Saturday, December 16, 2006

On Identity, Part I

ed. note: I have been working on this post for awhile, and have decided to break it into two parts. This first part is an introduction to my further reflections in the second part. Visiting LA raised issues surounding my personal identity. Since I have always wrestled with these questions also in a philsophical context I am contextualizing this experience within a philosophical framework. doing so also seemed to fit best with how I understand blogging. This after all is not my journal or diary, but my posts here are drawn from my life and what I think about based on my experiences.
I have always had a storng sense of my identity. Philosophicals quesitons of identity as explored by Delueze, Derrida, Kierkegaard, and Augustine has long interested me. How is identity acheived? To what extent is identity important or even achievable? What is the relationship between repetition and identity? It was the consequences of these questions for the self that connected with my own questions of how artist, scholar, pastor, goth etc. held together in a single identity called a person? Is it important for such coherence to be achieved?

Philsophers, of course have differeing answers and conclusions. Deleuze can be read as leaving asside the possibility of acheiving identity of any sort, or so concentrated on the singularity of being that such questions are answered in terms of the simulacra of differences. However Deleuze is interpreted we are left with aimless wonderings, passing through differences in this singular desert terain of the nomad. While there is a certian attraciton to the philosophical nomadism, of this iresponcible responsability, or a responcibility to be irresponcible. I have always been more atracte to Derrida and serious play. I could take seriously the difference within my self, even if answering who or what myself is would be deffered or the meaning of difference (differing selves) was always deffered. Kierkegaard fits here in interesting ways. An author whose writings are spoken from differing personalities, and yet who writes a work attempting to show the identity of himself as an author, presenting his works as the product of one author. A way to look at Augustine's confessions is around this idea of identity and how one identifies (with) oneself, and Augustine does take up that old puzzle of how we recognize a child with the young person with the midle aged person, and with the old person all as a single person.

On some level I think I have had more this Augustinian place of puzzeling out oneself in a confidence before God that I was a certain person. Whatever mutiplicities , divergences and differense exist within myself, contained within a person. There was then in this a responcability before a community of person's both God (as Trinity) and the church. I was becoming who I was and was called to do so. This did not mean I was singular or simple but certainly focused.

The struggle for most of my 20's was around how were the persona's (some more potentiality than actuality) pastor, scholar artist etc. (I simplify for the space and hopefully clarity) to find themselves in me. In the last seven yeras artist pastor scholar, goth have found more equilibrium than tension in my self. For the purpose of this post it is also significant that this achievement has occured in a partucualr place , Chicago, which differs strikingly from LA where my serious yet playful struggle with the differnces in my person took place.

Derrida in his essay "Otobiagraphies: the Teaching of Nietzsche and the politics of the Proper Name." among other things plays with the problematic of the identity of an authers life (self) and an authors work: What is the relation between an authors two bodies both biological and literary/philosophical? I took this esssay along to read when Kate and I recently visited LA.