Monday, March 18, 2002

As if to punctuate the ideas I was poking around on the 10th , earlier today I was mulling over the topic for this very blog when I clicked over to OnePotMeal and read this typically well reasoned and eloquently written post about identity. Steve blogs:

"The appeal, for many people, of the web is that it allows a flexible self. A self unbound by the 'realities' of real life. I can recreate myself as many times as I want to, even several times simulataneously, assigning each aspect of my own personality it's own blog and identity if I want to. The unfortunate corollary of that freedom, however, is that relationships formed in that environment are based not on whole selves, whole people, but on particular aspects in common. A blog is, by necessity, a very narrow window on someone's life, and trying to 'know' someone through their posts feels a bit like the blind men groping the elephant. We may find similarities on our opposite sides of the elephant, and we may find differences, but none of us is seeing the full picture of who the elephant and our fellow gropers are.

That's the nature of constrained communication, whether constrained by PC terminals or by real life reticence and deceit."

This struck me because I had been thinking much the same thing in regards to my own "real" life. As my final day at the law firm where I have been employed for the past year and a half draws near, I find a number of people (all women it might bear noting) telling me that they will miss me. I have not been quite sure how to respond to these statements because, cold as it may sound, I will certainly not miss them. By my own choice I don't know them and they don't know me. Or, more precisely, I might say that I don't really know them and they don't really know me. To employ and mutilate the analogy Steve used, we are nothing but incomplete elephants to one another, these women and myself.

Let us ponder for a moment this observation by the late, great Alan Watts from his seminar, Self and Other :

"You know how Henry Emerson Foster wrote a book called 'How to be a Real Person'? Translated into it's original terms, that means 'How to be a Genuine Fake.' Because the person is the mask, the 'persona' worn by actors in Greco-Roman drama. They put a mask on their face which had a megaphone-shaped mouth which projected the sound in an open- air theater. So the 'dramatis persona' at the beginning of a play is the list of masks, and the word 'person,' which means 'mask,' has come to mean the real you. 'How to be a Real Person.' Imagine."

The persona that I present to my co-workers on a daily basis, the mask they have seen every Monday through Friday for over a year now is: Richard, amiable but reserved and efficient in the dispensing of paper clips and pens.

None of these folks know much about me beyond that. They have no idea that I enjoy Mozart and Blue Oyster Cult, that I write poetry, that I have four tattoos, that I am something of a mystic. Anybody who has spent even a minute reading this blog will be closer to the "real" me than the people I have been working with for almost two years. As stated above, this is by choice and the reasons for that choice are, perhaps, subject enough for later musings. The bottom line here is that they will not miss me but only a particular mask that I sometimes wear, a small fraction of a much larger whole that is me.

We all wear these masks, of course. Here in blogdom, out in the real world, our actual faces are more often than not obscured by illusory ones. The challenge for any and all of us who are striving for perfection is to drop the facades and be real. Really.

P.S. What was your face before your parents were born?

No comments: