In our own puerile way we sometimes take sanctuary behind impenetrable eyeglasses. For years, old and young have been wearing dark spectacles at all waking hours and in the gloomiest of places. And there are always men who rediscover another substitute for masks in shrubby beards, which curtain off precisely the part of the face that, according to Schopenhauer, “expresses morality.” Yet true masks are denied us. The only ones we are more or less familiar with are the lusterless mouth aprons of industrial workers, surgeons, bank robbers, and those less mentionable ones sported on Ku Klux Klan outings, or used by terrorists. As tools for instant self-realization they seem hopelessly blunt.
How much longer, then, do we have to wait to catch up with the noble savage, the horse-sensical peasant, and the sophisticated mummer of Renaissance times? Although more people than ever want to improve upon their face, the results hardly measure up to their expectations. Noses are straightened, teeth recapped, cheeks and double chins gathered up; yet all these makeshift repairs only distract from the radical and ultimate solution of the problem- the escape into the shelter of a “false-face.” False hair, false teeth, and glass eyes have been with us since time immemorial, and the false face can’t be far off. Such an interim face would seem to be a logical, not to say unavoidable, stage in the development of more adequate body coverings.
It is a fact that nearly everybody, even the least observant person, has a precise, albeit mistaken, idea of what he looks like. As a rule, he or she is dissatisfied with nature’s product. they may be unsympathetic to their reflection in the mirror; they may scorn their photographic image; they may reject the portraits they or their admirers have commissioned from painters and sculptors because none of them correspond to the picture they have formed of themselves. Although the objections may not always be justified, the insistence on a super-realistic likeness is understandable. They ask for more than artistry or resemblance; i fact,resemblance may be the last thing they want. To shore up the ego, they need an icon, a holy picture of the inner self. Only a faultlessly constructed mask will meet this need- and gain their approval.
An unassuming person might be content with a single mask, modeled after the most flattering photograph. A truly fastidious person might want to own and entire collection of masks, each suitable for a particular occasion, without jeopardizing their basic looks. No doubt, most people would want to look younger; a few, perhaps, older. But rare is the person who has never longed to encounter a different face in the mirror.