Where Is Your Self?

Where Is Your Self?

by Emma Marris

“If our personal identity is a story we tell about our bodies and certain brain activities that occur in them, and I think it is, then locating the self at a single point serves a central purpose: It separates the storyteller from the story. If all the activities of the brain and body are the narrative, then we seek a point of view from which the narrative can be told — a narrator. That’s my homunculus: the storyteller of Emma.

When my daughter confidently pointed to her heart as her self, I asked why. “Because I love you!” she said. “But why does that feel like you?” I pressed her, laughing. “Where is Adele?” She instantly pointed to her head — the other common locus of the self. What I see now is that she was shifting between two stories about herself, from the Adele as a feeling person, a daughter who loves her mother, to the Adele who thinks and acts in the world. One is in the heart, the other in the head. Both are stories she will be telling her whole life, millisecond by millisecond, with many, many drafts.”

From Discover Magazine


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