Southampton Solent University’s The Quill Society had its January event hosted by ex-Solent graduate, Jack Mellish, who came to talk about identity and the concept of ‘self’. This talk went in a very different direction to the other two Quill events, veering away from the literary focus, and bringing something much more philosophical to the table, questioning both the concept of ‘I’ and ‘am’ in the famous quote ‘I think, therefore I am’.
Jack started by asking members of the society ‘who are you?’, asking them to explain how they identify themselves. The answers varied, from ‘student’ to ‘girl’ and even ‘rich white boy’ as means of pin-pointing themselves, allowing Jack to interrogate these labels and what they actually mean and whether they effect the lives and perspectives of the people using them.
Jack was an incredibly interesting speaker, provoking everyone at the event to think about themselves and how they identify, as well as probably the more important questions, ‘why do I identify in this way?’ and ‘do I actually need all of these labels?’ He also looked at identity in a much broader sense, exploring cultural differences in character, and what things we all know objectively to be true about ourselves.
Guided meditation was also a subject that came up. Jack suggested that everyone try meditation, whether it be to de-stress or for spiritual reasons, separating your ‘self’ from all of the external factors in your life. The links to literature still ran through the talk, with mentions of Descartes, as well as the effect of the digital revolution on communication and language.
When I asked Jack his own question, ‘who are you?’, he responded with the phrase ‘I’m not’. This absolutely fascinated me, as he continued to talk about how he wants to understand being, and does not identify with his name or any of his assigned labels, and has found peace of mind in being detached.
Jack was clearly comfortable talking to the group, making them feel at ease when talking about themselves and their experiences in this intimate way, bringing his own thoughts, feelings and experiences to the table while still maintaining the focus of everyone in the group.
To learn more about the Hofstede study that Jack mentioned, follow this link: http://geert-hofstede.com/countries.html
The next event from The Quill Society is a trip to see A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry at The Nuffield Theatre. To become a member, follow the society on Facebook, visit the website, or email them via firstname.lastname@example.org
The Quill Society are also going to re-elect its committee over the next few weeks, to register your interest, email email@example.com !