Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Although I am in general one of those unsophisticated Woody Allen fans who prefers his "earlier, funnier films" (and sneer that his work has been getting terribly stale over the past decade or so), there are a few from his 'middle period' also that I particularly treasure. I felt a special sense of identification with 'Zelig', the fake documentary about a "human chameleon", a man so insecure in his own personality that he automatically adopts the manners and opinions of those around him - and thus blends in as well with left-wing intellectuals and literary lions as he does with Nazis and Klansmen.

Not that I have such a weakness of self-image (far from it!), or such an overriding desire to 'fit in', but.... my personality is so intricate, my interests so diverse (and often seemingly contradictory), that my various friends and acquaintances seem to perceive me in astoundingly different ways.

I rather suspect that, in general, each of them is attracted to an opposite image of themselves, and thus tends to exaggerate whatever features they feel they perceive in me that are most unlike them. My more staid and sensible friends take a horrified delight in my supposed propensities as a 'wild man'; while my hardcore drinking buddies often deplore me as something of a wuss, the kind of guy who is always preaching moderation and reminding them what time we all have to work tomorrow. The friends who have settled into a humdrum monogamy fondly suppose that I am having a high old time as a serial philanderer; the philanderers I know, however, are all, I think, quietly in awe of (or disdainful of... or just baffled by?) my sexual asceticism. My less bookish friends imagine that I am formidably well-read, an authority on almost everything; my more severely intellectual friends, I fear, sometimes patronize me (but probably rightly) as lazy, superficial, a dilettante.

I am both high-brow and low-brow; intellectual elitist and 'man of the people'; idle loafer and perfectionist workaholic; a self-indulgent slob and yet ruthlessly self-disciplined; an embittered cynic yet also a hopeless romantic; a wine & whisky connoisseur and an undiscriminating beer guzzler; and so on.

I am all things to all men, it seems! But is there a 'real me' in the midst of all this??

"My name is Legion, for we are many....."

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