Many of us are enamored with impressionists, actors, comedians, and our one funny uncle who can do impressions of politicians well. A great impression of someone is like a magic trick. A great impression includes voice, body language, intention, and an understanding of the victim—I mean honoree’s inner voice. To be impersonated is considered an honor because that means someone cares enough about you to study and emulate you. One man’s mocking is another man’s being held in high esteem.
But is this ability to mimic an ability of a gifted few? Or is the compulsion to exaggerate another’s persona us giving ourselves a clue into what we all are? Is it a clue into the self as impressionist?
Why are we so chameleon-like? Why do we enjoy acting and pretending? One reason is that these are roundabout ways of relating to others in a world of separate selves by putting ourselves in their shoes. And, of course, like children working themselves out through imaginary friends and play situations, adults finding roundabout ways of relating to each other in a disconnected world is actually them talking to themselves, trying to figure themselves out first, because that must be first, and then there is no next. But this is unconscious, so it tends not to work. There tends to be a next and a next and a next.
Our conscious reasons for doing impressions tend to be for how it makes us feel as we’re basking in the adulation of others, or basking in our own smugness in “nailing it.” The nature of that nailing it is what, though? Is it not connecting so precisely to another that you actually feel in your gut you’ve touched some hidden universal space where all lives meet and understand each other?
Another and more physically rooted reason we imitate is that the self is comprised of an amalgamation of imitations. From body mechanics to sensory input of the outside world, the self is an imitator extraordinaire—a patterning machine patterned on the patterns of the body, the limitations of the senses—and that is before we ever get to imitating parents, extended family, friends, culture, and Homer Simpson. Function follows form, in this case, and our behavior reflects our composition.
We are composed. We are one who is many. This reflects the greater truth that oneness transcends and includes all. You transcend and include your parts. It’s no wonder society after society ends up suffering in some form of god complex. We are onenesses imitating oneness, asleep to our true point of view as One.
Now that’s funny!