Monday, January 18, 2010


I've been thinking about identity quite a bit lately on both an individual scale and as a broader theme. Who am I? How do I define myself as an individual and in a broader cultural context? To what extent am I defined by my actions, my beliefs, my connections, by some other factors? I know these are big philosophical questions and I am certainly not the first person to look them nor will I be the last, but it's an exploration everyone should undertake from time to time. This whole blog, really, is an examination of who I am. For now thought, I'm interested in how any individual answers those questions, what tools do we use and how effective are they.

Over the course of this week I'll take a look at different factors that effect identity, how we define ourselves, how we tell our story. I'm really interested in how we talk about each aspect of our identity, how we construct our identity through story. I'm trying to get away from the mammoth blog posts I lean towards, so I thought I'd break up this conversation into different parts. Each day I'll look at a different measure of identity then next weekend I'll see if it's given me any new insight.

Topics I plan to touch upon include identity in the context of: action (I do this...) , relationships to others (I am a daughter, etc), cultural context (ways we support or violate cultural expectation or what our culture expects from us) and belief (what our belief and philosophy suggests we are). Any other suggestions?

I would love your input. Navel gazing it no way to understand ourselves, so if you have any thoughts or tips, please post them in the comments section. How do you define yourself? What do you tell others when you talk about yourself or your life? What don't you tell? When do you most feel like yourself? Thanks.

(c)2010 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

1 comment:

  1. This is a fascinating subject, Laura. I wonder how much the idea of 'identity' is a convenient fiction, something which the social fabric - the backdrop to collective living - demands in order that we can get anything done.

    I assume that I have a consistent continuing self but I also realise that my identity changes subtly from moment to moment and from setting to setting. I can be relaxed one moment, skimming across the surface of things, and in other contexts I can be deep with a burning focus. If I'm (painfully) honest, who I am depends on who I'm talking to. I'm certainly different now than when I was a child, or young adult. That's okay - life's like that. But it hints at an accommodation with the facts which makes me both uncomfortable and hopeful. I quite literally may not be the same person as I was at 18, and the consequences for this are too huge to grapple with sensibly for someone like me without the requisite philosophical tools.

    I admire the psychological fortitude of those great souls who can identify themselves and stay on course even in isolation or in captivity or in horribly demanding circumstances. But I can also see how a variation on these qualities produces people who can bend the will of others and manipulate the social fabric.

    It's a rich seam for writers. In November last year I tried to write a story about the possibility of a residual self - the kernel of a human operating system - which remains intact though everything else has changed.



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