From: Scott Chase (email@example.com)
Date: Sat 14 May 2005 - 05:51:31 GMT
Having an armchair interest in musicology I'm finding
Benzon's book _Beethoven's Anvil_ fascinating
(although I'm a little hesitant on the triune brain stuff myself). Anyway he starts talking about something he refers to as *persona* at which point my ears perked up, since I have some intellectual investment here myself. Like the diagrams and how he defines (page 61) it as "the representation of an individual distributed across all individuals in the society". This overlaps with my understanding of the concept, but curiously he refers to some works by Erik Erikson (likening it to "a person's identity") and omits reference to Carl Jung, the guy with whom I most strongly associate this concept. Maybe I'm mistaken, but my trusty MWCD10 explicitly refers to Jung in its definitions of persona, so I think I have a case to make here (ie- "an individual's social facade or front that esp. in the analytic psychology of C.G. Jung reflects the role in life the individual is playing").
Benzon's usage of the term is neutral and Jung likens
it to the *mask* of an actor in his "Definitions"
section of _Psychological Types_ (CW6). But here Jung
is also talking about character splitting and the
capacity of someone to engage in deception of
themselves and others, so there's a negative
connotation implied here. In _The Archetypes and the
Collective Unconscious_ (CW9) and the Glossary of
_MDR_ Jung defines persona as "the individual's system of adaptation to, or the manner he assumes in dealing with, the world." He talks about the roles adopted in various occupations and then warns of identity with one's persona (eg- "professor with his text-book, the tenor with his voice"). That latter musical example would have fit nicely in Benzon's musically oriented book.
As far as the negative implications of deception, I
had thought somewhat idiosynchratically before of a
syncretic mind-meld between Jung's persona concept and
the political philosophy of Machiavelli. The way one
portrays themselves in a social setting can be
deceptive (eg- pick your favorite politico).
The part of identity with the persona was explored,
strangely enough in the TV series Miami Vice. In one
episode during the first season, Crockett and Tubbs
run into a character (federal agent) played by Ed
O'Neill (of Married with Children fame) who gets too
wrapped up in his undercover role. That kinda
foreshadows what happens to Crockett in a couple
episodes several seasons later when he survives an
explosion while fishing on a boat in the ocean and
loses his memory of who he is and identifies with his
undercover alter-ego Sonny Burnett. I think he winds
up shooting his partner Tubbs during one of these
I don't see Jung listed in Benzon's bibliography or
index, though he does talk about persona several times
in the book, according to the index. I see Erikson
listed though. I think it would have been fair to have
referred to Jung when introducing the concept. The
MWCD10 gives 1909 as a date of inception for the term.
Not sure if this means Jung used it then, but Erikson
(ca 7 yo) would have been quite young at the time anyway.
Does anyone have an OED handy that gives actual dates
and usage of this term?
Nonetheless, when I read Benzon's adoption of the
term, I'm carrying some conceptual baggage that
influences my views on the matter. Should be
The meme machinists might try approaching the persona
as a memeplex or the outward face of the selfplex
anyway. Interestingly Jung refers to the persona as a
"functional complex" in CW6 on the same page as above. In the Jungian context, "complex" carries much conceptual baggage.
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