Thursday, October 7, 2010

Identity and Being


My ongoing exploration of identity has taken many twists and turns over the last few years between the launch of this blog and the recent opening of the Caerleon Museum of Identity. For all my writing, stories, video, comics, infographics and other meditations on the topic, I always end up on the shore of Emptiness. Emptiness in the Buddhist sense that nothing possesses intrinsic or enduring identity.

So if that is the case, what has been the point of all this musing?

One reason has been to use such exploration to uncover, bring to light and deconstruct the fictional nature of identity. Despite knowing better intellectually, I habitually experience a pervasive visceral sense of the solid identity of self and others. The creative process is one way to lift some of the veils.

Another purpose has been to experience the creative joy of the journey and to develop and practice new skills in the mediums I've dabbled with along the way. Identity has been muse, canvass and tool for much of my artistic work. In one sense, Botgirl is essentially an ongoing piece of performance art on the idea of identity.

Finally, it has helped me increase my ability and determination to not be hypnotized by outer identity so I can be more fully open to the sentient being within.


Splash Kidd said...

Botgirl, I'm sorry I beg to differ with your last part of your post "Finally, it has helped me increase my ability and determination to not be hypnotized by outer identity so I can be more fully open to the sentient being within." The fact you have made Botgirl's external appearance into this sexualized bad girl look would imply that you are somewhat "hypnotized" by the external appearance. Certainly since I started to read you blog several months ago the look of Missy Botgirl has remained somewhat constant. Me thinks it's time for Botgirl to transform herself into say an aged motor-cycle Momma or perhaps a Salvation Army women in granny undies to really venture forth into letting go of the external. Come on Botgirl we know you can do it, lead by example girl! Time to alien your pixels with your type. :P

Botgirl Questi said...

Splash Kid: I freely admit that I unabashedly enjoy the hell of out of both Botgirl's "sexualized bad girl look" and the associated persona.

You're right on in your observation of a constant look. In fact, I've made a very conscious decision not to dramatically change her appearance. The fictional character of Botgirl is very much associated with the visible form. So although it would certainly be possible to create a plot line that transformed "her" into a different body, it would necessarily impact the character.

I love her just the way she is at the moment, so I don't want to mess with the Gestalt at this time. If the character started pushing for the change, I would reluctantly go along with it, so we'll have to see what the future holds.

Finally, Botgirl is only one expression of the underlying human's virtual presence, which includes quite a few works that are intentionally on the other side of stereotypical beauty.

Tashi Core said...

I think you've sort of explained why my AV just cannot settle into an "identity", be it a fixed dressing style, a particular RP or working out a career in SL, though she derives tremendous enjoyment from dabbling around.

Although Tashi walks a different path from Botgirl (because Tashi was intended as a representative of the RL me rather than a fictional character), the choice has the same basis on an inherent "emptiness" in identity.

In SL, I didn't have to make a choice (yet?) that would close me up to different things in order to focus most of my energy on earning my living. Tashi stays carefree and varying. :)

Mera Kranfel said...

I follow your blog with great interest as im sort if in the same situation. Im stuck in shapeshifting and I have had a hard time to try to defend my choise 24/7--- but I wont give up.... this is the most faschinating in virtual worlds, our identities. How much certain people is affected by your pixels. I never fool anyone and Im always the same regardless of what avie i wear at the moment. A lot of people have problems with this.

Botgirl Questi said...

Tashi and Kranfel: I think that any particular identity we have comprises such a limited set of our attributes and potential modalities that it is at least semi-fictional. The inherent limitation of identity is due to a number of factors including situational limitations (such as what might be appropriate or not in a role such as grade school teacher, politician, whatever), subconscious repression, strategic charade, etc.

Then there's additive fabrication that goes on in both physical and virtual identity where instead of witholding aspects of our self, we present ourselves in ways to either hide some internal state (such as a smile to hide our fear, or modifying our accent to hide our place of origin) or manufacture attributes we don't possess, such as claiming job experience we don't have on a resume or posting a retouched image of ourselves on a dating site.

To make things even more confusing, we aren't really in touch with the full potential of who we are. So a lot of what might seem to be role-playing or even outright impersonation to the outside world, might be part of a process of self-discovery. Like many ethical questions, I think it comes down to intention and actual harm.

Finally, for those who are uncomfortable with other people's pseudonymity, I suggest you simply don't engage with those you can't validate to your satisfaction. No one is holding a gun to your head and making you get involved with someone who isn't willing to disclose their identity.

Mera Kranfel said...

Yes thats true. Vesper Kling, my "male" avie is fictional. It a character. But still its me. I identify harder with my female avie and the male avie is sort of an escape... but still its me interacting with other people.

I dont roleplay, i wouldnt say that...but if i say the same thing as a female or a male, people interpret it very differently. Its obvious.

As male a new female avie called me "male pig" once when i said something in a comment. But she didnt know i was female. When i told her she was baffled. She could see that she interpreted me wrong because of my "gender" :)