For the past week or so, I’ve been envisioning my SimSelf standing before an easel painting a yellow flower.
As she does, she contemplates the connection between the form she paints, a symbol of the flower, and the flower itself.
This leads her to think about the flower, and the connection between it and the essence within it.
The outside form, she thinks, is the representation of the inner essence.
Of course it is me thinking this, for at the time I am thinking it, this has not yet even happened in game, only in my imagination. And even when I play, it is me, isn’t it, who thinks for my Sim?
And then what is my SimSelf? A sign–a representation of me. And the digital flower which she paints? A digital sign of a flower in our world on this side of the screen.
What is it that leads me to see this SimSelf, this Simflower, as something more than pixels? What draws me to see within them that flashing essence which I feel within me and which I see within the yellow flower in my garden and in every living thing?
I’ve been diving into Wittgenstein–it started as a joke, for I wanted a philosophical work for my legacy kids to be reading for their homework, and I’ve always loved the sound of the name Wittgenstein.
But what did I find? An expression of my own experience.
“In order to know an object, I must know not its external but all its internal qualities” (Wittgenstein 2.01231).
This is what I am saying: the yellow flower is not just its petals and stem–it is its internal qualities, as well.
My Sims are not just the colored pixels that represent them–they are the internal qualities, also. And these internal qualities come, also, from our imagination, not just from the electronic impulses that form the enactment of their code.
“A speck in a visual field need not be red, but it must have a colour; it has, so to speak, a colour space round it. A tone must have a pitch, the object of the sense of touch a hardness, etc.” (Wittgenstein 2.0131).
All that I wrote above about my SimSelf, the easel,and the yellow flower, was seen first in my imagination, before I played the game. What is it that I am trying to reach in seeing this scene of my SimSelf painting and contemplating what lies within?
I am after essence. Who I am and also who is the flower.
Within my form, which represents my essence and which also shifts and changes as it moves through time, is an essence that is timeless. This essence doesn’t change: instead, it simply reveals itself more clearly.
As the structures of my thoughts and conditioned habits and patterns dissolve, then what is revealed more clearly is essence. It is not something that I can point to and say “me” (though it does constitute the center of experience which is me), for I recognize this same essence within the yellow flower.
I am standing at the edge of the shore of a three-year astrological transit during which Neptune will be kissing my moon and whispering to Venus. Much that I have called “me” is in the process of washing away with each wave that Neptune gently stirs.
Yet as the structures and thought habits continue to flow into the sea, I find there is less between “me” and me. When I am filled with the felt sensation of this vibrant light at my core, I feel that this is the same bright ball within every form.
“The solution of the riddle of life in space and time lies outside space and time” (Wittgenstein 6.4312).
The mirroring repetition of form lies within space and time. So do my thoughts. So do these words. So do the passing notes that I play upon the cello. Yet what they describe, what they contain, what cannot be expressed within words, that lies outside of space and time.
Yet we can feel it. And, sometimes, see it.
“There is indeed the inexpressible. This shows itself; it is the mystical” (Wittgenstein 6.522).
What is this painting? This flower? This self?
“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent” (Wittgenstein 7).
Put the cello in the case. Set the palette on the table. Stand beneath the sun on the edge of the vast shore. And breathe.