In Before Sunrise Jesse (Ethan Hawke) makes this interesting point about souls:
50,000 years ago, there are not even a million people on the planet. 10,000 years ago, there’s, like, two million people on the planet. Now there’s between five and six billion people on the planet, right? Now, if we all have our own, like, individual, unique soul, right, where do they all come from? You know, are modern souls only a fraction of the original souls? ‘Cause if they are, that represents a 5,000 to 1 split of each soul in the last 50,000 years, which is, like, a blip in the Earth’s time. You know, so at best we’re like these tiny fractions of people, you know, walking.
I had this conversation with John, in true Clearwater fashion, at Insomnia. He felt the same way that Jesse does, so much so that I wonder if he got it from this movie. I, however, thought the answer lay in the idea that the soul is not a finite entity, and could be “split” infinitely without losing any of its original characteristics. I can’t compare it to anything concrete at the moment. I think that if there is a soul, it’s not something that we can completely wrap our heads, or at least our words around.
In any case, at this stage I think that the idea of the soul being finite or incomplete may be where we got our traditional idea of soulmates. The mate is the one whose soul completes yours. If the soul were infinite, it wouldn’t be necessary to complete it. But if the soul is finite, if we are “tiny fractions of people,” then it would make sense to seek out another fraction of a person to at least add up to “more complete” if not “whole.”