Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What You Will...

A Twelfth Night post about contemporary "performance life".

[Reader be forewarned, this post is much ado about nothing.] 

I always get Twelfth Night mixed up with Midsummer's Night Dream - just because I love all the craziness and fantasy in Midsummer's Night - which I romantically associate with Twelfth Night festivities.  Since the traditional date for the feast of the Epiphany marks the beginning of Carnival, one might understand why my fantasy gravitates towards such characters as Oberon and Titania, along with Puck and the other fairies.

In a sense contemporary life has become all about performance - in just about every respect, but none more so than living one's life online.  (Which may account for my boredom.)  Nearly every one of us can become  excessively self-aware in our chosen online avocation - perhaps none more so than YouTube performers, bloggers and Facebook addicts.

In the US I think it all started in the 1950's with television shows such as Candid Camera and Bandstand.  Dick Clark's American Bandstand really capitalized on teenage narcissism watching kids dance for the camera.  By the late '60's, kids were performing for the cameras.  And don't forget all the live game shows where ordinary people got on camera acting like greedy fools.

With the advent of video and cam-corders, used for surveillance and fun, somehow many of us accustomed ourselves to the awareness someone is watching... or maybe some of us just liked to pretend someone was observing us.
Just shooting off my mouth now...
I worked with a fellow who mastered the art.  We worked together in fashion in the '80's and became friends - we made each other laugh.  'Freakishly' tall,  he was one of the most wildly entertaining guys I knew.  Anyway, when he'd get a few drinks in him he went into full performance mode, becoming a case study in gender disorientation.  For instance, in the bar, on his way to the men's room he'd position himself like a runway model, look down at his shoes, throw his head back like a woman tossing her hair, and he'd walk like a runway model across the bar to the men's room.  I would be laughing so hard I'd be crying - the return trip was priceless because he'd come back and ask, "What?"  (As in asking what was I laughing about.)  The best part was how he pretended not to be aware of his performance... nor to understand when I complimented him, "You never even looked at the camera!"  Good performance.

So anyway - why did I tell you that?  Because it is stupid and silly and it is Twelfth Night and it never fails to make me laugh.  And because bloggers and commenters can be kind of like that.  Many of us put on our best performance online, projecting ourselves in the way we imagine ourselves, fully aware that someone is watching - or reading.  Not unlike my former friend, we sometimes perform for the camera, as it were.  We have accustomed ourselves to performing for 'our public'.  We've groomed ourselves, as it were, in the consciousness someone is watching, someone is paying attention to us - perhaps with the secret hope, one of these days, we might even be discovered...  Protesting our innocence of course, denying any artifice or conceit or ambition or self-promotion on our part.  I think that is what makes some blogs boring - phonies.   

Suddenly I've become extremely self-aware and I'm so scared what people will think of me after writing this...
Yeah, so anyway pumpkins, I'm actually much too bored to finish this post...  


And suddenly the truth came to me, as we stood there, trembling, searching, at our point of fulcrum. There were no watching eyes. The windows were as blank as they looked. The theatre was empty. It was not a theatre. They had told her it was a theatre, and she had believed them, and I had believed her. To bring us to this - not for themselves, but for us. I turned and looked at the windows, the facade, the pompous white pedimental figures. - John Fowles, The Magus
Photo:  From Sartorialist


  1. What is it that Shakespeare said? "All the world's a stage, and we are merely players"? Although he meant it differently, I think that quote applies to what you wrote here.

    And great job, too - you didn't look at the camera a single time! lol

  2. Terry, I left a comment and a better url or whatever it is called for the hermit survey, but put it on the older post you have about Mrs. Rabitowicz.

    However, maybe hermits in some cases are on the stage and dress up or have some inner idea of what a hermit should look like and act like, so they play the part more than live it? Who knows. Anyway, thanks for doing the survey, such as it is. Not up to the old USC standards of doctorate 20 or more years ago, but I have chronic pain and am fortunate to have figured out how to get any photos on the survey. You are blessed and gifted with writing and artistry and tech abilities!
    The survey is at:

    Someone said they could not find it.
    Thanks again. Hoping to get some useful information.

  3. Some day, I am expecting the picture of the real you is going to be on one of these posts. Hopefully, today isn't it?

    I think you've hit some of the (spiritually oppressive) performances of people looking to get discovered (or think they have been) right on the head.

    The Catholic blogosphere should be a tool. A theological tool or a political tool (to promote prolifers or whatever your shtick is to have our opinions reflected in the three branches of government and civil/criminal laws and society) or a tool to network for the salvation of souls, a tool for learning about our faith, refining our animus, having some laughs, sharing frustrations, evangelizing whether people want to hear it or they don't, taking the punches in the noses with as much humor as we can muster, encouraging each others gifts. That sort of jazz.

    Most high-ranking people out there are empty suits. They are putting on a show for the internet because in real life, they've stepped on every relative and friend they ever had. They lack the ability to be intimate and their hearts can't feel or see beyond their own reflection. This is a place where they don't have to spend energy, time and resolve it takes to have real relationships that give us everything in life that makes us whole, gives us our self-esteem, love, confidence.

    But there's lots and lots of really good things happening, especially in the last few years.

  4. Because thought has by now been perverted into the solving of assigned problems, even what is not assigned is processed like a problem...

    In spiritual warfare, eroding the enemy’s foundation is of great help.

    Catechizing, helping those in need to acquire that which is useful to them, a word or two of appreciation or kindness, can often be misconstrued as ‘showboating’.

    Weaken Satan, build up his victims.

    God thinks more highly of us than we think of ourselves, and gives us more than we deserve.


  5. LOL Larry!

    Anyway - don't take this post too seriously - it's a farce for 12th Night. But many a truth spoken in jest.

  6. i love that picture.

  7. Anonymous9:48 AM

    Happy Mardi Gras season!! woohoooooo

    (It's my twin sister's birthday today too ;)

  8. +JMJ+

    Terry, I was going to leave the following in your post about "real friends online," but it fits under this one, too, so . . .

    I've been trying to give a real (i.e., offline) friend some advice which amounts to "He's just not that into you"--the more general, "If your regular contact happens only on Facebook, then what you have isn't real."

    Then the impish voice at the back of my head said, "If Facebook isn't real, then why do you insist that Blogger is?"

    So, okay, this isn't real, either. =P

    PS--I have a post on Shakespeare and Twelfth Night, too--but I quote As You Like It. There must be something in the water . . .


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.