11 December 2009

Virtual Via Nation

Dear Internet User

You are formally invited to become an honorary citizen of Virtual Via Nation.

Regardless of any other citizenship status you may hold, citizenship of Virtual Via Nation is open to any friendly person who reads my blogs.

24 November 2009

Faces from the Past

Here is a photograph taken in Bishopsgate Street Without in the City of London in the year 1894 or thereabouts. This lovely little girl is my great grandmother Annie.

I am lucky to be able to put a name to the face on this carte de visite. There are a few other family photographs portraying ancestors I am yet to properly identify.

This picture is on this blog because I am writing here on the topic of identity. You may already know that I have a family history blog, too, called Ancestors Within.

03 November 2009

On Being Popular

Mass popularity, like extraordinary wealth, is so old hat. Like many 20th century phenomena, they are best kept in the past. The 21st century is make or break time for a more democratic world.

27 October 2009

Heritage, Inner Peace and World Peace

What does the word "heritage" mean to you?

You may be wondering what this question has to do with the topic of personal identity, but heritage is about the permanence of our sense of identity, of our sense of selfhood.

15 October 2009

Images, Half-truths and Reality

One of my observations is that most of the people I encounter have a tendency to block out too much of the information in their environment. Although we are often bombarded by stimuli, we can miss out on what is important if we shut out everything.

For example, why is it that so many people miss instructions on loudspeakers at airports about their flights? Is it because those individuals switch off their minds to the outside world and live somewhere the rest of us cannot reach? Is it, alternatively, because they leave the responsibility for dealing with the world to other people?

27 July 2009

Theories of Cultural Identity

This blog post is about theories of cultural identity, and theories about cultural identity.

20 July 2009

Entertainment, Friendship and Identity

Although I am happy with my identity as a middle-aged married woman, I am happier still with my identity as a genuine human being. I am not much of an entertainer, though. When people attempt to entertain others, how authentic are they? How true are they being to themselves?

18 July 2009

The Serious Subject of Funny Names

How can the serious and the funny be combined without being silly? This is a question I like to answer through the way I approach life.

11 July 2009

Via Veeya Vyah

You may have noticed that I have chosen a blogger name that is not only short but also one that can be pronounced in at least two ways.

If you speak English as a second language, is Via a word with a different meaning in your language? I chose the word because of its Latin origin, though I don't understand Latin very well having never studied it at school.

05 July 2009


Can you see sounds or smell colours? Do you taste shapes? Is your mind like other minds? Do other people experience the world just as you do?

How is your brain today? Has it changed recently? How does your brain affect the way you behave?

02 July 2009

Groups, Gatherings and Glamour

For all visitors here who have been enjoying this ongoing and multifaceted exploration of the names and labels people give to themselves and each other, there are many other aspects yet to be mentioned in this blog.

25 June 2009

In the Name of Freedom

The picture to your left is of a couple of people you may know something about. Which of them do you believe has experienced most freedom? What does freedom mean to you?

The photograph was taken at Australia's Parliament House in Canberra in 2007. The portrait in the background was painted quite a while before that.

16 June 2009

Sitting Comfortably

Prestige, status, power, authority, class, style, legitimacy, eminence, dignity...

How often do the above words provide the motives for your actions?

13 June 2009

Being a VIP - Social Status and Self Knowledge

Are you a very important person?

The above question is a very important one!

09 June 2009

How to be Delightfully Surprising

There are so many facets of identity to explore, as you will already know if you have been visiting this blog over the past few months. I hope your experiences here have been informing you about yourself in surprising ways.

This blog post is not just about surprising yourself in pleasant ways but also about how to delight others as they learn new things about you. Do you know how to explore and express your talents, and perhaps even unlock your inner genius?

05 June 2009

About Your Mind

Much of our sense of identity comes from the way we think about ourselves in the world.

22 May 2009

Identity Politics

Do you identify yourself with a particular section of human society, with humanity as a whole, or with life on planet earth in its entirety? 

18 May 2009

Menial roles, higher goals and social enterprise

The only family role that has been entirely my own choice is the one of wife. I enjoy married life because I am fortunate to be married to someone who likes growing older with me, as an equal, with similar values and interests. We are a team.

14 May 2009

Age and Identity - part three

This is the final part I will write on the topic of age and identity. To begin, perhaps you would like to think about how you would answer the following questions:

What does it mean to be young?

What does it mean to be middle aged?

What does it mean to be old?

What does it mean to be a child?

What does it mean to be an adult?

