“No man is an island…“1 the poet2 scrawled, and perhaps scrawled into Modern English the notion that we all – man, meaning human, and far from meaning the singular, and exclusively masculine form: “male” – are condemned to be part of a broad community of humankind, from outcast to highmost, and are therefore affected by the actions of countless others, and by extension, diminished by their countless deaths. On a general basis, one must nod in hesitant agreement with the poet, for it is true that even as we sit down to dine at a simple meal of corn mashed potatoes and milk; even if we have farmed the ingredients ourselves on a selection of land far from any road; even if we have renounced the remainder of our fellow beings from within a profound and violent misanthropy, we will, until the last of our days, have persisted in reaping the benefits of being human, from the countless successes in the history of maize cultivation, to those in the domain of milk production, those in the domestication of dairy cattle, and those in the fields of food preparation and cookery. Indeed, the realization must be that for all our living as an isolato we are lousy with dependence on our kind, an inescapable and intractable truth, and we have not yet risen from the dining table.
To take an abrupt turn, while it must be taken as a true statement that “No one is an island,” it must also be acknowledged that “No one is an island,” is true in the same sense that “No one is a stairway,” or even: “No one is an elderberry.” It is here that our forementioned poet maroons the entire notion of being in relation to a metaphorical self, and we must excuse ourselves from participating any further in this ontological deceit. For though it is true that an individual is not an island, there is a notion in the philosophy of character that one could be proposed as being an archipelago of sorts, or even a series of isthmuses, or perhaps a continent composed of several nation states, autonomous zones, principalities, and a patch or two of terra incognita. It is to this latter premise, a nation of selves, that this author intends to dedicate inquiry, and in the process seek to defend the idea that one may be a continent and an island, never merely one and almost always both at the same time, and that this may never be entire of itself, or others, or divided from the process of becoming one for long enough to ever achieve that objective. In so doing, the notion of authorial voice will be challenged, together with the veracity of many home remedies, flagrant rumors, physical and universal laws, and the notion that the writer of these words has ever existed, or ever will. To those ends, let us tinker on.