The possibility of an 'authentic self'...
Something came up in my research methodologies lecture this week,
“the work of femininity involves continually producing oneself, indeed one’s body, for the pleasure and approval of others”
Jackie Stacey, Star Gazing: Hollywood Cinema and Female Spectatorship.
Now, I am no writer on feminism, in fact I found the text particularly difficult to read, but after having this quote explained in terms of the constant and multiple performances of ‘self’ that we enter into as individuals existing in a postmodern society, the question of the ‘authentic’ self arose, and perhaps more profoundly whether it is even possible for such a thing to exist.
In an age constantly bombarded by external factors, economics, culture, media, the increasingly dominant online presence through social networks (that maybe even begin to replace traditional notions of family) to name a few, many would argue that the possibility of the authentic self simply does not exist anymore. It was suggested within the lecture that as individuals we no longer have adequate language to even describe the levels we perform on, rarely realizing or questioning our current states, and that the price of coming to ‘language’ has limited what it is possible to think. It is through these language constructions that we have a relation to others, thus outlining our need to always perform.
Having not considered our lack of language before, but knowing the frustration of an inability to adequately translate a feeling into words, I am increasingly keen to agree with the opinion that language itself is limiting. Although I hold onto the belief that in some space, beyond my description almost, we can find an authentic self. I can perhaps best describe the feeling as one along the lines of déjà vu, an elusive moment with an origin unknown, one that is infrequent and completely unpredictable, though not miraculous, just everyday. (I have been sat here at my computer for two hours; this is difficult to write!)
I can only describe the internal process I am referring to in terms of a core (I’m holding my hands around an imaginary spherical object); a centre that exists in a state of flux, reacting to influences and allowing the individual to perform on multiple levels; to feel unique but share sameness. I hold onto the feeling that, in a single moment (an experience that lasts but a couple of seconds) this substance of self, which exists in a malleable and transitory state, can align with a truth that comes from somewhere completely internal, a concrete truth that at this point, you know yourself to be; an acute moment that reaffirms authenticity and allows the individual to continue to perform on a daily basis without getting lost in something of a wilderness.