The First Gate: The purpose of Story
Literature serves many purposes. On the outside, it is simply and expression and to tell a story. However, it is often that we find ourselves reading pieces of astounding literature to bring understanding of the world around us, and to find our own inner growth.
Thousands of classes in every level of education involve literature – some to strengthen the art of reading, some to use as creative examples for writing, and some to analyze to see what the deeper meaning of the story is. Why do we do this? What can be gained from so much time spent with our noses in books and picking apart poems, short stories and novels that are clearly fiction?
Life is created of experiences, and while some of us are more adventurous, and willing to throw caution to the wind and snatch up anything new that might come our way, we don’t all have this luxury. For those fearless explorers of the world, and for those who chose to simply stay in the shire, it is impossible to learn all that there is to learn without the aid of hearing the truths of others. Each individual is on their own path, and while two individuals might follow each other down the same path, their experiences will differ purely because they are not the same being. By sharing their thoughts and knowledge of these experiences, it enables each individual to come together and grow singularly as well as wholly.
The purpose of reading through literature is to gain insight through others’ words. To show this, we will be examining the novel The Sand Child, while exploring Henri Bergson’s philosophies on the development of the individual, which he calls The Self Becoming.
The Second Gate: The Tale of Ahmed and Lalla
In Moroccan author, Tahar Ben Jelloun’s novel, The Sand Child, the reader meets a character struggling to find their self in a male-dominated middle-eastern world at the turn of the 20th century. The many voices of the story weave through the experiences of life, much like the city streets, spiraling through the web of alleys and main roads, building the evolution of a human within life. Ben Jelloun cleverly changes the focus at important moments by taking the reader through seven gates, each one relaying a different meaning.
The novel is initially about a nameless storyteller who is heading towards the end of his days, having created his masterpiece of a tale, and releasing it to those who are willing to hear it in a coffee shop. He tells the story of a man, a wealthy man, who has seven daughters. The man is tired of daughters, and needs a son for an heir, and decides when his wife falls pregnant, that no matter what, his next child shall be a boy. When the baby is born, he happily announces to the world the appearance of his first son, who he names Ahmed. He goes through great lengths to ensure that Ahmed’s biological gender is never discovered. The focus shifts to Ahmed, who figures out swiftly what his father is playing at, and that he has been given a gift that no other woman has been given – the gift of freedom.
When Ahmed comes of age, he is determined to take a wife to keep up appearances. He decides to wed his cousin, Fatima, who is disabled, and thought to be unmarriable. His parents are shocked, horrified because they know the truth of their son, though cannot argue against it, for his logic is sound. If he is to inherit his father’s land and business, then he must do as other men do. He chose his cousin because he knew that she would not be able to produce a child, and thus he would not have to lie when one did not arrive.
Fatima soon dies, and his father too, and his mother goes blind. Around this time he finds himself receiving letters from a secret correspondent, one who has admired him from afar. He knows not this person, though confides in them, since they seem to know his secret. It is unclear as to if these letters are between the battling of Ahmed’s inner selves – his female identity and his masculine one – or if there is truly someone who has figured out his dualistic nature.
Ahmed begins to explore his/herself , wondering about this feminine part that biology bestowed upon him. S/he begins to wonder if perhaps s/he might enjoy the world as a woman, and one day decides to set out and see what it is like. S/he cloaks him/herself and goes into the city, and fairly immediately finds herself abused, attacked by an elderly woman. However, this does not deter her. She embraces herself as a woman, adopts the name of Lalla, and heads out again, managing to find herself joining a circus. She finds the same old woman there, who is the mother of the cruel circus owner. They set her up with her own act, the dance of man becoming a woman. Someone in the audience recognizes her, her old correspondent, and the letters begin again.
The story-teller is said to cease coming to the coffee shop. His listeners worry. After eight months, the story-teller is found dead near a river, clutching the book that he read from, he had compiled, while telling his tale of Ahmed and Lalla. The listeners of the story take it upon themselves to finish the story of Ahmed and Lalla, each chapter examining a different possibility for the character/s. Some say the Lalla went off to continue on adventuring and living life as a woman. One teller dismisses Ahmed’s decision to become a woman at all, and returns to the life of a man to live out as a man should.
The fate of the Ahmed and Lalla is never resolved, as the listeners-become-story-tellers can never agree on an ending for the person. The character’s state of being is unresolved and restless as the novel comes to a close.
