A nice bit of egoistic thought from Emile Armand’s “Initiation:”
“178) Citizen of “my” world.
I am not a citizen of the world. I am the citizen of my world.
First, because there is no world but “my” world. The most specious arguments will not prevail against this observation. The world only exists for me because I exist, because I sense my existence, because I perceive the effects of it. When I
sleep beneath the tombstone, when I no longer assimilate or eliminate, when my useless organs have ceased to function and my flesh decays, gnawed by worms – there will no longer be for me either past, present, or future – or energy, or matter – or humans, or world. When I have ceased to exist, the world, for me, will have ceased to exist. The world is not an absolute to me; it is a relativity. Thus it is only the world becaue it is my world.
My world, as one would expect, is far from being the narrow domain that the possessive “my” would seem to indicated. It is everything that I – an organism conscious of my existence – sense, feel, experience, perceive, and distinguish within and outside of myself. My world, it is my heart which beats and my brain which quivers – it is the starry night that extends above my head and it is the wind that hinders my walk on the road – it is the waves which brings wreckage to the beach that I wander with slow steps and it is the stacks of wheat silhouetted like immense beehives on the horizon of the plains – it is the paper where my pen walks and it is the dictionary where I seek the meaning of a term the sense of which appears uncertain to me. My world is the books that it interests me to leaf through, the opinions that it pleases me to express, the arguments it suits me to discuss, the beings with whom it is agreeable for me to keep company more or less of the time. What’s more, my world is not only made up of pleasurable events or spectacles. I shall not forget the office or factory where I have had to go so often – in winter, when I would have liked to remain at home; in summer, when blooming, sunbathed nature invited me to gambol on the thick lawns or to frolic along shaded streams. I am the involuntary witness of sufferings that wound my sensibility. I sometimes hear cries of pain ring out which freeze me with fear. For I am neither deaf nor indifferent. I no longer accomplish all the labor that I have laid out for myself. Or I do not perform it as I would like. My world is not only “pleasure;” it is also “pain.” But such as it is, it perfectly fills my life.”
Here’s the rest of the section:
“My world is not a desert. It includes all those who sense, feel, experience, perceive, and distinguish in the way that I do. Those of today and those of long ago. All those, as well, who have dared what I could not or would not dare. All those who have accomplished what I have not wanted or been able to accomplish. All those who have practiced what I have still only devised in theory. I do not know them, the majority of them. But I know that they exist. And sometimes it seems to me that I see them rise from the dust of the past – my past – a veritable legion. They are those who have reacted against the environment and never allowed it to have the last word. They are those who have never let the collectivity to rattle their individuality. They have not yielded. The lure of money, that of security, the attraction of a home – nothing has done it. Society, sometimes, has promised popularity if they consent to accommodate themselves. To play the puppets – to drag the populace around by their chausses – « la faire » aux chefs de file – never! They have suffered in their body and mind. They have wept, but they have hated. They have lived who knows where – where they are too well known. They have known the heights and depths of existence. They have been fugitives, tracked, denounced, condemned, and walled up. Because they have neither respectable manners, nor stable situation, nor respectable relations, society has scorned, maligned, and rejected them, expelled them from its midst. But they have not let go. They have been silent, or they have said what they had to say. As they wanted to say it, without pandering to the elites, without toadying to the masses. Without prostituting themselves, without consenting to sleazy contracts. If they perished, they were undefeated. On a pallet, in the promiscuity of a flophouse, on the edge of a ditch, in the penal colony, under the guillotine blade. In their bed, perhaps, sated by experience, – or still devoured by resentment, assailed by doubt. But going on regardless.
Those people are “mine,” the citizens of my world.”