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Sept 5th, 2012 P1: Question on "character"

ishin's picture

Smith makes mention of the concept of a "Character" two times within her introduction.  One time where she says 'The process of getting to that poetic moment is where "character" lives....Character lives in the linguistic road as well as the destination." (pg. xxxvi), and again on pg. xxxvii where she says, "Mimicry is not character.  Character lives in the obvious gap between the real person and my attempt to seem like them..."  The question on my mind is what is meant exactly by "character" in Smith's essay, and what it also means in our own daily lives.  Is character merely fictitous or based in performances?  Can we actually live a life as a character?

Admittedly, I don't even think I can quite yet pinpoint what I find particularly compelling about the her thoughts on "character", but I think it may have to do with thinking about people as characters beyond theatre and into daily life, and how that can lead to undesired consequences.  Sure, as Smith shows us in her story about Crown Heights, characters can reveal things about the "gap" between people and can also attempt (but not necessarily solve) to bridge such a gap, but I think we must also acknowledge and be wary of the limitations of being only a "character".  Regardless of how complex of a character you may embody, there is still the danger of people looking at you merely as a character and not a human being.  Often, the hardest jump after the portrayal of a character is often reminding people of a certain type of humanity that characters seem to lack.

I think as I wrote those preceding sentences, my own biases about what the definition of a character is revealed themselves, but I do believe that the concept of a character like characters themselves is extremely complex.  I'd like to think that character is often tied with speech, so maybe we'll address this question sooner or later.

Also from "A Journey into Speech":

"...I Knew I wanted to tell exactly how things were...without muddying the issue with convetional beauty, avoiding becoming trapped in the grace of language for its own sake, which is always seductive."

So great.