15 February, 2002

( 1:32 PM )
Dodged a bullet today; when I visited onepotmeal this afternoon I read of Steve Himmer’s disappointment when people get his name wrong. Realizing that I had referred to him a day or two ago, I paged back to my reference and saw, aaaah, that I had spelt it “Himmer” and not any of the less-satisfactory variations on the theme. Even I wouldn’t have thought ot call him Jamie Pickwick.
On my street, growing up, most of the kids were from Eastern European Jewish or Roman Catholic families, or from Italian Roman Catholic families. The other kids didn’t know what to make of a Scots-English casual Anglican — so they decided I must be an otherwise unknown species of Italian, and named me “Angelo,” and my street nickname was “Anj.”


Jacob Shwirtz (spelled his name right, too — I’m on a roll) introduces “trust” into the discussion, and over at JOHO, David Weinberger entertains suggestions from Bill Seitz, Andrew Ross, Jonathan Peterson, and Jason Thompson. Look, it’s a big back yard, and the more of us playing there the better, but it gets hard to keep track of all the fun.
So by way of overview of the excitement: there seems to be something about history, the ways we represent ourselves, the things we actually say and do, and the settings in which we said, did, say, do, and represented and represent them, that a number of us want to highlight and applaud. The aggregate wisdom of our correspondents suggests that this quality involves a sort of congruence among the various elements, such that authentic identity reflects a discernable continuity of the [identity]’s history with its aspirations and self-representation, expressed across a variety of contexts in ways that complement one another and the historic self-presentation of the [identity].
Okay, but most of what that spotlights might more specifically be characterized in other, more precise ways. “I don’t like David Weinberger’s site; it conceals his unabashed hucksterism for his corporate fat-cat clients” tells me a lot more than “David Weinberger’s site seems inauthentic.” Are we not devoting vast amounts of intellectual energy (on your parts at least) to bolstering up a vague concept with rigor and nuance, when it might actually be more useful in its very vagueness, as an invitation or prelude to a different, more specific diagnosis?
All of you sound pretty authentic to me, by the way. But in different ways.
It’s been a long week. I have to go grade some Greek exams. Let me know if you decide something.
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I told Mark Juchter I would blog that he, the Blood Man extraordinaire, once again escorted me, the Big Chicken, to Evanston-Northwestern Hospital to give blood. In a major breakthrough in donor-coddling technique, this makes the fourth time in a row I’ve given blood without fainting. Mark and the devoted blood siphoners at ENH smile bemusedly as I sweat, prattle, blanch, breathe deeply, look away from anything even vaguely associated with blood, and stagger away from the donor chair. They must really be desperate for blood if they put up with me, and I appreciate their willingness to endure my histrionics just to get my recycled body fluids. Mark’s the real deal when it comes to giving blood; I think he’s donated several tragic accidents’ worth all by himself, and he conjures the rest of us into giving blood too, so if you need surgery in the upper midwest, you may well have Mark to thank for your transfusion.
Go, and do likewise. (Give blood, I mean, not “need major surgery.”)

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