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Who Are You Really?

Most of us have driver's licenses or ID cards that prove our claim to
identity. Damn shame, really. Knowing who you are can be a hindrance.
Let's look briefly at the reasons:

-It limits your options. Consider various performers: Amy Grant is Amy
Grant. She knows who she is. Everybody knows who she is. She must,
therefore, make sexually frustrated religious pop (think Tori Amos in a
convent). Prince, on the other hand, has no idea who he is. His very
name changes every so often--even the alphabet is unable to contain his
nomenclatural fluidity. Thus, he has been able to change his material
and his direction several times--hell, he changes them several times per
album. The only thing one of his identities has in common with the other
is that they're all horny. In this regard, he is like David Bowie, who also
slips & slides between identities (even media--seen his online stuff?).
No fixed identity=no fixed expectations with respect to your output.

-It makes dodging blame difficult. Corporations (in essence, fictional
people, often with unimaginably huge amounts of money) often set up
subsidiaries to disconnect themselves from their own dealings; that way,
when they are caught doing wrong, they can deny responsibility. (In fact,
the clouding of identity is even more subtle with corporations: corporate
officers can commit many different types of crimes [like fraud], but
legally get away with it, because the crimes the responsibility of the
corporation, and the corporation is a fictional entity. Aren't you jealous?)
In another arena, those who have a very loose self-concept are often
referred to as schizophrenic--and are exempt from responsibility for
their actions by reason of insanity.

-It makes you a target. Remember grammar school? Who got beat up?
Those who had a fuzzy notion of who they were changed color quickly--
they remained part of the crowd abusing the weird kids. The weird kids,
on the other hand, knew exactly who they were: weird kids. Their very
grasp of self made them fair game. Odd personal peccadilloes merely
acted as excuses. In a similar vein, in the recent election, a Democrat
and a Republican contended for the office of president. Both were the
favored sons of well-placed national politicians; both made gobs of
money in oil; both "served" in some light-duty military-equivalent
posting during the Vietnam War; both were obsessively pro-big-
business; both supported right-wing jurists; both dug executions;
the list goes on. It hardly bears mentioning that the challenger who
actually differed from them--who had a discernible identity--was
attacked from all sides, and from no side as fiercely as those who
claimed to support the positions he advocated. Again, a case of the
weird kid who knows who he is inflaming the rest of the kids who just
aren't too sure yet.

-It makes you easy to find. This is related to the point above. Once
you have a fixed identity,the next thing you know, you've got a fixed
address. After that, junk mail and the IRS will find you.

-It interferes with your innate superheroism. Peter Parker and Bruce
Wayne were never too clear on who they were as people. They couldn't
be; it would interfere with their respective nocturnal rope-swinging
activities. The concept of "identity" is at its best when modified by
the adjective "secret". Whose ego would not improve with some altering?

This all runs counter to the prevailing wisdom, of course. Most folks
will encourage you to tell them who you are, and will be offended if
you don't commit to a specific identity. In Through the Looking Glass,
the Red Queen advises, "Speak French when you can't think of the
English for a thing--turn out your toes when you walk--and remember
who you are!" Well, nowadays, we all know that dropping phrases in
French is seen as pretentious, walking with your toes pointed out will
give you shin splints, and remembering who you are means not being
able to deny trading arms for hostages.

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