Yesterday, I happened on an article titled, “UK police unable to identify man who fell from sky,” which, as it should, caught my attention. I considered it appropriate subject matter for the approaching nadir of days preceded by this week’s dark moon, and so found myself meandering through semi-dark thinking-thoughts.
Just to fill you in on the hazy details of the curious event:
“The mystery began in September when residents of a suburban street in the Mortlake neighborhood of West London woke up on a quiet Sunday morning to find the crumpled body of a black man on the sidewalk of Portman Avenue….
Detectives believed at first the man was a murder victim and cordoned off the area. Within a day, however, police concluded the man — probably already dead — had fallen to the ground when a jet passing overhead lowered its landing gear as it neared the runway at nearby Heathrow Airport.”
As Aviation safety specialist Chris Yates states:
“They so often end in fatality because more often than not stowaways climb into the wheel base or cargo hold, and those areas are not necessarily pressurized,” he said. “When you start moving beyond 10,000 feet, oxygen starvation becomes a reality. As you climb up to altitude, the issue becomes cold as well, the temperature drops to minus 40 or minus 50 degrees centigrade, so survival rates drop.”
Seeing as it was one of those “Eh, Wikipedia is good enough” kinda days, I found myself reading Wiki’s “Stowaway” article, which had this piece of cheery news:
“The stowaways in plane wells face numerous health risks, many of which are fatal: being mangled when undercarriage retracts, tinnitus, hearing loss, hypothermia, hypoxia, frostbite, acidosis and finally falling when the doors of the compartment reopen…. Those stowaways who managed to not be crushed by the retracting undercarriage or killed by the deadly conditions would most likely be unconscious when the compartment door re-opens during the approach and fall down several thousand feet to their deaths.”
Lesson for the day: Dont do that.
And, somehow I ended up thinking back on yesterday’s review of MC Yogi’s TEDx talk and the idea of personalities, both in yoga culture, and in waking life.
When I think about personalities—what might be defined as “presentations of the self”—I often think about how they are defined.
For a person like me, navigating the world without a marketing team in my back pocket, the personality that I present is, basically, an approximation of whatever I’m up for presenting that day. If I want to be a funny person, I wear the funny hat. If I want to be a serious stern type, I might keep my hands in my pockets and shrug while those around me laugh at what’s laughable. I’m certainly not always in control of these projections, and would hate to be so. The fact remains, at any given moment I have the option for reassessing my presentation and altering it if I see fit. Like breathing, the projected self can be consciously manipulated or left to work on its own.
It’s anyone’s guess how this projection is received on any given day, its reception based almost entirely on the personalities presented by those in my vicinity. It’s not as if I possess the final word on “who I am” in the world. That’s a thing ever-changing, largely defined within the context of social life. However, if we were to freeze time, which thankfully we can not, I believe we’d find an intersection of projections made by self, friend, foe, and those of indifference that we might call “the social me.”
Branding or marketing a personality adds yet another layer onto this human lasagna. The amorphous non-thing we call the person, projects a particular personality that, in turn, constructs and projects yet another personality, only this one primed for commercial consumption. The personalities of commerce are manufactured. They are cropped, airbrushed, and stylized. They are far from human, but rather simulations of humanity’s many zeitgeists.
What’s unfortunate, is that a lot of what you end up with when the show is over is a crumpled up sack of synthetic skin containing traces of something previous, but largely empty of name, place, and home.
1. All images come from SkinBag: “SkinBags are seamless body extensions made of synthetic skin and identifiable by their wrinkled texture and organic appearance. Like genuine external organs, the SkinBag bags incorporate our everyday objects, anticipating the day when biology and digital will merge with pockets for our electronic devices. The TrackSuits give a new form of nudity to our social body. This second skin defines the widened contours of the contemporary identities, including our clothes and communication extensions of all kinds (money, keys, phones, organizers…). As a carrier of mutation, the SkinBag symbolises the ambivalence between the basic natural body, and the optimised prosthetic body. The tactful alchemy of repulsion and attraction turns these sensual vehicles into relational activators. Whether a limited series or custom order, each SkinBag is hand crafted.”
2. I don’t have a source for the image on the front page. Apparently, these are skin masks made by “a company in China.“