detritus, television, trouble

reality and self awareness

A couple of experiences that allowed me to be fully aware of myself (but only for a second or two):

One: Guthrie Theater Acting Camp, circa 1978. First day with a bunch of strange, new, much cooler than me kids backstage. The camp “counselor”, also an actor in the Guthrie troupe, puts us all in a big circle and one by one we are to walk directly across the circle “normally”. As you can imagine, that’s impossible. The very fact that this group of young strangers are all watching you makes it absolutely impossible to walk “normally.” I believe I strutted, then sat down red-faced thinking what a lop I was. “Lop” being a strange little term that was popular among my small group of friends back then. It meant 1. uncoordinated; and 2. doofus. More or less.

This is an example as to why “Reality” TV is really the worst name for whatever that is. Anytime a camera (or the eyes of my fellow campers) is trained on you, reality slips right out the back door. Nothing that happens when the subjects know the camera is on can be remotely described as “reality”. It immediately becomes performance, whether we like it or not.

The other time, and this is rather embarrassing, I was standing mostly naked but for a shirt with the full length mirror to my right. I’m not one to stare at myself in the mirror and if you know me by sight, you know why. Pretty much average looking all around. But this one day, I’m standing there and happen to glance over to my own face at the exact same moment I pulled my belt up and it whips me right in my most personal privates, snap! and I saw my own face respond to the searing pain. Interesting, that. Painful, but interesting. I had no idea my face could ever contort in that manner.

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