Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Mind as a Nexus of Role Involvements

Originally posted on July 24, 2013

This illustration notes that the human mind is both individual and collective. The self is largely an illusion, as I write about on my website, an aggregate experience. But there is a degree of self-willed activity that arises from this illusion, an intention, and this intention, associated with taking responsibility, accounts for a great deal of the advance of history. On the other hand, people tend to drift and stagnate, which accounts for how long it all takes.


Here’s a self in the center, a fluctuating five-bubbled integrator, who chooses various degrees of identification with and involvement in core surrounding roles, such as vocation, marital status, parent, other family duties, hobby, religion, etc. The outer circle also is needed but in most people tends to be less conscious or quite unconscious: These are the imagined role involvements, identifications with heroes, causes, celebrities, favorite characters or roles in history, sports starts, whatever grabs a person.

The problem is that for most people these identifications are largely vicarious, abetted by mass media. The people don’t actually play most of these roles, or not very much.  If people would embody these roles, enact them—even in fantasy—live through them, their sense of having lived would increase dramatically, as would their sense of having chosen, been involved, and active in changing their script from what it was a few years ago to what it’s becoming with a little guidance.

In other words, everyone plays roles. The essential “self” is formless, beyond any roles. As it is energized as self, it takes on a mixture of role characteristics, such as the conductor of the symphony orchestra, the gardener, or the CEO—chief executive officer of a large business. But this coordinating role depends hugely on the parts, the different other roles. Organizing them, emphasizing some at one time, another when the circumstances change, is part of what maturity is about.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *