Tabula Rasa

On a completely unconnected note, although one that ignited the engines of my train of thought earlier….
It is well known that certain species of animals, insects and even plant life can take on the behavioral instincts, colour schemes and patterns of other species that are far more deadly than they are, purely so no one will try to catch/eat/step on them, right? 
I don’t remember the names but some snakes do it, and lots of insects. If you want to look hard when in reality you’re a wimp, alter your appearance and/or characteristics so folk will leave you alone. Humans probably do it a lot more than our creature counterparts, and although unlike insects we don’t do this to stop being eaten, it still amounts to one and the same thing: 
Self-preservation – evolution’s greatest weapon.
If you were to get sentenced to a spell in prison how would YOU cope with day to day life, considering all that you have subconsciously accumulated over years of watching films and TV programmes about life inside? If you’re in for a long stretch (heaven forbid) (unless you deserved it) then you might consider altering aspects of your personality or physical appearance in an effort to make people think twice about crossing you. A scar, a tattoo, shave your head, talk ‘street’…the list is endless. As a human being capable of rational thought your instinct for self-preservation kicks in and you become a tabula rasa, able to imprint whatever you like onto your template. So if the guy in your cell is a hard-nut who likes nothing more than a really challenging game of Monopoly, in order to survive you will no doubt consider taking an immediate interest in buying Mayfair (the place, not the “top shelf” magazine, silly) – or at the very least, give a highly convincing impersonation of someone who genuinely loves Monopoly. You would. You know you would. And you would pull it off too. 
Why? Because evolution works.
It happens to millions of youngsters every day, where self-preservation becomes the need to conform. I don’t mean gangs on street corners, I’m talking about day to day school playgrounds. The will to fit in is built into our genes. It generally mutates as you get a bit older and learn to be a bit more confident, but you will still take it with you, into college, into work, amongst new groups of friends or colleagues. Starting a new school or a new job or even a new term gives you an opportunity to change the bits you don’t like about yourself and fashion a new YOU. As the man that shares your cell might say, it’s your Get Out Of Jail Free card

Are they even allowed to play Monopoly in prison? Sounds a bit unfair to me.

Some might call it “re-inventing” yourself, but that only works for celebrities with flagging careers or those who retain a highly-publicized interest in doing so merely because it is expected of them (I’m looking at you Ms. Ciccone, Ms Minogue). Re-invention is seen as a “bad thing”, yet it happens every single day on a universal scale that even the biggest ruler in the world would never be able to measure it accurately. “Re-inventing the wheel” “they” say in such a derogatory fashion, but what if there are better shapes for wheels to be? Who decreed from on high that all wheels MUST be round? Was it someone in the Government? Did your parents sign up for that during World War II? Or is the wool being pulled over our eyes? Did a whole room full of circular wheel manufacturers sit down generations ago and decide what shape OUR wheels would be? 
I certainly was not consulted.

However, when something (or someone) re-invents themselves and it has a positive outcome it is seen as a triumph. Robert Downey Jr has always been a great actor (fact), but he languished in Emilio-Estevez-Hell for a decade before what was essentially a performance where he had nothing to lose catapulted his talent back into the public view. Thanks to the bloke who played one of Courtney Cox’s lovers in ‘Friends’, RDJ is now one of the most recognizable and highest paid actors today and is the go-to guy for quirky, dry-humoured, lots going on behind the eyes-type roles in Hollywood.This might shock you: I was ordinary at school and girls never noticed me (sniff, sniff) until the day I bought a battered leather jacket from a charity shop, put on a pair of fake spectacles (this is true BTW) and put some mousse in my hair. On that very day I became a butterfly – albeit briefly, as I seem to have subconsciously elected to re-invent myself as a caterpillar again due to my penchant for drinking beer.
Re-invention works (on the whole)
One of Quentin Tarantino’s greatest gifts is being able to cut through the celebrity fog and navigate the avenues of Hollywood’s fickle nature. His edict is simple: “Hire the best actor for the job – and if he happens to be someone who is really cool but every one of this movies has gone straight to DVD ever since that last big one that made him a household name back in the 80’s – even better!”
Re-invention, my friend, is the necessity of all us muthas.
Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. Let’s do it, let’s self-preserve.

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