If such an episodic life dooms us to inauthenticity, then I say: So be it. The self is not a story.
But a discontinuous self forces us to live in the here and now rather than in the retold past and imagined future. We might even have the feeling that the self is constantly just beginning.
Life doesn’t need a narrative arc. We don’t have to be the stories we endlessly tell and retell about ourselves. Those stories are fabulation and — if told too often — falsification. The more gusto with which we tell stories about ourselves, the further we risk slipping from the truth. One doesn’t have to control one’s sense of self by constantly tying it back to some fictional story of identity.
To live episodically is to allow for the possibility of surprise in relation to the self. Sure, sometimes those surprises are bad. But sometimes they can be rather good.
Life Doesn’t Need a Narrative Arc
The story of the self is not always a grand tale.
By Simon Critchley
Mr. Critchley is a professor of philosophy and an author.
FISHER: Over 50 percent of Americans do want a partner who shares their political views. About 43 percent want a partner who is of the same ethnic background. About 46 percent want somebody of the same religious background. What’s interesting to me is the huge percentage of people that don’t care.
DUBNER: Is it that they don’t care, or they say on a survey they don’t care because they may want to appear to be the type of person who would say that they don’t care when, in fact, they may care?
FISHER: You never know, Stephen. I do a lot of questionnaires and you can answer a questionnaire in one of three ways:
with who you really are,
with who you want to be,
or with who you want others to think you are.
But because we have so many thousands of people, and there’s a bell-shaped curve, we can be pretty confident of what we’re doing.
Why Did You Marry That Person?
Sure, you were “in love.” But economists — using evidence from Bridgerton to Tinder — point to what’s called “assortative mating.” And it has some unpleasant consequences for society.
Paris Hilton’s voice change
by u/snoo-apple in popculturechat
Me when I worked in customer service
I become approximately 25% more southern whenever I have to call a stranger, I don’t know why.
Same! I also found myself doing it a lot in the service industry. The thickness of the accent would increase in proportion to just how mean the customer was. Particularly nasty customers could get me sounding like Forrest Gump real quick.
Yes! When I worked in customer service I would go the opposite direction and lower my voice when I talked to older people. Louder and lower was easier for many elderly people with hearing loss. My coworkers would say “you’re using your old person voice.”
OMG!! When I was a junior in high school one of my friends said something like, “I didn’t know your mom was British!! Why didn’t you tell us?”
I had no idea what the hell was happening. Apparently she was answered the phone with an accent and I had to explain that she was from Georgia and just nuts. She also used to do a soft shoe tap routine for my friends. (No, she couldn’t tap, she just put salt on the floor and faked it). Gosh I miss her.
Thank you kind stranger for reminding me.
GROSS: By the way, I noticed that when you do your inner voice, when you’re impersonating yourself in telling a story, it’s not your voice. It sounds more like it would be the voice of your father or grandfather.
GRAY: When you listen to yourself on tape – not that you do or should – does it sound like you think you sound?
GROSS: Well, I’ve listened to myself enough that, you know, I’ve learned that that is how I sound. But the first few times I heard myself, I was really just totally embarrassed and thought like that can’t be true.
GRAY: That’s right. So what I’m doing for you is the idiot that I think that I actually am to you. That’s – I’m trying to apply – you know, the opening of “Mean Streets” where Harvey Keitel…
GROSS: In the church?
GRAY: No, it’s when Harvey Keitel sits up in bed. It’s the very beginning of the film.
GROSS: Oh, oh, oh, yeah.
GRAY: Right before that, you hear a voice sing you do it in the streets. And it’s this little bit kind of this pre-film, maybe two- or three-sentence monologue that you hear. And it is supposed to be Harvey Keitel’s inner voice, but it’s voiced by maestro Scorsese. And Scorsese says it’s because you hear your inner voice differently than others hear you. Your inner voice is different. So I thought it was so beautiful. And so maybe that’s part of the reason the inner voice that I have is kind of this idiot voice, you know?
