Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Portraying myself

First, another quote from City of Masks (Tamas's sermon, given while, ironically, disguised as someone else):

...A mask is made, not only by the craftsman whose hands have formed its physical being – as parents form our bodies – but by the wearer and by those the wearer encounters – as we, and those we befriend and oppose and learn from, form ourselves as human beings, form our souls.

The soul is a flame, we are taught, like and yet unlike to this flame which burns beside me; it is a flame which feels, reasons, speaks, forms relationships of love – and also of hatred. And like this flame beside me, it can be seen, and when we make it manifest, we call this a mask. For the mask which hides is not the true mask, it is not the light but the darkness; it is the mask which reveals that is the true mask. This is why, when we honour some man or woman by naming him or her a Character, the mask that is given to him or her is the mask of his or her own face. We are saying: This man has portrayed himself, this woman has portrayed herself. Only his face, or her face, can represent who and what this person is, for he or she has been himself or herself.

And so I say to you, brothers and sisters, children of the Lord Sun, put on the Sunmask each day in your lives. Take upon yourself the light, not as something merely external to yourself, but as something that rises up from within you, that is the truth of who you are. Each day arise, each year renew yourselves, in the struggle against evil, in the struggle against ignorance, in the struggle to bring truth out where it may be seen. Wear the true mask. Do not have one appearance in your words and another in your actions; be whole. Do not wear the mask of darkness; wear the mask of light. Wear the mask of your own face and let that be the face of the Lord Sun. And if you do so, you too, in your daily lives, in your daily business, in your daily rising and your daily shining, in small ways and in large ways, you will be heroes of the Sun.

Now, personal context.

I realized during Centering Prayer on Easter Sunday that the next thing I need to work on in myself is the way I was "devoiced" by my family - which includes the critical voices they implanted so I keep second-guessing and editing myself. I read a chapter in Psycho-Cybernetics on exactly that on Monday night, "as it happens". Part of what Maxwell Maltz recommends there is to just talk, without constant vigilance and self-censorship and self-criticism. He answers the inevitable "But it's important to think about what you say!" with: Yes, but not for people who already do it too much. Body temperature is important; if you don't have it, you're dead. But if you have too much of it, despite the fact that it's important to have some, a doctor will try to reduce it. Same principle.

I was talking about this with Andrew at spiritual direction last week (hence the realization on Sunday), and also last night, and we were looking at strategies I could use. One I came up with was to start another blog, a pseudonymous one, one that didn't have my real name and my photo and links to my professional website, where I could behave badly - cuss people out, be sarcastic, rant, vent - without feeling the need to self-censor.

I thought about it on the way home and thought, "No. There's already too much of that on the Internet. That's like deliberately dissociating that part of myself and saying it isn't me. It's putting on a false mask."

So here's what I'm going to do instead.

When I'm blogging away and I think of something sarcastic, negative or critical to say, I'm going to say it. I'm not going to censor it out so that I can look like a nice guy. BUT, I will go back before I post and put an advisory at the start of the entry. Something like:

Advisory: Sarcastic and critical comments about a named group (theological liberals).

That way, I can be more spontaneous, but at the same time I can demonstrate that I'm aware of the fact that I'm acting badly.

I don't know whether that's a good solution or not. The more I look at it the more stupid it sounds. I'm going to assume that's my critical voice, and post it anyway.

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