His name is…
Will it ever come to me? There is a grand lapse of memory that may be the only thing to save us from ultimate horror. Perhaps they know the truth who preach the passing of one life into another, vowing that between a certain death and a certain birth there is an interval in which an old name is forgotten before a new one is learned. And to remember the name of a former life is to begin the backward slide into that great blackness in which all names have their source, becoming incarnate in a succession of bodies like numberless verses of an infinite scripture.
To find that you have had so many names is to lose claim to any one of them. To gain the memory of so many lives is to lose them all.
So he keeps his name secret, his many names. He hides each one from all the others, so that they will not become lost among themselves. Protecting his life from all his lives, from the memory of so many lives, he hides behind the mask of anonymity.
But even if I cannot know his name, I have always known his voice. That is one thing he can never disguise, even if it sounds like many different voices. I know his voice when I hear it speak, because it is always speaking of terrible secrets. It speaks of the most grotesque mysteries and encounters, sometimes with despair, sometimes with delight, and sometimes with a spirit not possible to define. What crime or curse has kept him turning upon this same wheel of terror, spinning out his tales which always tell of the strangeness and horror of things? When will he make an end to his telling?
He has told us so many things, and he will tell us more. Yet he will never tell his name. Not before the very end of his old life, and not after the beginning of each new one. Not until time itself has erased every name and taken away every life.
But until then, everyone needs a name. Everyone must be called something. So what can we say is the name of everyone?
– Thomas Ligotti, Grimscribe
If Self is an illusion, and I think it is, then is the name I use an illusion, too? I see my name in places that define me for the State: Birth certificate, Drivers license, Social-Security Card, Passport, Visa, Diplomas, Insurance, Car title, Home title, Bank account, etc. But is this me? Am I my memories? Am I the traces I leave in objects? Old postcards sent to friends from foreign ports, strange statues bought in some hidden jungle village, little rattles or drums bought high in the Andes, an old knock-about typewriter used for years in one country or another traveling: all these objects that were used by me or that used me? What of the film, pictures taken by family members, friends, office mates? Are all these traces of my body left in objects the truth of me? Is the self a tangible material thing that can be traced on old stone like an iconic image that some future being might discover on a fallen wall and think: “What sort of creature was this?”