Monday, December 24, 2007


Words, for such arbitrary, flimsy, strange looking symbols, hold such power. Entire identities and truths can be constructed from words, and if that appears to weaken the validity of said identities and truths, frankly, it does.

"All the world's a stage," Shakespeare wrote, "And all the men and women merely players." Players, actors, small-scale frauds all. The people we think we know are not, upon further inspection, the people we really know. We put up our fronts as a matter of necessity because the entire world need not know us completely; to put forth certain attributes and to withhold others are vital skills to keep from being vulnerable or stirring waters, survival skills adapted from thousands of years of evolution.

And because we get lazy or tired or careless or even because we deliberately put the idea out of our heads, we lose sight of that and take the facades at face value. When the masks come down and the facts are revealed, we don't always recognize the actor beyond the role.

When the roles become difficult, it seems that it would indicate a need for change. And so the actor moves on, as actors are wont to do, but the other players and the audience frequently mistake the actor for the role and do not adapt well to the change. And they criticize, oh yes, they criticize when the new role does not fit the template of the old. From their detached positions of knowing superiority, they are ready to tear down the play, the actor, the setting, the whole shebang because it is different and therefore not right.

But most actors know themselves beneath the facade, and they know when to move on. The new play may be a flop, but it may also stretch their wings beyond what they knew they were capable of. But they can't know until they try. They've just got to tune out the critics' voices and go for it, a leap of faith.

If they play their cards well, the new identity, as equally selective and misleading as the old, will emerge and eventually override the old.

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