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Selfhood and blind-spots

Author: joe

Monday, 01 August, 2011 - 23:46

On the subject of identity, and who we should declare ourselves to be: Every time I sit down to write something I am fumbling in the dark, striving to establish where and who I am - what is my subject-position. In writing I work out where I am writing from, and who it is that is writing. No-one has the right to demand I mark out my position before I have spoken. If we all knew our assumptions and blind-spots before we opened our gobs, we would all be wasting our breath.

Giovanni Tiso at Bat Bean Beam puts it very well:

Are you gay, disabled, kinky or an anarchist? You need to find yourself a nice little community of like-minded or like-bodied people with whom to discuss your marginal concerns. For everything else, you must sign your real name and constrain your personality and opinions to suit – in other words, be the kind of person who can speak their mind without the slightest fear of repercussion or unintended consequence.
In other-other words: keep the most distasteful bits of who you are the hell out of my feed.
Giovanni Tiso, 1 August 2011, True Names, []

Giovanni reminds me becoming myself is more than merely about me - a personal freedom; but in fact, becoming myself is a political act, which reverberates through the world around me. It greets, challenges, insults and comforts other people, also becoming themselves. Where would we be without the cushion of ambiguity, the ability to be reflexive enough to reassess, to shift our position?

A human being is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity. In short a synthesis. A synthesis is a relation between to terms. Looked at this way, a human being is not yet a self [...] Despair is not a result of imbalance, but of the relation which relates to itself. And the relaiton to himself is something a human being cannot be rid of, just as little as he can be rid of himself, which for that matter is one and the same thing, since the self is indeed, the relation to oneself.
Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

Since my writing is my communicative action, it produces me, and is one of the means whereby I relate to myself - which is Kierkegaard's description of selfhood - the relating of the self to itself: hence the self is not a permanent essential thing, but something constantly achieved, in the jaws of despair.

Bora Zivkovic, 1 August 2011, Identity – what is it really? []
Alex Hudson, 28 July 2011, Why does Google+ insist on having your real name? []
Chester Wisniewski, 27 July 2011, Google+ misses an opportunity - Privacy is an important part of openness, []
Tim Carmody, 26 July 2011, Google+ Identity Crisis: What’s at Stake With Real Names and Privacy, []
Dave Winer, 25 July 2011, Why Google cares if you use your real name, []

Categories: selfhood, identity, google, kierkegaard,
Comments: 0

Journal fiction

Author: joe

Wednesday, 07 May, 2008 - 20:26

She says he found the journal by google. "I want to fucking kill myself" plus "I'm feeling lucky". He went to the root, and found the phone number. Called the phone number - this sort of thing doesn't happen every day, she notes drily.

The last thing she says - she may go to Paris. 6 months ago. So I call the number, because I think she's dead. We'll talk about the hole you fill with junk food and TV, and the way you cover the mirrors. We will, sooner or later, stand together under the shelter, in the rain, and watch the stray drops collect over the iron ornamentation and whorl into a bare stream of hopelessness at our feet.

The phone rings onto voicemail, and the crackle of transatlantic distance deters me. Layering complications onto someone's unsuspecting answer-phone. I try again, some hours later. Her voice is there, faint, surprised (even though this has happened before) - I googled, found the journal, went to the root, and called the number. I wanted to triangulate, as though if I knew she was there, and that he - the first one - was also somewhere, then we'd be three points, marking summits, we could take sightings, and locate ourselves. In the absence of a mirror, I needed to see myself reflected by other means, in the words of someone on the end of a google search. I'm pleased she's alive.

She thanks me. We make valedictions. But we have always made valedictions.

Categories: journal, google, fiction, mirror,
Comments: 0