Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Extended metaphor time...

So this Goffman reading is actually really helpful to my life. 

In one of his most oft-quoted plays, Shakespeare said:
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts..." --from As You Like It
 Goffman analyzes the same idea on a smaller scale, from the viewpoint that our very personalities are performances. We spend lots of time and energy constructing them and molding ourselves into the people we want to be. We imagine how our words and actions will be interpreted by others, and whether those interpretations will align with those others' expectations. Everything I have learned and am learning about personal and social identities leaves me inclined to agree with him; effectively, our whole lives are a show, and whether the lines are ostensibly "ours" or belong to a character we're trying out, the whole thing is improvised. The thing to never forget about life is that we're all just making it up as we go along--figuring out who we are requires experimenting with who we can and can't be. How can you know what will or won't feel legitimate unless you try it out? The audience may always be satisfactorily convinced, but we must always be our own harshest critics--only we know how much work went into the role we're playing. Anyone who has ever acted knows that even though action is called for those in front of the curtain, the real excitement happens backstage--what I'm learning is that no matter who you invite backstage to see both sides of the show, your backstage is still a performance space for them. There's no way around it, so don't try to reveal all your tricks and expect the same in return. Go ahead, give away your front row seats, yeah, and don't be afraid to invite others to join you on your long as you don't forget that they have their own dressing rooms that are just as hectic as yours. Social conduct is a performance and even the briefest of interactions is choreographed; relationships are dances and sometimes your toes will get stepped on or you'll have a hella awkward head bump, but you've gotta walk it off. Your identity is a diamond with countless facets; there are a million personalities inside of you, a million roles you know how to play. Send this one back for further character development if you have to, but remember folks, the show must go on.

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