“We say different things for different audiences, whether in intimate dialogue with a loved one, or displayed as a curiosity like the eloquent ape in Kafka’s ‘Report to an Academy’. This means that at least to some extent all life is a ‘performance’, which we do not have to interpret in any radical way, such as you might have encountered in a graduate seminar in ‘Performance Studies’ at NYU circa 1996. We only need to acknowledge that our encounters in everyday life are not just a matter of showing up, of hauling our body out of domestic storage; these encounters are also a ‘presentation of the self’, which requires at a minimum that a person make choices about how the self is presented, in what light, which angles to showcase, to what ends. It may be that one partially adequate gloss on what it is to be mentally healthy is that this is a state in which the performative quality of quotidian self-presentations retreats into the background, and a person feels as if the self who is coming across to others is naturally and spontaneously the real one (more or less). I can only guess at what that might be like.” – Justin E. H. Smith, “A Surfeit of Black Bile”

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