From I to us

Marí, Antoni
Revista Literatures Núm. 0 1997

"I am the subject of my book" wrote Michel de Montaigne. The self here is mixed up with the intimate and uncommunicable side of existence and individual experience. A world built on sensations and memories which are piled up and sifted until they form an amorphous magma.
The space of the self, of intimacy, is the space in which news of the outside world is received and in which the image of reality is created. Language merges from the need to express this intimacy and at the same time fixes, orders and communicates it. The merit of Michel de Montaigne is that of having found out how to evoke and express, in strict linguistic terms, the intimacy of the self which exists previous to language.
The act of expressing intimacy makes us aware of our singular nature. It enables us to link the interior world with the exterior one by means of an intimate language which, from the moment at which it is pronounced, then becomes public and common. The intimacy of the self can only be known and be made known through language, which makes it possible for us to both communicate with ourselves and with others. In this way, being one's self is not done in isolation, but is rather done with other "oneselves" who are at large.
The soliloquy, within the strict intimacy of the self, is only understood by whoever gives it, given that his or her intelligibility is pre-linguistic. On the other hand, in spoken language, the subject distances himself critically from his own intimacy and exercises a control over his own understanding in order to make what he is expressing comprehensible. Also in writing, the self leads the way clearly to a sense of ourselves. Perhaps writing is a question of remaining in solitude while searching for what there is of the self in the collective 'us'.