territory

“we take everything into the territory of ego” is a phrase in a book I’m reading. The ego is a big prize in a way. In the sense that if you can see it, and… I don’t know. What is is that we want to do with or about it. What’s the verb. See through, maybe. It’s not diffuse, or gain control over. Though there is a sense in which if we see though it, we gain control over it, and that’s why we want to see through it. So there is still this sense that we want to do something with it aside from seeing through it. We do want some power over it, or to reduce its power. We want to see it, in any case. Big prize in the sense that if you can see through it, you’ve seen through quite a lot. If you see it, you’ve seen through it.

I’ve encountered some pretty good definitions of ego recently. It’s “just a lot of habits,” Pema Chodron says.

People say “big ego.” I think this means that a person thinks they are separate from other people, and are better or have done better than other people. It has to do with story. No one could have whatever a “big ego” is without having a story in their head in which they figure centrally or at least prominently. Story is forgetfulness, a use of memory to deepen forgetfulness. Meaning is distraction. A person tends to see itself as making a story. A person might identify with the story. In any case, it’s hard to get at where the person benefits from this whole dynamic, but it must have to do with security and forgetting. I suppose. Associate the accrual of material advantages with your resume, with your identity and story, and naturally you want to enlarge and preserve the story. If it all works out for a while and the person accrues enough stuff & status to maintain a certain buzz at least, then we call that a big ego. Also it involves signal in many cases, a sense that the things one is doing carry a signal that reaches other people. Fame, influence, conspicuous consumption, etc. Which is one reason any kind of writing can take things “into the territory of ego.” Writing frequently succumbs to story, signal, separateness, meaning, security, style, just about everything that’s ego-like.