Tuesday, January 15, 2008

These are the Days of Our Lives


Arthur Miller points out a fact that I have been contemplating all week. This fact is that acting is inevitable as soon as we walk out our front doors and into society.

My question to Arthur is--has this always been so? Have humans always known how to act, how to hide, how to deceive, how to tell the convenient truth and not the inconvenient truths? Has this sense of being different with different people, putting on a happy face, putting on a sophisticated aura, putting on bright red shoes...are these acts of acting, or merely the human as mercurial as only humans can be? Is the acting not acting because we are acting like who we really are, or is the acting acting because we are trying to hide who we really are?

And if that confused you, think about this:

In our time television has created a quantitative change in all this; one of the oddest things about millions of lives now is that ordinary individuals, as never before in human history, are so surrounded by acting. Twenty four hours a day everything seen on the tube is either acted or conducted by actors in the shape of sitcoms, talk shows, all the way to the news anchor men and women, including their hairdos. It may be that the most impressionable form of experience now, for many if not most people, consists of their emotional transactions with actors which happen far more often then emotional transactions with real people.

How many of you have related more to a movie lately than to a regular human being? I certainly have, hello I spent more time with the movie ONCE last week than I did with my friends!

This makes me think of two things....my individual life, and the life of the political show in our nation.

First of all my individual life. Many of you know that I lost a friend to a tragic shooting two weeks ago. She was going to church on her 30th birthday with her mother. Her husband followed her there, got out of his car and shot her ten times in close range and murdered her. How can this happen? How can someone you have lived with, made love with, had children with, and told intimate secrets to be someone so incredibly different than what you thought? Are we all just acting with one another? I know I am simplifying this man's underlying psychological problems and chalking it up to pretending. I don't know how else to process it right now, I guess.


Second of all, how do we choose our country's next leader? I echo Miller when he says that "it seems to me that when one is surrounded by such a roiling mass of consciously contrived performances it gets harder and harder for a lot of people to locate reality anymore. Admittedly, we live in an age of entertainment, but is it a good thing that our political life, for one, be so profoundly governed by the modes of theatre, from tragedy to vaudeville to farce? I find myself speculating whether the relentless daily diet of crafted, acted emotions and canned ideas is not subtlely pressing our brains to not only mistake fantasy for what is real but to absorb this process into our personal sensory process."

So, what is your reaction to this? How are you choosing who to marry, who to vote for, who to believe, who to follow, who not to follow, whether you should be someone that others should follow, or if you just would rather have no contact with most people at all?

6 comments:

Marie said...

Very well said, D'Arcy. I don't have an answer that I'm 100% comfortable with, but I do have to say that my unconscious mistrust of all this acting has drawn me to people like John McCain who, though they may be wrong, are not afraid of alienating others by saying what they at least believe to be true. And made me particularly bitter toward people like Mitt Romney who profess a high standard of personal integrity and then proceed to "act" as shamelessly (more shamelessly?) than anyone else out there. Of course the danger becomes that I will cling so faithfully to those who at one point seem to be truth-tellers that I won't notice their weaknesses or any acting that starts creeping in.

I do think that humans have always had different faces for different situations, but I also agree that our media climate has given us more of an incentive to never take the time to peel away our layers and examine what we really are. Our minds have so many recreational options and so many lovely fantasy worlds and personalities available to occupy them, why ever choose to be introspective? To meditate? I think this technology that brings us acted lives 24/7 did not create this tendency in us, but definitely has amplified us. When you live on a farm on the Kansas prairie, you're just going to be forced to live with your own thoughts more often than we are today.

Maybe that's part of the reason our church leaders continually emphasize scripture study and prayer? I have been known to think to myself, "but if I learn to really act like a true Christian and be selfless and loving, do I really need to keep doing those things?" Maybe it is only in those private moments of introspection and discussion with God that we can face the gaps between what we do in the Kingdom and in the world (our "act") and what we really are, and find ways to close those gaps with God's help? Maybe acting our part, however well intentioned, can never transform us fully into one of those remarkable people who is exactly what they seem to be?

Okay, sorry to be so longwinded. I like the way you make me think.

Marie said...

That was supposed to be "amplified it in us" (not "amplified us").

Jenn said...

Hey D'Arcy!

When you sent me the e-mail about what happened to your friend, she and her family have been on my mind alot. I am speechless, no words cacn convey what I feel inside.

What did you mean about you have had the opposite view about Romney, being in Utah? I want to respond, but just didn't quite understand the way you felt about it/him. I can say, though, that there is only one that anyone should put their faith in fully, and that is our Heavenly Father. He is not acting, we know that for sure. All of us down here are inevitably just humans making our own choices and mistakes, you know?

Anyway, let me know how you feel fully, and I'll write you back.

I hope that you are doing okay and keep me updated on how your friends family is. I have been worried about her 2 kids. Are they at a Grandparents house?

Talk to you soon!
Love Jenn

Jenn said...

That's cool D'Arcy! I feel the same way sort of. I know that all of the candidates out there want a better America. So, anyones choice is a personal choice. What I don't like is when people vote for someone without researching first, be it Mitt Romney or Obama or Huckabee, etc. It's a free country, thank God, and vote for who you like.

That's cool that you are very involved, more people should be. I hope I didn't offend you, I just didn't know how people in Utah were receiving him. The only time I visited Utah, I felt like there were alot of people that seemed liberal so I didn't know if Utah was a "Romney state" or not(it was Salt Lake City, though). I hope that people from there are voting for him because they think he is the best for the job and not because he is their same religion.

Okay, back to work, talk to you again soon!

Lidia said...

Have no clue if it has anything to do with me turning 42 today, but my network of friends is getting smaller and smaller!!

Have we become too busy for each other? I really don't think so, sometimes all it takes is a phone call saying "Hi, thinking of you" or "here are some lotion added Kleenex for your red, pulsing nose"

As far as the elections go... I am done!!! We should be focused on our County Commissioners right now and the taxes they are wanting to push through silently... and oh did you know that Child Support was REDUCED by our State Legislator? When did that happen!!!

2008 is going to be..... I guess whatever it is going to be!

fromthestecherbush said...

So, I have this trouble of making lengthy comments. I seldom blog because I just don't have time and I get carried away. I read your blogs and want to comment so I sit down to write what starts out as a couple of ideas and on it goes. So then I get up, to cary on with my duties and think about it all and form and reform ideas and the bottom line is, it's all too long.
So, the long and short of it is. Life's just gettin' that way, the way you said. Reality TV, alarmist and untrustworthy news etc etc. But the bottom line is that the Lord is on our side and Satan is against us, "by their fruits ye shall know them" and thank goodness for personal revelation.
I feel like I grew up last year all at once. The kind of growing up that makes me cry whenever I think about it. Maybe everybody comes to that point, I don't know. But I hit a brick wall of being unable to say why things happen the way they do and caring about it. There was a line I had to cross to decide if I believe what I've believed. Is it an act or is it a push to a real end(goal)? I guess by my fruits you'll know.