Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Weekly Free Association : The Mask

Author: Paulo Coelho

Even though today the mask is often evoked for dissimulation and deceit, it is interesting to see that it also conveys very different meanings according the different societies as well as different periods of human history.

In the West, the mask has often been used to veil the true identity of a person: hence the use of it during the carnival where people from different social ladders could mingle and do things that – had their identity been revealed – would cause their disgrace. Another interesting example of this can be found in Ancient Rome: the mask, called “persona”, was the social mask needed in order to shield the individual from society.

In the other hand, in Greece as well as in Japan, the mask is not conceived for veiling the identity but rather to replace it. Indeed, masks are used in theater in order  to create the catharsis in the public – meaning : to waken in us the deepest and truest emotions.

Hence the ambiguity of the mask – from shield to mirror of truth.
Now you take the floor: what do you associate with the mask?

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