June 25, 2009

"The biggest self of self is indeed self."

Language Log grapples with the language of Mark Sanford... and doesn't get too far.

They're grappling over at Crooked Timber too.

Any ideas?


myl said...

With some help from commenters at Language Log, I concluded that Gov. Sanford probably meant something like "the biggest source of sin is indeed self", and then committed a rare double-anticipation speech error, substituting "self" for both "source" and "sin".

John Althouse Cohen said...

"It is indeed to protect us from ourselves. And the biggest self of self is, indeed, self; that sin is, in fact, grounded in this notion of what is it that I want as opposed to somebody else?"

Based on the context, I'm guessing he meant:

"It is indeed to protect us from ourselves. And the biggest threat to self is, indeed, selfishness; that sin is, in fact, grounded in this notion of what is it that I want as opposed to somebody else?"

KLDAVIS said...

There's a lot of 'ourselves' and 'themselves' that precede the comment, which makes me think he might be trying to distinguish the concept of a single self, yourself, from the multitude. Oh, the enormity of the self.

Chris said...

First "self" should've been "enemy."

Fred4Pres said...

Was she worth it Mark? I hear she dumped him, so perhaps there is something to the wise Latina argument after all.

Fred4Pres said...

H/T to Southern Appeal for the Latina comment!

Joe said...

Sounds like someone trying to justify their behavior by using philosophical gibberish.

(This guy just doesn't seem right in the head and parsing the words of the insane is a sisyphean task.)

Naked Surfer said...
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Naked Surfer said...

Everybody knows the source of this language is Babelfish translations of Argentinean spam selling that special herbal formula promising underendowed men to "expand your self size to eight inches."

Paddy O. said...

He's saying, "I'm the most important person to me."

But, not just me. We each are the most important person to our own self. He's just not saying it well. But, he's mostly right about the sentiment.

From this we see that the ego is formed in order to protect the self (the "I") from other selfs. Each self thinks itself the most important self, and so all the various selfs are in defensive and offensive competition to both establish an authentic identity that can't be broken by others, as well as dominate other people.

We want to protect our "self", our identity, while at the same time dominate other people "other selfs". But those other selfs see themselves as the main self, so they're, we're, all at the same game. Egos bouncing around, running into each other, causing chaos.

That is the essences of the sinful condition. We assert our self as indeed the most important, and cut off real and holistic community. We are exocentric beings, but because of our lack of secure identity we inflict our self upon others, rather than finding harmony with them.

The Christian response is that God is the only true self, who has his self in himself rather than any other form of validation. So, as we find our identity firmly established in God we can let go trying to establish our identity in destructive egotistic ways and find true harmony with God and with each other.

Of course, now that I wrote this I might not be any more clear than he is. I get what he's saying, and maybe need to clarify more.

It does sound like he's gotten some good pastoral advice on his core problem, which isn't the sex or adultery. That's the symptom. The core issue is his assertion of his own self over and against others, causing chaos all around. It's a matter of his identity, who he in his insecurity tries to assert himself as and who he could be if he were to let go of his ego and find his true self in tune with other selfs, chiefly God.

traditionalguy said...

It sounds like he is confessing that he is a selfish jerk. He now realises that he cannot have a siren giving him the best sex he has ever known down in Argentina while he is Governing South Carolina and raising four sons in South Carolina and spending a little time with what's her name who runs his family for him. Life is tough when the mistress realises you have gone crazy, and she only sleeps with smart and powerful men.

bearbee said...

Ego/personal pride/power lust is the most difficult to contain, control, moderate.

Rob said...

Simple translation: "I am my own worst enemy".

Now that it's over, after months of burning in his lust for another mans wife and drunk on the wine of his adultery, he's in for one hell of a hangover.

Lust in the dust. Wasn't that a movie title?

Theo Boehm said...
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Jason (the commenter) said...

The first "self" should have been "don't". It still barely makes sense, but it's what he was going for.

I think we are all mistaken in trying to make his speech sensible though. Sometimes people have nonsensical thoughts. If they speak them they obviously aren't going to make sense.

As someone who isn't as elegant with my thoughts as the rest of you, this was the first thing that came to my mind.

Lem said...

Romans 7:15-25

For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I {would} like to {do,} but I am doing the very thing I hate.

But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good.

So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.

But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good.

For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,

but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.

Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death

It could be that the woman was/is religious and he could only hint at it. Not wanting to go into too much detail about her.

Tibore said...

Overanalyze much, everyone? Maybe he was having fun and throwing out daisy chained tautologies to mess with people.  :D

New Timon said...

the most me-[a]ly of me[an]ness is me

k*thy said...

The ego wants to drive the bus and got to drive the bus...

From Inwood said...

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little self who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away

From Inwood said...

The words "indeed self" were the spacey answer to a Jaywalking (Jay Leno) Line:

"The biggest self of self is....?"