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Fashioning a life

“My ambition is to have beautiful encounters, not to make money.”
- Juliette Binoche

I was reading not so long ago a journal belonging to a person who felt we are becoming incapable of enjoying anything except voyeuristically - thorough the lens of how we feel we might be perceived in that moment by others. The rise of selfie-culture, of blogging, of crafting an artificialized and idealized angle on our own lives - becoming curators to our own museum of existence. When I was first confronted with this idea, I wanted to call bullshit - people always wanted to be perceived as their most ideal selves. That's what fashion has always been about; it's what propriety and breeding and manners were about. We've always been very conscious of what is called impression management. But there's a certain increase in my own experience of this.

I have friends who maintain active Instagram accounts who are posting little more than images of themselves and what they're eating or otherwise consuming. On someone with a strong sense of identity this would just be a brain dump space; in most cases I see this from people with little to no sense of identity, trying to craft a sense of self. This is increasingly, yes, a matter of impression management. Rather than journaling, rather than writing down life experiences, consuming stuff, or images of stuff consumed, has become the autobiography.

I understand it on some level; I like talking about food, I do see part of my identity in relation to what I eat. Given that I grow or kill a good portion of it myself, it seems unsurprising, although I probably self-identify less in terms of my consumption than most people in spite of that. It's not that I've never had a crisis of where I fit in the world, I've just always known who and what I myself was despite not having any idea where to fit in. I never tried on identities, trying to see who I was; I tried fitting a fully-formed me into places I often didn't fit. (Culture's answer, most of the time, to not fitting is that there is too much of you and the answer is to be less, to change yourself. This answer does you no good and can do tremendous harm. The real answer is to find a place big enough.)

Back to topic - Juliette's comment above really got to me, given that her life's work has been in crafting the IMPRESSION of beautiful things, encounters, lives, onscreen. She's well-aware of the imaginary nature of it; she wants to live the reality. Obviously much further out from personal control, I do consider this highly ambitious, in a way many people would not dare dream.