What I am after is the myriad circumstances in which we are not quite sure we are sufficiently immersed in the roles we are playing. You smile politely at a person you loathe, you feign interest in whining complaints of your friends, you go through all the moves of grieving, being in love, etc, etc and are still not sure all of you is there; you feel, in other words, that you are acting, playing a role, and because that feeling intrudes, you wonder why you cannot more fully lose yourself in the moment. No, you don't feel this way all the time, but you fear the feeling when it comes, because you feel it might blow your cover. And there are times when you wonder who or what you are amidst all the various roles you are asked to play, from mourner, to lover, to barely competent lawyer. Some people we feel might too fully immerse themselves in the roles they play, losing a kind of charm we feel resides in irony and certain forms of humor. From whence these kinds of anxieties? I want to discuss issues ranging variously among hypocrisy, politeness, courtship, apology, flattery, praise, self-deception, ritual observance, propriety and emotion display. In other words more issues than we can really handle adequately. Some readings: Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Relations in Public; 12th Night, Hamlet, Notes from the Underground; Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments; Diderot, Paradox of Acting, perhaps some of the literature on passing.
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