my head around the process.  I had never hosted a party and had no idea how to invite people, how to seat them, how many pizzas I need to order and how to run the dinner party itself. Should I send e-mails? Postcards? SMS? What century is it? Perhaps, just a phone call would do the job? No, I forgot they are all millennials. Millennials hate unexpected phone calls, at least the ones from my bubble, at least me. Maybe we can meet in person and I tell them about the party, one by one? That would take an enormous amount of time. And again, it's not a millennial thing to do, meeting people in real life. Millennials don't have time. We are busy. Always.

I should reach anyone in the best suitable way but for that, I need a list of invitees. Millennials like lists. Especially, Schindler's List, the film is really good. What's great about lists is they are easy to comprehend. They are convenient because you don't need to think about the order (sometimes you need) and links between individual points, unlike paragraphs that should flow (this place is reserved for a dumb river metaphor). The absence of these subtle connections doesn't mean lists are puzzling. Not at all. They are rather a deconstruction of something heavy into interchangeable building blocks. Instead of a seamless river of ideas, you create a series of lakes connected with canals. You can jump into your boat, go to one lake, explore, find a canal, move to another lake, and another, and another, and another, and another, and…

I hate marine analogies. And I hate lists. But I use both. What does it say about me?

Anyway, how should I call it? Top 10 guests to invite to a dinner party? Will I stop at ten? How many of them I can invite and how many of them will eventually show up? The inexact haziness of my memory tells me “Not many”.

But the least I can do is to try.

1

The writer-self.

He likes to write, type, scribble and do any sort of activities related to putting words out of his head and constructing sentences out of tangles clogging his brain convolutions. He publishes them (or not) and then complains nobody read his shit.

He started writing as a kid. He has been a poet, a novelist, an essayist, a technical writer, a little bit of everything in different periods of his life. He wrote his very first novel at 12. It was about cats fighting dogs. They were not anthropomorphic (sorry, furry lovers) but they were rational and could speak like homo sapiens or sometimes better than some of the homo sapiens. They had a secret military base in a forest and travelled to Australia for their spy deeds. It wasn't published. There was only one limited edition he made for himself. He hand-wrote everything in a notebook, then made a book from a carton, made the cover using collages, glued it all together.

It was a nice-looking hardcover he hid from everyone.

2

The artist.

He wants to make art. He also started as a kid and tried many kinds of art: music, literature, drawing, filmmaking (making CGI lightning bolts by frame in Paint and Windows MovieMaker, such dedication!). Now, whatever can be called art, this guy is the best, at least among my other potential party guests.

For him, it doesn't matter how you do it. What's important is the fact of expressing or conveying the idea, emotions, making people either think or laugh or cry (because his art is so good and not because it's terrible at the level that causes you to fall in tears).

3

The data scientist. Oh, Senior Data Scientist, in fact. Is it fancy enough?

He works with mobile games, analysing data. The goal is to make people spend more virtual crystals so they can buy more virtual creatures and be happier. That’s our hope at least.

He likes coding and learning new tech (including crypto, yes).

He would be the easiest to invite because we're getting along well and seeing each other around 8 hours a day. He sends me money once a month and he helped me with the relocation.

In university, he was considering an academic career but then his professor died unexpectedly and there was no one else to support his academic interests. Thus he got into the industry and sometimes he says to me it was a wrong decision.

Great self. I feel sorry for him and become sad.  I pour myself a gin and mix it with some tonic. Is inviting people to the dinner party supposed to be that hard?

4

The...

Arrr, fuck you. I hate lists. They disguise a lack of creativity, reveal how lazy a person is to make a coherent flow of thoughts and instead makes a FUCKING LIST. Oh, God! PEOPLE, PLEASE, STOP! The worst-case is when a list is numbered for no reason.

"Top 10 Tips To create a numbered list" and then it goes.