GROSS: James Gray, it’s been so great to talk with you. Thank you so much.
GRAY: Great to talk with you.
Armageddon Time’ director explores how the world is ruined by ‘well-meaning people’
“So, I hear you’re not really into the whole image thing,” she says.
“Not really,” I say, which of course couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s just that the image thing I am into is the anti-image thing.
Everything I’m Cracked Up To Be
It was 1994: post–Liz Phair, mid–Courtney Love, just shy of Alanis Morissette. After seven years of slogging it out in the Boston music scene, Jen Trynin took a hard look at herself and gave “making it” one last shot.
It worked. Suddenly Trynin became the spark that set off one of the most heated bidding wars of the year. Major labels vied for her, to the tune of millions of dollars in deals. Lawyers, managers, and booking agents clamored for her attention. Billboard put her on the cover. Everyone knew she was the Next Big Thing. But then she wasn’t.
In a series of dizzying, hilarious, heartbreaking snapshots, Trynin captures what it’s like to be catapulted to the edge of rock stardom, only to plummet back down to earth. Everything I’m Cracked Up to Be is the story of a girl who got what she wished for—and lived happily ever after anyway.
FATHER …On the contrary, I was inviting you to come out of this game [with a warning look at the LEADING LADY]—of art! Art!—which you play here with your actors; and I ask you once again quite seriously: who are you?
DIRECTOR [turning to the ACTORS, astonished and also irritated]. Well, what a bloody nerve! Someone who claims to be a character comes and asks me who I am!
FATHER [dignified, but not overbearing]. A character, sir, may always ask a man who he is. Because a character really has a life of his own, marked by his own traits, which means that he is always ‘someone’. But a man—I’m not talking about you, but about man in general—a man may well be ‘nobody’.
DIRECTOR Maybe. But you’re asking me, me the Director, the boss! Have you got that?
FATHER [almost under his breath, modestly soft-spoken]. It’s a matter of knowing, sir, whether you, as you are now, really see yourself … in the same way, for example, as you see in retrospect what you once were, with all the illusions you then had; with all those things within and around you, as they then seemed—and indeed truly were for you. Well, sir, when you think back on those illusions which you now no longer have, on everything that no longer ‘seems’ what once for you it ‘was’—don’t you feel, not the boards of this stage, but the earth, the earth itself, give way beneath your feet? For you must conclude that in the same way all ‘this’ that you feel now, all your reality of today, as it is, is destined to seem illusion tomorrow.
DIRECTOR [not understanding much and stunned by the specious argument]. So what? What are you trying to prove?
FATHER. Oh, nothing, sir. Only to make you see that if we [indicating himself and the other CHARACTERS] have no reality beyond the illusion, then maybe you also shouldn’t count too much on your own reality, this reality which you breathe and touch in yourself today, because—like yesterday’s—inevitably, it must reveal itself as illusion tomorrow.
Six Characters in Search of an Author
On why they chose to go with a persona on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
“We’d been The Beatles for quite a while. And when you made a record, you knew you were making a Beatles record, and so you imposed certain parameters on it. So we can’t get too far out because people just go, ‘What the hell’s going on? They’ve gone mad!’ So you had certain standards for Beatles records [and] you were always trying to advance those standards, but there were limits that you felt. And also when you stepped up to a microphone, you were conscious of all that background of, ‘I’m Beatle Paul, and I’m going to do a Beatle Paul song.’
“I don’t think it really was terrifying or even boring, but I had this idea to just change our identity and make ourselves think that we were kind of another band. So it meant now anything goes, we don’t have to sing like The Beatles. We can sing like whoever they saw the band is. In the end, the name came out of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. So the idea was so that when you stepped up to a microphone, it was not now John Lennon Beatle doing his song. It was a guy out of this strange band, and in some way, it was just liberating.”
Paul McCartney knew he’d never top The Beatles — and that’s just fine with him
DEADLINE: We know Mark Zuckerberg didn’t cooperate but did you ever meet Eduardo Saverin, the character played by Andrew Garfield?
