Three Identities? Small Potatoes. I Have 452 Identities in a Spreadsheet

Guardian: “It is said that we are all three different people: the person we think we are (the one we have invented), the person other people think we are (the impression we make) and the person we think other people think we are (the one we fret about). You could say it would be a lifetime’s quest to reconcile this battling trinity into a seamless whole. Maybe, but for the time being I am convinced that, in Kurt Vonnegut’s words (there I go, quoting again): you are what you pretend to be.”


  1. I like how the Guardian eliminates the obvious fourth option: the person no one, not even you, suspects you are, but which in fact you are.

    I think the ideas in Hoftsader’s new book, “I Am a Strange Loop,” are not only more accurate, but more beautiful. Here’s an account from the Journal review:

    “Mr. Hofstadter writes movingly of the sudden death of his wife, Carol, at age 42 and of the effect this event had on his thinking about selfhood. Had Carol’s consciousness entirely ceased to exist? He argues that it had not, since, by the closeness of their understanding, Carol’s ‘I’ was instantiated not only in Carol’s brain but in Doug’s brain too, albeit in a partial, “low resolution” or “coarse grained” form. My self, my ‘I,’ is not impenetrably fenced off from others. There is seepage and replication, Mr. Hofstadter believes … what seems to be the epitome of selfhood — a sense of ‘I’ — is in reality brought into being if and only if there is, along with that self, a sense of other selves to whom one has bonds of affection. In short, when and only when generosity is born is an ego born …he discusses Alzheimer’s disease as the slow disappearance of an ‘I’ from its original container, while ‘low resolution’ copies of it yet glow in the minds of others.”

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