The Performative and Transformational Nature of the Self
Pages 5

Moreover, as a person acquires a self in the process of acting out the various dramas of life with others who are doing the same thing, that "self" changes over time. Indeed, no performance, no matter how good or satisfying it is, goes on forever, and even if one were to attempt to make it last forever, the audience's view of it would change and therefore so would its meaning. This is a position that fits any number of classical and modern philosophers as diverse as Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Husserl as well as Baldwin and Mead. According to each of these scholars, the self is an object which must have other objects in order to come into being (Baumann, 1967:583). As those objects change, so will the self. Mead expressed it this way:

Having more than one self is a performative necessity! On the other hand, among the multitude of selves that are created in relationships with others, in most situations a sense of continuity as well as change must be established. To be

sure, a semblance of continuity (or at least similarity) exists between situations and audiences. Moreover, the insistence on the part of many audiences for selfconsistency on the part of the individual, limits the range of self-presentation that will be consensually validated. Fortunately, names are typically attached to selves and because most people go through life with the same name, a sense on continuity is, so to speak, built in. But then there are nicknames and other terms of endearment which are so situationally specific that they create a self which exists perhaps with only one special audience. The competent performer then typically has a repertoire of many selves:

Following this line of reasoning, the dramaturgical position on the question of permanence and change in matters of selfhood emphasizes the considerable dexterity required of actors to avoid what might be viewed as the polar limits of plausible self-presentation: presenting so many conflicting selves that one is labeled a chameleon or a schizophrenic, on the one hand, or so few that one is viewed as depressed or even catatonic, on the other!