SORKIN: Once Eduardo signed that non-disclosure agreement after his settlement, he disappeared off the face of the earth. We don’t know exactly how much he received, but it’s in the hundreds of millions. And it will probably go over a billion because he also does now own a lot of Facebook stock. But on October 1st, the movie opened and that’s the day I met Eduardo. I got a phone call from our producer Scott Rudin that a representative for Eduardo had contacted him late at night. He wanted to see the movie. So we set up a private screening for him in New York right before Lady Gaga’s private screening. It’s true. I went to meet him when the movie was over and you could have performed surgery on him without anesthesia at that point in time. I gotta say, he was a deer in the headlights which is an understatement. He did certainly expect to like the movie a lot, but you could tell in his face that he had just relived the thing. It’s an unreasonable experience that hardly anybody, including myself, knows what it’s like to have a chapter from your life suddenly written, directed, lit, shot, and performed by actors. That was the first and only time I met Eduardo.
How much of theatre has to do with imposture! Walter Kerr, in his brilliant book The Silent Clowns, points out that Chaplin’s genius lay in his ability to assume any identity at the drop of a hat – to become, in a split second, according to the demands of the plot, a great lover, a great gymnast, violinist, skater, thief, gourmet, conjurer, etc. etc., while having, at bottom, no true identity of his own. This leads me to reflect how much of world drama concerns people pretending to be what they aren’t. Hamlet feigns madness; the noble King of Thebes is an incestuous patricide; Kent pretends to be a serving-man, Edgar to be a mad beggar, In Too True to Be Good (which I saw last week in Clifford’s excellent production) nobody is what he seems – the humble Private Meek is in fact the military commander, while the commander himself is a frustrated water-colourist; the confidence trickster is a priest; his henchwoman poses first as a nurse and then as a countess. Throughout Shaw, burglars turn out to be philosophers, and villainous exploiters turn out to be heroes; even Saint Joan dresses up as a man. Mistaken identity is not only what the craft of acting is all about; it is what much Of drama is all about. An actor is a man who pretends to be someone who is usually pretending to be someone else.
November 16, 1975
Kenneth Tynan. The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan
…the distinction we live with each day remains simply that between oneself and other people. And the primordial group of other people – our family – makes up the original cast of characters in the drama of life, a drama that we keep on reviving later with more and more people cast for the same few parts. As for oneself, one is the invisible man. One cannot see oneself, one can only see those with whom one has chosen to be identified.
The raw material of character, then, is not very raw after all. It has already been worked over. It has already been turned into a kind of art: the art of fantasy. Life is a double fiction. We do not see others so much as certain substitutions for others. We do not see ourselves so much as others with whom we are identified. When Plato said we see, not life, but shadows of life flickering in the firelight on the wall of a cave, he was an optimist. Or perhaps he made allowances for the extraordinary distortions and suppressions of shadow play.
Eric Bentley. The Life of the Drama
From chapter 2, Character
You said interviews for the press tour of your first movie inspired this one.
When you’re traveling with a film for the first time, it’s incredibly surreal. You are building this persona and performing this version of yourself that becomes a media self that has its own weird life without you.
What’s the relationship between you right now talking to me and who you are?
An interview is an incredibly artificial and strange interaction. I don’t mind interviews, but obviously neither of us are behaving like people right now. We wouldn’t be talking like this if we met at a bar. We’re performing ourselves. On the other hand, I don’t believe that beneath the surface you can ever get to the point where you ever actually are yourself. There’s an internal performance that we all engage with in a day-to-day way and a performance for other people. Neither are real. It’s all performance.
If life is all performance, does that mean it’s less about searching for who you are than discovering the character that fits?
I think so. I think we’re constantly building ourselves, and the issue is who we are reflexively can be out of sync with our self-perception — and who we are is very much decided by our environment and outside forces.
Brandon Cronenberg Will Now Perform an Interview
The director of the provocative horror film “Possessor Uncut” argues that none of us are ever truly ourselves: “There’s an internal performance that we all engage with.”