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PRINT September 1979

Leon Polk Smith: The Completely Self-Referential Object

Self-consciousness is only something definite, it only has real existence, in so far as it alienates itself from itself. By so doing it puts itself in the position of something universal, and this universality is its validity and its actuality.

—Hegel

BEING 40, AS I AM this year, is a most equivocal time of life. Like July, when I am writing this piece, the age is situated in the middle of time. Like noon, it signals a division. During most of the morning most of us have been asleep and waking up. In the afternoon we shall have to prove ourselves. However, at noon we are in the habit of taking another bite to eat. Maybe childhood is definitely over for even the most childish of us. At 40 or so, as Ingrid Bergman in a role on television last night remarked, “we are neither happy nor unhappy.” Gone is the ignorance of youth, the exultation in adulthood, the somewhat saddening lessons of our

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