08 May 2009

Age and Identity - part two

Making time to think about the topic of identity is important at any age.

23 April 2009

Age and Identity - part one

In today's world, there are numerous individuals and organisations competing for attention through the media, and in interpersonal encounters. Many 'celebrities' are molded by coaches, managers and public relations consultants. (The main role of a 'celebrity' is to be a marketing tool.)

08 April 2009

Mistaken Identity and Identity Confusion

Identity confusion is an especially interesting topic. We can be confused about our own identity, but other people can be confused about our identity, too.

02 April 2009

Behaviour, identity and hormones

How are your psychological states dependent on hormonal factors?

08 March 2009

The Popularity of Portraiture

Have you ever thought about the difference between a snapshot and a portrait?

Is it like comparing a caricature and a realistic depiction of someone?

What about symbolism as a reflection of mood or personality?

How might you better understand another person, or yourself, through art?

Self portraits

If you have been following any (or all) of my blogs over the past few weeks, you will have seen that I have used various pictorial depictions of myself in my profile, from some that are fairly realistic snapshots, to some that are portraits, to some that are symbolic, and even one or two that might be caricatures.

How do you make pictorial representations of yourself? Here is one of my primitive, minimalist self-portraits, or maybe it is just a caricature, you can make up your own mind:

Does the above picture say anything at all about me? Why might I have used that image of myself?

As a social scientist, I am interested in how people respond to each other. When using several different images to represent myself as the blogger Via, I have made a record of which ones have attracted the most attention from people looking through blog lists.

My conclusion has been that more realistic representations of the human face usually attract more visitors to my blogs. This might be because portraiture has been very popular in western culture for several centuries, and most users of computers are at least reasonably familiar with that culture.

The Archibald Prize

In Australia, this year's winner of the Archibald Prize for portraiture has just been announced. The Archibald is the most famous art prize in this country and many people visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales each year to see the exhibition.

In London, my three favourite places to visit when I was younger were the National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Mankind (now closed) and the Museum of London. All of these places are/were about people in various ways. When in Paris, many people visit the Louvre for one main reason, to see a particularly famous portrait.

The Archibald Prize exhibition, like many portrait galleries, requires that the pictures on display are of people who are, or have been, prominent in society in some way. Could it be, then, that people are attracted more by the prominence than by the portraits?

16 February 2009

Reflecting on identity

Our identities are often shaped by how we believe we are perceived by others. How we respond to other people may also depend on our perceptions of our social selves.

None of the bloggers who know me in the "real world" have been told that I have become a blogger now. They do not know me as Via. I wonder if they will find my blogs without me telling them where to look, and even without knowing that I have been blogging. It is an interesting secret to keep.

12 February 2009

A patient patient

Does your sense of identity change whenever you are feeling unwell? Do people label you in terms of a perceived disability? Has an injury ever made you think differently about yourself?

07 February 2009

Brand Names

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Unlike the poetic language used by Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet, Act Two, Scene Two), I would say that it depends on how the rose is marketed if it has another name.

06 February 2009


I have been developing the link list here today, to assist your explorations of identity, and my own.

Explorations may lead to understanding. Understanding can often lead to peace, and also to wisdom and compassion. I have written a book on the topic if you might be interested.

There will be more about that later in my Quieter Living blog.

Why do you think politicians and would-be celebrities are more interested in making a name for themselves than living quietly?

Who are the politicians most liked and disliked in your society?

Do you have a love-hate-indifferent attitude towards particular celebrities. Do you know why?

03 February 2009

Name Games and the Wider World

Is me a name you call yourself to yourself or do you only use the word me in the presence of a real or imaginary audience? If you do a spot of blogging yourself, what were your reasons for choosing your blogger name? Please feel free to enlighten me (you do not need to reveal any personal details).

01 February 2009

Dear Visitor

You may have realised that I am new to blogging.  Fortunately, I have had a very interesting and enjoyable time, in the last couple of weeks, exploring a few blogs by other people and finding out interesting things about strangers who share one or more of my interests.  I had never read any blogs before let alone written one.

As every moment of my life is important to me, I only want to do things giving me a sense of purpose.

What, then, is the purpose of this blog, dear visitor?

What is its purpose for me?

What is its purpose for you?


If you are wondering why I have begun four blogs instead of just one, the reason is simple.  If I could not categorise and separate my numerous activities and interests, and group them in productive ways, I would go completely mad!


This entry is here in this blog because I would like to tell you a little bit more about my real name in relation to identity. I usually publish using just my initials and surname. This is to ensure that my gender and cultural background are not major factors in readers' minds when they form judgements about the ideas I express.


