TJ (17th June 1958 / England)

Biography

If someday scientists could reconstruct us from scratch –
Not just the skin and bones
But the personality to match:
Mind, emotions, values, judgement, belief, sensitivity:
The long and the short of it, not part of it: all of it,
I wonder how close a copy they could create
Using just our biographies for their ‘Us Two’ template…..

For all the painstaking research,
The pouring over periodicals and journals,
The meticulous validation of sources,
Interviews with all and sundry who claimed to be ‘close’
To get a 360°, wide-screen, hi-definition picture
To project onto the printed page:
Just what proportion of a person can be pulled together
Piecemeal, like this: 70%,37%,11% or less…..?
Can anybody be really ‘known’ in fact not fiction or faction?
Construed, surmised, approximated, guessed-at at best, yes,
From events, decisions and second and third-hand recollections.
But how reliable are our witnesses in the courthouse of our lives,
Seeing all too often only what we want seen or they wish to see
And misinterpreting us innocently, negligently or downright deliberately?

If the individual at issue were to scan the sum of his biographies,
Would he recognise himself at all
Or perceive just a poor pastiche with a passing resemblance
To someone he might almost have been on a good or bad day?
But then again,
Can anyone really know his ‘me’?
We all spend a lifetime exploring our undiscovereds
And seeking solace and meaning in our uncovereds….
Perhaps we’re what we’re believed to be:
The sum total of who we think we know we are
And what others suppose us to be.
So I don’t imagine an autobiography would be any the better,
As Counsel, Judge and Jury in the Tribunal of Me,
Painting myself and my image by numbers to the letter
Prosecuting one water-tight, me-monopoly
With a ‘Get out of Jail Free’ guarantee.

So why do we do it?
What’s this fascination that fills our shelves
That we have to know so much of our otherselves?

Is it for the comforting feeling of knowing we’re not alone
In our confusions and delusions;
To satisfy some voyeuristic impulse
To get under someone’s skirt, shirt or skin;
……Or might it just be
That life lived is all we have for certain to hang on to
And we would willingly bequeath it to others
If it turns out we don’t get to take it with us,
For fear,
That otherwise
We might ourselves leave
No residual ripple
On the eternal Lake of Life
To say we were ever here?

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Comments (1)

We all want to make a ripple in that lake! (We got to stop using the same eyes!) A subject - and other related ones - that never cease to fascinate me and all expertly wrapped up with the question; How do we go about erecting our own personal 'Kilroy was here' sign in a way that ensures it is not erased by the sands of time or submerged in the aforementioned watery abyss? Lots to chew over here, maestro.