Cogito Ergo Sum
He bashed the side of the monitor with his hand and the mottled static resolved itself into the image of a man. The monitor was his only contact with the outside world, the room having no discernible windows or doors. It had clearly once been a very modern, comfortable place to live, but it was at least two, maybe three, decades past its prime now.
“Ah, Mister Litner, where were we?” the man on the screen turned to him and said.
“We, uh, we were…” he hesitantly replied.
“Yes, yes,” the man on the monitor replied distractedly, “I was about to ask you something. If you could know anything, what would you like to know?”
“I’d like to know what people think of me,” he replied without hesitation. “If I really mean anything to them, if they really care about me, think about me, need me.”
“You wouldn’t like to know that, Mister Litner,” the man replied slowly and deliberately. “Why concern yourself with the thoughts of others when you don’t even know your own thoughts.”
“What? Look, this pop psychology nonsense won’t wash with me, I happen to be particularly self-aware.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m Sebastian Litner, First Over Technician Second Grade.”
“I didn’t ask you what you were called, or what you do, I asked you who you are,” the man on the monitor sounded a little annoyed. Perhaps it was that “pop psychology” crack? “Did you choose your name? No, your parents chose it for you. It’s not who you are, it’s simply an identifier to distinguish you from all the other people. So, I ask you again, who are you?”
This stopped Litner in his tracks. He had to think, who was he? What was he? A man, a son, a First Over Technician Second Grade…these were what he was, but not who he was.
“I…” he started.
“You?” replied the man on the monitor.
“Well, I suppose, if you eliminate everything I can’t be sure of…”
“…then all that’s left is… I’m a thought?”
“I am thought.”
“Yes, and if nothing else exists other than your thought?”
“I’m THE thought,” he smiled broadly. “I am God!”
“You are God.”
“But if I’m God, then why am I so unhappy?”
“Ah,” the man on the monitor smiled, “you see, if you’re God, and your mind is the sum total of existence, then I’m just a figment of your imagination. Therefore I can’t know anything you don’t know.”
“So, I willed a universe into existence and it made me sad.”
“Ah, come now, Mr Litner, which of us hasn’t done that?”