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Thread: How do you identify yourself, and to what extent is it real?

  1. #1
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    How do you identify yourself, and to what extent is it real?

    I have been contemplating a little lately about my self identity, how I derived it, what value does it give me, and how flakey its' foundations are.

    I will post a little about my own identity later, but wondered if the rest of you pay much thought to your own. I suspect we could all pick apart most of the foundations we build our identities on, I doubt any of us are much grounded in reality other than as we choose to see it. Does this matter?

  2. #2
    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
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    Identity is somewhat 'elastic'. It perpetually flushes and weaves given our choices, but within some unknown behavioral range we are pegged to, perhaps increasingly so over time. Mistakenly so, I don't like to think of outward behavior as in any way defining of my identity. I can choose to appear stoic or jokey or "the dude" contextually, depending on mood or what I want to convey, but my thoughts and feelings remain seemingly consistent - a tangled web of desires and self-consciousness. No matter how much 'control' we like to think we have over identity, the self, these thoughts and feelings, bleeds through and becomes clear enough to others. I don't think people change very much.

  3. #3
    DOA Space Invaders Champion Neville's Avatar
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    My self identity is entirely fabricated on a foundation of questionable lies. I suppose that's pretty flakey.

    Whether one's identity is based on fact or fiction is irrelevant in my opinion as what matters more is how that identity allows them to interact with the world. A real identity isn't inherently more capable than a fabrication.

  4. #4
    .: PERSISTENCE IS ALL :. Pan_Sonic_000's Avatar
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    I agree that it's elastic. Or, at least, adaptive.

    I guess at rock bottom, it's about my character. The boundaries therein will change (or, again, they'll adapt), but the recognition and enforcement of them is what matters. Or if you really want to get MBTI about it: my 'values' because I'm an NF fucker.

    Also, I've concluded that my brain is an organic modem and whatever kind of weird bullshit it's decoding at the moment needs to be expressed in order to become 'real'. Actively engaging in that process is a cornerstone of my identity. But that's probably true for anyone, unless they're a zombie.
    Wild skies
    Full moon and thoughts collide
    We look for answers in those catatonic, bloodshot eyes
    A steady stream of madness
    Rises to a flood...

    ...The clock is ticking for Bad Blood

  5. #5
    Sysop Ptah's Avatar
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    My core identity is anchored on -- and at all but the outer layers an outgrowth of -- my lifelong, ongoing imaginary universe (think: a non-pathological "Fixed Fantasy"). As in: I live to dream; I am both the product and the vehicle of that dream.

    Reality is just a matter of casual necessity in the sense of survival (so that I may continue to live, to dream), but also a means of expressing and enriching this imaginary universe.

    edit: I guess I could also go on in a more autobiographical summary sense, but to me those are all just so many incidental manifestations of the above, clashed against what other people have tried to make of me. That is, such autobiographical notes are not essential; not roots, just branches, if not leaves.

    From yet another perspective, I could answer questions to myself in the form of, "Who are you in this/that context". But, again, that is the superficial, outer me. Not my identity, just my persona and social dynamic-standing, etc. Whereas if I just ask myself the pure question, "Who are you?"... I think not of autobiographical/social/etc events. I get: My imaginary universe and its events, inhabitants and dynamics as representative of my identity... I get that "reality", in sum total, as the answer. (In case anyone ever wondered why I like the image I use as my avatar... at higher resolutions, it can be see that a "universe" is in Ptah's eyes... it resonated with me very strongly when I first saw it, and it still does to this day, as such)
    Last edited by Ptah; 05-09-2014 at 07:42 PM.

  6. #6
    Member Mxx's Avatar
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    I guess I"ll be answering this question in terms of life history and biographical data, rather than metaphysical or psychological concepts - because I have struggled with the concept of identity throughout my life. As a young child, my family enjoyed comforts that could be described as upper middle-class, but going into adolescence, severe mental health issues affecting my parents (and shitty financial planning), put our income levels and lifestyle at working class, in a society (apartheid South Africa) where my white peers were exceptionally wealthy across the board. Issues of class difference and low self-esteem related to those class differences continued when we moved to Spain.

    I became very adept at subverting conversations that focused on what my parents did, out of shame, as I felt very deeply that those demographic data points did not represent my core self, and I was repulsed by how others would sum my existence up in those terms. I freed myself of those psychological shackles when I moved to the States, as I had no reminders of that shame.

    But then I acquired a new frustration concerning identity - the answer to the question: What do you do? (Standard introductory conversation material). Because of my professional, geographical and academic restlessness, I've often entered the work force in entry-level jobs, making my way up. Again, a silly sense of shame overwhelmed me as I didn't want to be associated with those entry-level job titles either as a self-concept or presented to others. Now that interests and capabilities are aligned with my role at work, it's a cloud that no longer hovers over me.

