The Selfie Project

And then the loss of the daughter, the fourth American generation, a daughter on the run who was to have been the perfected image of himself as he had been the perfected image of his father, and his father the perfected image of his father’s father… the angry, rebarbative spitting-out daughter with no interest whatever in in being the next successful Levov, flushing him out of hiding as if he were a fugitive — initiating the Swede into the displacement of another America entirely, the daughter and the decade blasting to smithereens his particular form of utopian thinking, the plague America infiltrating the Swede’s castle and there infecting everyone. The daughter who transports him out of the longed-for American pastoral and into everything that is its antithesis and its enemy, into the fury, the violence, and the desperation of the counter pastoral — into the indigenous American berserk. — Philip Roth, American Pastoral

I started the Selfie Project because I wanted to know whether I could see myself. I wanted to know a) whether the countless versions could physicalize into one whole, clearer vision of “me”, and b) whether I would be able to stand staring at myself—at a clearer definition of “me;” whether I could ever agree and identify with my own effigy. These questions were preceded by a number of other unnerving questions about myself: Who am I? What makes me? Who or what defines me? Do I exist only in opposition to my surroundings? Am I not there unless someone is staring at me? Do I exist only as, and because I am an object? Do I depend on others to objectify, and thus “make” me? Am I the involuntary (by-) product of violence? Could I employ the selfie to become an agent of myself? Would it be possible to gaze myself into being, and thus become independent of the Other? Is my own gaze less violent than the Other’s? Is it possible to turn my own gaze towards, or only against myself? Is self-objectification an act of self-re-approriation? Or is seeing myself inadvertently an act of self-destruction?


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