Theoretical Question for 11/17


After reading the article "I Tweet, Therefore I Am" by Peggy Orenstein the topic of performativity raised some concerns for me. In her article she uses Erving Goffman's definition of performance that states, "...all of life is performance: we act out a role in every interaction, adapting it based on the nature of the relationship or context at hand." If we all are performing, we must be trying to appease our audience and while the audience may change in every interaction, how does this performativity affect our "true" self? In my case, a Chicano that was forced to lose my native tongue and conform to the U.S. mainstream, how is my performance informed by the assimilation that was forced on me? How is performance informed differently for different bodies? Do spaces like Twitter allow for a "true" reflection of ourselves or do we perform there too?


This article made me think about performativity, audience and "true" self, tambien. As i read it, I found myself REALLY considering deleting my facebook and twitter. That moment when she described with her daughter, about feeling like it was a perfect ime for a tweet, and then trying to pinpoint the "dominant feeling" was too weird--and familiar. Orenstein says, "But when every thought is externalized, what becomes insight?" I appreciated how she goes on to question how intimacy is affected with our participation in social media. Although, i'm still working through a lot of these questions, I think that "audience" weighs heavily on how "true" i am about my thoughts/feelings/processes.

Yes, guys, I thought about that, too. Danny, your question made me think about which one is the "true" self... As you said, you was forced to adopt a different language and to conform with the 'mainstream'. So, what is the "true" part of yourself in this "final product" (but not really final!) called Danny now? I always ask the same question about myself and I really don't know the answer. Can we recall our "true selves" after all transformations we go through or the "true" part is the product of those transformations? What/who is this "true self"? Reina, did you watch the movie "Social Network"? Then I think you will really consider deleting your facebook account! We will keep this discussion going tomorrow! So many interesting points...

Well, living in this country my whole life I don't think I will ever be able to find that "true" self. I think about the concept of neither from here or there. In the U.S. I will never be a "true" American and in Mexico I will never be a "true" Mexican. I am basically stuck in between these two worlds that I must "perform" my authenticity to on a daily basis, knowing that I will never be "truly authentic" on either side. Frankly, this is where I find comfort in Chicano identity that complicates or "troubles" the notions of authenticity. While you will find Chicana/o nationalist who will argue with me, I find that fluidity in my identity allows me move move within both communities. Still, while I am fully Mexican living in the U.S. it is difficult to see the gap between 1st generation migrants and those that have been here.

I like your discussion of "troubling" authenticity here. Is it possible to engage in authentic moments without claiming authenticity or an authentic self? What happens if we delink authenticity from individual selves and their "true" feelings or beliefs and think about it in relation to events, practices or connections? Does that make sense? I'm still trying to work through what I hope these questions might do for our discussion--maybe I can pose them in class and we can work through what this delinking might mean?

'troubling' question...... Sara, I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "authentic moments". But, as I read this conversation, I can't help thinking of how discourse exerts power by trying to establish authenticity as if this notion is homogenous, coherent and complete. I like Mohanty's definition of colonization which I can't recall verbatim. But, it was something about denying the colonized their heterogeniety. And when I think of authenticity, it seems as if it is associated with a homogeneity and a completeness that I cannot fathom. I wonder if there is an 'authentic' 'Mexican' even if that person has been born and brought up Mexican. But, in the process of othering and being othered there is this need to find authenticity and I wonder if it is possible at all. I wonder if we can truly separate one's performative selves from oneself, because performance is also part of defining oneself which is, I think incoherent, contradictory and incomplete... 'God forbid' final :P....

Thanks @skeptic. Your post raises more (hopefully productive) questions for me: Who gets to decide what is authentic? There are all sorts of ways in which we could think about this--makes me think about @reina's comment about audience. Also makes me think about @skeptic's thoughts on colonization. What is authenticity? Do we need to be authentic in order to be honest, truthful? Are we conflating all of these terms--does "authenticity" have a history of meanings that we don't want to invoke/cite? In her intro to No Angel Fisher seems to think of authenticity and honesty together when she writes: both teachers and students need to try to bring their most authentic selves into feminist discourse. By this I mean being as honest as possible about what we think, feel, experience, and do.
And, how do we bring intimacy into all of this?

In terms of the idea of "authentic" moments, I am thinking about exchanges between people that involve active listening and "serious" and respectful engagement with each other. These moments may be fleeting, but they can help foster connections and coalitions.

Hmmmm.... I understood authentic self to mean 'real', 'true' or 'original'- not a replica or a 'poor copy'. In that sense, I was thinking of performance as trying to 'copy' or fit an image.

I guess one would be dishonest if one is trying to fit into an image when we express ourselves and this could be even in one's relationships. Can one honestly express one's deepest feelings to another person? Is it possible? If so, is that entirely innocent or 'selfless'? Even in my intimate relationships, I seek completion or a 'fulfillment'.

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