Sunday, September 09, 2007


Today’s quote in A Word A Day got my juices flowing:

"It is probably no mere historical accident that the word person, in its first meaning, is a mask. It is rather a recognition of the fact that everyone is always and everywhere, more or less consciously, playing a role." -Robert Ezra Park, sociologist (1864-1944)

The fact that this quote is old news to we jaded cynics and a myth shattering revelation to we gullible innocents is really not the point in this post about nature, although it is to answer the question of nature or nurture. Since beginning it, my new blog has four entries to the one announcing it below, so I suppose I will examine the origins of the mask and the evolution of the word person here on the calmer, less emotional side of any version of human behavior, the natural side.

The question I pose in this little contemplation is, “Would we wear masks if lying didn’t gain advantage?” Well, hell, I asked one of those self answering questions that time, of course we wouldn’t. Remembering who we say we are is enough to give nuclear scientists migraines, especially the ones on the Manhattan Project and other such black ops it’s spawned up to the present. Until they achieve the wealth to buy out the truth tellers and the power to silence the whistle blowers, getting caught in a malicious lie in court is the most damage corporations and politicians suffer. A Canadian judge threw out a suit against an elected official with the statement, “Anyone who expects candidates to carry out promises is sadly naive about politics.” There’s good ole boys everywhere.

Well I certainly got off the track there. That wasn’t much oriented around nature unless perhaps modern “personalities,” public images, out-of-the-house selves are taking cues from both role playing video games and the notoriety of Britney, Paris and Lindsey to protect our anonymity and purpose of risk free, teflon irresponsibility from discovery by the target audience being made as large as profitably possible by a staff of liars to talk to lawyers. How redundant of me. Okay, so the natural part. You can get pretty close to a wild animal if you look and smell like it. The last saber tooth tiger went down extinction avenue three thousand years before the earth was created for Christians, lucky for the ones in the colosseum seven thousand years later. So we’ve not had a natural predator so long that our defensive skills became adapted to avoiding those of us who adapted our hunting skills to intrude on whatever was so precious it was being defended … you get the picture. Nerds hide Nature inside Playboy to avoid the school macho monitor.

There is also historical evidence of donning the persona of nature spirits, plant and animal alike, in order to present a story about human dependence on and praise for their replenishment for as far into the future as can be remembered in the past of many cultures. The history of many cultures can only be understood by other cultures through the abstract relationship common in all cultures’ artistic expressions even though the powerful could hire artists to smooth over the rough parts, the history of the changes is equally telling.

I once dealt with a conundrum of personal schizophrenia using simple logic based on the most Pollyannalike of premises, which I later learned the Dalai Lama might have enjoyed. I saw that there existed three entities all with apparently legitimate claims on being who I was: 1) Who I am, 2) Who other people want me to be and 3) Who I want to be. Once I realized that if I could make 3=1 I would be very happy which would in turn make 1+3=2, because, let’s face it, why should I care about anyone who doesn’t want me to be happy?

So my happy task it
Is to drop the mask it
Makes some people ask it:
For me laid in me casket.
Take a swig on me flask it
Marinades me while I bask it
Gets me eggs all in one basket.

As Polonius advised Laertes, “This above all else, to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

My attitude about masks, from appearance and reputation to lies and covert activities, is that if I don’t depend on truth from anyone, and expect no more an accurate version of events than from any of the other infinity of versions probable, the lies stand out like camouflaged weapons to a color blind man. As I grow deaf I feel reassured that I am not losing as much truth as I would be if I couldn’t read body language.

"Personality is the supreme realization of the innate idiosyncrasy of a living being. It is an act of courage flung in the face of life, the absolute affirmation of all that constitutes the individual, the most successful adaptation to the universal conditions of existence, coupled with the greatest possible freedom of self-determination." -C.G. Jung, 1875-1961

1 comment:

leslie said...

You are helping me gain courage.