    Obviously, throughout my life I defined myself in other terms that were more comforting to my ego, but I would be exceptionally dishonest with myself if I said that those two elements (what do your parents do, what do you do for a living?) didn't eat away at me.

    I'm sure for others, these concepts would be irrelevant or unimportant, but I think it has been important for me to realize that they affected me, regardless of other psychological or philosophical ways of forming an identity (or rejecting the concept altogether).

  7. #7
    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    Well, it is interesting that religious, ideological and national identities are usually based on founding myths that have served one interest or another until they become a sort of self-sustaining method of thought or identification. They very often take what are essentially normal features of human behaviour patterns - tribalism say, or some conscious longing for the afterlife or rationality, or the inherit set of quid pro quos that make up human interactions and form a primitive morality - and then co-opt them for a purpose that often becomes self-sustaining. I guess it raises the question to what sense any of our sense of selves grounded in anything but necessary myths we have to tell ourselves. And whether a desire to see the truth behind those myths a sort of pathological abnormality of an individual's psychology which has a double edged capacity for both a more pessimistic or depressive outlook, but perhaps equally a more creative or skeptical one.

    It has always struck me that our sense of self is ultimately grounded upon a myth of free-will - which makes no sense from a purely physics perspective (or philosophical really), but is probably necessary to reconcile consciousness with the very act of being a corporeal body with interactions with the world that are a necessary component of survival. Once we have that myth, then we can build more grandiose ones, either of reality or imagination. Again all seem necessary to actually engage as an entity that is doing more than just surviving - and is thus soon forgotten - but to be an entity that has some resonance upon the sphere of mutual consciousness that is culture. To do so requires an aspect of subjugation of your sense of self to some myth or set of myths that structure and make possible your actions. If you refuse to accept any mutually shared identity between people then you are effectively abnegating the possibility of your influencing them, and thus of your patterns of thought and actions staying around longer than your physical form.

    It would be nice to think we could just radically reconstruct our personal mythologies at a whim, or tear down other people's, but usually this is not possible because there is too much at stake for other people. If you don't have a sense of yourself as an identity constructing your own, then whatever you do have you cling hold of. So you are in some sense left with the circumstance where in order to assert some kind of change in identity upon yourself and other people, of your own control, you both must subscribe to the fables, the set of stories people tell of themselves, but equally sort of subvert them at the same time, in subtle ways that build up over the years, the contribution to which most people can make but a little.

    On a less abstract level I've noticed by self-identity is elastic in some areas - areas where I am willing to contemplate and experiment - and more more rigid in others. I don't really care so much about my class (perhaps there was a time when I was younger at a university full of upper-middle class students), nationality or job title - things which are kind of static and not really much that I care to think about. I don't really get embarrassed by what I do as such - I was much more sensitive about what I could do theoretically. There was a time when I was excessively hung-up about my intelligence, something that over the last few years I guess you could say I have grown out of. Partly because I have proven myself in tangible ways since, partially because I've become more accepting that the situation is what it is, and the only concern is to make the most of what you do have. That said... I have always had a strong distaste for being, for want of a better word, categorised. There has always been a perverse side in me which, from school where certain children had a desire to place me in a specific stereotypical group of 'nerds' (as you'd say in America), I deliberately rebelled and pretended to be mad or stupid in order to confound what I saw as their attempts to essentialise my personality. The same knee-jerk reaction to do the polar opposite of what I am being categorised as often happens when people advise me on what I need or what I want - I resent an implication that my sense of being in the world is so simple and easily reducible that someone who isn't consciously me could actually know the best set of actions with which to navigate the world.
    Last edited by ferrus; 05-09-2014 at 07:40 PM.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

  8. #8
    <3 gator's Avatar
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    I'm in the middle of a prolonged period of redifining mine. We shall see how that goes.

  9. #9
    dormant jigglypuff's Avatar
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    depending on context, i identify as chinese/asian american, woman of color, queer (in a straight relationship), feminist, antiracist, leftist (basically), [social role: girlfriend, sister, daughter, granddaughter, friend, etc.], artist/illustrator/aspiring everything, sometimes a student in school, forever a student in life, human and/or thinking speck in the universe.

    i used to be much more insecure in my concept of self, and it used to take up a lot of my mindspace. now i don't think any of this stuff is "real." what/who you think you are is just your relationships to everything around you. take those relationships away, and identity is gone. you're gone. thinking any of this stuff is essential to existence, that's hard for me to grasp now.

  10. #10
    ..you don't know me LordLatch's Avatar
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    I'm latch and it seems real.
    This just in: I'm accepting all friend requests too unless you're a fricken jerk and I can't stand your existence and inane drivel. If that's the case, then I'll accept your friend request so I can keep an eye on your ass unless you don't hold any interest for me; then only the threat of keeping my eye on you stands. feces

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