On Meeting Oneself
From the Introduction to Chapter XVII
Of “Etiquette For Humans”, by Kathryn atLuna
Published by Stellar House, Mars-Sun, Spring 3111
The act of meeting oneself is fraught with pitfalls for the unwary gentleman. Few situations present more risk of awkwardness, quarrels, or even physical or psychological injury, than this most delicate of encounters. Strangely, this risk springs not from any irreconcilable differences between the both of one* (see Chapter III, On Meeting Nonhumans) but on one’s total lack of mutual differences. Since both of one is precisely the same person, both of one might see in the other all the faults that both might have preferred to keep hidden. It can be quite disconcerting to see one’s clone (or past-self, or zirox, or faxim) commit exactly those breaches of good manners of which one had previously been denying any guilt. One’s identities may become confused, one may clash, one may in the end find co-existence impossible.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that, in such a meeting, one of one is at an undeniable advantage. For instance, a clone would rightly be confused as to whether or not his clone-parent is his father, his brother, or himself; a time-traveller would know a good part of his past-self’s future; a zirox is, by definition, merely an imperfect matter-copy of his original, and so is at a social disadvantage to anyone who had not walked out of a replicator; and a faxim, being no more real than any other kind of computer-generated simulation, can scarcely hold his own in society.
Given these considerations, it is clear that the clone-parent, the time-traveler, the original, and the faxed must be especially careful not to injure the feelings of the other of one. Etiquette is a two-way street; therefore that other of one must be equally circumspect. In sum, it is imperative that both of one pay close attention to the proper forms and modes of good behavior.
Admittedly, this can be a difficult task, with nearly insuperable problems confronting both of one. For example, it may be very difficult for one of one to trust the other of one, and the other of one might find problems in respecting the one of one. Breaches of this sort are difficult to mend. And even if one is at ease with one, one’s combined relationship is far from settled. For instance, one could vacillate between being jointly cold and distant and being mutually overfamiliar.
It is a long hard road, yes, but one can encourage oneself with this thought; that once one of one treats with warm respect the other of one (and vice versa) then one has together begun a friendship with oneself that will be invaluable to both.
*Please note: in this context, the pronoun “one” means “two”.