Facade & Functionality

Often when I speak to people about the facade nature of identity, they take some exception. However, many, if not most, have some idea of what I’m talking about. After all, this idea of playing a role is quite pervasive in our culture; to the extent that we talk about ‘role models’ – someone to emulate in order to guide one’s behaviour. If this doesn’t point to at fundamental flaw in our notion of identity, I’m not sure what does. You are told from an early age, in this way, that your existence is a performance. So, when I speak of the performance of identity, there should be nothing surprising about the terminology.

So, your existence is a performance, but you are searching for meaning. So you look to your performance, and that of others, for meaning. You have an interactive performance, known as a conversation, with friends, family, co-workers, and attempt, perhaps, to arrive at some kind of shared meaning, when in reality you are merely exchanging performances. Most conversations sound, in actuality, more like ‘this is me,’ ‘oh, that’s interesting, this is me…’ or something along those lines, rather than the face value interchange one actually listens to.

And we wonder why we have such a prevalence of depression and various mental illnesses and neuroses. There is no meaning here. None. Only this ongoing performance, all considered in terms of your own personal narrative; your evolving and developing identity; the performance of you. How can you ever be ‘centred,’ settled and together if your only hope is to fool yourself into believing that you have some idea of what’s going on? It is as foolish a pursuit as it is tragic.

In order to make any actual progress, to get at any real meaning, you need to get beyond this ego-identified sense of ‘self,’ to recognize it for what it is – a performance. Latching onto, adopting an identity and asserting that identity at all costs is a recipe for insanity, and an insanely calibrated society. How can we so readily blow each other up, destroy our own? We have no sense of what we are. We attack an opposing facade identity, one that does not reflect or accord with our own stated sensibility. It is a never-ending, insane cycle, for which there will never be any resolution. There can be neither meaning nor resolution to conflict without consciousness.

The more desperate you are to hold onto, to assert whatever identity you have latched onto, the more functionally insane your interactions and relationships will be. Your desperate need to maintain an identity makes any real, functional interaction impossible; all that is possible is the furtherance of an ongoing, personal drama, with all decisions and interactions reflecting only a need to maintain the integrity of that drama. And, it is not surprising to say, that many people live their entire lives this way, in this perpetual state of neurotic toxicity.

If you have any interest in getting at some real meaning, actual authenticity, then you need to start by honestly evaluating the reality of this situation as it applies to you, to who you attempt to profess your ‘self’ to be. The more you want to affect an identity commensurate with the role you want to play, the more impossible any real awareness will be. You will live and die in the performance of your identity, never arriving at anything approximating meaning.


P.D. Lapinsky                                                                                                       http://www.pdlapinsky.com                                                                                                               Twitter: @pdlapinsky

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