Meadian Objects and the Looking Glass Self


“I imagine your mind, and especially what your mind thinks about my mind, and what your mind thinks about what my mind thinks about your mind.”  What a quote from the 19th-century sociologist Charles Horton Cooley!  It reflexively “explains” the inherent vertigo of his concept, the “the Looking Glass Self,” where he says we are what others make us. We, of course, make our own selves, but we do in what we think the others’ image of us is.

On to another old-timey sociologist, George Herbert Mead, who splits up the self into an “I” and the “Me.” The “Me” is multiple and diverse as it is the part of the self conceived and apprehended from the several points of view of significant individual and groups of others. The “I” is singular; it is what does the conceiving and apprehending.

“The self [an “I” and the “Me”] has the characteristic that it is an object to itself, and that characteristic distinguishes it from other objects and from the body,” says Mead. So the “I” stands back from the body it shares with the “Me(s)”. It prioritizes the “Me(s)” on the fly and acts through each of them in turn as it deems appropriate.

So what is an artist, a “Me” or the “I”? Artist is a role like any other, like father, teacher, or layout editor. But it is different in that the artist can make the “I” an object; as the “I” observes the “Me(s)” and directs their acts, the artist observes and directs the “I” to reflexively direct the artist to act.

 “I talk to myself, and I remember what I said and perhaps the emotion content that went with it. The “I” of this moment is present in the “Me” of the next moment. I cannot turn around quick enough to catch myself,” says Mead, about this conundrum.

So in this drawing of drawing, I try to “turn around quick enough to catch” a look at art as both the artist “über-I” and as a “Me.” The former with no “emotion[al] content” as indifferent to his work and love “Me(s)” and as the latter being troubled by them while trying to create a drawing in a drawing independent of their influence.