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On Hearing Oneself Through Others

One of the more important of the many unexpected benefits of
producing the Digital Dialogue is the feedback I have received from
friends who listen.  In a strange way, the podcast offers me some
distance on myself such that I am able to hear certain suggestions and
comments about how I “appear” in public in a less defensive way.  This
strikes me as an important insight directly related to the question of
the excellences of public dialogue.  Appearing in public, appearing to
someone allows you to be reflected back to yourself in ways that are
revealing.  If this reflection can be faced, it opens up the
possibility of self-transformation through/with others.

Let me be more concrete: in the course of a discussion about the sound quality of
the podcasts, I have solicited feedback from those I trust.  My wife,
Val, of course, is my most trusted advocate, adviser and critic, so it
was important to hear her suggest the difference between my philosophy
persona and my more informal and relaxed persona.  We had discussed this
issue before, particularly as she began, early in our relationship, to
come to hear me give papers or lectures.  It is not that I am a
different person, but that I have a way of talking when I am in my
teaching or professional mode.

Allan Gyorke has made a similar point to me in email:

When your podcast starts, I’ve seen you take on a very scholarly persona that is very intense and quieter (Dr. Christopher Long) than the person you are when we were brainstorming about your video and playing around (Chris).

It turns out, however, that this issue is becoming more complex for me as I turn my attention to my new role as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the College of Liberal Arts.  Not only do I need to think about how Chris relates to Dr. Christopher Long, but now too, we have this new fellow, Associate Dean Long.  Of course, these three are also related to the person I am as a father and husband.

We have an ongoing discussion of these various identity questions on my little blog about blogging, Mapping the Long Road, and more questions are being raised in my mind than answers…

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