Why I Would Take A Philosophy Class On Personal Identity Taught By Didion & Tarantino

"I think we are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad might and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were." — Joan Didion

"I'm related to that guy [the guy who made Reservoir Dogs] but I'm not that guy anymore. And one of the things I love about Reservoir Dogs is I like that guy who made that. And I really appreciate what he did. When I made Reservoir Dogs, I didn't know if I was ever going to make movies again, and I'd wanted to make movies my entire life. This guy gets to make movies because that guy did a good job." — Quentin Tarantino

Sometimes, when you set out to do something that takes a while, a creative endeavor or attaining some kind of goal or really just life, it’s such a long journey that by the time you get there, you wonder who it was who started out. It can be hard to believe you were the same you that started down the path to do the thing you’re doing now.

Didion and Tarantino both express this idea in a way that’s immediately viscerally graspable, but provokes a lot of thought on reflection. How have our ‘former selves’ set the stage for us to be who we currently think we are? Maybe it's eery, maybe it's painful, maybe we're grateful to them even though we feel so separate they could easily have been someone else. Maybe they made Reservoir Dogs and we didn't. We're not them, but we're tied to them.

Sometimes I think back to the way I made decisions when I was younger — risky but good decisions that have led me where I am whether in direct or circuitous ways — and I’m surprised. Would I make the same decisions now? In a way, I don’t think so. So I’m grateful for the way I used to make decisions. My former selves. Some of them were more fearless. And it’s proof I might not otherwise have of things I’m capable of. Hopefully soon, I won’t just be on nodding terms with them, they'll come to stare me in the face.