Identity as a Discourse
So many of our forum discussions are really about identity, and we have many theories and much to say about it, which we defend adamantly.
First let me address those who insist that there is no identity. I view that first as a discourse, and second as just another identity. Just look around at how you live life. If you are a no-identity person and need some easy demonstrations, you function through many discourses of identity, and never function as a no identity. In fact no-identity is non-functional in the life that we know.
Because you continually use identities, they are your truth. Kind of like “what you see (do) is what you get (who you are)”. At least you are not separable from an identity, so you might as well engage fully with it.
1. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that we are born into a discourse of identity. We are born into a family, society, often a religion, maybe our nation is dominant in our lives, especially if it is repressive, or at war. In our formative years we are rewarded if we imitate the prevailing discourses of identity. Our family want’s us to behave in a certain way. We must memorize (and practice) the tenants of our family religion. We get educated (or don’t) according to the habits and traditions in our area. We are continually told that we are the identity that is transmitted by that discourse.
2. Further on in life it might be more accurate to say that identity is an experience. I ask for some time to pass because it takes some contemplation or experimentation to separate our experience from our discourse about it. Even if we have given up on the discourses of our formative years, we are continually transforming experience into discourse, and confuse them as one and the same. It is also very likely that even those primary discourses linger in some part of our psyche.
If you can stand back, and one at a time notice that I am not this discourse I am not that role, does it mean that you are really none of the above? I’m sure not, because you are inseparable from discourse, no matter how fast they change. You are all of the above, not none of the above. Maybe it is accurate to say a human being is an everchanging process. Many elements move through (are processed) through that process. Is part of this process to deny or distance yourself from these elements?
3. Fresh experience has great potential to adapt. Discourse is by and large fixed, and often coupled with great pain in order to adapt. What are your tools to adapt your discourse, and to allow new experience that is appropriate for today to enter freely into your life?
4. Tension for the most part comes from other people, because we have pretty well tamed nature in our modern lifestyles. Tension is authored by mixing alternative and competing value systems (discourses) in a world with ever more proximity to your “neighbor”. Tension erupts with greater force when those competing value systems are coupled with skewed rights, unfair treatment, lack of opportunity, or prohibited access to resources.
It is said that in this state of tension there is creativity, why? That is because there is opportunity to change your discourse. Let’s have a simple example.
"I’ve always loved my family and we’ve stuck together. Whenever someone is in trouble or sick, we were all there to comfort and to help. But now there are limited jobs where we all used to live. Sometimes it’s called the rust belt. Many of us have had to relocate to maintain a standard of living. Big family get-togethers are very rare now. The family is breaking up, and we have had to digest this without wanting to. When I pine away for those old days (cling to an outdated discourse) I feel hurt. Why don’t they help us to develop our area for more jobs? The government is not doing its job. In fact they support the forces that are taking jobs away from our city."
5. The first tool is to notice. “I am describing to myself how I used to feel being close to a big family in a more simple rural life, and I am enjoying the feeling that this memory brings”. “I notice that today has more unknowns, and this reminds me that I sometimes feel afraid and alone”.
Maybe I find fault with others, especially if they have benefitted from these changes that I dislike. Does this blaming and complaining make me more able to enjoy living separated, or does it empower me to return and start my own business that can help reverse this trend?
What are other discourses that can empower me to do what I would dream of, or to live the adventure of the unknown? Maybe I could take it even further and live in a developing nation, and contribute to them.
6. The second tool is to engage and take action. The best action is to experiment with different discourses, which produce different feelings, which facilitate different action paths. An experiment is to establish a metric, try something different, and measure the result. The best experiment of all is to live without anxiety, to learn the power of discourse to change your feeling patterns. If you are not going to live happily in this lifetime, when will you do it?
Happiness in not in the possession of things, nor in relationships. It is a definition through a discourse. Sure that discourse is tied to standard of living, things and relationships, but it is infinitely modifiable (reasonably grounded to what seems to be here), to put the best feeling pattern onto the present situation.
The best experiment is to live without anxiety. You’ve lived the opposite way for long enough. What did you get out of that?