Solipsism is the idea the only sure thing is one’s own mind. Everything else might be in the Matrix. You know, it’s the belief people would never say they have, then act exactly like they have it. I first became aware of the philosophical theory as a teen; my best friend had starting reading philosophy, which I found somewhat obnoxious and slightly pretentious. I think it was his first year of college, while I was like two years behind him still in high school when it should’ve at most been one year. Maybe some jealousy, but philosophy? Really? No, thanks. The mind’s too impressionable at that age. He told me about the theory and I was like, “Yeah, that’s what I think.” Really pissed him off. I then heard about it in MFA school during a detective fiction class and forgot to write the word down. Serendipitously, Maugham talks a lot about it in The Summing Up, so I added it to be vocabulary, at least temporarily. I still have to copy and paste the word. But it’s very much worth thinking about. Not as a practice—I abhor it, unless you live on an island in the ocean by yourself, in which case—can I move in?—but in being aware of how other people refuse to engage with it. Whether actual people or in media, in writing. It’s a dangerous temptation because it does make the world a better place for a person. It just inherently makes them a worse person for it.

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