It is hard to tell the full truth about yourself. The admittance of anything other than what is virtuous bright and beautiful, even if it is crafted by your hands, is incredibly hard. Everyone wants to be accepted by everyone. People want to be admired. They want to be loved. They want to be thought of as a saint and want their devilish tendencies ignored. There is a cloak that is left over the tome of failure. We hide from each other, a pantomimed atlas man in front of ourselves to fool everyone that we are strong when we are weak.
If everyone does this then what is stopping the writer? If anyone can just as easily hide in the everyday conventions of speech, wouldn’t it be then that much easier for the writer with so much literary flair at his disposal? What could be as clear as day gets lost in a forest of metaphor. We’re no the only ones who get lost in this figurative forest, he does as well. The question is what is it that is keeping us from being honest and how can we overcome it? We must know that the wool is pulled over our eyes, but what needs to be realized is that we pulled it over ourselves and keep it around like a toddler and his blanket.
The persona is our safety blanket. What we present to people. What we want people to think about us. What stears it is the anxiety of forethought. How you act is molded around your expectations on the crowds’ reaction. It’s a way to please an audience. It becomes a performance by a trained actor. What comes out is not yourself, but what you think others expect of yourself. It is a false self.
The reson for the persona is to fit into the crowd. The crowd provides much that is lacking in the individual. The crowd gives comfort a sense of belonging, a sense of direction and a shared tradition. A tradition as low brow as lighting farts on fire to composing epic sagas, it creates a culture and mood from outside of him. This culture in turn helps clarify the confusion the individual has about himself. These questions of who am I? Why Am I here? What is my purpose? Is temporarily and superficially solved by the designations that they give you. The individual in turn assimilates into the crowd. And forms his actions around it. No sudden movements inbetween the compact, claustrophobic body of people, no one is comfortable with this, but no one says a word. Having no space to breathe is perferable than the fragile thought that disagreeing with how things are would break up the crowd. That is the delusion of the crowd and it’s power to control.
People are desperate for meaningful interactions, but they are afraid of the consquences of the exposition of personal failings. They are terrified that other people will find out. This fear drives them to hide deeper and deeper, compounding more and more lies.
The irony is that what people crave is what they’ve been hiding. The persona is easy. It’s simple and understood. There are no complications to it, faults though, sins though complicate the story arc. The story arc needs to be complicated a bit, because life is complicated. The narrative isn’t neat. The hero really isn’t that good and is often unheroic when no one is watching. The virigin princess has been sleeping around. The town drunk was the town priest. The lowly cashier who was cursed by the impatient customer prayed to the almighty a blessing for that man. The successful college professor was kicked out school three times before he learned how to study. A son forgives a father’s abuse. An orphan raises a family. We shouldn’t declare the period on the tale too hastily, when we don’t know how or when it will end.
What is needed to be honest is confession. A confession doesn’t seek to justify. It doesn’t seek to rationalize. It doesn’t put the blame on those who are innocent. It seeks to take responbility for what is done. It brings vulnerablity and an acknowledgment of imperfection. It humbles because it sees the action as it is. When a fault is confessed it demands further elaboration, which reveals more about ourselves than we realized. This interaction between two people is to get to the heart of the issue. It lets them know about you. It makes you vulnerable to their criticsim. It makes you weak in their eyes. You are under control of their gaze because they know something bad about you that you didn’t want them to know. This puts everything up in the air since you have no idea how they’re going to react. Its risky, but it lets you know you’re alive and your actions do affect people. The lies you’ve been believing by acting on them, by reinforcing the flimsy contstruct of the persona, fall by the wayside; because the idea you had about yourself in your head has been just proven false.
What is needed beside confession is also a community. Not just an ordinary community but a confessional community. A community that confesses to each other. Where no one has leverage over the other. Everyone knows everyone is human. And being human entails making many messy mistakes. And admitting them is the first step to moving away from them where they don’t control you anymore. This can only happen in a community.
A community is not a crowd. A community has a personality because it is known personally by the individuals in it. A crowd is a stranger to itself. A community celebrates the unique differences found in people. The crowd coerces and shames people into a mediocre mold. A community relieves insecurity. A crowd exploits insecurity. A community brings flourishing. A crowd brings stagnation. A community rejoices with one another. A crowd mourns silently alone while together. A community is what we desperately desire, but are too afraid to have, so a crowd is settled for instead. What everyone needs is a community.
A community is needed to stay honest because it is easier to lie to yourself than your best friend. Someone needs to pull you out of yourself, out of your own thoughts. You need to know you exist for other people not for yourself. You need to be challeneged to grow. A writer needs this because they’re often alone. And if you’re alone then you have no obligations to anyone. The easier it becomes to bend the narrative to fit your own persona. When you’re tied to a community, you’re careful to respect those around you. They challenge you to tell the truth to be honest. This honesty is so rare and precious. It shines through beautifully reflecting like a multi-faceted diamond. It stands out. Honesty is what makes great writing.