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Post-Discussion Ramblings

kobieta's picture
A lot of what we discussed in class today was based on identity: from the quotes in the beginning of the book to Wanda's true identity in the different worlds.  But how do we determine identity anyway? Is it based on our own dreams; virtually, our own individual perceptions? Or is it based on reality--the general ideologies and rules of society, coming from the web of interactions between perceptions and ideas? Ironically, with these definitions, we see yet again that there is NO distinction between "reality" and "dreams." After all, our individual perceptions are influenced by others' and general, publicly accepted ideologies are based on individual perceptions.  Thus, if there is no difference between reality and dreams, then the quotes in the beginning of the graphic novel seems accurate in saying that nobody knows who they are. Perhaps, what we call "identity" doesn't exist. And we wrap back around the circle.  Yay circles and irony and never-ending questions. End of rant.


kobieta's picture

Reality vs. Dream

I think I was edging more towards a claim that there is hardly a difference between reality and dreams, and that identity doesn't exist. I really like your idea of having the power to alter reality. But, I find myself thinking the opposite. Sometimes, I find it easier to alter my dreams than to alter my own reality. Reality is always defined by some other factors and influences, not just ones we put in ourselves; the equation involves other people and their choices. In dreams, however, it can be anything. There are times when I personally, have dreams in which I control what happens. Maybe it's when I am slipping in and out of consciousness, that's why I am able to do it. But, I strongly believe that the power of alteration is applicable in both reality and dreams.

Also, one of the most convincing things, for me, that there is no distinction between reality and dreams is that  they constantly influence one and the other. Our realities are influenced by our dreams; like Anne's account of her dreams determining her days. Our dreams are influenced by our realities; the things we dream about are most often about our hopes and fears and worries. I don't know if this ever happens to anyone, but there are times  when I dream a very real dream and then forget about it when I wake up. Then, in passing conversation, I mention something to someone, and they tell me it never happened, and only then realize and remember that it was just a dream. I can count at least three different times this has happened. Conversely, when we are in dream state, we are often unaware that we are dreaming until we wake up. It's a web too entangled, venn diagrams that are overlapping too much, for us to fully be aware of their differences. Who's to say that what we are doing now isn't just some dream we haven't woken up to? (Getting inspired by the movie "Inception" here).

Thus, if I can't fully define and distinguish reality from dream, and identity was based on those two, then identity doesn't exist, but only in this sense. There are other factors that make up our identity, our categories, that are not ambiguous, like our gender.

The picture below denotates what I believe is the overlap between reality and dream. Perhaps, if identitiy was based solely on gender, then it might be the only definitely "real" thing and on the other side of the spectrum, the only "dreams" we have are those that we don't associate with our physical life--like dreaming of people you don't know, dreaming of someone you love dying, dreaming of death in general, and dreaming of fears we didn't know we were harboring.

Anne Dalke's picture

"undeniable characteristics like gender"

just have to respond to this tag in your diagram...

in my gender studies class this week, we're doing Kate Bornstein's Gender Workbook, which begins
* " a major restraint to self-expression," and goes on:
* "we live in the latter days of...the 'Age of Identity'....
* Gender is a system of social control,

* gender is a trap, a chimera...."

KT's picture

identity, reality and and dreams - some thoughts

To me, this echoes our discussion on genre and categories.  When you have an “identity,” you have characteristics that put you in a category, like a genre.  Many times those boundary lines can be fuzzy and without universal agreement.  ex. Wanda’s identity (and category) could be either man or woman and the determination is different depending on the perspective of the person asked (man to her relatives, woman to her.) 

But I do want to question the idea that there’s no distinction between reality and dreams.  For one thing, I think that we can alter our reality to some extent, so there is agency that we don’t have in our dreams, but importantly, dreams include possibilities that do not exist in reality. ex. you can die in your dreams and still wake up the next morning, but if you die in reality you don’t.  Perhaps we can use our dreams to influence our reality, but that doesn’t mean that they are the same. The possibilities, experience and consequences for each are vastly different. 

When you write that identity doesn’t exist, I feel like that’s too broad, I think that reality can be changed to a certain extent, but that’s not the same as reality not existing.