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Being There by Jerzy Kosinski

             In social encounters, people in general project a public or "on-stage" self, and we think of it as covering our authentic face- the face behind the social mask. People often act in the opposite way of what they are really thinking in order to impress others. However, Chance, in Jerzy Kosinski's Being There, couldn't think or act on his own. His behavior reflects what he has observed on television and in his garden. Chance presents himself to others in such an honest manner. What he shows the public is exactly who he is. He doesn't have a private or public self; he has only one face- the face of true human nature, which is the product of TV images and his garden.
             Television created Chance as did the garden. The garden seems to give him physical existence while the television gives him a mental existence. However, this "mental existence" is a false one. Contrary to his life in the garden, in the outside world Chance is a blank page, acceptable to all people because he is like all those characters on television. Because Chance's behavior depends on what he has seen on television, he is uninformed and incompetent in many areas. .
             Although this book is a bit far-fetched and ridiculous at times, Kosinski makes a very valid point. He seems to point out that in the culture we live in, superficial perception is everything while real thought is often neglected. The media plays a large part in shaping our notions of leadership. The media creates an image for Chance- they give him an occupation, a relationship of intimacy with the President, and status. They hype him up to make him seem newsworthy and interesting because they have to have people to write about. Even though Chance may not be the brightest person, people are drawn to his personality and his unintentional words of wisdom. People seem to trust him, instinctively. His meaningless utterances combined with his total lack of background, turn him into a media idol and, seemingly, the ideal candidate for Vice President of the United States.

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