Thursday, November 4, 2010

On Persona

So I'm reading Philip Lopate about how even personal essays need conflict, how you have to examine your flaws, but without giving in to self-disgust, not constantly underrate yourself nor give yourself too much credit. Parade your quirks, then implicate yourself . . .
So the trick it seems is to hone a slightly insecure persona, one that has bizarre, faintly ridiculous foibles that make you more like the Twizzler-munching Twiggies who want to be on TV or at least in a magazine.
Even if that is not who you are.
Even if that type of persona does actual violence to your real self. Because what are doing having a self that can't be sold? Buffed, tweaked, positioned--sold. That's what everyone wants--right? And if you dare claim you do not, get ready to be painted self-righteous and moralistic and no fun at all. You are impeding commerce.
But then Philip (I can call him Philip, can I not?) ends with this quote: "The process of turning oneself into a character is not self-absorbed navel gazing but a potential release from narcissism: You have achieved sufficient distance to begin to see yourself from the outside. Doing so can be liberating."
And I love Philip all over again.

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