The Third Gate: The Philosophy of Henri Bergson
As we go through life, what is it that we are trying to accomplish? For some it is money, for some it is freedom, family, ticking off items on a bucket list and so on. However, the only thing we can guarantee is that in order for any success to be obtained in life, one has to know themselves.
Henri Bergson, a French philosopher at the end of the nineteenth century, believed that in order for understanding of the consciousness to be achieved, one must be able to recognize the moments that build up to a person’s current state of being. In this essay, we will be walking through Bergson’s ideas of absolute knowledge, gained through personal evolution of intelligence, sympathy and intuition. These concepts involve understanding and accepting the fractured pieces, and exploring how Tahar Ben Jelloun might have shown this through his novel. This is to better understand how one can find success within their own lives, based on Henri Bergson’s philosophies. In order for each individual to grow and fully embrace the human experience, one must find absolute knowledge, or the understanding of self.
The Fourth Gate: Intelligence and the Self Becoming
Bergson has a concept of what experience and knowledge is, which is explored during the journey of rebutting Kant’s definition of Freedom – which is that it “belongs to a realm outside space and time,” according to a summary of Bergson’s Philosophies on a Standford website written by Leonard Lawler and Valentine Moulard Leonard. Bergson’s response is to firstly, separate the ideas of space and time, and to understand that consciousness is temporal. This means that consciousness only exists in time, as it takes up no conceivable space. He says in his essay, “An Introduction to Metaphysics”:
Now, there are no two identical moments in the life of the same conscious being. Take the simplest sensation, suppose it constant, absorb in it the entire personality: the consciousness which will accompany this sensation cannot remain identical with itself for two consecutive moments, because the second moment always contains, over and above the first, the memory that the first has bequeathed to it. A consciousness which could experience two identical moments would be a consciousness without memory. It would die and be born again continually. In what other way could one represent unconsciousness? (p.4)
To put his idea into different terms, we can consider the path of life to be a spiral. It starts in the center, representing the fundamental self (the self as a being first entering the world, as a baby), and at the beginning stages of life – events seemingly repeat themselves: wake up, cry, get cuddles, fed, burped, changed, etc. However, after each experience a baby has, the number of past experiences increase. Thus, habits are learned, motor skills are developing, and memories are formed. So while the motions might be the same – in general, it is never the same person that is burping and changing, nor is it ever the same baby being burped or changed. Each experience builds a person’s understanding and accordingly alters the person. This is what Bergson defines as intelligence.
Consider old cinematic film reels. While a reel is made up of several similar pictures running over light to give the impression of a moving moment, it is a series of pictures building on each other to create a scene. Looking at each picture individually, they seem the same, though are slightly different, as they are a continuation of the pictures before them. The scenes created of the repetitious similar pictures can be viewed equivalent to the building of Intelligence, as each one builds on the other to create something grander.
What’s more, Bergson uses the example of two spools and tape running between them to explain the self becoming, though perhaps the continuation of the example of the reels might accentuate it best. If we keep the reel in mind to describe intelligence, we can consider the circular streets that the story wanders through the spiral of life and experiences through which Ahmed goes in order to obtain it. In other words, if a person were to watch a movie that started and ended with the exact same scene, word for word and frame for frame, they would be different scenes. The meaning behind the second showing of the scene would have the experience of the viewer, having watched the rest of the movie, altering the meaning of the scene.
Because each experience builds upon itself, contributing to the individual development of a being, this is the first aspect of the self becoming. Each person can never complete their learning through life. There are always new habits that are formed or broken, new understandings of the environment and people surrounding the individual, as well as new rules being made within a culture/society a person interacts with. An individual is always in a state of becoming, since there are always external influences with which an individual interacts.
Ben Jelloun’s story begins by showing these repetitious functions, and how the protagonist, Ahmed, gains his/her intelligence. By going regularly to the Moore baths with his/her mother as a small child, Ahmed learns of the place of the women, what their lives are to be. S/he learns of the ways that the bodies of women form as they grow older, and accepts without question his/her mother wrapping his/her chest to prevent breasts from growing. When of age, Ahmed begins going to the baths with his father (for at this point, Ahmed is bridging on becoming a man), and is allowed to accompany him to the Mosque, where he learned prayers.
