Wednesdays with Wanda: Philosophy

*Wanda's Theory of "Myself's" and "Me's"

Wanda Gág's fantastic diary from 100 years ago, Growing Pains, is peppered with descriptions like this one:

"Well, I didn't have as bad a time as I expected. In fact I had rather a good time. Mr. Gray behaved beautifully, and they were nice people that we visited- and we made candy and talked. I didn't have to haul out my Me's at all. Wasn't that nice?" (p. 327)

and this one,

"Oh, Myself, Myself, where are you? I am surrounded by Me's and Me's- bewildered Me's, wicked Me's, frivolous Me's and vindictive Me's- and I cannot feel you at all." (p. 223)

What is she talking about? Wanda Gág had this interesting way of looking at the world, whereby everyone is divided into two selves:

1. Myself

The first self is the Myself, the true self, the self that you are, really, inside. When you are able to live as your "myself," you find yourself to be quite happy and in your element. The Myself is stable and constant. It is always there, but sometimes hidden.

2. Me

The second self is the Me. The Me is often required to deal with social situations wherein it would not be entirely prudent to one's Myself. The Me takes care of the physical needs in life, the Me articulates, the Me often deals with the problems of the real world. We couldn't really live without the Me. The Me is also the superficial self with superficial desires. If one gets lost being the Me all of the time, one loses one's true Myself and one cannot be happy. But if one were to be Myself all of the time, then one's superficial needs would go unmet, and one could not be happy that way, either. The Me's and the Myself need to live in balance.

The Me surrounds the Myself. She draws a diagram:

Gág discusses the "Myself" and "Me" with Armand, but I believe it was her original theory. And, as Maria Popova points out, Gág came up with this theory of the different selves in 1914, before Freud published his theories about the Ego, the Id, and and Superego. Wanda Gág was twenty-one in 1914.

It still feels relevant, one hundred years later. If you look at the goals of something like meditation, it seems to be to get in touch with the Myself. (Remember, the Me articulates, it thinks, but the Myself just is.) I like blogging because I can take time to explore the "Myself," and explain things in great detail. (Although Gág felt it was always the Me who was the writer, I disagree! I think sometimes, the Myself speaks through art and writing, especially when we are really in the flow and in touch with our muses. It's a paradox, isn't it? If the Myself never ever speaks to us, how do we know it is there?  I wish I could talk with Wanda Gág about it. She did enjoy debates. Séance, anyone?)

I dislike Twitter because I feel that it's entirely full of Me's, Me's, and more Me's, Me's everywhere! How could anyone ever reach their Myself with 140 characters? I suppose I could go on about many things being too Me-Centered. Much of modern life seems to be littered with Me's just taking over, everywhere, ignoring the Myself's entirely.

One person on the internet not too involved with the Me's is Maria Popova. Maria Popova interprets the "Me's" and "Myself's" a bit more in an article here, if you are interested in reading ten minutes more. If you are very interested, I recommend that you read Growing Pains.

* I'm quite insecure, writing this, because my Bad-Assed Husband has a degree in Philosophy. In marriage, we all have our roles, and my role has never been the philosopher! But here it is.


  1. Growing Pains is really something, innit? That young Wanda's myself can connect so strongly with a modern reader speaks volumes about her ability to communicate—over the span of one hundred years! It's as if she's the best friend I never had! Brilliant stuff.

  2. But then, where does I belong? Is I Me, or is I Myself? Is I both? Is I neither?

  3. The 'me' is a fiction, but a fiction that drives the evolution of civilization. The 'myself' I would consider as pure awareness or apperception: the awareness of awareness. A 'self' is a kind of shadow, or reflection: the moon in a mud puddle. Go look at some of the postings on Exploding Rainbows for a whole lot of poetic musing on this subject. Michael Markham is a treasure...