Go Ahead and Fake It!

Children doing tae kwon do.

I stopped short when I stumbled upon the following quote yesterday:

“To pretend, I actually do the thing: I have therefore only pretended to pretend.” ~Derrida

My friend and mentor Meri Walker had posted it on her blog. She proceeded to ruminate about how she and her partner John are both artists, and imagine the craziest things into being:

John imagines something and then commits to fabricating it, come hell or highwater. That’s how he put skylights in the top of the TransAmerica tower, for instance. The union asked him if he could do that, he looked inside his imagination to see if he could “see” that scene, said “Yes,” and then set about discovering how to make what he had seen show up in the 3-D world.

When you are imagining something, you’re pretending that thing already exists. John and Meri have proved in their own lives that once you fake it, you can make it! I highly recommend reading the rest of her post.

When I read Meri’s words, though, I couldn’t help but think about the InterPlay classes I teach. InterPlay is an active, creative approach to unlocking the wisdom of the body. Classes include improvisational storytelling, movement, and singing.

During the InterPlay warm up, I’ll invite people to try on different movements by faking them. “Try some fake karate!” I’ll suggest. “Now, how about fake tap dancing!?” And finally, “Get into those hips with a little fake hula, why don’t you!?”

New Interplayers always giggle when we start faking it. Perhaps out of nervousness. But mostly, I think, because it’s fun and freeing.

In fact, some recent personal “aha!”s have emerged from the fake forms.

See, I’m a perfectionist. Big time. Which doesn’t always allow me to relax and have fun because I’m often worried about doing things right. That’s why the fake forms are so good for me. They let me off the hook for being perfect.

Now that I’ve gotten good at doing fake karate, I’m finding other ways to trick my inner perfectionist into letting go. For example, when I started my blog, I gave myself permission to be a “fake blogger.” Somehow, that allowed me to just start DOING it.

And before I knew it, my posts weren’t fake anymore. Somewhere along the way they turned real.

Of course, Derrida would disagree with me slightly. He’d say that pretending to do something is, ummmmmm, actually doing it. So my blog posts never turned real. They were real all along.

Yay for faking it! Because once you fake it, you’ve already started imagining that new thing into being.

This all just begs the question: What are you going to fake today?

(If you’d like to be a fake InterPlayer, come on down to one of my classes in San Francisco or Oakland. I’d love to play with you!)

3 thoughts to “Go Ahead and Fake It!”

  1. One of my favorite “Fake” InterPlay forms is “Fake Opera”! We’ve had some hilarious death scenes, some rather inspired contrapuntal singing, and also some chaotic disharmony…all delicious.

    I laughed when I read this because the past month, I’ve decided to write some “fake poetry”, which has got me writing poetry for the first time in YEARS. I won’t let myself critic the poems very much because, of course, they are FAKE poems, so I can just let them be what they are, love them for coming from my body, and let them inspire me to keep writing. Shuts up the Spoiled Princess Inner Writer, and keeps the Perfectionist Critic quiet, too.

  2. Nice, Celia! Thanks for reminding me about fake opera. I haven’t taught any of the fake singing forms recently, so perhaps it’s time to revisit them. And I adore what you say about fake poetry. I would never ever call myself a poet (and I don’t always enjoy reading poetry), but I love to write FAKE poetry! Thanks, too, for the name “Spoiled Princess Inner Writer”. I know her well. 🙂

    And while I’m commenting, here’s a Facebook exchange with a high school friend:

    Jim: Reminds me of the psychological gesture found in some acting schools. Or techniques form any number of other disciplines (religious ritual, martial arts, etc. ) over the years… Sports psychologists make buku’s of money working with this premise.

    Gretchen: Nice, Jim. You just covered an amazing array of disciplines in one short comment. 🙂 I remember having a conversation early on with a Sunday School teacher: do you have to believe first and THEN go to church? Or go to church, and THEN believe? This particular teacher believed it was just fine to fake it, and that undoubtedly true believe would come. In this case for me, belief DID come (although not at all in the form my Sunday School teacher hoped).

  3. “Fake it like you mean it.” That’s one of the mantras of Laughter Yoga! You really should check LY out. I think it would dovetail nicely with what you are doing.

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