Wednesday, 26 May 2010

On Truth & Illusion

Truth or Illusion, George. You don't know the difference.

*Note to reader: Bear with me; I have a feeling that this post is going to spiral into complete nonsense very quickly.*

Earlier this evening I watched Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I'd never seen it before and I was blown away. It's a fantastic film. Emotionally, I am knackered. My mind feels like it's been put through its paces, and I'm ready for bed. Hopefully the constant effort spent trying to figure out what was true and what wasn't won't have scrambled my brain too much.

In case you haven't seen it, one of the main themes is the struggle between truth and illusion. This is something I quite often find myself pondering, usually when I should be doing something more productive, like work. Obviously I'm not quite as attached to a life of illusion as George and Martha, but it is something I think about every now and then - I think the battle between reality and illusion is something that affects most of us fairly regularly.

For example; I didn't realise I had an accent until I went to university and made some very chavvy [and completely accurate I'll have you know] remarks about a film we were studying. My comment was greeted with giggles from the other, posher students, and so began the burial of my Essex accent. However, no matter how hard I try, it's still there. Give me a drink and I'll revert to my natural speaking pattern in no time, leaving a trail of dropped t's and h's in my wake. The older I get, the less I care. I'm more likely to speak naturally now than a couple of years ago, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't occasionally attempt to brush my commoner's accent under the carpet. It seems sensible to fool people I don't know into thinking I speak properly naturally, rather than risk being instantly written off as a chav, so I maintain the illusion that I speak the Queen's English despite the Essex peasant within screaming to be heard.

To borrow a theory from Proust [and Shrek], everybody has a selection of selves that they project to different people or groups. I, among other things, am a son, boyfriend, brother, friend, colleague and client. I behave completely differently in each situation, often without thinking. Does this mean that none of the people I speak to really know me? Can anyone ever get to know someone else completely? If so, can I only be my real self when I'm on my own?

See, I warned you that there was nonsense on the way. I owe this instense brainscramble to having spent the whole day in bed with a hangover, leaving me huge amounts of time to fill with thought. I went to a party last night dressed as a viking - I think I should stick to looting and pillaging and leave these philosophical musings to someone else.


  1. you must post photos! I sometimes wonder that too, we have a million roles we play everyday so how do we know which one is the real me??

  2. I love hearing accents! They are pleasing to my ears. I don't see anything wrong about it.

    We all do have different roles everyday because we meet different people. Our personalities is different with one another so we tend to blend in order to fit or not hurt someone.

    How could you not put those viking pictures of you? Grrrr!

  3. First, I want a photo of that viking outfit. Please and thank you.

    Second, the idea of so many identities: the plurality of it is something that really, really speaks to me. It's a politics/culture book I read for university; but Amartya Sen puts it's beautifully in Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, when he says that at any given time we are many, many things. Some of those are complementary and some of those are contradictory, and that is fine. These are our identities and we are more than just a singular reflection. We must own and live and empower our identities rather than strive to be one singular facet.

    Third, the accent thing. I get that a lot. The instant judgement that comes with your accent. I'm Indian, I grew up in the Middle East and have perfectly rounded vowels thanks to my extensive Brit schooling. So, I show up at a party and open my mouth and it's an instant round of "guess the accent". It's not fun. Especially when I don't want to go into the particulars of the hows and whys. It doesn't even matter. I'm not about to change how I sound or pronounce things because someone thinks I should sound like some bloody stereotype in their head.

    We are many things. Even when we sound completely different to those things.

    Also, Essex accents can be rather charming. So. Own it.

    Fourth, as much fun as pillaging is.. you aren't a half-bad hungover philosopher. xx

  4. I agree with everyone. Post some photos. You don't want to make me angry, do you? Also, please post a video blog!!! I swear, I'll be nice. Don't you think I'm nice?

    And I think Essex accent is so charming. (That's actually why I'm asking for a video blog from you.) So. Please *puppy dog eyes*

    P.S. Seriously, when you said, I behave completely differently in each situation, often without thinking. Does this mean that none of the people I speak to really know me? Can anyone ever get to know someone else completely? If so, can I only be my real self when I'm on my own?, it got me thinking. Those are interesting questions. I'm like that too. I behave differently in every situation that's why people have different impressions of me. It actually bothers me sometimes.

    Oh well. xo

  5. If it makes you feel any better, when I read your posts, I do so with the Queen's perfect English accent.

    And now I must watch this movie.

    And, here's a story for you that is pretty stupid. When I was in college, a group of friends called me "Daiquiri Knightly." Why? Because one time they gave me a bunch of daiquiris and I proceeded to speak a perfect Kiera Knightly accent for the rest of the evening...and at every party for the rest of the semester.

    At least my friends name the different parts of me that I project.

  6. I don't think this is nonsense...everyone struggles with reality vs. expectations, truth vs. illusion, etc. Also - I think the different faces we show people are just our layers. My boss gets a different layer at work. When I stop working there and we hang out for fun - there's a different layer, etc....But on the question of does anyone know the real us? I'm not so sure. Or maybe your soul mate. nice blog though - i always like the thought provoking ones =)

  7. @ kisekae - I would post photos, but to be honest I look ridiculous. The costume is not the problem (I made most of it from clothes I found in a charity shop and it looked awesome). The problem is my face. I'm making the oddest faces in all of them, I think I was trying to look menacing. I failed.

    @ Mishieruu - I'm not sure my accent would please anyone's ears, honestly it's reallynot very nice, I promise I'm not just saying it! :(

    @ epitaphforaheart - You're right, maybe I should own it and not worry about what other people think - but it's not charming I promise you. I'm pleased that people actually understood what I was on about - the book you mention seems to explain exactly what I was trying to say, down to a tee.

    @ Gnetch - the thing is, if I did a video blog, I think I'd automatically speak properly. I basically need to be drunk for the real accent to come out, and I don't think you want to see that!

    @ Daiquiri Knightly - perhaps this is the trick I'm looking for - as long as I stick to daiquiri's I'll speak properly? And it does make me feel better that you imagine that I'm posh when you're reading.

    @ Krystal - hi! Thanks for the comment, I'm pleased I made sense (for once)! When I'm at work is actually where I usually think about this - I'm completely different there to anywhere else. If anything I'm louder and more irritating.