Identity, it’s all about language. You know the word persona, right. In Latin, that’s per as in through, like the English… And sona, like sonar, sound. It’s a sounding-through. But persona also means a mask. The masks they’d wear for festivals and things, they had a sound box in them to alter their voice. The persona is always a mask.
It’s also like in inter-action, or you say he acted, he was acting drunk, stupid… There’s always a performance. People identifying and trying to be identified in a certain way.
Like when you’re with your brother, or at work, you say you talk in a more London accent. Or if you’re teaching, it’s much more well spoken. I’m a bit like that. I don’t want to lose the sound of where I’m from, that says I’m common, I’m not privileged. Aaaah… Hear that? [Thick SW accent] But I’ve also studied languages, I’m a multi linguist, so I don’t want to hide what I know. But I want to tell people what words mean, so it’s not an elitist thing. Like if I use the word ‘illustrious’, and you say I don’t know what that means, I’d tell you so that you can learn it. That way we’re spreading what we know, increasing it together.
Maybe the more masks you’ve got, the more you can fit in. You can make more advantages out of a situation. The ‘better’ your accent, the more well off you might be, so that might make you more attractive… Natural selection. I don’t know. But I’m not like Holden Caulfield, you know from Catcher in the Rye. I don’t think it’s phoney not to be just one way. I think the self is much broader, like the Atman in Hinduism, a container of all these forms and changes.
Like male, female, race… these are all arbitrary categories. We’re just human beings. OK, I get that it’s social and political, that these are made to be real, their effects are real. But ultimately we’re all human beings, our minds are the same. Things like nationality, it’s just nonsense. Our language, the way we speak, it communicates these categories. But we can be freed of them, we just have to recognise what we have in common. I don’t think people should limit themselves. And when someone does something that harms or insults another, on ANY grounds… we’ve got to challenge that, we’ve got to stop it. Because a crime against one is a crime against all. Things like homophobia, racism, I can’t stand that, I have to do something. It harms us all.
You tell me about Spinoza, about how God is nature. I think I get that. There is no supernatural, that would be impossible. God is here, in this cup or this table. But that doesn’t mean much either. Nature can be matter, but also ideas. Everything that is. Our body parts are always renewing, the skin, every seven years? That means I’m about to start my fifth body! But life is always contained in that changing. Energy never begins or ends. We’re always changing form, and our actions are the effects of earlier causes, and we cause things that long outlive what we did. Or our ideas, our beliefs. What I might say to you might make you do something, or maybe not do it. The idea lives on through what it causes.
I don’t think I can rest in one place. Fancy joining me in France in a few weeks? I’ll be there, wandering, camping out. Why not? It doesn’t cost much, all you need is time, and you make that. People are too closed in London. Continual working, it wears people out. What’s it all for? It’s like people have forgotten.