Re: Benzon on persona(e)

From: William Benzon (
Date: Sat 14 May 2005 - 10:32:56 GMT

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    Don't have time to comment now as I've got a plane to catch. I'll get back in a week or so.

    Bill B

    on 5/14/05 12:51 AM, Scott Chase at wrote:

    > 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
    > episodes.
    > 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
    > interesting.
    > 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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