Disgusting Personas

Last night I was watching a doco on heavy metal and it struck me that  liminal space, the space of play, the subjunctive, the ‘what if’ space is counter to modernity and its love of machines. The ability to play was not in the interests of factory owners. They needed fodder for their factories who would be content to work, eat, sleep and reproduce. The doco discussed the disgust felt by mainstream people to the fetishes, appearance and demeanor of  heavy metal bands. Of course some in the right wing religions blamed heavy metal for social ills and labelled it satanic. And they still believe their own collective paranoia.

Each time people dress up and take on  personas outside of a defined theatre space people get threatened. In ‘real’ life we are pressured to be static one dimensional beings. While different roles such as father, mother, son, daughter, etc are acknowledged; different personas which nonetheless are still me even though they are not not me are integral aspects of ourselves. We all have unfixed unstable selves that are constantly transforming and hopefully growing. I started to think about this disgust, which in its extreme forms accuses personas of being immoral or in league with the devil or trying to escape from the ‘real’ world, whatever that is. On the other hand there is the ‘happiness’ industry with exhorts us to be in the moment, to try something new everyday, etc.

So I am thinking about why the idea of personas is disgusting to so many. And why do people cling to notions of ‘real’ ?


Personas performing writing

Conversations on Twitter can be totally inspirational, voyeuristic and intriguing.People who write poetry get to know each other’s work through Twitter streams. Poetry parties are held. Hash tags are used to distinguish form. Within this context the act of writing becomes a performance as well as communication. Real names are rarely used. If I look through the lists of those I follow and those who follow me, I see an array of names that mask ‘real’ names (or names on the surface). People have created personas.

I have a background in theatre as well as other creative forms like photography, video art and writing. When I thought about this phenomenon in Twitter, it reminded me of the work of the theatre anthropologist Schechner and his theory of performance. According to his theory, acting, when done with art is a liminoid state of not not me. What this means in simple terms is that I as me read and learn a character part which is not me. If I am to act my part with art and truth, I need to learn the part so well through practice that when I play it on a stage I am in a not not me state. I feel there is a connection here with what happens in Twitter streams.  There is oscillation between people, between poems and between words. If I choose to join, my hope is that people will respond to me in some way, or even retweet my tweet so it will live a little longer in the stream. My relationship to the stream is both personal and public. Participating is both practice and performance and definitely a form of public art.

Recently Remittancegirl, whom I follow spoke about personas people adopt when writing in Twitter streams in an essay called ‘Your Persona – Twitter Culture and Creativity. _Monocle_  also wrote a stunning essay on his process of writing for Twitter: “Twitterfiction and Interactivism”.

So what does this all mean for the ways we write and make art?  To delve further into this question, I can only think of more questions, all of which are intriguing … about subjunctive spaces.