Becoming someone else, unsurprisingly, was quite difficult. But the experience of living vicariously through another, albeit fictionally, is one that has changed my perspective on life. I know that sounds exaggerative, but becoming my avatar, and having my avatar become part of me, bled into my daily thought-process – I started thinking like Diego, with him almost becoming another portion of my conscience. I found that my avatar slowly began to take on it’s own life – a form that became more unique and individual with every post – yet at the same time, he began to reflect some of my own emotions – not exactly how I would feel in certain situations, but how I viewed parts of my own life.
As we discussed in class, it’s immensely difficult to tell someone else’s story, yet somehow I felt that I could convey Diego’s. I’m not sure if this is because Diego reflected my own personal experiences – we both come from somewhat well-off backgrounds, and struggled with our paternal relationships – or because I was able to put on the mask of Diego, to become, if only for a time, an entirely new person; to create and develop a persona that interacted sovereignly within a context that was historically accurate.
At times, I felt as though this was the most difficult aspect of being Diego’s conduit – living a history that differs greatly from my own required a lot of time spent conducting research to ensure the accuracy of the intricacies of Diego’s life. Yet it was creating this fictional character within the context of a greater non-fictional space that allowed me to connect with both the history itself and the emotions that living this may have incited in a manner that I was surprised to find possible. I do not claim to understand the experiences of those who lived through the terrors of the Argentine Junta, but I do feel as though I understand Diego’s experiences, because to an extent, they are my own. I created a universe in which I was Diego, not in the sense that Diego was me, but in that I became him. When immersing myself within his world, the person I am in Oberlin – to a degree – disappeared.
And I found that it was beautiful – that becoming the voice for another allowed me to introspectively examine myself through a character that realistically never existed.
I never imagined that writing as someone else could give me such insight into myself as a person, in that after writing each post, I was able to reflect on the ramifications of what had happened to Diego, and how this could/should influence, and possibly change, how I interact with my own environment. To try and empathize with his experiences – to discern how I would have acted if I were in his position. Of course, I couldn’t truly understand what Diego – and more importantly those who actually experienced the horrors of the Junta – had experienced; their experience is one I simply cannot fairly identify with. But writing as Diego made me think. And what is the point of this exercise if not to incite thought?
I also feel as though reading other posts gave me insight into other avatar’s lives, and although I didn’t exactly feel comfortable commenting on other’s posts, their ideas helped shape how I view the histories of both Chile and Argentina. This course is one of reflection, filled with extremely difficult material that at times was hard to confront, and I found that at the times when I struggled to confront it as myself, I had more success viewing things through the eyes of Diego. And for this reason, I found this opportunity to relate to the material in such a unique way to be immensely rewarding. It allowed me to view the past creatively through both an individual and collective lens, and because of this I was able to approach Chile and Argentina’s histories in a way I never thought possible – through eyes that, while not my own, were inherently connected to me on an historically intimate level.