Self-Consciousness Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 54 quotes )
All thought of something is at the same time self-consciousness [...] At the root of all our experiences and all our reflections, we find [...] a being which immediately recognises itself, [...] and which knows its own existence, not by observation and as a given fact, nor by inference from any idea of itself, but through direct contact with that existence. Self-consciousness is the very being of mind in action.
...this is love. I have my self-consciousness not in myself but in the other. I am satisfied and have peace with myself only in this other and I AM only because I have peace with myself; if I did not have it then I would be a contradiction that falls to pieces. This other, because it likewise exists outside itself, has its self-consciousness only in me; and both the other and I are only this consciousness of being-outside-ourselves and of our identity; we are only this intuition, feeling, and knowledge of our unity. This is love, and without knowing that love is both a distinguishing and the sublation of this distinction, one speaks emptily of it.
None of this is important in itself, but I feel somewhere that it has a lot to do with why I have always felt separate, why I have always felt unable to join in, to let go, to become part of the tribe, why I have always sniped or joked from the sidelines, why I have never, ever, lost my overwhelmingly self-conscious self-consciousness. It's not all that bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing - they are not all bad. Those devils have also been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.
Adolescence is best enjoyed without self-consciousness, but self-consciousness, unfortunately, is its leading symptom. Even when something important happens to you, even when your heart's getting crushed or exalted, even when you're absorbed in building the foundations of a personality, there comes these moments when you're aware that what's happening is not the real story. Unless you actually die, the real story is still ahead of you. This alone, this cruel mixture of consciousness and irrelevance, this built-in hollowness, is enough to account for how pissed off you are. You're miserable and ashamed if you don't believe your adolescent troubles matter, but you're stupid if you do.
The dialectic of antiquity tended towards leadership (the great individual and the masses--the free man and the slaves); so far the dialectic of Christendom tends towards representation (the majority sees itself in its representative and is set free by the consciousness that it is the majority which is represented, in a sort of self-consciousness); the dialectic of the present age tends towards equality, and its most logical--though mistaken--fulfilment is levelling, as the negative unity of the negative reciprocity of all individuals.
I remembered what it is I like about sex: what I like about sex is that I can lose myself in it entirely. Sex, in fact, is the most absorbing activity I have discovered in adulthood. When I was a child I used to feel this way about all sorts of things—Legos, The Jungle Book, The Hardy Boys, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Saturday morning cartoons...I could forget where I was, the time of day, who I was with. Sex is the only thing I've found like that as a grown-up, give or take the odd film: books are no longer like that once you're out of your teens, and I've certainly never found it in my work. All the horrible pre-sex self-consciousness drains out of me, and I forget where I am, the time of day...and yes, I forget who I'm with, for the time being.
We are created for precisely this sort of suffering. In the end, it is all we are, these limpid tide pools of self-consciousness between crashing waves of pain. We are destined and designed to bear our pain with us, hugging it tight to our bellies like the young Spartan thief hiding a wolf cub so it can eat away our insides. What other creature in God's wide domain would carry the memory of you, Fanny, dust these nine hundred years, and allow it to eat away at him even as consumption does the same work with its effortless efficiency? Words assail me. The thought of books makes me ache. Poetry echoes in my mind, and if I had the ability to banish it, I would do so at once.
It's not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.
After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
God, but life is loneliness, despite all the opiates, despite the shrill tinsel gaiety of "parties" with no purpose, despite the false grinning faces we all wear. And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter - they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship - but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.
In a world full of danger, to be a potentially seeable object is to be constantly exposed to danger. Self-consciousness, then, may be the apprehensive awareness of oneself as potentially exposed to danger by the simple fact of being visible to others. The obvious defence against such a danger is to make oneself invisible in one way or another.
But the more shrewdly and earnestly we study the histories of men, the less ready shall we be to make use of the word ‘artificial.’ Nothing in the world has ever been artificial. Many customs, many dresses, many works of art are branded with artificiality because the exhibit vanity and self-consciousness: as if vanity were not a deep and elemental thing, like love and hate and the fear of death. Vanity may be found in darkling deserts, in the hermit and in the wild beasts that crawl around him. It may be good or evil, but assuredly it is not artificial: vanity is a voice out of the abyss.
I have one outstanding trait in my character, which must strike anyone who knows me for any length of time, and that is my knowledge of myself. I can watch myself and my actions, just like an outsider. The Anne of every day I can face entirely without prejudice, without making excuses for her, and watch what's good and what's bad about her. This 'self-consciousness' haunts me, and every time I open my mouth I know as soon as I've spoken whether 'that ought to have been different' or 'that was right as it was.' There are so many things about myself that I condemn; I couldn't begin to name them all. I understand more and more how true Daddy's words were when he said: 'All children must look after their own upbringing.' Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.
An honest self-portrait is extremely rare because a man who has reached the degree of self-consciousness presupposed by the desire to paint his own portrait has almost always also developed an ego-consciousness which paints himself painting himself, and introduces artificial highlights and dramatic shadows.
you're instantly in a bind once you arrive here on earth, of need, self-will, a body and a separate personality, even before teh crippling self-consciousness kicks in, even before the seventh grade ... you're fucked at cell division ... it's all downhill from there. After that, it's all survival, and trying to keep yourself either entertained or convinced that the things you're obsessed with are of any importance at all in the big scheme.
Unhappily, things get clearer as we go along. I perceive that I have no body. What's less, I've been speaking of myself without delight or alternative as self-consciousness pure and sour; I declare now that even that isn't true. I'm not aware of myself at all, as far as I know. I don't think. . . I know what I'm talking about.