1. Numbers mean structure. 2. Numbered lists have suspense, as the number increases, the tension rises and a reader thinks each subsequent point is more important than the previous. 3. Numbers show that you are an organised person, they show you know math, at least the first grade. 5. Bullet points are boring. 6. Lists are easier to skim in general. 7. Choose a "pretty" overall number so you can put it into your headline or choose a "not pretty" number to seem original. 8. Don't choose too many numbers otherwise you'll have to fill them with shit like that not related to the article's main topic. IX. Use Latin numerals to appear smart. X. Keep every list's entry short so it can easily be copied by someone like you and shared/tweeted growing your audience to the sky.

Done! See how easy it is? You haven't even noticed I missed number 4 because this whole structure doesn't make any reasonable sense A-NY-WAY!

НЕНАВИЖУ ЕБАНЫЕ СПИСКИ!

V

The list-hater.

VI

The observer.

He likes to read good literature (he finished Charlie Kaufman's Antkind recently, we talked, he said it's a great book. Yes, he's not a wordy guy), essays and newsletters (by Thomas J Bevan, for example), Twitter (a few minutes a day using lists, strictly), Reddit (no porn, only memes), watch good films (Martin McDonagh, Wes Anderson, Tarantino [of course], Charlie Kaufman, Tarkovsky... This list is gonna be long, it requires a separate article), music (Leprous, CRX, Meshuggah, Igorr, many others, some trip-hop and downtempo, varieties of fusion, breakcore, progressive and the avant-garde metal genres – doesn't matter; he knows some remarkable modern albums and bands that not many people are aware of, which makes him proud of his mélomane abilities), podcasts (Craig Burgess’s Wednesday Podcast is his favourite), and so on and so forth, et cetera.

VII

The impostor.

He says bad things about me.

I don't like him and I don't want to invite him to the party.

VIII

The Russian self.

Он скучает по России-матушке и периодически хочет приехать домой, обнять березу, сесть в саду под яблоней и почитать Чехова.  Мы редко общаемся, но иногда он звонит мне, читает Бродского, пытаясь достучаться до моих сокровенных переживаний, и мы плачем вместе, запивая соленые слезы водкой.

IX

The secret self.

He wouldn't like me talking about him here so I'll leave it as a fact.

X

The idler-self.

We met recently. He is a fascinating guy, lazy yet productive, likes to do nothing yet does everything. He is extremely calm and reasonable, likes laying in bed all day reading a book.

We've started seeing each other more often for the last couple of months. He tells me stories about the city, about people, about nature, about everything he sees flâneur-ing around.

It's incredible how many things he can notice just by being present and it's incredible how much you can achieve just resting well. He's a good friend of the observer, they often gather together and watch films and drink G&T. I feel I need to meet him in person. We will have a nice walk alongside a river, watch birds and enjoy the sun (or no sun, which is more likely).

XII

The creative-Twitter-brained-productivity-guru-self.

He loves making lists, collecting things, making notes, bookmarking for the future, optimising, learning,  scheduling, reading Twitter for more tips and insights, jerks off on hustle porn. In short, being productive (conventionally).

Nothing is going to be missed out of his sight and all important things will be done because he always has a To-Do list. He never procrastinates (ha-ha!).  Perhaps, he is a robot whom aliens injected a parasitic microchip that sucks energy from him and this entity emerges only during so-called productive activities.

Anyway, we have a difficult relationship with this guy. He is going to be busy and try to reject my invitation. I should make a phone call to annoy him. At 6 am in the morning. He is probably awake at that time, taking a cold shower and reading Twitter on a phone in a waterproof case. But I should invite him just to tease a little the list-hater and some other guys. I have some ideas about seat allocation.

XII

The immigrant self.

He moved to a new country a few years ago and got excited about integrating himself into a new culture, learning the language better, understanding people, acting like them. London with its cosmopolitan vibes is the right environment for him to explore himself, find his place in this small world and inspire his creative endeavours.

XII

The emigrant self.

He is a friend of the Russian self. They agree on many things apart from genuinely hating the government and what’s going on in the country. He wasn’t forced to leave it and he is free to come back. It was his own decision, a little bit whimsical.

What is the motherland? Perhaps, parents, family, friends? Home village and local nature? Politics? Culture?

Many of these things, bad or good, will be gone, sadly. But what will stay?

