Being here, I gain in character,
but lose in individuality,
I replied.
March 16 2018

CHAPTER 1/ A Story
A man came into the room. He was alone with me and I had to entertain him for a couple of minutes. He did his part and asked me a few questions. He guessed straight away where I came from. Your accent is charming, he said. Charming, but not convincing, I thought.

Being here, I gain in character, but lose in individuality, I replied. The man was Texan, living since ten years in Berlin. He could have understood. As a matter of fact, his face was cheering my words, obviously clear like water, my words. But don't forget, the guy's from Texas, US. His character is supposed to embrace any of my words anyway. Americans are well known for this sort of procedure.

I am inflicting on him the same ritual that people are inflicting on me: this slushy passageway to a dead-end. You might wonder: why a cute little girl like me would hate to be considered as such? Well, I'll tell you. I'm not the cute little girl. And yet, my shapes deceives me, and my roots stick to my skin. My tongue is the last betraying snake.

Though, it is not the only reason. Being a square, but circular in other people's eyes, might be confusing, but not the end of the world. What tore my heart apart is not others perception, not what « people » think, but what a person made me realize. That person was Someone.

Someone would have been my very first love if I wouldn't have cleared up the misunderstanding. He admired my character, but never saw my individuality. He loved the French twists, the open hips, but never had he seen beyond that, even after days, weeks, months, years together. I didn't know back then that I would never be more than an exotic adventure, a fetish, a charm in a tidy life.

I always considered him as an individual. He lost his costume long ago. He became a friend, thousands of details and nothing alike another. He was closer to me than my people, closer to me than my blood. But, this intimacy had the limit of the reciprocity. How could I be so close to someone standing so far away from me, from my individuality?

I had always missed a point. There it is, this thick skin that I bare. Extremely colorful and fragrant. Most people look at me blindly, because of this obstacle between us, this strong superficiality, materialized by my French accent among other things. I share this skin with strangers living far away from their hometown. Their skins have different properties, but the principle is identical.

I don't blame Someone for praising my character instead of my individuality, but it made me so sad to realize that what we had was nothing more than a misunderstanding. It was also a relief. I was finally released from an illusion – hard to die.

I wish someone will scratch my skin someday and prevent me from a slight suffocation inside.

CHAPTER 2/ A distinction
The character is what catches your eyes and gets you the first time. S.he is hot-tempered or reserved. It is a profile, a type, a category, an extravagance. It is all the corners of a round and harmonic face.

It is also a part you play because it is all you know. The cultural habits you have learned. The mechanism you have embodied, because you are born a girl, or coming from a certain class, or generation. A character is the part you play on stage as well as in your own life.

But that does not tell who you are as a person. My individuality is all I have against my character. All that defines me despite or within this character. It is me under the mask. It is me around my luggage. It is me as opposed to you whoever you might be. Individuality is the strongest differentiator. It is as specific as a DNA.

It is usually easier for a person of the same character to identify someone else's individuality, as the character disappears among fellow creatures. For instance, if two people of the same color meet, the color of their skin will not matter, and they will be already a step further in the process of getting to know each other.

There is often a huge discomfort. Sharing a character does not mean necessarily sharing the same individuality or having compatible individualities. I guess this case would exist, but the probability is very low. So we need to deal with different characters, characters hard to override.

That's also the beauty of it. Individualities can transcend character types. The encounter of another character brings a fresh vibe to life, true. But the character is just a beautiful mask hiding a titanic individuality. It is essential to scratch the mask as soon as possible to not only notice but taste the cake.

Joséphine Demerliac
About the author
Joséphine Demerliac alias ZOU is a French writer and a filmmaker. She founded Sloth to get away from Facebook and salve her nerves. Sloth is an experimental magazine, where writers have total freedom in term of form and content.

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