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Virtual Subjects, Fugitive SelvesFernando Pessoa and his philosophy$
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Jonardon Ganeri

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198864684

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198864684.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 31 July 2021

The Multiplicity of I

The Multiplicity of I

Chapter:
(p.23) 4 The Multiplicity of I
Source:
Virtual Subjects, Fugitive Selves
Author(s):

Jonardon Ganeri

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198864684.003.0004

If in heteronymic simulation I am a subject other than the subject I am, there are evidently as many other I’s as there are possible acts of simulation. Pessoa, inhabiting countless lives, says that by creating in imagination a multiplicity of virtual subjects, each of which is him, he has ‘ubiquitized’ himself. So he affirms a thesis I will call ‘Subject Plurality’: I am many subjects other than the subject I am. We need, though, to distinguish two versions of this thesis, for it can be read as making either a diachronic claim or a synchronic one. Interpreters of Pessoa have been drawn to present the Pessoan self as a sort of parliament or confederation of souls. Despite Pessoa’s appeal, once, to the metaphor of a colony—and there only in connection with the phenomenal unity of consciousness rather than with reference to the multiplicity of heteronyms—the ‘confederation’ theory is not Pessoa’s. It is a Proustian, not a Pessoan, picture of multiplicity. An appreciation of this distinction is crucial to seeing why Pessoa’s multiplicity of I is not reducible to another mental illness, multiple personality disorder. The distinction between successive and simultaneous subject plurality has found a surprising application: understanding Afrofuturism’s experimentation with multiple sonic selves.

Keywords:   multiplicity of I, unity of consciousness, confederation of souls, multiple personality disorder, Marcel Proust, sonic selves, machine names

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