Monday, September 12, 2005

Thank Ophelia

A good friend of mine told me she liked people with baggage most of all. I asked her why. She cocked her head and looked at me inquisitively. After a moment she told me I should know better. Baggage, mistakes, experience, it's what grounds us and makes us real, and part of who we truly are. She wouldn't have her friends any other way. I could see where she is coming from. I agreed with her. I love my friends for their thoughts and would feel so completely perturbed if everyone saw the world always as I do, or relayed their thoughts to me in some sycophantic guise.

However, being an individual does not mean doing whatever one can to form a group of typified "originals". It seems most people gravitate to and crave those who think for themselves. At least, the people I know do. But too often I see originality exploited. There are those so hell-bent on being an individual that they act the way they do, wear the clothes they wear, and listen to the music they do, or have the friends they do simply for the sake of appearing original. Like a poorly made t-shirt, purposely made to look like it was found in some out-of-the-way thrift store, usually with some obnoxious slogan on the front that is supposedly funny, and most often crude, masking itself as individual thought or expression. The problem is that it's mass-produced "originality".

On the other hand, a self-thinker, a true individual, leaves themself open to mass rejection. They are not so original-looking as everyone else who bought the same original looking t-shirt at the mall. You know, the one made in Malaysia, by a poorly nourished twelve year old. Or made the same individualized imix with the same awesome but never heard of indie band they all seem to know. The guise of originality then becomes a whited sepulchre. I am willing to bet the truly individual person is out there, though hard to find in a sea of mass-produced "individuals". However, I am also willing to bet most of us would rather settle on those who appear original, but mostly agree with the "different" way we see the world.

3 comments:

mj said...

is ophelia your friend's name or do you refer to the hurricane or the hamlet casualty? this is an interesting point, sj. i'm happy to see you brain at work. sometimes i think people aren't TRYING as hard as it seems they are, though. maybe they just like urban outfitters or architecture in helsinki. of course i could read the fountainhead for a while and be pretty convinced that the "appearance of originality" is pretty sinister after all as it has the ability to swallow whole actual originality. i'm thinking . . .

SJ said...

The character in Hamlet...but funny it's the name of a current hurricane.

SJ said...

Oh, just re-read. I wrote this sweet little essay with Ophelia in mind. She always listens to everyone else's opinion and never seems to find her own. The despair of feeling so utterly useless drives her mad and she kills herself.

Fountainhead is one of those books on my mental list of books I vow to someday read but haven't just quite yet.