The theory thus far:
- The Voice exists, but the “I” does not. That is, while there is a constant speaking that occurs, there is no “I” that does it. This is not to say that speaking does not occur, only that it is occurs automatically and is not caused by a self-caused cause (the “I”).
- The origin of the “I” is has two bases. First, the spontaneity of The Voice. Second, the ability to prepend an “I think …” to everything spoken. For example, the automatic utterance “This leaf is green” can easily become “I think that this leaf is green.” Here, The Voice takes its own utterance as an object of knowledge.
- By placing the “I” in the grammatical subject, it acquires all the properties of substance. (In fact, every concept placed in the subject position acquires those properties.)
- As a result of this placement, the “I” appears to be a self-caused ghost-like thing in charge of speech, imagination, will, and the voluntary muscles. That is, the “I” seems to be the author in charge of movements (including thoughts) that are preceded by intention.
Our ability to put the “I” in the grammatical subject lulls us into thinking that The Voice is an actually existing and self-causing agent. This is obviously an illusion—putting a concept in different grammatical roles does not actually enrich the referent of this concept.
Is there, then, no evidence of free will and self-determination from a spontaneous undetermined power? I think there is: in those rare moments when The Voice overrides the normally prevailing neuronal majority. For example, even if 99% of my sub-selves want to do X, The Voice can clear its throat and point to something that “I” had written on a Post-It Note the day before and say, “You are committed to this. Remember?”
What was special about the Post-It Note? Nothing—it was just another bit of will, on a par with the other bits that make up 99% of “me” that run things automatically and without my intentional involvement. It differs only in one regard: it is a bit that my ratio-making acts have determined to be important. At any moment I have 100 sub-voices, each of which has its own preference. To pick just one of them and have it prevail over the rest, I must elevate it to the level of a commitment or promise. To do this, I externalize it on paper (or, less helpfully, as a tickler memory) and designated it as a high-priority override.
Success in life means empowering the one renegade neural pathway that wants to do something contrary to the normally prevailing majority. We do this by anchoring our contrarian commitments inside structures that amplify their presence.
Cultivate the impossible
The game of life is a continuous battle of self-subjugation. Winning is just a matter of being ruthlessly committed to the internal 1% of your desires—the important ones that you write down and then dread implementing. Successful transformation can only come by dictatorship. Internal democracy, the effortless path of doing what you want, yields nothing. Strengthen the 1% so that it can overpower the 99%.