Whatever Happened to Character?

When I think of the self, the subconscious self that determines the surface self, I see something like a star: a burning ball, an explosion contained by its own gravitational force. Others see a shadow, or a puzzle built piece by piece. I see a star. In the centre is the character’s core, on the periphery the lesser elements. Every single element is subject to constant change. The peripheral elements are often spat out like solar flares, other things take their places, and the star reforms itself.

The core elements are just as unstable, though more deeply rooted. For something to become a core element it must be pushed, or pulled, or drilled into the centre where it holds fast. The girl who grew up reading will have the written word in her core. The boy brought up on a farm, with pets as companions since birth, who befriended the lambs only to see them reared for slaughter, will have an aversion to violence in his core, an animal compassion; no doubt he will become a vegetarian.

In theory, the entire star’s composition can be changed, but in practice this is near impossible. The point is, though the self is unstable, it is these core elements that make up character, these deep, slightly less unstable aspects of the self that give identity its continuity, its semblance of coherence.

These days everything is so temporary, so transient, flitting in and out of our peripheries too fast to be absorbed. News, communication, fashion and fads, governments, opinions, truths. Money is made from constant consumption which both flourishes from and propagates impermanence. Attention spans are, in general, shortening, as people take a fleeting interest in this topic or that. The result is a subconscious self made almost entirely of interchangeable periphery elements – all surface activity and an empty core.

A host of hollow stars.


I originally wrote this as a character’s diary entry in a short story but it didn’t make it into the final cut.

Then I saw today’s Daily Prompt: Incomplete and I thought it worked quite well.


4 thoughts on “Whatever Happened to Character?

    • Hey, thanks for the comment
      They came about in a conversation with my partner about self and identity and are influenced quite heavily by Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic theories (which I’m currently researching for my dissertation). The character whose diary it was originally was a part of is a writer and a bit of a psychopath who is kind of having an identity crisis. Is that what you meant by the context?


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