Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ontological Grief

The real me has been muscling in on Patroclus's territory of late, which is causing the pair of us all kinds of ontological grief.

The real me used to have the good grace to stay off the internet, choosing instead to sit in a swanky office writing brochures about software packages that do boring, menial things that humans don't like doing.

But the real me was envious of the fun Patroclus was having, with her blog and her wonderful online friends. Perhaps inevitably, the real me bred an army of emergent nanobots, who generated a software package that generates brochures about software packages that do boring, menial things humans don't like doing.

With nanobots now safely in charge of client service, the real me escaped on to the internet to play havoc with my own sense of a single, unified self.

The real me now has her own blog, and her own profile on Twitter. And just as Patroclus fears that one day her 'real' identity will be revealed, the real me fears that one day she will be unmasked as Patroclus.

In some places, the safety curtain between us is already looking distinctly threadbare. Lots of people know at least one of Patroclus's real names. Patroclus and the real me write on similar topics. The real me occasionally accidentally comments as Patroclus, and vice versa. Lexical fingerprinting experts could link us in seconds, probably using this very post.

I'm just hoping we stay separate for long enough to run into each other online. In theory it could be a beautiful friendship - we have so much in common - but I have a suspicion that we don't actually like each other all that much. The mischievous postmodernist in me is really looking forward to finding out.


UPDATE: If anyone can shed any light on what Dante Gabriel Rossetti was trying to express with that doppelgänger painting up there, I'd be most grateful. My book about the Pre-Raphaelites is rotting away in the cellar of my French house, and the so-called 'information supernet' is annoyingly unforthcoming on the subject.

21 comments:

First Nations said...

thank you. my head feels extremely fucked with now and it has enhanced my beer buzz by 34%.
now i must backread. apparently Blogger is not looking so i must be swift.....

Anonymous said...

There used to be several of me online. A number of years back, I consolidated, and now there are several representations of a single me instead of several mes. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this. There is a freedom in separation. I've found that, at present, my representations are showing distinct signs of schizophrenia and I may end up with several mes again, though possibly with confusing links to each other...

All of which is a lengthy way of saying I think I know what you mean.

Mangonel said...

RL me got accidentally rumbled by a fellow blogger using Technorati. It felt very odd and exposing, and I considered stopping both blogs. I haven't - I was just about OK with a friend of Mangonel's discovering RL me. Had it been the other way about I would have had to leave the country. As it is, I now carry my passport with me everywhere, just in case.

I would be hard pressed to decide which of us is the 'real' me though.

Tim Footman said...

I hope this post is going to be the opening chapter of your book, Patroclus.

Have you ever seen a film called Tomorrow I'll Wake Up And scald Myself With Tea? It combined the old sci-fi standby (moving in time and meeting yourself) with the classic sign that a soap is in shark-jump mode (TWINS!)

I've just realised, I know two of your non-Patroclus identities, as well as the fact that you're one of the surviving Celebrity Big Brother contestants.

Spinsterella said...

Wooo!

Do you think Real-life You and Internet You are going to get along when you inevitably meet?

Or will there be conflict and a competitive edge?

Billy said...

My head hurts. That's my real head not my internet one.

Anonymous said...

Am i the only one here who doesn't think of my internet self and my self self as separate entities?

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean, I like to sort of keep hidden, but at the same time not, so blogging is really useful for that. When the two 'identities' sort of collide with each other, or have the potential to, it's sometimes a bit disconcerting. In fact nobody in my everyday life, except my close family know about my blog! I tell noone else.

Urban Chick said...

so many monikers, so little time...

i think i might have more than half a dozen

yikes

need to rationalise, methinks

Anonymous said...

I get confused enough having one online identity, more than that and I may completely evaporate.

Annie said...

I found this on Leicester Galleries.com: Rossetti, by calling it the 'Bogie drawing', expressed his continuing fascination with the legend of the Doppelganger, the vision of which is a presentiment of death... Doppelganger imagery occurs in poems he admired such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning's The Romaunt of Margaret and Poe's Silence and also frequently in his own more autobiographical poems such as Sudden Light, Even So, and Willowwood. Rossetti creeps me out a bit - he buried some of his poems with his wife when she died - then decided to dig 'em up again a few years later when he couldn't remember them. Brrr...

patroclus said...

Ahh, thanks Annie! Indeed he did try and dig up his poems afterwards - although he claimed the best one had been half-eaten by worms by that point. Mind you, he was arguably responsible for her death in the first place, as she'd been playing up a bit, and he told her to 'go home and take the whole lot' (of laudanum), which she duly did, somewhat fatally. Mind you he also kept a wombat in his back garden, which is different, at least.

Wyndham said...

This is all very The Man Who Haunted Himself, or in this case, The Lady Who Haunted Herself. It has all the makings of a brilliant cyber-thriller and if you're very unlcuky George Clooney will make a film of it.

cello said...

I never let the real cello comment on here. She would just wreak havoc.

I keep her locked up with just CDs of Rameau to listen to and buckets of broad beands to pod.

Spinsterella said...

Ah, but CB, you are in the other camp.

Those bloggers who perhaps use their real name, post pictures of themselves, or perhaps even involve their friends and family in.

The rest of us inhabit a different, dark, cyberspace, where we are totally (sort of) anonymous and we just make things up as we go along.... But fear of being discovered is always with us. That's why we don't worry about MRSA and the Doomsday Clock so much. It's a burden.

Betty said...

"Lots of people know at least one of Patroclus's real names" - what, so you're actually an international drug dealer and have dozens of Howard Marks-type identities, disguises and passports?

Del said...

I post under my real name, but even so my blog persona is not me. It's just a character. Which is why I get so worried when people I know in real life read it, in case they think that actually is me.

But then again what am I? Who are we but the perceptions of others?

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean, I like to sort of keep hidden, but at the same time not, so blogging is really useful for that. When the two 'identities' sort of collide with each other, or have the potential to, it's sometimes a bit disconcerting. In fact nobody in my everyday life, except my close family know about my blog!

Anonymous said...

Oh pants, how on earth have I managed to post twice?!

Tabby Rabbit said...

Ah - but what the online world and people who aren't so comfortable writing? My online self is resigned to the fact that it's not going to have anything simlar to my personal life as I simply can't say what I want through the keyboard in the way I can in person. If I ever plan suicide (not that I do, mind you) then I would need to somehow make some sort of speech or recording. Or leave some badly-phrased note on an antique typewriter after several drafts - or hire a copywriter. Not very practical.

patroclus said...

Ooh, that's another great thing about having lots of online identities - you can commit suicide without actually dying.

Good point though, TR. I would never claim that having multiple online selves is better than having just one offline self; it's just that it's sometimes weirder.

Anyone would think I think about this a bit too much.