Monday, April 11, 2011

Identification and Identity

Part of our work, the work of this god, the conversation with the holy guardian angel, or however you would like to put it, often times appears to be the relinquishment, at least for a moment, of the things with which we identify, and a manifesting of the true, inner identity into the world. It is a taking of the epoché, the philosophical concept of all those things of the world with which we identify, bracketing this aside and then examining the identity that is left behind as our way of being in the world (Hussurl). The things with which we identify are those things we would we would identify if we were asked to describe who we are. I might say I am a man that chooses same sex romantic partners, a partner in a deep committed relationship, a pagan mystic, an emergent elder within the Pagan community, a conference organizer, a teacher of reading, mathematics, psychology, and religion, a graduate student, an artist, a writer, and a magical practitioner, among many other things. Precious though all these things may be to me, they are only the things with which I identify. Within me, past the bricolage of identification, lies the deeper mystery of myself.

After we have put aside our Democratic leanings or our Republicanism, our age and nationality, our position within a family as mother, son, father, or daughter, our many offspring or our childlessness, the money we make or charity we receive, the nature of our jobs, even our gender and race - all the things that define us by accident of birth - then we have left the indescribable and unique I-ness that we along bring into the world. This identity seems to me to have a somewhat archetypal nature. Here I am using Jung's definition of archetype as the unknowable pattern in the collective unconscious that we can only experience though image and ideas, only applied to the manner in which we move through the world. Perhaps the unfathomable archetypal patterns in the depths of the psyche manifest in our lives partly as our unique pattern of identity. Could it be that the way in which I move through the world is inherently Hadean, Hermetic, or Jovian? What part of my nature is Aphroditic, or Appolonic? if we are not controlled by complexual patterns of behavior that do not serve us (oddly also archetypal), what new patterns of perception and action emerge? How do we then churn the events of our life into experience (Hillman), and take action based on reflections upon our experiences (Freire)?

Entering into communion with this identity, this way of being in the world, is in part the divine work we essay if we dare: in what way can I manifest my identify into my life, into the world, with responsibility, integrity, passion, and compassion? In what way does this being in the world reveal and manifest the telos of my existence?

Brendan Myers, in Loneliness and Revelation (which I heartily recommend) incorporates this into a beautiful set of revelatory moves:

I am here and now, and I am not nothing -
This is who I am,
And I am beautiful!
Who else is here?

It is the second line, "this is who I am", that contains the bracketing of the epoché. Meyers suggests that there is an inherent aesthetic beauty to the identity is left: I have added an exclamation point to this line, recalling the ecstatic cry of the peacock god on catching the revelation of himself in the dark mirror of God Herself. Although all of this is profoundly moving, it is the last line that throws out the invitation to enter into the circle of dialogue, to see and be seen, and to build our collective action and reflection together.

Who else is here?

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