Archive for March 5th, 2009
This is an old photo I took in the spring of 1979. This is supposed to be a self-portrait. I decided to take this using a window as a mirror. When I first developed the image, I realised that this actually said more about me than a self-portrait that would have captured all of the outer aspects that all could see. And it was fitting for me to use this photo to talk more about the persona.
At the time, I was back at university completing my B.Ed. after four years of teaching in the northern regions of Canada, teaching in a number of First Nations’ and Métis communities. I had spent four years building my image as a teacher within those communities. Of course, since I was an outsider, a southerner, I was able to craft a unique persona without much pressure from a community to conform to a stereotype. In a way, that freedom had set me up for expecting to have that freedom for the years to come. And of course, it meant that I would struggle when I returned to the south where there were more rigid expectations about what a teacher was like. It was a confusing and difficult transition as I rebuilt my persona so as to escape undo attention and stress.
Whoever looks into the mirror of the water will see first of all his own face. Whoever goes to himself risks a confrontation with himself. The mirror does not flatter, it faithfully shows whatever looks into it; namely, the face we never show to the world because we cover it with the persona, the mask of the actor. But the mirror lies behind the mask and shows the true face.
“Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious” (1935). In CW 9, Part I: The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. P.43
Of course, I knew the truth of who I was under the mask. I saw the truth when I looked in the mirror. As the years passed, the lie between the persona and what I saw in the mirror deepened into depression. I didn’t like what I saw. I didn’t like the lie, especially with my family. The were learning to live with someone I saw as a stranger. The more I struggled, the more I buried under layers. There came a day when the acting crashed and the mask cracked. The unconscious refused to be forever denied.