Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 1 January 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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A Study on the Physiological, Psychological and Spiritual Perspectives of Different Selves in a Self with Special Reference to Yann Martel's SELF

S. Joseph Arul Jayraj, M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.

1.0. Abstract

The paper aims to analyse the efforts taken by Yann Martel in confronting the different situations in his life in order to find out his hidden 'Self'. Physiological, Psychological and Spiritual points of view are taken to perceive, understand, and explain the crisis faced by the protagonist of SELF. The ways and means through which one can identify his/her 'Self ' and other 'Selves' and liberate the individual 'Self' from the fetters of the body and mind are suggested.

1.1. Introduction

The questions that seem to propel Yann Martel to ask himself are: "Who am I?", "What does it mean to be a human being?", "What is man, if not a 'Self'?", and "Can the individual 'Self' be liberated from the fetters of the body and mind? How? " In the process of analyzing his 'Self', Martel not only addresses these questions to himself but also the readers. He doesn't provide the reader with answers to these questions. He invites the reader to ponder over these questions and find answers for themselves.

1.2. Question-1: Who am I?

This is the most radical, the most urgent of all questions. That is why Socrates proclaimed: "Man, know thyself"! In other words, the enquiry about BEING (ourselves as beings) is more fundamental than the question about KNOWING. According to Descartes, "I AM" is the first of all evidences and therefore good philosophizing must begin with it. I am sure of one thing that I doubt. To doubt is to think. To think is to exist. Therefore, he said: "Cogito, ergo Sum", which means "I think, therefore, I am" (BEING HUMAN, "Introduction", 5). This is the first state of being certain. I AM (thinking): this first basic experience has two components. They are: "I" and "AM". They mean: MYSELF and EXISTENCE. Therefore, every human being deals with two distinct problems: the problem of "existence", which provokes to ask a human being the question asked by Hamlet: "To be or not to be?" (ibid, 5). This question asks for the purpose of the existence of an individual, others, and the world around.

1.3. Question-2: What does it mean to be a human being?

The problem is about MYSELF, not as "existing" but as a human being. This is the question about ESSENCE and not EXISTENCE. ESSENCE deals with WHAT a thing is. EXISTENCE deals with THAT the thing is. In other words, ESSENCE is that which makes a person or thing. EXISTENCE is the status of being a thing (ibid, 6). Even though the existence of the unnamed protagonist is transformed from male to female, the essence of the unnamed hero of the novel seems to remain the same to some extent. Even after having been transformed into a woman, he thinks like a man on many occasions. However, there is also the transformation of his ESSENCE. That is, he undergoes the experience of a woman and feels like a woman. SELF deals with the problem of identity morphing, the hidden nature of the 'Self' and its survival. The identity of 'Self' of an individual is so much entrenched in his body-mind-intellect personality that becomes necessary to distinguish between the 'Self' (Atman) and the 'Non-Self' (An-Atman), the one without 'Self' (ibid, 14). In fact, nothing is stable or permanent. According to Heraclites, everything is in a state of flux or change. A human being is no exception to it. He too has to become a 'Non-Self', a 'Non-Soul' ('An-Athman') or 'Metaphysical Self '(Paramatma). The individual 'Self' must become the UNIVERSAL SELF the 'Atman-Bhraman', the Spirit that is within every 'Self' and lose himself in it. (ibid, 17-18; PHILOSOPHY, 121) This is the cosmic force that sustains the universe as well as the 'Self' within an individual. A being normally confuses his "true" 'Self' with one's "Empirical Self" (a self which is guided only by practical experience rather than by scientific ideas). The "Empirical Self" which is composed of what the 'Self' sees, touches, feels, experiences and even thinks, is not the true 'Self'. The empirical reality is false because it cannot lead one's 'Self' to the realization of the Bhraman who is the true 'Self '. In order to realize one's true 'Self', one should raise his/her 'Self' to a superior level of existence. This is the process of identifying one's 'Self' with Bhraman.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Linguistic Purism and Language Planning in a Multilingual Context | The Problems of Teaching/Learning Tenses | Language and Literature: An Exposition - Papers Presented in Karunya University International Seminar | Similes in Meghduta - The Absolute Craftsmanship in Language | Culture of the Tamil Society as Portrayed in Ponniyin Selvan | Deconstructing Human Society: An Appreciation of Amitav Ghosh's Sea Of Poppies | Enabling Students to Interpret Literary Texts Independently by Enhancing their Vocabulary | Coping with the Problems of Mixed Ability Students | Displaced Diasporic Identities - A Case Study of Mordecai Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz | English Language Teaching in Developing Countries Error Analysis and Remedial Teaching Methods - An Overview | Diaspora Literature - A Hybrid or a Hybridized Product? | Anita Desai's Journey To Ithaca - A Manifestation of Vedantic Knowledge | A Study on the Physiological, Psychological and Spiritual Perspectives of Different Selves in a Self with Special Reference to Yann Martel's SELF | Conveniences and Complexities of Computer-Aided Language Learning | The Danger Lurking Within: The African American Woman in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye | Practices and Paradigms of Using Multimedia and Language Laboratory for Teaching Communication Skills to Technical Students | English: A Blessing in Disguise - A Study of Chinua Achebe's Technique of Hybridization | Language Teaching - The Present Day Challenges | Is Literature a Viable Medium for ESL Acquisition? | The Lord of The Rings : Galadriel, The Light Of Middle-Earth | Teaching Reading - A Challenge in Itself | The Silent Way | Translator as Reader: Phenomenology and Text Reception - An Investigation of Indulekha | The Dysfunctional Women in Mary Gordon'sThe Other Side | Utopia and Dystopia, Conflict Between Two Extremes - An Appraisal of Anita Desai's Cry, The Peacock | Reading 'god' Backwards | The Comic Vision in the Stories and Sketches of R.K.Narayan | My Responses to The English Teacher | 'Fall from Grace into Grief': Putting into Perspective the Outrages of Terrorism in Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown | Style and Language in M. G. Vassanji's The Assassin's Song | Affirmation of Life in Lloyd C. Douglas' Magnificent Obsession | Effectiveness of Group Investigation Model and Simulation Model in Teaching English | A Mathematical Treatment of Feministic Literature for the Prediction of Social Trends | Multiple Intelligences and Second Language Learning | Amitav Ghosh's The Circle Of Reason - A Study of Diaspora | The Role of Multimedia in Teaching Writing in English | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF JANUARY 2010 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT | HOME PAGE of January 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

S. Joseph Arul Jayraj, M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.
Department of English
St. Joseph's College (Autonomous)
Tiruchirappalli 620002
Tamil Nadu, India

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