Monday, October 30, 2006


A few random thoughts about masks:

When Emile Nolde painted these masks in 1911 he was following a popular trend. Picasso, Gauguin, Kirchner and other Modern painters were also fascinated with notions of the primitive and archetypal. Masks were the early 20th century artworld’s equivalent of Tommy Hilfiger jeans.

Halloween masks are currently banned from the local elementary schools. I’m not sure why. None of my kids have ever worn or plan to wear masks as part of their costumes, but I am curious about the rule nonetheless. Here are my theories:
a) Principals are worried about the kindergartners getting frightened, b) They are afraid the 6th graders, emboldened by a sense of anonymity, will tag the walls and stage an coup d’├ętat, c) There are so many students in each classroom (I live in Utah remember) that the teachers have just barely gotten their names memorized. Throw a few obscured faces in the mix and the poor teachers will be hopelessly confused, d) Masks tend to limit one’s breathing and vision. Some child may crash into a tetherball pole out in the playground, fall to the ground crying and bleeding profusely, but their muffled cries will go unheard and no one will notice the real blood among all the fake wounds and fake oozing eyeball sockets.

The Richard Chamberlain version of Man in the Iron Mask is far superior to the Leonardo DiCaprio remake. The jury is still out on the 1929 Douglas Fairbanks version, the low-budget 1998 version, the 1939, 1968, and 1985 versions and the French, German, Italian and Korean versions as the jury is busy sewing a Yoda costume and has not seen these yet.

In addition to iron ones being used to torture and hide the identity of twin brothers of French monarchs, masks have historically been worn in the following contexts: Greek tragedy, Japanese Noh drama, Sri Lankan devil dance rituals, Central American street theater, African ancestor ceremonies, baseball/hockey/fencing matches, surgery, welding, scuba diving, and criminal exploits.

The word for mascara comes from the same root as mask and masquerade. I find this to be incredibly appropriate and I’ve been thinking about the times I wear mascara versus the times I do not.

Julie does not wear mascara when: hanging out at home with her husband and kids, exercising, going to family parties involving her siblings and parents, shopping for groceries on Saturday night.

Julie wears mascara when: teaching a class, attending church, going to a party involving extended family or in-laws, shopping at any store where she fears she may see someone she knows but not well enough to reveal the awful fact that she has pale eyelashes. See any pattern here?


Radioactive Jam said...

I'm a little confused by the unmasked Saturday night shopping trips. But mostly I'm (mentally) "spinning out" with thoughts of:
* masking tape
* backwards masking
* non-maskable interrupts

As for the school mask ban, I suspect they're afraid someone will show up wearing one of those uber-creepy Burger King mask-head things (from the BK commercials) and create widespread panic.

Kimberly said...

Anonymity is a dangerous thing indeed..which I think is why masks are so fascinating.

Oooo...I shudder at the memory of the DiCaprio remake. It was torturous...or at least it would've been if I hadn't been sandwiched between good friends while watching it. Mocking that movie is one of the happiest memories of my young adult life.

You have pale eye-lashes? Oh's going to be soooo hard to resist the temptation to shun you! ~lol~ I'm the same though...I even wear it going grocery shopping on Saturday night.

Casey said...

This, for some reason, reminded me of CBR drills. When you get totally covered, flashed out and a gas mask on, no one can tell you from anyone else. In an environment where rank matters, this can be disconcerting. Anonymity is the great equalizer in some cases.

I like the comparison of Freudian thought to Tommy Hilfiger.

Bernita said...

O Maybelline...

Chaotic Mom said...

Too deep for me today. I'm skipping any masks and just hiding out in my house.

Your "should be doing" list on your profile made me chuckle a little. Kind of mirrors my list, except sub the grading humanities for teaching my son his spelling lesson. ;)

allysha said...

In a time of no shame (as a missionary) I answered the door one evening with a mineral mask on, and calmly paid for my pizza without blinking an eye (wouldn't want to crack the mask!)at the look the delivery guy was giving me. (those crazy americans). Did I really not care? Or did I figure it was a valid mask? I don't know. I did not have mascara on at the time, however.