In a world of masks and fear

In a world of masks and fear

In the world of masks and fear, emotions remained buried deep down somewhere, in the depths of our nuclei and mirrors appeared to us, and we were afraid of our images and fled far away. Now, when we say “mask”, the first thing that comes to mind is a mask that protects us from viruses. A mask would sometimes be associated with theater boards, Indian chiefs or a masquerade. That is not far from the truth even now.

I thought about masks for a long time and somehow it all came together when I saw myself in the media that sewing masks make a business. Okay, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. But, it is not just the masks themselves, but masks with photographed facial expressions of the people who wear them. This image made me feel horrified, and I had to dive deep into myself to explore why. They said that these masks will help people to express their true emotions, but also to have fun and express their personalities. Excuse me? I felt like a prisoner in a world of lies and a virtual world in which not even a face has its true expression. The very thought that the world in which I lived until recently, almost completely disappeared, was embodied in me with the image of a mask on my face. I said to myself, I will not accept that feeling that my world has disappeared, no matter how much it has changed: the possibility of touch, hugs, physical closeness. What is left of my world that nothing can take away from me? It’s not a mask.

In a world of masks and fearAlmost while browsing TV channels, I almost came across the movie “Mask” starring Jim Carrey. It is one of the cult films of our childhood, together with the cartoon of the same name. However, since I am no longer a boy, but I am in my thirties, I started watching the film with different eyes. However, it was certainly not only my age that affected me, but also the contents from psychology, but also my fascination with Carl Gustav Jung, about whom I will tell you a little more in the following lines.

In the film, Stanley Ipkiss is a bank clerk, shy and unassuming, he does almost nothing. Disappointed, one night, seemingly suicidal, Stanley wanders on the bridge looking at the river where he seems to see the body, so he quickly runs downstairs to check. However, it turned out that it was not a body, but a floating mask. The turning point of the film comes with his discovery of that mask, which is actually the mask of the Nordic god Loki. In mythology, Loki is a god of tricks and intrigue and can change shape and gender. In the film, everyone knows, Stanley (Jim Carrey) becomes a green character, dressed in a combination of the ’40s and acts like a character from the cartoons that Stanley used to watch. More precisely, Stanley as Mask becomes everything that he was not in reality – his Shadow emerges in all its forms and he is energetic, even aggressive and intrusive, dizzying confident. In this case, the mask does not hide but reveals.

Stanley, in reality, is what most people are – conformist, to be liked and accepted by others, to the detriment of their own pleasure.

In a world of masks and fear

I told you I’d go back to Jung. The mask is a persona, which Carl Gustav Jung calls a social or conformist archetype, and aims to hide a private person. It is an archetype that emerged through ancestral experiences that have proven successful in interpersonal communication. Persona is nothing real, as Jung would say, and it is “an illusion, a two-dimensional reality”.

The persona is conditioned by social class, job, culture, and nationality, and there are often several personas that we use in different situations. The unconscious side of the personality is the mental image, which is always represented by the opposite sex: the mental image in a man is female: anime, and in a woman, it is male: animus. The archetypal couple is both ego and shadow. The ego balances the conscious and unconscious elements of the psyche, and the ego is the mere executor of personality. The shadow is the dark side, unadapted and primitive, and the ego wants to hide it. Dealing with the shadow is the most important part of the analysis, as well as self-awareness.

Depending on what kind of individual is conscious, a shadow will appear in his compensatory character.

Thus, an individual who feels the need to consciously live the worse part of his nature, dreams of the shadow as a positive character, and a person who consciously experiences his emotions, the shadow can prove to be a cold and negative intellectual.

When we look at this, it is certainly clear that in the film “Mask”, the ego and the shadow of the main character are in a compensatory relationship – his mask is actually his shadow that expresses emotions that he does not express through his ego. However, here I would also like to refer to the film – “Joker” starring Joaquin Phoenix. Honestly, just going to the cinema, I didn’t have any expectations. I thought it was going to be a superhero movie or something, and I got that after leaving the cinema, I could barely feel my legs, emotions were permeating my whole body. Why? As in the movie “Mask”, Stanley Ipkiss’s Shadow Mask, the Joker is the shadow of the main character Arthur Fleck.

In a world of masks and fear

However, this film has a special and unsurpassed depth in which an individual who is misunderstood and rejected by the social system, turns to the destructive one in himself.

It shows that the society in which we live considers kindness as a weakness and money as the only strength.

