An unpublished teen, a best-selling author, a reader, a pianist, a cat wrangler, a biker chick, a marxist horror-writer, a psychologist, a rational man and a political animal are just some of the phrases I’ve come across today which pretend to identify the people who hand them out.
“Nothing matters more than who we are in the world, where we have been and where we are going. The issue of identity is at the heart of our society and involves everyone.” These are the words of the Virtual Poet-in-Residence to the National Poetry Day, Jackie Kay.
Whenever we meet someone new they want to know who we are and what we do and where we came from. With these clues they can begin to identify us. They’ve already done the scan: they know if you’re wearing Prada or some kind of leather pouch on your belt. They know if you paint your nails or dye your hair or wear designer trainers whatever the social situation.
And at the same time, of course, you are doing the same calculations about them. Just enough, perhaps to put you at your ease, or to make you feel good and edgy.
Both parties are leaking identity. Each of them wants the other to see them as they see themselves, as though that were a static commodity. Not something that is in constant change.
We often forget that we wear masks and that behind the layers of mask there is a core that is disguised because it is too vulnerable or too powerful to be unleashed upon the world.