Writing Machines is the course website for English 170L at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
There was so much going on today re:identity in our class presentations--I sort of got to thinking about it during tophat1's presentation, of course, but then so many of the other presentations seemed to hang around the same theme.
One particular example of what I mean came up during a bird's presentation--
a bird was saying that, although she had been advised to "change the names" on her project again and again, it just felt totally wrong to write a story about her sister (for instance) and then claim its subject had a totally different name than her sister's. There was, for her, this profound link between person/personality and name/identity.
tophat1 was, in my very underdeveloped interpretation of her presentation, talking about how we could be anyone we wanted online--indeed, we could redefine our most basic characteristics: male --> female, caucasian --> black, human --> banana. As an online persona, we were, in some measure, able to reinvent ourselves--all by creating a screenname, or an icon, or an email address. Our new identities were wrapped up in a name or a picture.
And this was totally what a bird seems to have experienced--her family members' identities were wrapped up in their names.
I am my name in real life... I'm marmalade here... I'm another name to my best friend ... yet another to the high school calc teacher who couldn't figure out the difference between me and my sister.... And, indeed, different stories and different actions go with different names. I wonder if a bird's family-story-tree could really exist if all the "characters" (for lack of a better term) were abstracted from their real identities.... would her grandmother, by any other name, still have worn her fur coat around the US VI? Interesting to think about.