Paul Perilli


               Sartre perceived our situation as beings who are both subjects and objects though we can never be aware of both of these aspects at the same time. While our awareness swings between the two, it’s never able to simultaneously grasp them. Thus, I found it problematic when a Google self-search brought up the existence of another person with the same first, middle, and last name as my own. I say this in light of the fact mine is not a common name. While those identified as Robert Williams and Judy Johnson may number in the many thousands, my assumption all these years was my name was unique. That only I possessed it.
               Seeing it connected to another, I shook my head. But that was only the first surprise. A further investigation of the search results revealed this other was from Massachusetts as I am. He was born in the same year. We looked identical. He lived in Brooklyn, New York as I do. He too was “writing some stuff,” as his Twitter bio states. Like me he has profiles on other social media platforms. Like me the life he projected in cyberspace is much the same as my own. He followed the same people as I do. The same people followed him. There are images that show the interesting places he has traveled to. Faraway lands and World Heritage sites. In one, he’s ascending an Icelandic glacier. In another he’s seated at a table outside a famous Buenos Aires café. Strange as it sounds, I had climbed that glacier and been to that café. I saw he had a website with his name as the title and links to his writings. I read several and thought they were pretty good. In fact, despite the uncanny similarities, I admitted they were better than my own. We shared other predilections such as those for history and baseball. He’s married to an artist whose photo looked much like that of my own wife. Far as I can tell they don’t have children and neither do we.
               The deeper I dug into this other, the more I had the sense I knew him. It would not be an exaggeration to say I knew him well. That I lived as he does. Knowing it was impossible to shake him off, little by little I took comfort in being exposed through him. To see myself as others might. In spite of Sartre, I saw it was possible to be subject and object at the same time. And yet, even with all the resemblances, it was impossible not think his life was more interesting than my own and that my fascination with him was in fact about me, this other me. Me as subject.

Paul Perilli lives in Brooklyn, New York. His latest work has appeared in The Transnational, Numero Cinq, Thema, Overland (False Documents issue contest), Aethlon, Jerry Jazz Musician (contest winner), and many other places. His recent fiction appears in The Write Launch, Zin Daily, and Fairlight Books. A short story "His Name's Not Ben" is forthcoming in The Fictional Cafe and an essay "Public Works" in Rabble Review.
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