I Was Watching...

by - September 14, 2016

Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. 
Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed - no escape. 
Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters in your skull.
From 1984 by George Orwell  
(I've never read it. yet).

Who needs a degree, anyway?

Just some thoughts while I was procrastinating from what I actually supposed, needed, to do.

I was watching [this] Wisecrack video about Kanye West (because it's not like I've got a million other things to do that are more important than watching a Youtube-video about Kanye West, like, I don't know, trying to get a degree or something). Wisecrack is one of my favourite Youtube-channels because it asks questions like 'are celebrities even human?' and then they try to actually answer that question using philosophy. I could basically write twenty essays on every video they make, but unfortunately a half-baked blogpost must do the trick...

Within this video they, thus, question whether celebrities -specifically Kanye West- are human. Or not. Thereby not defining what it means to be human but what it (can) mean(s) to be 'someone', 'a person', 'a self'. Basically what makes me 'me' (or naturally what makes Kanye 'Kanye'). Something the narrator said around the end of the video really intrigued me: "People who we meet are never really who they seem, they are all performing in order to maintain damage control." And before that quoting Erving Goffman: "We are all just actors trying to control and manage our public image -we act based on how others might see us." And to throw another name in the mix, Charles Gooley: "We construct a 'looking glass self', where we become ourselves by mirroring how we want to appear to others." Through mirroring we not only create a 'self' or 'idea of self' that's based on what's being reflected, but therewith the reactions towards the action that we've 'put out'. So positive or negative, that what we need to put out more and that what we need to constrain in the presence of 'others'.

However, with celebreties the 'self' or 'that what's being mirrored back to them' is naturally different because the reflection is not only made up by those people (closely) surrounding them, but also the papparazi, media, comments etc. which modifies the image of 'self'. 'Self', 'I' becomes 'I' through that what's being reflected, reacted, back to it. As said, the amount of reflection/reaction/attention modifies or perhaps even mutates a 'self' which can be seperated from the 'real' 'self'. As done in the video, the idea or image of 'self' is splitted into 'self' and 'media self', whereby the latter is a more censored (perfectionistic/performed) version to be presented to the world. The danger herein naturally being that one self overshadows the other. And in many cases, naturally, obviously, the 'media self' overshadows the 'real' 'self'.

This same idea gets to be applied, in the video, onto (famous) Youtubers who arguably gets to be absorbed by the persona they put out in their video (and that what's being reflected through the mirror of the Youtube comment section, creating a sense of 'media self' or persona). However I think anyone who's on a social media platform already experiences a form (naturally less 'empowering' as Kanye does) of friction or seperation between the 'self' and the 'media self' without the need of being crazy-famous like Kanye West.

I was watching [this] The School of Life video about Stream of Consciousness (because, as I said before, it's not like I'm trying to create a better life for myself by, you know, living it, getting a degree or something). The School of Life is a channel that can really hit the right nail for me or just completely wind me up with their look on philosophy or at least the message they -in certain videos- try to 'teach' us. However on this occasion it's more a 'in between' situation. I was once again reminded how much of 'me', undeliberately, never sees the light of day. Naturally, as a 'talk to myself-er', 'pre-conversation-planner' and 'I'm going to die when crossing the street' kind of person I sort of feel more 'in touch' with my mind than this video implies. But then again, I've been writing this post throughout the day, piece by piece, stopping mid-sentences to write other sentences of what I want to talk about (or naturally: doing what I actually needed to do), also I just looked up Untouched by The Veronicas because the words 'in touch' immediately got connected in my mind with those violins at the beginning of that song, very dramatic indeed. This hopping and bobbing can be explained because, by the time I'm writing this sentence, it's already late -23:07 on Sunday the 11th of September- and all my concentration has been sacraficed for the 'hard work' (and video-watching) throughout the day, but still I feel I have some grasp on my thoughts because I'm writing this and therefore I try to think up words that goes with the once I've thought of before.

My main reason to mention this video is because it reminded me of how easy thoughts and feelings are being lost. As demonstrated: through other thoughts or feelings that kills the others, but also -mainly- through words. Or generally through expressing your 'self'. These words -as I'd written in a letter for Local Riot Magazine as a submission, which hasn't been published yet (and I doubt, when published, if mine will be published with it, worst case scenario: I'll publish it on here, because this will always be, I will always be, number 2) (and yes I'm going to semi-quote myself, be warned): that the words I use to try to express my 'self', to use as a way to say how I feel or what I'm thinking always seem/feel that they aren't mine. Or at least, after I've written them down, read through them, there's always a sort of distance -even though they're sometimes particularly 'emotionally fed'- between the words on paper and the words in my head. As I said in the letter, this could also be, quite literally, because I'm using foreign words. However it's funny because I often feel that these foreign words are much closer or better grasped, easier used, to express my 'self' than those I've learned from the beginning (anecdote: when writing the first assignment for this schoolyear I happily started tapping away in English, only to realise that I had to express myself/my 'self', my thoughts, my ideas and that of others again in my own language. And it was hard. I always write in English, for some weird reason. It's become not a second but first nature to me. Not to say that I don't make mistakes, (because have you ever read a blogpost of mine, they're full of errors, unfortunately, and every error will be mourned). But it has infected, I think, the way I think or the way I express myself through words. The way I built up my sentences or the words I use, or try to use, within my papers/essays/whatever).

"People who we meet are never really who they seem, they are all performing in order to maintain damage control."

"We are all just actors trying to control and manage our public image -we act based on how others might see us."

"We construct a 'looking glass self', where we become ourselves by mirroring how we want to appear to others."

To bring this, almost mandatory, back to the topic(s) I'm tackling to get that damned degree: it's believed that telling stories is one of the most human things to do (perhaps a way to define whether someone is human or not, in that case, Kanye, you're off the hook). However the great 'danger' of storytelling is that it leaves out all the rest. A story is not only constructed by having a beginning-middle-end, but also through general ideas or concepts that -in the larger scheme of things- gets to be seen as the truth. As facts. While in reality there's no such thing as facts as all that what's for instance being stated about a historical or social event is created within the beginning-middle-end-mold and therewith is always a product of something that's rationalised after 'it' happened (not even to mention the problem of perspective, the voice, the person, the 'self' who's telling the story in the first place). As mentioned [here]: "Storytelling may be a natural way of organising events but it is, at its heart, an ex-post rationalisation of events that were not neat and rational. The past, like the present, is chaotic, disorganised and fragmented." Therewith a statement that really resonated with me: telling stories is telling lies. And if being human is defined through telling lies and the 'self' is just a projection or mirroring of these lies, told to me, told to you, creating not only humanity but an idea of 'who you are' this all could be a dangerous act to perform and to built, construct a society on. However it's not, it can't be, all doom and gloom...

But as I stated at the beginning, this is only a half-baked post. It's 0:04, it's the 12th of September, it's Monday, it's another beginning (or in this case end) of a story, of a thought. Not as neatly wrapped, but then again perfectly half-baked. Goodmorning. (and how about that degree? At this point it seems rather impossible than improbable. Oh well. I should just keep watching...)


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