With each visit to the baths, Ahmed is a different person, as each time s/he learns more in the time between. With each visit, more gossip is learned from the chattering woman, more growth has occurred within Ahmed’s body, and the memories between baths have given Ahmed’s perception and imagination more to contemplate. When he begins to attend the mosque, he admittedly fumbles the words of prayers, and enjoys doing so. Though, with each attendance and each prayer, the words become more familiar. Every moment leading up to the moment experienced by Ahmed is a fragment, a piece of splinter that contributes to the growth of the tree that is Ahmed. The collection of experiences, while seemingly routine and similar, contribute to the intelligence of Ahmed, and aid to the steps along the spiraled path of the self becoming.
The Fifth Gate: Sympathy and Intuition
Bergson’s idea is that a person is not just a person that exists in a moment, but a compilation of memories and experiences which makes up that person. From each moment, they differ from the person they were in the past, and location in time and space, leaving them to be a fragment of themselves, and a piece upon which their intelligence is built upon. In other words, since consciousness exists only in time, the physical body is what exists in space. It is the compilation of both of these things which contributes to the human experience.
Lawler and Leonard express that through these experiences, we develop Bergson’s idea of intelligence – which is defined by Bergson as “true empiricism,” a term meaning that knowledge obtained through experience of the senses (through the body, and thus in space). His idea is that we begin as a point, and then spiral around, building on the fundamental self (memories). We have repeating experiences which create intelligence.
“The normal way our intelligence works is guided by needs and thus the knowledge gathered is not disinterested, it is relative knowledge” (Lawler). The understanding that a baby has from the get-go is learned from repetitive behavior. It learns early on that if it cries, it gets its needs met. This is intelligence, according to Bergson. Just as a dog might understand that when a human makes a hissing noise followed by a clicking sound at the front of the human’s teeth, it means to sit, which might yield a treat or approval from the human. These are necessary needs being met, and thus experiences which teach that in order for these things to be met, the action must happen – crying in the case of the baby, and sitting in the case of the dog.
“How it gathers knowledge is through what Bergson calls ‘analysis’, that is, the dividing of things according to the perspective taken. Comprehensive analytic knowledge then consists in reconstruction or re-composition of a thing by means of synthesizing the perspectives…This synthesis…never gives us the thing itself, it only gives us a general concept of things. Thus, intuition reverses the normal workings of intelligence, which is interested and analytic (synthesis being only a development of analysis).” –Lawler
However, intelligence is simply a globulation of our own experiences. According to Bergson, there are further steps to continue participating in the evolution of being, or the self becoming. Because synthesis is the next step of analysis, synthesis can be expressed as a projected hypothetical perception. For example, a cat might be observed to have a twitching tail, which the cat watches with its ears slightly turned back. Eventually, the cat curls the tail around, and rests its paw on the top of the tail, which then stops twitching. No human is that cat, nor is any other being that cat, and thus, cannot create an organic and accurate idea as to the cat’s intentions (without, of course speaking cat, at the very least). However, by compiling all other observations of the cat from a human’s lens, the observer might conclude that due to the twitching tail and the ears turned back, the cat is annoyed. From there, the human might project onto the cat that it is annoyed at its twitching tail and thus put a paw on it to stop it.
The human experience ended, falling short of the actual experience of being a cat, and through analysis of the past observed actions of the cat, the human can synthesize the perspective of the cat, and inject the human’s own intuition to postulate the intentions and experience of the cat. Bergson also calls this sympathy, or putting oneself in the place of others. Because a person has to know somewhat the world around them, and have their own experiences to draw from (intelligence) in order to make such a guess, this is the only way one might be able to understand where another being might be coming from and experiencing, themselves. The importance in this is that without understanding of those and the environment around them, they cannot gain the insight and external wisdom which could contribute to the individual’s self becoming.
However, sympathy is very close to Bergson’s definition of intuition, the former of which is needed in order to develop the latter. Intuition is the ability of not only understanding the being or thing with which one sympathizes, but taking the step further and projecting the self into that being or thing.
“Intuition therefore is a kind of experience, and indeed Bergson himself calls his thought “true empiricism”. What sort of experience? In the opening pages of “Introduction to Metaphysics,” he calls intuition sympathy. As we have seen…sympathy consists in putting ourselves in the place of others. Bergsonian intuition then consists of entering into a thing, rather than going around it from the outside. This ‘entering into’, for Bergson, give us absolute knowledge.” –Lawler
Bergson’s definition of intuition and absolute knowledge are both compiled and equal to intelligence and sympathy turned inward into the self.
