I shamelessly plundered this idea from a friend, who had stolen it from a friend of hers, with whom I subsequently became friends, too. (You caught me; this is a repost.) I may be a little removed from the original idea, but as I understand it, this is about naming the “personalities” we all have inside us, naming and describing the parts of ourselves that we keep compartmentalized. As Whitman said, “I contain multitudes.” In this entry, I’ve written up brief character sketches of a few members of the multitudes in me.
I would love to hear about all the people living inside of anyone who reads this.
Christobel is a little girl, and she loves being just that. She wants to write with a big, fluffy, pink, quill pen, but the rest of us refuse. Her ambition in life was to grow up and be a fairy princess, and she still remains incompletely persuaded that that is not a possibility. She likes to play dress-up and is waiting for an occasion to own a ball gown like Deborah Kerr’s from The King and I. It is Christobel who (with Siobahn) tells me to paint my nails—and Marian who seldom lets her paint them pale pink. Christobel likes birds and butterflies, blossoms on trees, and meadows full of buttercups and wild strawberries. If she had her way, I would spend most of my time gathering flowers into a basket on my arm and making up fairy tales. She keeps her heart close to the surface and is devastated to see anyone or anything hurt. She loves and believes in everyone and is crushed when anyone doesn’t love her back or when her trust is betrayed. She desperately wants to please and be loved by everyone she meets. When that doesn’t happen, she feels like a failure.
Andrew, like Christobel, is about six. He likes to play with turtles. He doesn’t much care about pleasing others as long as others will play with him. He often becomes very busy while playing. He would very much like to build and make things with his hands and is thoroughly disgusted with the rest of us for not being mechanically inclined—or, indeed, able to walk and chew gum. Our biggest failing, as he tells us in his blunt way, is not being able to whistle. He would be perfectly happy to spend forever hanging around a creek or exploring the woods. He doesn’t come out to play very often any more, perhaps because he has no interest in or understanding of the things that occupy the rest of us most of the time. He likes some video games, though.
Marian is a warrior, She doesn’t have any gender issues with being female and a warrior, and she’s as happy in a dress as slacks—but she does, as I said, draw the link at baby pink nail polish. She is not willing to tolerate any kind of bigotry, injustice, or dishonesty, and she is unrepentantly certain that the one thing it is all right not to tolerate is intolerance. Any paradox that might lie therein, she is certain is mere sophistry. She is direct, believes in action, and has no patience for inactivity of silence in the face of evil or injustice. She gets the rest of us into trouble a lot when she acts alone, but she is showing an increasing willingness to listen to Edmund. She has been very vocal lately and is taking a definite interest in the election.
Edmund is the practical philosopher, and he forces the rest of us to be just as often as he can, whether we like it or not (that is, he forces us to "be just" whenever he can--not he forces to "be" just as as often as he can) . He is the one who believes (and reminds us) that none of us are any wiser or more likely to be right than anyone else, which makes him the wisest of us. He insists on civil discourse, from the rest of us and everyone else, and can be hard on anyone, internal or external, who is uncivil or unfair. He is one of the few of us who think before speaking. The rest of grudgingly admit that he’s right most of the time, but he has been so helpful over time that we can’t resent him.
Sylvie is fairly quiet. She lives in the woods and loves contemplative silences. When she does speak, it is softly and often in song. She is a goddess worshipper and frequently wishes she could disappear into the fog and wander unseen. She sees a lot of beauty and carries a camera, but has to be reminded by the rest of us to use it, because she lives too much in the moment to remember to record things. She could fly if she weren’t weighed down by the rest of us.
Gertie is greedy and envious. She is constantly reminding the rest of us that we can’t sing, don’t have good hair, are not popular enough, etc.—and urging us to hate and resent people who have what we don’t. She would like us to dislike anyone with more money, education, talent, looks, or better fingernails. Edmund, Marian, and Elizabeth spend a lot of time sitting on her. Most of the rest of us have learned not to listen to her, but Christobel sometimes falls under her influence. Andrew and Sylvie are immune and never hear her at all.
Hagen is clumsy. He means well and says the wrong thing at every opportunity. He is not at all able to cope with nuance or subtlety of any kind. He is often baffled and he feels left out when hints are dropped. He is, alas, in charge of incoming communication which involves subtlety, and he frequently makes a fool of us all. We have tried, especially Edmund and Lucretia, to educate him, but in the end, people who have anything to say to any of us should probably just be direct. When forced to guess, Hagen always guesses wrong.
Banshee is a howling void of aching need. She is the raging repository of every hurt, rejection, injustice, lie, or attack we encounter. If Marian can’t right it, Banshee stores it. Christobel reports everyone who doesn’t love her directly to Banshee, and Banshee hoards it all up. Her wail is dangerous and destructive, but if stifled too long, she gains in power. She writes some of my worst poetry, and I let her. It helps keep the wail from getting too loud. Since she stores up anger at external injustices, too, she sometimes teams up with Edmund and Marian to write some of my best blog entries, and on rare occasions, a poem that surprises the hell out of me and makes me proud.
Erinye is the voice of certain family members, certain teachers I had, and a few former friends. She tells me I am bad and wrong and have no right to enjoy life or have any fun, ever. Whatever I say or do that is healthy or good, she criticizes. She tells me I’m lazy and selfish and mean. She hates Banshee, in part because one of the things Erinye thinks is worst about me is that I am, in her words, a troublemaker. The other reason she hates Banshee is that Banshee is trying to destroy her, for which I am grateful to Banshee. We all are. Erinye hates Marian, because Marian is a truth-teller. She hates Edmund, because Edmund is fair, even to me, which pits him against her. She hates them both because they’re courageous. She hates Sylvie, because she doesn’t think I deserve anyone so beautiful or private. She is okay with Christobel, because she likes to devastate her by saying that no loves her or any other part of me. If Banshee could drive out Erinye, Banshee might become something much better than she is.
Lucretia is terribly clever. She likes to read Derrida and discuss ideas which have no application to real life. She can be fun, and she helps us all win at Scrabble, but she’s terribly self-indulgent and pleased with herself, and she frequently irritates the rest of us.
Siobahn embraces the non-rational. She loves colors, all colors, and also all shades of grey, which she refuses to let any of us spell gray. Siobahn is passionate but disorganized. She writes a little, paints a little, and with Sylvie, photographs a little. She is attracted to everything with colors, such as swaths of fabric, bottles of nail polish in a row, and dishes of colorful candy and will happily come home with a purse- or pocketful of paint chips. She wants to eat every bright red berry or red glass bead she sees. She is lazy, and it’s hard to get her started, but once she gets going, it’s hard to stop her. She also cooks and likes to experiment with recipes and invent new dishes. She decorates but seldom cleans. If she had her way, I’d have a different hair color every few weeks. She loathes Elizabeth’s taste in clothes and would prefer to dress in costume or at least as the mood struck her, without regard for fashion or appropriateness, and is quite irritated that the rest of won't.
Elizabeth mediates and sort of runs things. She is not, alas, very disciplined, but she is funny and loving and tries hard to listen most to Edmund and Marian. She does most of the writing and the talking and making friends and decides with whom to collaborate and when to pass the microphone to any of the rest of us. She shows up for work and tries to live like a grown-up, but she often forgets to listen to Andrew and Sylvie.