20 July 2009

Entertainment, Friendship and Identity

Although I am happy with my identity as a middle-aged married woman, I am happier still with my identity as a genuine human being. I am not much of an entertainer, though. When people attempt to entertain others, how authentic are they? How true are they being to themselves?

As far as friendship goes, I particularly like people who are truly kind and emotionally honest. They usually express their real emotions through gentle communication and practical, productive activities.

Do you find that some blogs by people who use pseudonyms appear to express authenticity more than some by those who use real names? Can using a nom de plume help us to be more genuine in our writings?

Have you ever changed your real name? I changed mine when I married. I was never particularly comfortable with the surname I was given at birth. Sometimes I wonder if I would I have wanted to adopt my husband's surname if I did not like it. Would I even have wanted to marry him if I thought his name was horrid?

I am especially glad that my husband's first name is not Ernest. You may know that in Oscar Wilde's play, The Importance of Being Earnest, Cecily wanted to marry her guardian's wayward brother (whom she had never met) as she liked his name, Ernest. Gwendolen was in love with a man called Ernest, too, so when the two young ladies met, they thought they were competing for the affections of the same man.

I especially enjoy the film version from 1952 though I have also seen the play performed on stage. Mistaken identities, disguised identities, the imposter and the charlatan have been common themes for playwrights.

Elements of farce have existed in drama, at least in Western culture, since ancient times. This might imply that we humans have a predisposition to finding entertainment in the ridiculous and improbable. Even Shakespeare used farce and disguises in some of his plays.

The Importance of Being Earnest was written during the 1890s economic downturn, following on from the success of Charley's Aunt by Brandon Thomas (I saw a hilarious version of the latter in the Aldwych Theatre in London in 1983 with Griff Rhys Jones playing the lead).

Meet Charley's Aunt (1892)

Be earnest and discover more about The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)

Oscar Wilde was a renowned poseur, as may be many modern "celebrities", drag queens, politicans and television presenters, at least as portrayed through the mass media. I doubt it is possible to be a true friend to someone whose persona is a pretense. 

Many people often mistake entertainment for friendship. But what does it mean to be genuine? The Importance of Being Earnest might provide some interesting answers.

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