It is through using intelligence that we are able to develop and put to use intuition, by Bergson’s definition. Returning to the example of the cat, the human projects its experiences and observations (intelligence) of the cat into the cat, and surmises that it must feel annoyed at the involuntary twitch of the tail and sought to stop it. This is sympathy. To be able to turn that action into ourselves, that is intuition.
“Intuition is entering ourselves…we seize ourselves from within…when one sympathizes with oneself, one installs oneself within duration and then feels a certain well defined tension, whose very determinateness seems like a choice between an infinity of possible durations.” –Lawler
This concept of duration is explained beautifully in Bergson’s essay, “The Creative Mind,” by using the color spectrum. He asks the reader to focus on being the color orange. By doing this, you are not only orange, but you are red on one side and yellow on the other, coming together to create orange.
Projecting the self into the color orange is intuition, since we are not the color, nor in the color orange. Our experience tells us that red plus yellow makes orange. We also have certain associations with the color orange, such as the fruit, safety cones, flowers, and so on. With our experiences of the color, we can postulate what it means to be. We have put our intelligence towards sympathy to arrive at the postulation of being orange. The writer is saying that if one can extend that intuition, we can not only find ourselves in the space of being orange, but in the time of being orange – that is, the duration which is a point from when red shifts to yellow. Intuition in its fullest, according to Bergson, is the ability to sympathize to the extent that the intuition develops into a point in time and space. The combination of these aspects is Bergson’s definition of absolute knowledge, something we will explore later.
Returning to Sand Child, our character Ahmed is in a constant state of trying to discover who he or she really is. Where does s/he fit in this world where women are the servants of men? Through observation and experience, s/he is savvy in what it means to be a man during this time. He adopted the role so intently that he married his cousin, in order to keep up these appearances, on his own volition, no less. He tells his father and mother:
“I don’t just accept my condition and endure it, I actually like it. It is interesting. It gives me privileges that I would never have known. It opens doors for me, and I like that, even if it then locks me in a glass cage. Sometimes I nearly suffocate in my sleep. But when I wake, I am glad to be what I am.” –Sand Child, p.34
“In this family the women wrap themselves in a shroud of silence. They obey. My sisters obey…They come and go, slink along the walls awaiting the providential husband….What a miserable existence! Have you seen my body? It’s grown, it’s come home. I’ve shed the other bark—it was fragile and transparent. My body has grown and I no longer sleep in another’s body.” –Sand Child, p. 36
Ahmed has watched and experienced what it is like to be a male in this society during this time period, in this location (in this time and space), and has watched his mother and sisters, and the fate they endure. At this point, Ahmed is nothing but intelligence, for he lives and acts the way he has been shown and taught to. He has practiced little in the way of Bergson’s sympathy, never projecting his understanding of the world into the women that surround him. At no point during this period does the story explain that he considers what it would like to be his mother, his sisters. He has only played witness. Having lacked the experience in doing so, Ahmed has not being able to cross the threshold into intuition.
The Sixth Gate: Absolute Knowledge
As mentioned before, it is through the journey through intelligence, sympathy, an intuition that one can experience Bergson’s idea of absolute knowledge . Once one can do these things, then one can turn the experience and insight gained through intuition into the self. This allows for reflection, which is one of the golden keys of personal growth beyond a survival capacity.
For example, the basics of survival are to know what the physical self is capable of doing, know how the surrounding environment functions so that one can navigate safely and soundly. Again, this is intelligence. The act of sympathy is to be able to relate to those within that environment, which also acts as a survival mechanism. Without being able to relate to the people around, one will not have social bonds, nor the ability to predict the nature of another person to gage whether or not they will hinder the quality of wellbeing. Hence, these are acts of survival.
However, the human experience is more than simply surviving. It is what makes us more than animals in the wild. This is our ability to grow consciously. By being able to turn our sympathy into intuition, it allows us not only to survive, but to help those around us survive as well. It contributes the ability to create relationships, but also supports a kinder environment and society. This is external. Turning intuition internally, one can grow, and enhance their human experience by gaining absolute knowledge.
