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Form Versus Chaos

Powerful Essays
Form Versus Chaos

We are all acute schizophrenics. Consider Anna in Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook: Anna as mother, Anna as activist, Anna as writer, and Anna as lover combine to produce an Anna more complete than each individual element. Alone, each component breaks down the entirity of Anna, in a process of self-alienation. We, too, are an amalgamation of our experiences and multiple personalities, yet to deny any part of ourselves, even the fragments, is to deny our entire being. Seduced by anarchy in a world where “everything’s cracking up,” we must find our own truth, a balance between our fragmentation and the totality of our existence (1).

As in Gilman’s “Yellow Wallpaper,” an inert, threatening madness lurks around us, perpetuated by the existence of the Other. We are essentially defined by how we appear to be, through our relationships with other people. Using the keyhole incident in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness as an example: "shame...is the recognition of the fact that I am indeed that object which the Other is looking at and judging" (350). The Other silently redefines our essence until we are completely objectified as the projection of the Other’s perception, the self utterly obliterated—a rupture within the fabric of our individuality.

This is why “man is defined by his relation to the world and by his relation to myself “ (Sartre BN 347). We become merely a shadow of the Other’s consciousness, written by the Other’s freedom—the in-itself closing on the for-itself. I will remain as a consciousness, unaware of my being until the presence of another complicates the situation, establishing a contingency based on the Other’s subjectivity. Such objectification compromises my independ...

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