To wear a mask is to be intentionally faceless, or differently faced. The Guy Fawkes (he of the Fifth of November plot) mask has become popular, especially with the Occupy Movement (which is still active, if you were wondering) and Anonymous. It’s modern usage was inspired by the grahic novel V For Vendetta, which is a dystopian story in which the hero, an anarchist seeks to defeat the fascist government ruling England. Ironically, V desires anarchy – people will be allowed to do as they please, there will be no more control, yet this replaces the total control of fascism. One extreme to the other! I call V’s version ‘no-hopia.’ V’s dream comes to fruition even as he is dying, and in the novel it is the final scene where the lights go out on the freeway that makes the point, V’s mask hides another form of dystopia. England has gone from total repressive control to no control, and nothing in between. V’s goal was no goal.
One of the criticisms of the Occupy Movement is that it has had no real goal or drive other than to protest the evil of capitalism. Perhaps that is the frustrated view of those who expected anarchy, or revolution to ensue in some particular way? Another group, Anonymous have been associated with anarchism, exposure and disruption of governemnt and corporations. For me the Occupy Movement and Anonymous were symbolised by the mask, lacking face and lacking cohesion. In my view they were hiding even from themselves and perhaps, therefore, from purpose. Protest for protests sake goes nowhere, there must be resolve, there must be purpose, and it must be authentic.
We have enjoyed many masked heroes too. Batman stands out, but yet Batman is as dark as his enemies, and his mask belies the hero (which in reality I accept, who is perfect? No one is that good).
But Guy Fawkes never wore a mask. He was caught red-handed ready to light the fuse that would blow up the English pariament house. That’s courage, that’s purpose. Not that I’m encouraging anyone to rush out and follow his example (however …).
As e.e. cummings said: “The greatest battle we face as human beings is the battle to protect our true selves from the self the world wants us to become.”
Psychology teaches us that we all wear masks, to protect, hide, obscure, change who we are in differnt contexts. We seek to avoid being found out (the Imposter Syndrome), sometimes we believe we are unworthy and so we project a personae to cope, to win friends, to make our niche, to avoid being hurt. Sometimes we hide too much and people miss who we really are, or colleagues never really appreciate our potential, there are risks with masks.
There is always the real self, the deeper you, the authentic you inside. I want the real you.
Oscar Wilde once said: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”