Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Persistence of Buffalo

Almost a year ago now, I remember reading this story from South Dakota that started out:

A buffalo that escaped from an auction ended up in a dressing room at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center where it spent a couple of hours staring into a mirror. [...]
Maybe this buffalo had some sort of profound realization, and became self-aware the moment he looked in the mirror. Or maybe...

I'm reminded of "The Metamorphosis" by Kafka. Perhaps this buffalo was someone else the night before — maybe, when they woke up, they were surprised to be covered in hair, standing on all fours, prepared for an auction. In that case, I'd stare in the mirror for a while too.

The idea sounds ridiculous, sure, but why? Because people never wake up in another body? But we do! Every moment we're changing. This is an old question, but it's still fun to ask: what is it about the "self" that's persistent?

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