Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A question

Who am I? This question, though simple superficially, it isn’t so. On the contrary, it is one of the most profound questions any introspecting person can ask himself. Who am I? All of us have multiple personalities. While I am an ignorant student in teacher’s eyes, I am all knowing and wise young man to a particular friend of mine. I am a carefree, independent, and epicurean young man. At the same time I am a deep, introspecting philosopher. I am stoic and emotional...I am someone in presence of a particular person or a group of persons, and someone else with another. It all depends on whose company I have at the moment. So where amidst all this is real me, if at all there is anything called me?

Let us consider this waiter in the cafe. His movement is quick and forward, a little too precise, a little too rapid. He bends forward a little too eagerly; his voice, his eyes express an interest a little too solicitous for the order of the costumer. And there he returns, trying to imitate in his walk the inflexible stiffness while carrying his tray with recklessness of a tightrope walker. All this behaviour seems to us a game. He applies himself to chaining his movements as if they were mechanisms, the one regulating the other. His gestures and even his voice seem to be mechanisms. He gives himself the quickness and pitiless rapidity of things. He is playing. He is amusing himself. But what is he playing? Of course, at being a waiter. The game is a kind of marking out and investigation. The child plays with his body in order to explore it. The waiter plays with his condition in order to realise it. This obligation is not different from what is imposed on all tradesmen. Their condition is wholly of ceremony – the public demands of them that they realise it as a ceremony. There is the dance of the grocer, an auctioneer, a tailor. A grocer who dreams is offensive to the buyer, because such a grocer is not wholly a grocer. Society demands that he limit himself to his functions as a grocer. There are indeed many precautions to imprison a person in what he is as if we lived in a perpetual fear that he might escape from it, that he might break away and suddenly elude his condition.

And what can be said about the waiters and the grocers, can very well be said about the whole lot of us. We are what the society demands of us. There are very few of us who can be what they truely are. As for the rest of us, we will continue with our lives carrying different, and more often than not, conflicting personalities within us. So who we truly are?


Ruchira Sen said...

Profound. Very profound. We are what society expects us to be... Not what we really are. But what are we... irrespective of our occupations, activities, friends etcetera etcetera. Perhaps we don't have an opportunity to find out.

Feral child said...

very well written!!!!
Did you just read Pirandello's Henry looks as if there are shades of that in this.

richa said...

reminds me of t. s. eliot's poem. 'the love song of j alfred prufrock' and its line " and there's a time to make the face to meet hte faces" may be i dont remembe the correct lines.

and it also reminds me of virginia woolf's novel MRS. DALLOWAY. she says before the central dinner party begins that she has to gather her multiple selves to meet her guests. one cant be "the perfect hostess" without having various faces.

richa said...

great minds think alike!!!

Yasha said...

just like a fairytale.

seriously though, you sound like a philosophy or theatre major.