Also, there is no more empathy for the weaknesses of the surrounding people, and as the Joker says in the movie “the worst part of mental illness is that people expect you to act like you don’t have it”. The long wait to really hear him, to help him, to notice his existence – resulted in his further actions by which the existence was very much noticed. In the film, Arthur not only applies color to his face thus becoming the Joker, but he also emerges from his invisibility and shyness into complete destruction of the system, arson, murder, violence, brutality. Arthur was forced to “put on a happy face” despite his suffering and pain, that is, to put on that socially acceptable construct of the persona, which then exploded through his shadow archetype. The Joker turns his life, which he thought was a tragedy, into a comedy, that is, he says: “I thought my life was a tragedy, but now I understand that it is a f****** comedy”.

However, I would like to mention that it is very important to say that the shadow, in itself, does not have to be something negative and it can carry creative forces, love, all depending on what kind of person is in his conscious state.

In Hermann Hesse’s Steppe Wolf, Harry Haller and the wolf in it had a constantly fluctuating relationship: they fought in a cow fight for an hour, and they agreed for an hour, and he thought he should look deeply into the chaos in his own souls and to become self-aware”.

Confronting the Shadow is the most important part of the analysis, as Jung says, “Meeting oneself – means, above all, meeting one’s own shadow”.

In a world of masks and fear

In Oscar Wilde’s novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, Dorian is painted by the artist Basil and since then he has not aged but all the rot of his sins, but also his aging, passes to his painting, and he remains eternally young and beautiful until he faces the worst in itself.

As Oscar Wild puts it: “Today, people know the price of everything, but they don’t know the value of anything”.

Dorian was outside, he was the embodiment of beauty, and he covered the truth about himself with a mask – the abomination of desire and greed.

The British writer Robert Louis Stevenson had a plot of the novel “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in his dream, and he searched for something for a long time that would show him “the strong feeling of a human double being”.

Today, social networks serve as a kind of persona, that is, an image that serves us to be accepted, but with which we show a false part of our being and our reality.

All this story about masks and shadows seems a bit complicated, but in fact, it can lead us to the nucleus of our being, our personality, which only survives when everything else disappears. That is my answer to the question of what is left of my world and what nothing can take away from me. That is my inner Cosmic Man.

In the symbolic myths of India, this character is known as Purusha, which simply means “man” or “person”. Purusha lives in the heart of every individual, and yet, at the same time, he fills the entire cosmos.

The shadow is one of the obstacles that we overcome and that we integrate into our personality in order to reach our nucleus of being, our “Purusha”. We have to be ready to take off our masks and look in the mirror. Looking at such an image usually disturbs the conscious mind and can only be achieved with the help of the unconscious – just like the Gorgon Medusa from Greek myth, whose gaze turned people to stone and which could only be seen in a mirror. Jung says so: “The mirror does not flatter, but faithfully reflects what he looks at it, that is, the face that we never show to the world, because we hide it through Persona, the actor’s mask”.

In a world of masks and fear

The revolt in me and all this horror and strong research of what is behind the mask were triggered by that media image of facial expressions on masks. The spasm in my stomach and the horror that pervades me caused the thought that we have become robotic slaves of our personas and that under the personas: double masking. I reacted irreconcilably to the thought that the shapes of my world were beginning to become just a haze or some image of Dorian Gray hidden in the attic of my ancient life. Let us be sad and scared, we will not, like the Joker, laugh uncontrollably at the horror that surrounds us and that we experience. We must not allow ourselves to push our rights so that they emerge through anger and violence against the system that really suffocates us. Contrary to that robotic media image, the opposite reaction in me was caused by this art painting by Archil Nizharadze called “And We Will Survive” – “And we will survive”, and the awareness that we are not alone in our pain.

In a world of masks and fear

Let’s look around and be gentle because not all wounds are visible. They are in deep views around us, sparks, pearls of tears, hidden behind the persona. A person is good if it serves us to function in the world, but we must not become just that. We are much more than her. Because, when our bodies leave, we will not be left with our make-up or anything visible that we serve to others in order to be beautiful and accepted.

As Victor Frankl puts it: “In death, everything that has passed and happened simply freezes in the past itself. Nothing can be changed anymore. Man has nothing more and can do nothing more – no soul, nobody. He lost his psycho-physical ego. What is left and what remains is a peculiarity, a spiritual peculiarity”.

From the whole world and the masks that spread before me, my being will remain, my memories, recollections, hopes, and beliefs that we will live again in the World we once knew.

In a world of masks and fear


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