The persona is “A kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to conceal the true nature of the individual."
-Carl Jung, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology
A character is not defined by what it wears. Bill Cosby wears the sweater, tells the joke, and sells you the pudding pop. The sweater and the clean joke is not Bill Cosby’s identity, just as the fireman’s uniform is not his.
The persona is the reason George Clooney, Val Kilmer, Michael Keaton, and Christian Bale can all play Batman. Batman’s characteristic is defined by the mask and always recognized in silhouette.
You don’t need a movie star, in fact, to play Batman. We know Batman is Batman by his costume.
But that’s not the same thing as character.
Batman’s character, like Bill Cosby, is revealed through his choices – especially in the face of antagonism. The choices a protagonist makes reveals the inner character.
The conflict is this: We’ve been tricked by The Riddler who stole the costume and we’re unhappy that the costume is not the character, nor is the pudding pop it sold us.
Id is a word used in psychology to represent the unorganized part of one’s personality structure – instinct, basic human drive, the pleasure principle. Id has no checks and balances. Id is Latin for “it.”
People complain about Donald Trump because he’s rude, crass, and speaks off the cuff. There’s no filter, no checks or balances. He doesn’t speak through the mask, he speaks through the impulse.
The id is the reason the narrator in Fight Club plans to destroy all systems of a rational society. The id leads others into a fight against the persona through a dangerous path of impulses seduced by free will and enigma.
And yet, people are disappointed both by Bill Cosby’s false sweater and Donald Trump’s real face.
So, we see the lie is ugly. The truth is ugly. And yet, both are popular in our projected collective subconscious desire. We might wish this to not be true, but our attention says otherwise. We pay to watch them both, never trading punches, but always in the ring together.
The sound for “I” is a variation of the same vocal expression in many langauges. All derived from “Ego” in Latin.
Eu – Romanian. Io – Italian. Eu – Portuguese. Yo – Spanish. I – English
Ego, rudimentarily, is being conscious of your own identity. Recognition of yourself outside the illusions of the ring.
Without a healthy recognition of our own impulses, and our own masks, we may find a confusion in identity.
In 1989’s Batman, Bruce Wayne has no problem telling a thug “I’m Batman”, but he struggles endlessly to tell Vicky Vale the same thing.
Only when his internal conflict is resolved does the mask between them disintegrate.
And the id of Tyler Durden in Fight Club does whatever “it” wants until the narrator recognizes he is responsible for the mayhem.
Only through this recognition can the id be controlled.
So what’s the point in all of this?
Somehow we find ourselves surprised when the sweater that sold us the pudding pop is discovered to be just a “Sweater that Sold Us a Pudding Pop”, or the impulsive no rules tycoon turns out to be just an “Impulsive No Rules Tycoon.”
Somehow, we play to their theatre and we gasp in shock at just the right moment in the play, that we, ourselves, wrote. We wrote the play. They are a reflection of us as individuals.
Is this the one we want?
How about this:
Recognition is the path to a healthy ego.
Characteristic does not equal character. Neither does telling someone who we are.
What remains after our choices is our character.
And we should not confuse our mask with self-identification, nor our impulse with consciousness.
Please show us your I.D.
The Journey Continues
Tyler Gooden is the director of the upcoming film inspired by the legendary true story of FC Start - TheFCStartMovie.com