Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My research is taunting me.

I'm currently reading The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman. It's one of the most foundational works in sociological social psychology and is absolutely critical to the study of identity...and working through it today has been a ridiculous struggle. The first chapter is all about social performances, identity management, the ability to represent and misrepresent oneself at will. Shortly after a paragraph on why impostors are so psychologically damaging, he's discussing lying now, and when it is and is not acceptable. I hold myself to a moral standard that does not allow me to quote him at length, for this reading is taking me back to feelings I abandoned a few days ago, and I only discuss my own mistakes at length, but just...this is my life, in black and white, laid out by a scientist in my field. I feel like I'm being punk'd. But at least all my feelings are validated, regardless of how conflicting they are. It makes it difficult to read sometimes, but it also is...relaxing in a way. This happens often enough to be studied by professionals. This is a part of the normal course of life. No one here did anything unusually wrong. Life isn't ganging up on me, it's  Shit happens, even especially when we don't mean for it to.

In Goffman's popular words amongst my intellectual circle, "Paradoxically, the more closely the impostor's performance approximates to the real thing, the more intensely we may be threatened, for a competent performance by someone who proves to be an impostor my weaken in our minds the moral connection between legitimate authorization to play a part and the capacity to play it."  

In the immortal words of Dr. Gregory House, "People lie." 

In the less immortal words of big brother Eric on Boy Meets World, "Life's tough, get a helmet."

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