What, then, definitely, is the Me?

Y.M. I think it must consist of just those two parts-- the body and the mind.

O.M. You think so? If you say "I believe the world is round," who is the "I" that is speaking?

Y.M. The mind.

O.M. If you say "I grieve for the loss of my father," who is the "I"?

Y.M. The mind.

O.M. Is the mind exercising an intellectual function when it examines and accepts the evidence that the world is round?

Y.M. Yes.

O.M. Is it exercising an intellectual function when it grieves for the loss of your father?

Y.M. That is not cerebration, brain-work, it is a matter of FEELING.

O.M. Then its source is not in your mind, but in your MORAL territory?

Y.M. I have to grant it.

O.M. Is your mind a part of your PHYSICAL equipment?

Y.M. No. It is independent of it; it is spiritual.

O.M. Being spiritual, it cannot be affected by physical influences?

Y.M. No.

O.M. Does the mind remain sober with the body is drunk?

Y.M. Well--no.

O.M. There IS a physical effect present, then?

Y.M. It looks like it.

O.M. A cracked skull has resulted in a crazy mind. Why should it happen if the mind is spiritual, and INDEPENDENT of physical influences?

Y.M. Well--I don't know.

O.M. When you have a pain in your foot, how do you know it?

Y.M. I feel it.

O.M. But you do not feel it until a nerve reports the hurt to the brain. Yet the brain is the seat of the mind, is it not?

Y.M. I think so.

O.M. But isn't spiritual enough to learn what is happening in the outskirts without the help of the PHYSICAL messenger? You perceive that the question of who or what the Me is, is not a simple one at all. You say "I admire the rainbow," and "I believe the world is round," and in these cases we find that the Me is not speaking, but only the MENTAL part. You say, "I grieve," and again the Me is not all speaking, but only the MORAL part. You say the mind is wholly spiritual; then you say "I have a pain" and find that this time the Me is mental AND spiritual combined. We all use the "I" in this indeterminate fashion, there is no help for it. We imagine a Master and King over what you call The Whole Thing, and we speak of him as "I," but when we try to define him we find we cannot do it. The intellect and the feelings can act quite INDEPENDENTLY of each other; we recognize that, and we look around for a Ruler who is master over both, and can serve as a DEFINITE AND INDISPUTABLE "I," and enable us to know what we mean and who or what we are talking about when we use that pronoun, but we have to give it up and confess that we cannot find him. To me, Man is a machine, made up of many mechanisms, the moral and mental ones acting automatically in accordance with the impulses of an interior Master who is built out of born-temperament and an accumulation of multitudinous outside influences and trainings; a machine whose ONE function is to secure the spiritual contentment of the Master, be his desires good or be they evil; a machine whose Will is absolute and must be obeyed, and always IS obeyed.

Y.M. Maybe the Me is the Soul?

O.M. Maybe it is. What is the Soul?

Y.M. I don't know.

O.M. Neither does any one else.

The Master Passion

Y.M. What is the Master?--or, in common speech, the Conscience? Explain it.

O.M. It is that mysterious autocrat, lodged in a man, which compels the man to content its desires. It may be called the Master Passion--the hunger for Self-Approval.

Y.M. Where is its seat?

O.M. In man's moral constitution.

Y.M. Are its commands for the man's good?

O.M. It is indifferent to the man's good; it never concerns itself about anything but the satisfying of its own desires. It can be TRAINED to prefer things which will be for the man's good, but it will prefer them only because they will content IT better than other things would.

Y.M. Then even when it is trained to high ideals it is still looking out for its own contentment, and not for the man's good.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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