He asks these questions from time to time and the only thing that truly connects him, and will always do, is the language and everything has been written and will be written in it. The language itself and its literature is the integral sum of his history, culture and everything else, the thing he won’t forget or lose, even on a deathbed.

I again feel sorry for the immigrant self and fall into the tiny variation of depression. It's all sad. I make myself another G&T to rip myself from the reverie and continue making the list for my dinner party.

XIII

The alcoholic self.

“I AM NOT AN AlCHOHOLIC! I just appreciate the ritual. Stop calling me like that.”

“Sorry, but I should name you somehow. I need to make a list.”

“Think better then, mate.”

“Care to share any ideas?”

“No. You are always sober, not me. ”

“Sommelier?”

“Sommelier is a profession. I am a proud amateur.”

“Drinker, maybe?”

“Drinker of what?”

“Drinker of alcohol. That's what we're talking about.”

“I love coffee, too.”

“Drinker of coffee and alcohol, then.”

“And tea.”

“Drinker of coffee, alcohol and tea.”

“Green tea.”

“Okay, Drinker of alcohol, coffee and green tea.”

“And oat milk…”

“What? Oat milk! Are you serious?”

“What’s wrong with oat milk?”

“It is what homeopathic milk would be.”

“I don’t care, it’s tasty.”

“Okay, drinker of alcohol, coffee, green tea and oat milk.”

“Too long.”

“I hate you.”

“You shouldn't, perhaps. I am you, how does it feel hating yourself?”

“I hate this only part of me which is you.”

“There are no parts, only one surreal creamy mash.”

“I hate this specific flavour or the aftertaste of the mash then.”

“You are digressing from the topic too much for a sober guy.”

“Let’s keep alcoholic and don’t digress.”

“I will kill you liver.”

“You won’t, you don’t drink that much.”

“I can.”

“No you can’t, I control you.”

“You can lose control one day. And I will kill your liver.”

“Shut up.”

You have summoned me, why should I shut up?”

“You’re drunk.”

“No, I am not.”

“Yes, you are.”

“Again, you digress.”

“It’s your fault. I just need your name for my dinner party list.”

“What about hedonist?”

“Is this one of drunk ideas of yours?”

“Maybe. So, what about putting it?”

“Hedonism is not only about drinks.”

“I love food, too”

“I noticed. You spend too much money on it.”

“I do it to keep you sane.”

“You could buy a book instead of another negroni.”

“Oh, fuck off.  It’s a priceless ritual.

“£9.95 is not priceless. It’s literally a book or a few.”

“You have cancelled Netflix already, you have money.”

“I did it not to increase your supply of negronis and steaks.”

“You are boring. Go party with your twitter self-improvement dorks then.”

“…I don’t know why I am even talking to you.”

“Let’s agree on hedonist and I won’t kill your liver when you are fifty. Hedonists are reasonable and responsible. Alcoholics are not. It’s not just semantics this time”

“Everything is semantics. Always.”

“Why do you care then? Just write hedonist.

“Okay, but this is my own decision made after a healthy argument.”

“Sure, if you say so.”

I put a blinking cursor back to XIV and add the new name to the list.

XIV

The hedonistic self.

XV

The introverted self.

It might seem he doesn’t like other people but it’s not true. He’s fond of solitude. He loves his own company and feels comfortable staying home for a whole week, not going to crowded places and not

“Add extroverted self as well.”

“Don’t interrupt me.”

“Add extroverted self.”

“It is not possible. He cannot be in one room at one party with the introverted self. That would cause the multiverse to collapse.”

“The introverted self doesn’t know how to party anyway. Let’s reserve a place to someone who knows how to do it properly.”

“He says awkward things and embarrasses me. I won’t invite him.”

“I will kill your liver.”

“Stop threatening me with killing my liver.”

“And I will eat all the fat food, a lot of pasta, burgers, peanut butter and English breakfast for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. You will be fat again.”

“I hate you.”

XVI

The extroverted self.

Quite a mysterious guy.

I do not know how he always appears from nowhere but the hedonistic self says I should be grateful for many important things that happened to me because of him.

