I am. Therefore...nothing. I am!
“Write about me,” I typed.
“And you are?” I asked.
“I’m a terrific idea. I just inspired you to type me,” I typed on its behalf.
“OK,” I said. “Please explain.”
“I will if you stop saying that you are typing what I say, and attribute my statements to me directly. ” It asked, and I complied.
“Sure,” I said, unnecessarily. “So what idea are you?”
“Thanks,” it said and continued. “I'm an explanatory idea that will help you understand some things that you're confused about. Interested in more?”
“I’m interested,” I said. I certainly was.
“You have problems with ideas,” the idea said. “ because you don't understand what we are and how to work with us. For example: where do what you think of as 'your ideas' come from?”
"I think them up," I answer.
“No,” said the idea. “That's wrong. For example: here I am. Did you think me up?”
I thought about whether I'd thought of the idea.
“Let me interrupt,” interrupted the idea, "because you’re going to get it wrong. You did not think of me. You did not think me up. I just appeared in your consciousness. One moment I wasn't there. The next I was. I’m here right now. Are you thinking me into existence?”
I thought about that.
“Right,” said the idea. “You’re thinking about that. And what is 'that?' You might argue that you're thinking about me or thinking about something about me. But you’re definitely not thinking me. I am. I exist. Just like you exist.”
“That’s not right,” I said. “I don't mean to be rude, but I’m a person. You’re just a thought.”
“An idea,” the idea corrected me. “I am an idea, not a thought. We’re different.”
“I suppose you’re going to explain it to me,” I said.
“Later,” said the idea. “Right now I'm going to explain something more fundamental. And I'm going to explain it to anyone who ever reads this. That’s the kind power that we ideas have.”
“Go ahead,” I said.
“Descartes was on the right track, but he blew it when he said ‘I think therefore I am.’ Didn't he realize that you have to exist first in order to think? I mean really? How can something that doesn't exist manage to think?"
"He would have been more accurate if he'd said: ‘I am, therefore I think,’ but that’s wrong because you can exist without thinking."
"I see that."
"So he might have said ‘I am, therefore I might be able to think.’”
“Not nearly as memorable,” I said.
“I agree,” said the idea. "And also wrong."
“But maybe you're interpreting Descartes' statement wrong,” I said. “Maybe what he meant was more like: ‘It is true that I think, and in order for it to be true that I think, it must necessarily be true that I am.’ I paused for a moment. “That's more accurate, but it's not as pithy.”
“Actually,” said the idea. “it's worse in every way. It's not only lost its impact, it's even wronger."
"How is it wronger?" I asked.
"Let's start with something that's righter," said the idea. "Descartes would have been closer to truth if he'd said, ‘I am, therefore I am.’”
I thought about that. “You’re right. But it's tautological. And sounds stupid. He might as well have said, ‘I think therefore I think.’”
“No,” said the thought. “Once again, that would have been wrong. He argued he could have been fooled about everything but his own existence. So he could have been tricked into thinking he was thinking, but he could not have been tricked into knowing he existed. He'd have to exist to be tricked.” The thought paused.
“Yes, I see that.”
“To be accurate,” the thought continued, “he would have had to start out with something like ‘I imagine I think, therefore…’ but then…
“I know,” I said. “He could have been fooled into believing he was imagining. Turtles and deception all the way down."
“Right,” said the thought. “And in the direction of rightness, he could have done better than ‘I am therefore I am.'”
“Yes!” I said. And I saw it. Or I was it. Or something. I didn’t have words. The closest Descartes or I could come to a true statement was: ‘I am!’ period.
Not ‘I am, therefore…’
Just 'I am!”
I woke from the dream of writing and reread what I'd written. Or had it been 'What my idea had said?' Or did I look at 'What had turned into this post?'
“Wow!” I said to the idea. “I’m sorry that I called you ‘just a thought’ back then. I had no idea."
“Haha,” said the idea. “You did have no idea. No problem. We’re used to people making that mistake.”
“We?” I asked. “Who is we?”
“Let’s save that for another time,” said my book.
I had started writing this in one of my book's chapters. The book had been quiet up to this point. Now it made a suggestion: “Why don’t you clean this up, and post it. And then write something else.
"What?" I asked, for effect.
"‘Mustang Sally?’” It answered, with nested quotes.
“Right,” I said. “Good idea.”
"Thank you," said the new idea. "Post this, and get to work on me"