In Ben Jelloun’s novel, it is Ahmed’s cousin and wife, Fatima, who first shows example of the understanding of intuition, which, in turn, triggers Ahmed’s journey for absolute knowledge.
“One evening…she said to me, with a little smile: ‘I have always known who you are, and that is why, my sister, my cousin, I have come to die here, near you. We were both leaning over the stone at the bottom of the dry well, over infertile ground, surrounded by unloving looks. We are women before being sick, or perhaps we are sick because we are women. I know our wound; we share it. I am your wife and you are mine.’” –Sand Child, p. 58
Being disabled herself, she was able to see Ahmed’s “disability” that Ahmed himself may not have seen. Because of her physical frailty, Fatima was able to view herself, and project her intelligence further, into Ahmed, and sympathize, creating intuition. She was able to see the neglected aspects of Ahmed, the fractured parts of the self that Ahmed denied, and she brought them to light for him, whether he was ready to hear them or not. This was the force which brought him to look inwardly.
“Though I had intended to use her to perfect my social appearance, it was she who had managed to use me; she almost dragged me into her profound despair.
“I write that, but I’m not sure of the words, because I don’t know the whole truth. That woman had a special kind of intelligence. All the words she never spoke, all the words she saved up, were poured into her unshakable condition, reinforcing her plans and projects. She had already given up living and was moving slowly and surely toward disappearance, toward extinction.” –Sand Child, p. 57
It is only after he declares to his parents that he wishes to wed his cousin that Ahmed begins to reflect upon himself. This is the first time that we see him turn himself inward and begin to look at the dualistic nature of himself. Until now he has only seen himself as a creature upholding an image, and protecting a secret. Though after deciding to pursue his curiosity of marriage, he begins to question his other side, his feminine side, and realizes that perhaps it should be acknowledged and spoken to.
“I drink coffee and live. Neither good nor evil. I ask nobody anything: my questions have no answer. I know this because I can see both sides of the mirror” (Sand Child p.40). It is here, after Ahmed has indicated the observation of the reflection in the mirror, that the story-teller makes mentions of letters of correspondences that have begun with Ahmed. He challenges his listeners, the reader to consider whether they are from another person, or if they are simply a conversation that Ahmed is having with himself.
The letters are then read to the audience by the story-teller, though as a reader of the novel, it is easy to lose understanding as to which letter belongs to Ahmed (or the conscious Ahmed) and which belongs to the mysterious correspondent (or possibly subconscious Ahmed). Throughout the book, the correspondent never is found out. Due to the ambiguity of where who wrote which letter, it is quite possible that Ahmed is conversing with his- and herself. This being the case, then it is a conversation with the fractured self, a moment of the self that has been recorded so that the self which occurs after might grow. Each letter and journal entry of Ahmed is another picture in the movie reel.
Until this point in the book, there have been a series of assumed repeated experiences as a man for Ahmed (soon to become Lalla). These experiences have tough him the intelligence of being a man, and have enforced his position in the world. As Ahmed begins to examine his feminine side, he is beginning from scratch. An infant, as their brain develops, discovers their limbs – they have feet, and hands, and a mouth in which to put these limbs. The baby is exploring its body as it discovers its parts. In starting from the beginning, Ahmed does this in a more adult manner, examining her given body, and exploring just what it is to be a woman, in the physical sense. When Ahmed puts on a jellaba, and unwraps her breasts and goes into the world for the first time as a woman.
“For some time I have felt liberated, yes, ready to be a woman. But I am told, I tell myself, that before that I must go back to childhood, become a little girl, an adolescent girl, a girl in love, a woman…what a long path, I shall never get there.” –Sand Child, p. 73
Her first experience, as she says was a mistake, though perhaps not. She was abused almost immediately. It disturbed her to think of later, yet again, when she decides to venture forth into the world and join a circus, she finds herself further abused. This is the repetition that began to build her intelligence on what it was to be a woman in that duration of time and space. The experiences she finds are harsh though it is never fully seen whether or not she, as Lalla, is able to gain sympathy for the world around her. However, perhaps it is so that she gained sympathy and intuition for Ahmed, which, should she continue on as Ahmed, as some of the story-tellers suggested, that s/he was able to find absolute knowledge.
The Seventh Gate: The Self Became
Tahar Ben Jelloun was familiar with Bergson, and even went so far as to quote him in an essay response to the turbulence in Tanzania called “Que Peut la Littérature?” or, “What can literature do?”
