Vanity Fea



Towards the end of Stephen Crites' article "Storytime", on the narrative psychology of the self—a nightmare vision on the fixed selves we acquire, the artificial living dead we may become through a surfeit of coherence:

New variations on the same basic types of unhappiness arise when I wittingly or unwittingly confuse the recollective story with the projective scenario. On the one hand, treating my own past as if it were as indeterminate as the future, my story will be so loose and fragmentary that I cannot recollect myself out of it. I make a fairy tale of my past, and become at best an enigma to myself and others, a creature of uncommitted fantasy.

The reverse of this loss of identity is the loss of possibility entailed in the imposition of the tighter-woven recollective story on my future. Attempting to maintain my self unchanged, I impose the "will" of this self on the future. The unhappiness of that is not that I may fail, but that I may actually succeed. For then I will have locked myself into what is after all a construct recollected from the past. The self becomes its own Frankenstein, a monster of its own making, which exercises its control not only over whatever falls within its orbit as it stalks the earth, but also over its very self. I cannot free myself from the self-image I have created, which becomes more confining the more it suceeds in imposing itself.

("Storytime", 172)


Performing the Self

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