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Thursday, November 09, 2006

On Identity

How can people get past the programming of culture that they are a separate individuality and why would they want to do that?

I find the once you have an identity, it's easier to give it up. That's the value of identity for me. I regard identity is a control issue. Courts define identity so they can take away these "granted advantages" (of a driver's license, for instance.) Nowadays a judge/court will suspend your license for punishments that are completely unrelated to your ability to drive a car safely, for instance. This way authorities have power over you to get you to give them money and behave correctly as defined by societal law. Of course, it still doesn't work in all cases, it just makes some people further out of control of their lives who have an inability to deal with bureaucracy.

I've often said that is something you should get training in high school - how to deal with bureaucracy. That would be an interesting class to design.

If I am just there in the undifferentiated state of not having an identity, my actions and experience of the world is all so undefined and amorphous that I cannot know what actions are influencing what results. Things just happen and there is no ability to tell the cause and effect, so there is no way to quiet myself.

So identity to me is defining your own sense of what affects are your responsibility and what effects belong to others. That's why I believe that everyone should live alone for a little while - so they can see exactly what their own affects are on their environment. I think the idea is once a person has been "programmed" by their culture to have an identity, people can sort of quiet their actions and gain the ability to put action aside and find out what they do that has a result and what does not. Really, I have no idea if that's true or not. People seem so chaotic and uncontrolled; or so controlled by the uncontrollable emotions and by others. By comparison, I have usually had the ability to decide to not react. But this seems to be an ability many people never learn.

There are many ways of gaining an identity - people can use one of the ways of directing attention and manifesting a formerly merged and unidentified expression of themselves by using an action, a medium, an expression, or any action taken to the level of artistic expression. People can follow the culture's definition of individuality. One of my faves is going on walk-about. Guess I had to figure out my own ideas about a rite of passage into adulthood that meant something to me.

I'm thinking that not having so much of an identity is much more common than you imagine and that our culture holds it up to be something valuable that it is not - it's just what it is, some people's identity is undifferentiated.

The feeling of being in a couple or having sex is a human experience that has a sort of loss of personalhood and an experience of merging. You would think that through the common experience of a meshing of mother and child or family in general, people could experience a merging and a lack of personal identity in that situation which would be somewhat common in human experience. In many other cultures other than the one we're in, people are not so driven to discover and preserve their individuality. Their cause and effect on others and the world is just what it is, and they aren't concerned about it.

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