Bias creeps in from all sorts of directions in the social sciences, just as it does in life more generally.  Keeping many of my personal characteristics a mystery helps to prevent the prejudices some people continue to maintain. 

There are many prejudices concerning female contributions to intellectual and social progress.  Those prejudices prevent understanding.


For several years, I have maintained a website about my work, and that is where I have written quite a lot about my professional and business activities.  I also do a lot of writing on paper.

I tend to keep in email contact with a large number of people whose research interests match my own.  At one time, I sent many handwritten letters to distant family members and old friends.  I no longer do that.


Having several different blogs is, at least in theory, a way for me to express several aspects of myself that are separate from the main intellectual disciplines that form a large part of my current identity.

Having more than one name and more than one identity, and using and expressing them in different ways during different social occasions, is quite common, hence this current blog. 

As I will be attempting to understand more about the way names and identities shape societies and cultures, I intend to share some of that awareness more widely.  If you have a name or two, or several different nicknames or pen names, or you want to make a name for yourself in some way, do dip in here from time to time!

Your identity

What does identity mean to you?

How and why is identity important to people such as yourself?

What sort of person are you, and how do you know?

What is the relationship between your privacy and your identity?

How do you perceive your identity differently now than you did in the past?

What is it about you that never seems to change?

Do you currently want to go elsewhere?

Naming blogs accurately and succinctly is an art form in itself.  I have no skill in that regard, as far as I am aware. However, my Continual Journeys blog might be self-explanatory to you after just a brief visit, especially if you are amongst the many people who like to travel. Have you taken a look there?

If you are at all interested in history and identity, then Ancestors Within may appeal to you.  How has your family history shaped your identity?  What do you understand about the heritage of your name and identity?  What do you know about your great grandparents, and how?

And if all you want is some peace, then the Quieter Living blog might be the place to be.  I certainly wish everyone peace.

And I hope you will find each of my blogs to be interesting reading and enjoyable experiences, dear visitor.

30 January 2009

Wedgwood, Darwin and me

My middle childhood years were spent in the beautiful countryside just to the south of where Josiah Wedgwood had his pottery factories. The Trent and Mersey Canal is near to where I played and walked and explored between the ages of nine and thirteen.

Wedgwood had the idea of building that canal, in the monetary sense of making it a reality. The engineer James Brindley first alerted him of the possibility.

One of Josiah's grandsons was Charles Darwin, whose 200th birthday will be celebrated on 12 February 2009. Without the entrepreneurial work and amorous activities of Josiah Wedgwood, we may never have had the Theory of Evolution.

How would young Darwin have found the time to study other than by having wealthy relatives? It helped, too, that Josiah Wedgwood was a friend of Erasmus Darwin, the other grandfather of Charles, who had some ideas about the origin of species himself.

Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury in Shropshire, England. My mother was born there too. Many of her ancestors could not even read or write. But the names of Wedgwood and Darwin are part of my heritage, and my sense of place, and my sense of being.

Josiah Wedgwood helped to put an end to slavery in the British empire. He therefore helped to give a great many people an identity as fellow humans in the eyes of others.

29 January 2009

Family Honour and Freedom

Some of the discourses on names can have hilarious aspects, but there are others that are far more serious. For example, how do you and your relatives address the topic of family honour? What does the topic mean to you? Can honour exist in the presence of oppression, bullying, fear and intimidation?
Were you told as a child to obey the ten commandments but found the one about parents could be very difficult to obey in practice? How does abusive parenting relate to ancient commands to be obedient?

A personal point of view

I prefer to think about family honour in terms of bringing honour to those who supported us through childhood, but doing so in an indirect way. Perhaps this indirect honouring may best be achieved by taking responsibility for our own educational and economic development, earning trust, and enjoying affectionate, mutual respect.

This may also be the key for true freedom, and true love.

19 January 2009

Unfortunate Connotations

This blog is for you if...

...your name has unfortunate connotations in the minds of others, or

... your name, or that of someone you care about, is often annoyingly associated with, or mistaken for, the name of someone else, or...

... your name is so common that many others on the planet seem to have been given it too, or

... you have the same name as a famous person, but find that you cannot express your own identity as a consequence, or

... a notorious villain had, or has, a similar name to yours, or

... your parents choose your name to remind them of one of their heroes and expect you to live up to that standard, or

... you have a name that everyone you meet cannot pronounce correctly, or

... your name is a constant source of amusement for other people.