Sunday, May 24, 2009

Norwegian-Greek, Musician-Doctor?

In The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Erving Goffman writes that we all perform many roles, continually shifting from one to the other depending on the situation, consciously or unconsciously. Student, employee, community member, citizen, male/female, someones friend, lover, parent, grandchild, etc. Which roles do we embrace and profile ourselves with? Which ones do we fulfill, but don't make a big thing of? Which roles do we distance ourselves from?
Goffman says "When an individual plays a part he implicitly requests his observers to take seriously the impression that is fostered before them. They are asked to believe that the character they see actually possesses the attributes he appears to possess, that the task he performs will have the consequences that are implicitly claimed for it, and that, in general, matters are what they appear to be."
Oluf Dimitri Røe is a fine example of juggling ones various roles, going in and out of different identities when the occasion fits - and being taken seriously about which role he is in at the time. Although he was born in Greece, Oluf Dimitri has lived most of his life in Trondheim, Norway, and is fluent in both Greek and Norwegian cultural idioms. He has played violin and other instruments since he was a child, but when he had to choose a profession, he chose to study medicine, not music. In an article entitled "Norsk - gresk, musiker - lege?", he told Norwegian broadcasting that "I like both medicine and music, and have music as a hobby. But it is impossible to be a 'hobby' doctor". Even though this happens in his spare time, Oluf Dimitri has played in a number of famous Norwegian folk, jazz and rock bands, as well as doing some important ethnomusicological collection work.
Here is Oluf Dimitri Røe performing with the band 'Bengalo':

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