The Other Virtual You

Think your self is real? The author thought so. His father’s transformation by a brain tumor changed his mind. This short article will change yours. Here is an excerpt: “The suspicion that you and I are not what we seem began when I entered my father’s hospital room and saw him lying on his bed. Opaque eyes peered out of an expressionless face, the look of a man with an inoperable brain tumor. He no longer recognized most of his relatives and he was unable to count past five. Two days later he fell into a coma. He gained consciousness briefly when the tumor outran its blood supply and he was again able to count to five. Then he slipped back into a coma and the door closed. My father was gone, leaving behind a still breathing body. But he was gone. A brain tumor with the chilling name glioblastoma multiforma had appeared, grown, regressed, and resumed growth. As it did, my father was altered, disappeared, reappeared, and then was extinguished. “If disruption to one of your organs can distort and undo everything you are, then what, essentially, are you? I don’t mean who are you, your narrative identity. That you, made up of your life stories which you might disclose to a psychiatrist or post on Facebook, can vanish with retrograde amnesia or be deleted with a click. But you will still be there. “What is that you? …”

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