06.04.18 | Masks
Marcel Marceau, the famous French mime, danced a revealing truth in his parable of the man and his mask. A little man playfully tries on a series of masks. After cavorting about exhilarated by his disguises, he grows tired of the novelty and tries to remove the mask. Horrified, he discovers that he cannot. The mask is fixed to his face. A terrible struggle follows; his body writhes in agony while his face remains frozen in a grin. At last the false face is wrenched off, but the real face behind it is now simply a blank Marcel Marceau - The Mask Maker (1959)
Member Monday (6/4) is about the affixed face -- maybe the controlling, the rigid, the runaway, or the masochist mask
-- or, perhaps, it's the face of ironic detachment worn by the give-a-shit cynic thinly cloaked in humor. Humor, as it turns out, is actually one way to penetrate the false face ("A cigar may just be a cigar, but a joke is never just a joke")
An entire society may find itself in a comic prison. Just as the Japanese verbally engage one another in either a ritualistic (tatemae) or a more honest (honne) style, perhaps Americans have developed humor as their own brand of tatemae. The mere mention of the name of Trump with an eye-roll now serves as its own joke, the laughter releasing tightly leashed anxieties. Humor has become the social disguise of our day, a badge of sophistication, a smoke screen for social withdrawal.
However, let's first look inward at the retail level and see the false face (of whatever sort) for what it is -- the real or perceived need for character armor during the first part of our individual life journey. That cultivated persona -- our "stage mask" -- most likely served us pretty well. Until it didn't. Perhaps the trigger was a major life set-back or humiliation.
Suddenly the focus shifts from the container in the guise of one's self-image -- say, the parent; the executive (no one is as annoying as the FIP i.e. the formerly important person); the minister or rabbi; the professional victim even -- and on to its contents. Reconciliation of the two during our later life journey is a full-contact sport.
May compare our life journeys as we cavort in our own Marceau-esqe masks.
- Steve Smith.