Do you see what I says?
If you are fascinated by our subject, (non-duality), then there all kinds of things we come across in our daily life that take on a double meaning. For example, the number one, the personal pronoun 'I', and the verb, 'being', take on new meanings in this context. Take for example expressions such as: 'it takes one to know one', or 'lighten up'. There are some days that you seem to stumble over these unsolicited dis-coveries and the day goes by with a lot of inner fun.
Now, for a couple of days my horizon has been 'polluted'. of course, the question remains how much one can speak about horizon pollution if one lives in a city, but lets leave that aside. The pollution consists of an eight meter high neon sign on the roof of an office building that spells the word 'IK' (I in Dutch) in complementary red and green capitol letters. It is impossible for anyone visiting Utrecht by train, or 'training-by' in the evening to avoid that 'IK'. At first I thought that this 'I' could be the beginning of a beautiful poetic sentence, or in a worse case, the name of a company. But, 'IK' in this form threatens to become a part of my daily view. I actually see the mirror image, because I look at it from behind, but a certain amount of unhappiness began to manifest in me. I read in the paper that it is an art work which is only illuminated between five in the afternoon and midnight. The first protests have already been heard with words such as: 'light-pollution and ego tripping'... (snicker... snicker...)
I personally find it a bit of navel-contemplation to use this word to mark a building that is already too high and that houses (please note) the Tax Administration and 'National Area Service'. As far as I am concerned it is nothing more than the umpteenth cry for attention from the many advertisement messages that can harass your day (research indicates three to five thousand per day).
If I had chosen for such a monumental solution I would have preferred to let something more interpersonal as a departure point and let 'YOU' be screamed from the roof tops.
I have thought that perhaps with the millennium change that the 'I- era' of the 'fin de siècle) might be exchanged for example by we-, she- or you-generation. But I guess the 62 year old artist sees it differently, or maybe I am missing his intentions. (Closer examination reveals that there is a movement to be observed in this artist's work from more to less, and that he has signed more pieces with the name 'I'.)
Now, I don't deny anyone their own vision and philosophy; naturally I cannot deny anyone from using the word 'I' in a fitting or not fitting way. Because, no one can claim author's rights to our dictionary; language is common property, by, for and from all of us.
Nevertheless the iconoclast moved in me: 'You shall make no graven image, nor any likeness of what there is above in heaven...' . 'You shall not use my name in vain', whispered in some memories of my youth.
Last night I lay stretched on the sofa staring at the new ornament in my horizon and it made me think of the headline over a newspaper article: 'I is shining'. Of course that is not correct grammar, it should say: 'I shine', personal and active, because 'I is shining' is not personal. This thought made me sit up straight.
What you call 'I' in your daily life is of course already something that you, witness at a distance and therefore can not be 'I'. But how often do we not pass over that point of view, and don't pause to see the actual meaning of 'I' That building over there can say that it is 'I', but it is not at all 'I'. I am 'I', the only 'I' that is I, and nothing and no one else, period.!!! And no one can ever take that away from me!
Of course, I could climb up to the roof of that building in an attempt to discover my real 'I'. I could go stand between the gigantic letters and scream with the necessary pride; 'I am this!!!' No one could find fault with me. But then I'd be fooling myself. Because I cannot define or demonstrate what I am even with the best will in the world. Not even with that poor surrogate on the roof of a building. An action like that would only grant me a temporary 'Hey, Look at me...' feeling. I also begin to understand why the Beatles made the little film accompanying 'Don't let me down' on the roof of the recording studio. (But that's probably an introduction to another article.) I could make that 'I' more active by putting an S after it. Or I could make it impersonal by putting a T behind it. Anyway go to it scrabble players, have fun.
After these reflections I relaxed back again onto the couch, with one more closing thought. As long as I live here this clue to pointing to what 'I' is in essence, will demand my attention every day that I lie on the sofa between five in the afternoon and midnight, whether I want it to or not.
The message?'I' is shining.
Just like the Sun can only see itself in the reflection of its own light on a passing planet or moon.
An outlook with insight, what a prospect. And ah..., who am I to ask you: ...Do you see what 'I' says?.'
[January 2003, Kees Schreuders]
P.S. As of this writing in February 2004, an elementary school at the foot of the office building has formulated its literal footnote commentary on this work of art: WE.