Sociologist Erving Goffman believed that all human interaction was a theatrical performance. In his most famous book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Goffman called his analysis the study of “Dramaturgy.”
Dramaturgical analysis is the idea that we present an edited version of our selves when we meet others in person.
The internet, of course, adds a new layer of complexity to Goffman’s perspective. If social media is edited real life, then our dramaturgical action is the physical extension of it. We are no less authentic online than we are in person.
Goffman’s theory builds on American sociologist Charles Cooley’s ‘The Looking Glass Self’ theory. In 1902, he contextualized the individual:
“I imagine your mind, and especially what your mind thinks about my mind, and what your mind thinks about what my mind thinks about your mind.”
Keep in mind that people didn’t even think of themselves as individuals before the spread of mirrors in the 15th century.
We juggle identities online and off but each of us has a fixed character. It is our friends and family members and Google that know our truest self.
“I’m not interested in creating an object of decoration; that’s not what I do. My task is to create something that fits the surrounding or the area. If it were to be removed, you would miss it.”
Public art can shape its surroundings. But the same piece won’t work everywhere, as sculptor Lawrence Argent noted: “That bear was designed for Denver. It belongs in that particular place.’ The sculpture addresses this city, this life.”
“There are three hundred and fifty-nine other degrees. Why limit yourself to one?” — Zaha Hadid, RIP
Zaha Hadid never conformed. She never played it safe. She was born to challenge the status quo and she trained her eye to acquire different tastes.
You become what you think about all day. In Hadid’s case, her personality matched up with her craftiness and tireless work ethic. Perhaps she was addicted to design because it enabled her to live on the edges.
Like any true artist, Hadid aimed to appease herself first. She liked bold shapes and curves instead of stodgy rectangles and squares. Now she leaves her art behind for others to interpret.
I lost my best friend yesterday. She was 16 years old. She’d been around for about half of my life, ever since the day we bought her in a dog store off Madison Avenue. She was a New Yorker at heart, and a Yorkie after all.
But after dancing on the back porch at my wedding more than two years ago, Bebe started to slow down. She lost most of her vision and her hearing.
Bebe’s most admirable characteristic was her persistence. She never gave up. In fact, she just got cuter with age. Her hair continued to grow in knots. People thought she was still a puppy at 16. How could you disagree? Look at that face!
Bebe kept a cute face and a positive attitude despite her rapidly ailing body. She always remained happily focused in her own world even as the younger dogs wanted to play with her.
Last night, I lit a candle for Bebe at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and reread an email from my Mom sent earlier that day. My Mom had just received the book Dog Heaven from a family friend. My Mom wrote:
when dogs go to heaven they don’t need wings because God knows that dogs love running best. When a dog first arrives in heaven, she just runs. I think BeBe missed running and jumping the most.
I grew up with two brothers so Bebe was the second girl in our house. I always joke with my wife that Bebe was also my first girlfriend.
Death is a celebration of life. We’ll love and remember Bebe forever, just as we do Bullet, our Silkie Terrier that passed away five years ago.
We’ll always be in touch with you Bebe as you run and jump through the clouds in Heaven.