The other day I read a story, of a science fiction/fantasy persuasion, about a place wherein the citizens wore a different mask every day*. Depending on which mask they wore, which “oversoul” was infused within the fabric of the mask, on each day a citizen played a different role. One day they might be flayed alive. One day they might be a jilted lover. And so on. One day they might be a man. One day they might be a woman. They might die one day, but be resurrected the next. Wounds inflicted, mental or physical, were healed upon the coming of night, the “unmasking hour” and, the next day, the donning of a new mask.
Just before writing the above, while sitting in the car, while my baby slept and her mother sought carbootish bargains, I saw a young Asian lad walk by, in his slow slung jeans and what-have-you, doing that slight limp thing that lads who like certain types of music are wont to do. This is what got me thinking about Masks & Affectations…
In the aforementioned story, the protagonist was challenged, by a barefaced rebel, to think about who he really was. Underneath the (slew of) mask(s). Not only did he not know; he found it almost impossible to conceive of the concept implicit in the question. (I’m sure I’ve also read/seen something else recently with this kind of theme – i.e. asking the question, who, really are we?). And then there was the young Asian lad with the slight limp.
Firstly, if anyone can enlighten me as to what the slight limp thing is all about – its meaning, its (cultural (or whatever)) significance – my curiosity-sating gratitude will be thusly expressed. Aside from the contextual specifics of such, however…
Who, really, are we?
Underneath the slew of masks. Underneath the affectations. Underneath the roles we play, the sub-cultural costumes we don.
Is there even such a thing as the real me (or you)?
Is the real me a complex amalgam of the Masks & Affectations which infuse me?
* Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast – Eugie Foster – Interzone #220: Feb 2009