Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cluttered Persona

Naturally, I couldn't resist the clutter with the camera. It's a pharmacy that makes passport pictures, I think. The arrangement is untidy but it works. No doubt my electrical engineering tutor might wrinkle his nose and call the arrangement a "Christmas tree". Why do we always complain about passport pictures. They never "come out right", but what is "right" exactly? We mean flattering, or presented in the best light. But to those of a psychoanalytic turn of mind, that is persona. Carl Jung was the originator of the term "persona" and by this he meant the archetype of the mask. Jung thought it was absolutely necessary to have one in order to fulfil certain social roles - a parent, a student and so on. . Conversely though, he felt that a too rigid an association or identification with the persona was pathological. The persona is an outward orientation to the world - hence the mask, - much like actors in the the early Greek theatre would wear masks to signify certain emotions to their audience (many of whom might be quite distant). An individual's persona can also be quite far away from the inner components of that person. If this is so, the psyche itself may becomes unstable - unless there is a conscious recognition of the combination of opposites entailed. Functioning as your persona is a kind of "false self", a defensive mask. In the end, we are collectively aware that passport picture is awful, but are we individually aware of the nature of the mask so many of us present to the world?