First Person Plural

We need to abandon the idea that each of us has one cohesive identity.

Everyone possesses multiple personalities, each with their own set of motivations, goals, and quirks.
Call them what you want, but there’s always the rational part, the mind, driven by cool rationality, always thinking it’s calculated what’s best for you. Then there’s the emotional part, the heart, driven by irrational passion. Always close by is the libido, driven by the desire to fuck and be fucked.

These identities don’t always agree with each other.

John Mayer put this eloquently in his infamous Playboy interview:

“I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock. I’m going to start dating separately from my dick.”

We don’t all have racist cocks, but we’ve all experienced conflict in our attractions. A person can be perfect on paper—attractive, smart, lots in common—but the heart just doesn’t supply the thumpity thump that the mind insists it should. Worse is the vice versa; someone’s who’s objectively oh so wrong, but the heart’s on one shoulder whispering sweet lies of encouragement, while the cock’s feverishly tugging on the other shoulder, insisting, yeah, the heart is right.

The research I’m doing for my PhD lends some empirical support to these ideas. The answer to a question often depends on how you ask it. If you ask someone to think the question through then write down a response, it’s mostly the mind, with its smarty-pants ability to handle language, that answers. But if you ask too quickly, or too indirectly, for the mind to interject, the other identities get more of a chance to answer. And sometimes their answer is completely different than the mind’s. 1

Almost literally, each person is people. “I” is a plural pronoun.

It’s why we love the werewolf (ok, maybe not all of us), and his relatives, Dr. Jekyll, Bruce Banner, and Tiger Woods. We all recognize that struggle between the rational side and the unfettered emotional side. But we’re also repulsed by it; we wish there was only one cohesive personality calling the shots.

But it’s the mind that figured out language, so it’s the one you hear from. It’s the one writing this post. The heart and libido are still on our shoulders, whispering things the mind forgets to say, but it’s still the one that controls which words get out. Maybe that’s why we have this illusion of a cohesive identity. The mind is the loudmouth of the group, doing all the talking, pretending it’s got its shit together. But that doesn’t make the others any less important in determining our actions. When it comes down to what it really means to be human, they’re all equal partners.

Maybe that’s okay. Maybe we should just accept it. Go with the heart’s opinion one day, go with the mind’s another, and let them work out a mutual agreement based on the consequences. Can’t I all just get along?

———-

Footnotes:

Note: The title of this post is stolen from Stephen Braude.

1 More concretely, I am speaking about implicit measures of attitudes. The technique used in my research is called the Affect Misattribution Procedure (AMP); for more information, Google up articles by Keith Payne.

Comments

32 responses to “First Person Plural”

  1. Jen Avatar

    This isn't exactly what you're talking about, but made me think of a recent interview on cbc/Q, with this person. It was really interesting – a kind of crazy idea but I can't say that I'm surprised that someone has tried it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_P-Orridge#Recent_life

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  2.  Avatar

    This isn't exactly what you're talking about, but made me think of a recent interview on cbc/Q, with this person. It was really interesting – a kind of crazy idea but I can't say that I'm surprised that someone has tried it.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_P-Orridge#Recent_life

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  3. Forest City Fashionista Avatar

    This is a great post, and I'm in complete agreement. It's taken me years to figure out that I need to listen to the rational part of me more, instead of the emotional/libido parts when it comes to dating, and pay more attention to the emotional/libido part of me when it concerns the rest of my life! It's a constant internal struggle for domination, and each day a different winner.

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  4.  Avatar

    This is a great post, and I'm in complete agreement. It's taken me years to figure out that I need to listen to the rational part of me more, instead of the emotional/libido parts when it comes to dating, and pay more attention to the emotional/libido part of me when it concerns the rest of my life! It's a constant internal struggle for domination, and each day a different winner.

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  5. worldgoesround Avatar

    wow. i am glad i read this.

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  6.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    wow. i am glad i read this.

    Like

  7. Tatiana Avatar

    The cool thing with that is that some of us are prone to introspection enough that we know when each part is driving so to speak, and can decide whether to go with the flow or rein in the non-logical parts. It's the people that don't have a clue what drives them that are funny to watch.

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  8.  Avatar

    The cool thing with that is that some of us are prone to introspection enough that we know when each part is driving so to speak, and can decide whether to go with the flow or rein in the non-logical parts. It's the people that don't have a clue what drives them that are funny to watch.

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  9. Candice Avatar

    One of the best posts I've read in awhile, and I totally agree.

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  10.  Avatar

    One of the best posts I've read in awhile, and I totally agree.

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  11. shine Avatar

    If I never have to hear about John Mayer's racist dick again, I'll be okay.

    Maybe we just need to redefine “person.” Just because I'm multi-faceted, does that necessarily mean I'm more than one person?