Well, I don’t have a choice I guess.

"Yes, you don't. Your party will be ruined without him. Believe me. You are a boring person."

XVII

The critic self.

He thinks that criticism is a creative act.

"It should be considered as a creative act. Whenever you criticise someone, including your other selves, you help them to grow, you help everyone to reveal and create more knowledge about the thing being criticised. In the world where information spreads instantly, where you can reach millions of people and where millions of people can reach you, criticism as a creative act can thrive. Isn’t it exciting time to live in? We can help each other just by telling about our work, either good things or bad." (Don't forget to do it, by the way)

He encouraged me to write more comments, replies and e-mails. Signal people they are doing good, point out things that could be better (if they ask) and participate in the common ritual of conjuring up artistry the future demands from us.

The critic spends a lot of time with the observer self, the artist self and the writer self. They are a team. I should seat them together.

The critic self has some difficulties with the impostor but I won't invite him so there's no problem at all.

XVIII

The grumpy self.

He was enduring too much and now he is being devoured by what-ifs and all of the crestfallen dreams, missed opportunities, the toxic work environment in the past where his work wasn't considered valuable by certain people, unfairly, and many other things that he believes made him cynical and pessimistic about people and the future.

Or 'grumpy', in short.

He attacks the excessively positive attitudes of other people online.

He is often snobbish. About pop culture, about people, about many things.

He is sarcastic. It makes his words bitter and offensive. Sarcasm is irony that lost its soul, you know? Is he losing his soul as well? Should he, or any young people, be cynical? It brings stagnation, devours ambitions and makes the future always stay ‘future’.

He hates TikTok.

He dislikes many other selves and decries what they do and what they should've done.

"Let's not invite him."

"Why are you here again? You are distracting me."

"You have summoned me. Let's not invite the grumpy guy. Just listen to me. Listen to your heart. I will never tell you something wrong."

"Killing my liver sounds wrong enough."

"It's my way to control you."

"You don't control me."

"I do. Make another G&T."

I have no choice but to obey the order. I make another G&T.

“Drink it.”

I drink.

"See?"

"Shit. How did you do that?"

"I control you. We control you, all of us together. There's no you, only us, you are merely an entity we invented to host dinner parties. And we need someone to make us G&T."

"Lol, how bizarre. It's nonsense."

"It's not. And don't say lols to me. It's disgusting. Focus on the task. Remove grumpy self from the list. Erase him. Here's your rubber."

"I type on a keyboard. Rubber doesn't work here."

"It was a metaphor, dumbass. Focus on the dinner party. Erase him."

"Why? Shouldn't we invite everyone."

"No we shouldn't. Fuck this guy. He's annoying. He always discourages us. We should leave him in the past, dissolve him, swap him with another guy, a better guy, a visionary, a Greek statue, or Roman, perhaps. I talked with the guys, they all agree. Well, most of them. There are a few I would like to get rid of but the grumpy self is of utmost peril. For me, for us. Here's the petition we all signed. Only your signature is missing."

The alco... hedonistic self puts the petition’s page on the desk in front of me.

"Sign, here."

I grab a pen and put its tip to the signature field. I hesitate. Hanz Zimmer music starts playing.

"Won't we miss him?"

"Ha-ha. No."

"Isn't he a part of us? What about appreciating who we are?"

"Appreci-what? Remember a single good thing he did to you? He is what holds you back. I know we both hate marine analogies but he is a mooring line you have to give up. The lifeboat must find its way into the future. We need a captain, desperately and unconditionally. We need someone who will lead us, someone who is open to new horizons, someone who is optimistic, someone for whom the future is bright, the believer in the Soaring Twenties. The grumpy jerk doesn't fit into this description, does he?"

"I am not sure. It feels wrong."

"I will kill your liver."

I look at the hedonistic self. I see a crazy glint in his eyes. He is not blinking, neither am I. He is smirking. The pen trembles in my hand cinematographically crying with imaginary ink blots onto the petition.

"And all of your brain cells. I will annihilate them all. And will make you fat. Again."

XVIII

The visionary self.

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