What is self?
A question often asked; especially at the annual convention of Existentialists in South Bend, Indiana.
Often, the speaker will announce into the microphone “What is Salt” – misreading the teleprompter.
After an awkward silence their aunts and cousins from Des Moine will applaud in a friendly ritual of ackowledgment that suggests the statement is quite insightful.
Unfortunately for the speaker there is usually some random quasi-intellectual in the back who shouts, “What is Salt? Sodium Chloride, you idiot! What in the world does that have to do with self?”
Causing the speaker to rush down the aisle in a blind rage; security gets involved and we still have not figured out “What is Self.”
Typical human behavior.
Returning to the podium, the speaker will restart with “My apologies for the interruption. Where was I at?”
“What is Salt,” he posits, trying not to admit his earlier mistake.
“Salt is … a spice in various cooking traditions. It is often used to flavor … a baked potato … or a dish of vegetables. It tastes good and I personally love salt on just about anything.”
“Although my wife claims I should cut back because of my high blood pressure.”
“But that brings me to my point. My high blood pressure, my salt intake.”
“That is about myself. Not my wife’s … self.”
“So what is self if not a damn good baked potato with sour cream and chives and bacon pieces and maybe some grated cheddar cheese.”
“So, in conclusion, if I … my … self … had that baked potato ready to go, I would add a generous smattering of salt to it – wife be damned – and retire to the TV den to enjoy myself.”
“Oh. On a historical note. Long ago there was a story by The Bible about a woman; a ruthless woman who turned herself into a pile of salt. Or so the story goes.”
“There are various versions of that myth. All show that ‘self’, throughout history, has been linked to salt.”
“Thus, I posit, what is ‘self’?”
“Salt is ‘self’”
“Thank you, good night, and I shall make myself available for autographs of my new book at the signing table in the lobby.”
“Please remember that every day you should question ‘what is salt?’ … or even ‘what is self’!
(from Aaron Voorhees)