Friday, April 11, 2003

Hiding in plain sight
Jill writes about how she hides behind her writing, and Mark questions the need to be exactly what you say you are. I find that hiding in plain sight is how people cope with their everyday life. With the advantage of knowing Jill, when her posts turn impersonal and businesslike, I know there's something wrong - which is why I tried to call her at odd intervals this last week. And that is because all writing somehow reflects yourself, even if it is not about your personal life. Our bodies and brains are our instruments, it is the tool we have to work with. Using tools lets us extend the body and mind, but not transcend it.

Even when playing a role or pulling off a scam, you are yourself. The role you play is taken from your own experience and knowledge, and if you trick somebody or lie to them, that is also who you are: you are a trickster, a lier, a fraud. Studying role-playing has taught me two very hard roles: to pretend that you are more intelligent than you are, and to pretend that you are more stupid than you are. The first one is impossible. You can perhaps make me think you have more education, more formal learning, more experience or more skill than you actually have, that you are of a different gender and live in an other culture, but to do that you would have to be at least as intelligent and a lot more ruthless than the victim of your fraud. The other one is hard, really hard. Real stupidity is hard to fake, the best option is to choose social stupidity caused by cultural bias or lack of social training. That is because it takes a very intelligent person to understand the way fools think.

To sum it up: Even when you make everybody believe you are very different from your legal and physical self, the fraud is part of your self. Your pretence is as tainted by your personality as is your sincerity. Somehow, even lying, you tell some part of the truth.

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