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  12.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    If I never have to hear about John Mayer's racist dick again, I'll be okay.Maybe we just need to redefine “person.” Just because I'm multi-faceted, does that necessarily mean I'm more than one person?

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  13. Phronk Avatar

    Jen: Wow, seems like an extremely fascinating person. I missed that episode of Q but I'm downloading the podcast now.

    FCF: It is quite the struggle. I think I often have the opposite problem; listening to my rational part too much when it comes to dating. Sometimes overthinking things can ruin them.

    Carrie: Thanks! Glad you read it too.

    Tatiana: Haha, yeah, not even being aware of it can be a mess. Introspection brings its own problems, but I think leads to better decisions in the end.

    Candice: Thanks!

    Shine: Good point. I guess the assumption, in our society, is that “person” refers to a single-faceted identity. A single person has a single personality. Maybe we need to be more like hybrid vehicles; whether they're running on gas or on batteries, they're still a single car.

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  14.  Avatar

    Jen: Wow, seems like an extremely fascinating person. I missed that episode of Q but I'm downloading the podcast now.FCF: It is quite the struggle. I think I often have the opposite problem; listening to my rational part too much when it comes to dating. Sometimes overthinking things can ruin them.Carrie: Thanks! Glad you read it too.Tatiana: Haha, yeah, not even being aware of it can be a mess. Introspection brings its own problems, but I think leads to better decisions in the end.Candice: Thanks!Shine: Good point. I guess the assumption, in our society, is that “person” refers to a single-faceted identity. A single person has a single personality. Maybe we need to be more like hybrid vehicles; whether they're running on gas or on batteries, they're still a single car.

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  15. lookitsbray Avatar
    lookitsbray

    Still with the Christmas lights…lol

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  16.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    Still with the Christmas lights…lol

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  17. Phronk Avatar

    Haha there's still snow outside!

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  18.  Avatar

    Haha there's still snow outside!

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  19. Kris Avatar

    Awesome post. I've had discussions and debates about these things… whether I like it or not, I completely agree.

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  20.  Avatar

    Awesome post. I've had discussions and debates about these things… whether I like it or not, I completely agree.

    Like

  21. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  22.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  23. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    She couldnt hear over the roar of energy to tell if she made a sound. His face was devoid of its former markings, the skin smooth and black and unblemished. Youre an infuriating man. His attention was on her again, those red eyes intense even over the distance. He surrounded her but didnt help her. Miraculously, no one seemed to notice. If youre tired, perhaps we should rearrange for another time with Hyle and Gala. You didnt falter once, even if you were nervous. First Gala, then Radin crowded close, surrounding her with warmth. Nialdlye startled, her green eyes sparking. Maybe shed broken that too. Shed come and done what she didnt want to do shed done the right thing. She snapped back down to look at Brevin. His body shook, his thrusts gone ragged. Her body shuddered uncontrollably as heat ripped apart her spine. She took long, glorious moments to simply enjoy the tingles that spread throughout her limbs. Except that she is not a goddess and could not have maintained such power. Irin had been beside herself with the news. She could feel it in her soul. How could I deny such a lovely request?

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  24.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    She couldnt hear over the roar of energy to tell if she made a sound. His face was devoid of its former markings, the skin smooth and black and unblemished. Youre an infuriating man. His attention was on her again, those red eyes intense even over the distance. He surrounded her but didnt help her. Miraculously, no one seemed to notice. If youre tired, perhaps we should rearrange for another time with Hyle and Gala. You didnt falter once, even if you were nervous. First Gala, then Radin crowded close, surrounding her with warmth. Nialdlye startled, her green eyes sparking. Maybe shed broken that too. Shed come and done what she didnt want to do shed done the right thing. She snapped back down to look at Brevin. His body shook, his thrusts gone ragged. Her body shuddered uncontrollably as heat ripped apart her spine. She took long, glorious moments to simply enjoy the tingles that spread throughout her limbs. Except that she is not a goddess and could not have maintained such power. Irin had been beside herself with the news. She could feel it in her soul. How could I deny such a lovely request?

    Like

  25. Phronk Avatar

    I guess that's spam, but I think I'll just leave it there.

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  26.  Avatar

    I guess that's spam, but I think I'll just leave it there.

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  27. Mark Avatar

    Yes, it's almost like we all have an internal monkey, lizard, fish and human being in us, vying for control…

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  28.  Avatar

    Yes, it's almost like we all have an internal monkey, lizard, fish and human being in us, vying for control…

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  29. Phronk Avatar

    I read something that someone wrote about that sometime somewhere.

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  30.  Avatar

    I read something that someone wrote about that sometime somewhere.

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  31. Jay Ferris Avatar

    My inner hulk is in charge 95% of the time, most notably at both ends of the eating cycle, i.e. shopping and pooping.

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  32.  Avatar

    My inner hulk is in charge 95% of the time, most notably at both ends of the eating cycle, i.e. shopping and pooping.

    Like