In today’s WSJ (7/12/14) Peggy Noonan refers to the term “optics” defined as “how things look as opposed to how they ARE” We live in a world of “optics”. In my book I use the term “simulacrum” as a reference to that image that is so perfect a replica that one can engage it without knowing it is a replica. The French philosopher, Jean Baudrillard, is renowned for exploring the simulacra in our current media immersed culture and our lives. In my metaphor “life as theater”, I make a similar case that we live lives of theatrical artifice rather than ones of AUTHENTICITY. After establishing that we all live in a world of “optics”, “simulacra” and “theater”, then the struggle and search is to shed oneself of the many false selves that have been placed upon us and to seek the true authentic self that resides somewhere amidst that plethora of other deceiving selves.
Let’s explore the concept of authenticity here for a moment (and more later). I posit that we are born authentic. And we live authentically for a period of time, and then at some point the external world imposes limitations and substitutions upon that authenticity.
Freud would make the case that the imposition of a Super-Ego upon the Id and Ego is the first steps in subduing an unrestrained and dangerous unbridled Id and Ego. The imposition of “no”. How soon is this outside imposition applied to the infant? John Watson’s theories of child rearing included the adage, “let them cry”. An infant in a crib crying for attention and need that “learns” that no one will answer (after assuring that the infant is fed and in no danger) is the first instance of limiting and diverting natural behavior.
Considering the years one through three, we still allow much authentic behavior(that is: what seems natural to the child) so long as it is not destructive or dangerous. So, in general, the first years of life are largely authentic. But depending upon their parents and their first “friends”, there comes that inevitable time for children when censure and change are required. Socialization requires it.
But…..skipping to adolescence and adulthood we see wholesale efforts at fundamental change to the individual. This is where my book picks up.