The Clown with a thousand faces

The Clown with a thousand faces

The Clown with a thousand faces
The Persona is how we present ourselves to the world, as does the clown with a thousand faces. Like the clown, we all wear many different social masks day to day in life; among various groups or situations to fit the social or cultural norms or perhaps be more socially in desirable - to fit in or potentially be something we are not. These masks allow us to adapt to the world around us; Jung said they were “designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to conceal the true nature of the individual"
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We develop the Persona to contain primitive urges, impulses and emotions otherwise we run the risk of being ostracized by the people around us, after all we require community for survival. The danger is in identifying with specifically one identity or archetype and wearing any one mask too long; in doing so you place yourself at risk of losing your own individuality, living a fantasy, repressing or burying your individual self and the disintegration, when it happens, will lead to chaos of the individual. Nietzsche wrote on fighting monsters that “if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you”, much like wearing any one mask too long, you inevitably will become ‘the monster’ – the mask, not necessarily evil but the mask is not you. It is not too difficult to see why Jim Carey’s character Stanley Ipkiss, found it so hard to remove ‘the mask’ in the 1994 classic of the same title, and the satirical carnage that took place for wearing it too long. A comical allegory, but a bitter reflection of modern society and it’s identities.
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We see the identities every day, after all the classic archetypes have been with us for as long as are own existence has managed to establish community. We love seeing them played out in media, books, films, soap operas, fairy tales; why we relate to certain characters and see the hero story, regurgitated in an almost infinite number of forms. We have the hero, the jester, the outlaw, the lover, the innocent, the ruler. But, how about something more relatable? The mothered child, who grows to seek a mother in their partner and the end that eventually meets. The sportsman or athlete who is no longer the success, to find validation at the bottom of a bottle. The reality star who is no longer relevant; selling their soul in the process, or, maybe you have seen the effects on a soldier removing the mask of War.
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The point here is too not identify with a specific persona as it creates a fantasy, the result could be "the shallow, brittle, conformist kind of personality… with excessive concern for 'what people think” and an unreflective mind. You will become utterly unconscious of any distinction between yourself the world in which you live. You may not realise the mask you have on but, but the longer left, the more chaos that will ensue and will leave you with little or no concept of your self as distinct from what society expects of you. The Persona derives from the Latin word for a theatrical mask, and that’s exactly as its intended to be worn, for theatre, not to hide the individual under one, but wear many. Interact with the outside world through flexible personas, recognise there is an individual underneath, you can’t always be ‘The’ hero but you can be a Hero, or at least whatever mask you chose to wear. Remember the clown with a thousand faces, is still a clown none the less, underneath every mask he wears lays an individual.
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“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts….”
 
 -William Shakespeare (‘As you like’ spoken by Jaques)