Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Old Smells p.2

The Campus Bank today smelled like the home of my Aunt and Uncle in the suburbs back in Illinois. I like that smell; it comes to me far more often than the other old ones. It's not that it's particularly comforting or anything, no more so than the others. I just like the thought of the location that the smell evokes, and the knowledge that someday I will return to that house to eat dinner with my Aunt and Uncle and two cousins. They will ask about what I've been up to, I will tell them, and then ask them the same. It will be a pleasing time for all involved, I feel.

Homesickness, or for some people, homes-sickness, is a terrible disease. It is best combated by fulfilling the desires that it evokes. Someday I'll stop a scientist from inventing a drug to cure homesickness. He'll be like, "This is for the good of humanity!"

And I'll grab the collar of his lab-coat (while his research minions look on in terror, or confusion) and say, "Mister, maybe you and I might have different ideas of what is 'good', but I'm damn sure that humanity would be better off holding on to those feelings."

Then I'll roundhouse kick all his test tubes. It's gonna be awesome. And expensive, because someone's going to have to replace all the lab equipment, and it is not cheap at all.

Maybe I'll just stay home that day. It's not like he's forcing me to take the pills, right?

Identity (Iteration 1)

What are we to make of intersecting identities? I relate this to a very old Values Council discussion (it happened to be our first in the virtual world, actually). The question was posited, "Why is religious identity such a big damn deal now?" I suppose this ignores questions like, "Has it always been?" or "OH IS IT? I HADN'T NOTICED!"

Anywho, we decided that perhaps the autumn of 1989 provided the fertile ground for its "resurgence," since when "the Wall fell," the world ceased to be discussable in terms of Soviet and Free World. Of course, people had been religious during the Cold War, and for thousands of years before that. Probably since forever.

Of course, identity is far more than just one's vision of ultimate reality. There is tribal allegiance, gender, nationality, some construction of ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, location, socioeconomic background, height, weight, preferred brand of cigarette, language, history (both personal and otherwise), cat-lover or dog-lover or dog-lover-cat-hater, pasta fanatic or gluten-allergic, handicapped or able-bodied or somewhere-in-between, vegan or not, and a whole slew of hyphenated, tongue-in-cheek bits of what constitutes a person.

So what does identity mean nowadays? Can we be sure? Why does it seem important to the level of life-and-death at some times and completely inconsequential at others? Why doesn't one act as a militant whatever until that point at which being a whatever comes under attack by someone who is explicitly or implicitly not whatever? What does identity mean for us? What does identity mean for me?

As a young undergraduate, I wrote a paper on linguistic diversity wherein I claimed that discourse communities could be both as broad and as narrow as we could possibly conceive, since one's linguistic identity was a combination of many factors, a handful of which are listed above. Perhaps I was looking too specifically at the subject. Perhaps identity as identity is a worthy topic of discussion. The meta-identifiable bits of what makes humans interesting are what I concern myself with.

That, and what how I'm going to get all my schoolwork done this term without suffering a nervous breakdown.