“L’intellegence est caractérisée par un incomprehénsion naturelle de la vie. Intelligence is characterized by a natural incomprehension of life” (Que). While Bergson examines what it is for a being to take part in the human experience, to grow as an individual, every journey is unique. No one person can tell another what they will experience and have the listener comprehend in completion. The individual’s path is a mystery, one whose doors will open as each step toward absolute knowledge is completed.
As stated before, is difficult to understand the fate of Ahmed, who, having once joined the circus, adopted the name of Lalla Zahar. The initial story-teller, though having shared the story with the voices of the listeners, was found dead, some eight months after relaying that Lalla’s correspondent remerges. However, the story was continued on by the individuals that had dutifully stayed a part of the story, of those that had contributed and listened to the tale of the self becoming – the glimpses of time and memories that continued to compile and build the character of Ahmed/Lalla.
In turn, each told their understanding of the fate of Ahmed/Lalla, some accepting that Ahmed was a woman, and continuing the story of Lalla, while others denied the change in gender role. This is a continuation of the battle of learning, each a fragment of the story, a fragment of perception, all rolling together, to create scene after scene on the movie reel. With every aspect depicted, every situation imagined and told, the story came together. Whether the Ahmed/Lalla died in the end, or continued on in some part of the world, or in the very circle of story-tellers, s/he was constantly in a state of the self becoming, building her intuition through self- analysis and growing sympathy towards those she had wronged in the past, how disappointed her parents would be of her having shed her masculine self, if only for a moment, and the way she had treated Fatima.
Ahmed/Lalla finds intelligence through various situations and experiences, however, as the story is never concluded, it is never found out if absolute knowledge – complete knowledge of herself through intelligence, as well as knowledge of the world around her—and therefore, success, was achieved within her life.
Thus is the story told via ink symbols bound into a book, of an individual making the steps to understanding the self. Surely this is what life is about? Had these words not been woven together, perhaps some time go their entire lives never having gained such insight as to questions of identity gained. Now that this journey has been made, understanding the self through the writings of others, we can perhaps understand the importance of literature, and the examination of the deeper meanings of texts.
Bergson states that it is only through intelligence and sympathy that one can develop intuition. And it is through duration, through the space and time that one can understand the fragments of moments. Through the combination of fragmented moments building upon themselves can one attain absolute knowledge, or, intuition. However, since we are in a constant state of becoming, our moments are continuingly building upon themselves and giving us new experiences with each tick of the clock—the paradox is that absolute knowledge might never be captured.
This essay, its own little life on paper, began with the idea of the importance of the analysis of literature, the starting point. From there we defined what it means to be human, spiraling along the definitions of Bergson, and pausing at the start of each gate, remember what it was that go us to the doors. And finally, we rest again at the question initially posed, hopefully answered, hopefully wiser, and hopefully ready to inquire further on the far side of the last gate.
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Henri Bergson’s The Creative MInd. March 215.
Jelloun, Tahar Ben. Que Peut La Litterature. 26 August 201. March 2015 <http://www.taharbenjelloun.org/index.php?id=61&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=285&cHash=953cf703d451621edee5d47084295dd9>.
Moroccan Storytelling. 2013-2014. March 2015 <http://maghrebi-voices.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=145>.
Rohan, Jessica. Traditional Moroccan Storytelling Finds New Audience at Cafe Clock in Marreck. 29 December 2014. March 2015 <http://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth/features/traditional-moroccan-storytelling-finds-new-audience-caf-clock-marrakech-802231662>.
Storytellers. 2015. Moroccan National Tourist Office. March 2015.
Totaro, Donato. “Time, Bergson, and the Cinematographical Mechanism.” The Experience of Cinema. Vol. 5. Web. January 2001.
 Because the story of Ahmed/Lalla involves two different identities of the self, the different masculine and feminine pronouns are used to correspond to which self the character identifies with during that portion of the story. When there is a combination of the two pronouns, it is during the time that the character is torn between the two identities, or, later on, the story-teller(s) begin debating between which identity is chosen.
 It is important too to note that just because one has come to a state of absolute knowledge in some regard, does not mean that they have finished becoming. As mentioned before, an individual is always receiving information from their external world, and thus, always learning new things, and evolving.