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Masks, Self, and Other

The word “mask” makes me think of the collection of masks from Mexico that were once a part of my daily life. Some creeped me out, some drew me in, some had a definite presence. I headed up the security section of the Arizona State Museum and routinely walked through and trained the gallery guards about the basics of an exhibit of 350 masks that was called Mexican Masks, Faces of Fiesta.

These amazing artifacts are the first thing that came to mind when I read about the Nablopomo theme on BlogHer for the month of October: Mask.
The second thing I thought of was the partial covering of a layer in of an image in a graphic.
The third thing I thought of was of the masks we all put on to cover, separate, or protect our private, personal selves from others. As a child I listened to the Beatles album, Revolver, over and over and over again. Eleanor Rigby, the woman in the song of the same on the album was described as “wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door.” I was always intrigued by the ambiguity of meaning in that phrase. McCartney wrote most of the lyrics. Only he knows what they really meant to him at the time, but to me it spoke of the masks we wear, the false faces we present to the world while really wanting someone to know the real us. In all of my wisdom, at age nine, I also thought of the cosmetic faces that women put on and how those are false faces we present too.
It is intriguing to me that masks can be used to an outer power into us, as when a mask is worn in a ritual to invoke a God or spirit, or that we can wear them to hide parts of our inner selves. Isn’t it strange that the word can cover such disparate behaviors.
As always, when I think about meaning I end up finding out something about myself. Durng the writing of this post I realized that when I used to don costumes for Halloween, that I never wore a mask. I think I used costumes to accentuate a part of myself rather than to hide a part of myself.
Costumes, masks, and avatars are wonderful semiotic elitication tools. How do you feel about masks?

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  1. When I read “masks” I immediately thought of them in a craft way. I use masks in card making to keep some parts of images clear of stamping and it gives it a layered look. They “hide” things, just like those you where on your face.

    1. Yep, Winnie, graphics and image manipulation are what I thought of right after the magnificent collection I worked around. I love graphics!

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