Tank, angel, hitler

I question the idea that people know themselves best. I think our perception of ourselves is probably as skewed as our perception of others, not least because we have an intrinsic incentive to view ourselves in the way that allows us to feel most comfortable. You are stuck in your own little head. You can see your face in the bathroom mirror – there is no mirror for your soul. I hit on this idea many years ago and wrote a poem using the metaphor of a tank. It’s exaggerated, but it illustrates the basic idea – we live in semi-darkness regarding ourselves, because we cannot distance ourselves from ourselves.

tank? angel? hitler?

I wish I could see myself,
I cannot figure who I am so close:
Like sitting in an armour plated tank
with little slits
and you can’t quite see through them
and you cannot see the tank
because you’re
inside it
and because it’s dark inside
How would you know
if there’s
a bird on the hatch;
you’re painted black;
you’re not even a tank,
you’re an angel
or maybe you’re Hitler himself

I wish I could see myself
through the eyes of others
other tanks,
Angels,
hitlers,
then maybe I would know
who I am
whether I am painted black
if I shoot bombs
or cupid arrows
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