PERFORMANCE OF A PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SELF


Venice Beach, 1997


The metaverse has created new modes of performance. We are all performing in it. I am performing right now, presenting you with a public persona that is much more carefully crafted than what I present in person. ("Persona," the root of "personality," was the Greek word for the mask actors wore. The mouth of the mask was configured to amplify sound in an amphitheater. When we say that such and such a person has a lot of "personality" we are often complimenting their public performance. Note how easily the word can be spoken ironically.)


If we were together now in person, you would see elements of my public persona, but you would also see increased levels of emotion and vulnerability, facial reactions, and nuanced body language. That said, poetry, and art generally, can convey more of our complete person than discourse, or even our physical presence. I can refract secrets about myself through a poem that I would not commonly tell you in person unless I knew you very well. In art we perform to tell the truth.

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