Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner
Originally posted on March 30, 2012
In a recent blog post on dancing a thousand flames, I mentioned the idea of being many selves—playing many roles. I’m flagrant in this regard, playing with the whole idea of playing roles. Of course many cartoonists, comic book writers, and dramatists do likewise, and I’ve been more than a little influenced by these genres. In a larger sense, every poem, musical composition, and work of art might also be imagined to be an expression of yet another facet of the creator. So anyone who creates roles does this.
People create roles with their pets, attributing to them more than one name, for example; and they do this with their kids and their sweethearts—“pet names.” I created a name for my beard because of the way our cat cuddled up to it: mommy baby belly beard. She liked the fuzzy, we think, and it brought back her relationship when she was a baby.
I think most people play about 20 major roles and about 100 minor roles and about 1000 transient roles. I don’t even count roles that aren’t repeated. But some become part of a small routine, if only for a few days or months. There are also certain dream scenes that I have visited, or remember—and that counts as a re-visit—and so there’s a spectrum of how much does a picture, or a slight role advance into the role repertoire towards being a major role? I guess it depends on how much one “does” that role, and perhaps add, does it with some conscious awareness that it is a role. Picking one’s nose doesn’t count until one realizes that there is a small secret shameful role of the nose-picker that is in fact part of one’s private role repertoire. The nose-picker, the crotch-scratcher, the masturbator—don’t even talk about such things!
So, among the roles I play, I just identified on: the identity identify-er—sort of active right now, identifying some of the identities or roles that I play. (ha ha!) Another role is the library book browser, and another one is the role of being nice to the repairman.
I have to use a little maturity and discipline in this, because my bratty kid role is tempted to complain that things shouldn’t break and what’s he going to do about that!?! But I register this little scene in my mind and maybe or maybe not I’ll play it out later with my wife as an “audience,” just to see what that fussbudget complex has to say for itself. Anyway, I am not about to play that with the repair man—he’d be confused and hurt! He is really a nice fellow and doesn’t know—or perhaps he knows all too well—how people can get grumpy and rude about whatever breaking and taking it out on the guy who’s trying to fix it.
There are so many roles: The news reader, the cartoonist, the writer of thoughtful emails, the preparer of presentations, and numerous silly ones that I’m not prepared to mention because I don’t know how you’d take it. Of course there are the roles of all my cartoon characters that in fact truly represent little tiny and sometimes not-so-tiny aspects of me, as shown on my website at Adam ManyParts.
My hope, though, is to witness to what I fool around with and hope that I can encourage you to begin to own, celebrate, enjoy, and consciously perform more roles in your life, selecting the time and place and the kinds of people around at the time who would enjoy these roles rather than be bewildered by them. (I haven’t always been very aware in this way, but that’s another story.)