Monday, May 27, 2024

Mask and Disguise: Human Faces and Ritual Symbols


It may have passed, or so it was said, in recent times that saw the dominance of half-masks covering the nose and mouth to prevent the spread of infection from the Covid-19 virus. Following this simple prevention technique does not address some of its most difficult elements, but instead protects the mask, even in its minimal forms, which are not effective in repelling the virus or reducing the chances of infection. The general public has forgotten, and there are some sections that do not first know the data of the mask’s ancient and vast meaning and significance, many of which go back thousands of years in the life of mankind; As are the traditions of the presence of the mask in performative and representational, symbolic and behavioral, physical or metaphorical, artistic, religious or ritual levels.

While following the historical trajectories of the masks’ relationship with humans, the changes they witnessed were not always smooth or gradual, from theatrical performances and dance to birth, puberty, fertility, death, and other rituals. Various physical, emotional, mental and professional stages of human life.

This new book tackles the masquerade from a variety of angles, sometimes familiar and expected, other times surprisingly surprising. Recently published in English by Palgrave/Macmillan, Masks and Human Bonds: Undermining Meanings and Cultural Challenges, edited by Luisa Magalaich and Alofira Martinis. The 20 chapters in the book are divided into four axes: human masks and identities, within collective social performances; the masking of meaning in terms of ethnographic meanings and representational challenges; the ambiguity of the use of masks, visual culture, digital environments and social interaction; And creating interconnections with multiple selves in the realms of ethics, reason, and memory. In some aspects of differentiation, researchers are dealing with the role of contagion in changing people’s relationship with their faces, the point at which some first perceive the new “discovery” of the face, and which they realize can be changed by hiding it. Its meaning, and how this process creates cultural and emotional meanings, goes beyond the immediate goal of combating bush infection and disease.
These lines compliment the book’s chapters for several epistemological, methodological, and research reasons related to the diversity of systems adopted by participants in sociology, anthropology, philosophy, aesthetics, psychology, literature, and the arts in general. However, one of the most important purposes of Fame is the book’s distance from that wave, in which it is correct to call it a “fashion”, to which some writers, thinkers and philosophers have succumbed and turned it into Covid-19. Once a metaphysical abstraction, again a resurrection metaphor, or an attempt at over-abstraction. About the philosophy of the human face. It is worth mentioning here the book “Wuhan Soup”, 2020, contributed by Giorgio Agamben, Slavoj Žižek, Jean-Luc Nancy, Judith Butler, Byung-Chol Han and Alain Badiu; In varying degrees, with respect to the status of the participants. However, the mask in the book “Masks and Human Bonds” is a multifaceted perspective, and as concrete as it is abstract, and the important dimension around it is that human bonds are “inevitable” without its mediation. , according to the revelation of the book; According to the roles of masks in different conditions and contexts of life.
These lines may regret the absence of any Arab participant in the book’s research, although comfort is given by the absolutely significant contribution on the position of the mask in Amazigh culture, “Masks and disguises in the Amazigh Maghreb” by Jean-Pierre Rossi, and ethnographic, cultural, social and historical observations resulting from field research in the Atlas regions. . The event of Ashura, which lasts more than ten days, receives close monitoring and analysis from the Russian side, as it not only monitors the festive and theatrical aspects (masks have the highest and central function); Rather, it follows the nuances of social and gender differences in the use of male masquerade rituals and their analogs for women, as well as guides to games such as “Baba Ashura” and “Mama Ashura” and associated toys, rules and songs. with them.
Along these lines, it would not be right to close this paragraph without mentioning the wonderful work “Memoirs of a Mask”, 1949 by the great Japanese novelist and playwright Yukio Mishima (1925-1970); Who works with exceptional skill on the delicate border between autobiography, glimpses of childhood, poetic insight and innocence of consciousness, and narrative narratives infused with deep philosophical thought, alienation, cruelty and violence. Between these two polarities, there are many masks and disguised personas, and the conscience of the author/narrator hides the alternations of life and death, existence and non-existence, the tangible, material universe of Japan and Japan. Allegorical Universe… One of the most amazing wonders of Mishima’s literature, one might guess, is that it is not based on the pages of a novel, but rather on confirmed biographical evidence in “Memoirs of a Mask.” The book “Son and Steel: Art, Action, and Ritual Death,” 1968, dates to the last years of Mishima’s life.
Returning to the book, which is the subject of these lines, one can be confused (and often not to be blamed!) when following the historical paths of the masks’ relationship with humans and the changes they have witnessed. smooth or gradual; From theatrical performance and choreography to rituals of birth, puberty, adolescence, fertility, death and various physical, emotional, mental and professional stages of human life. Sometimes the mask is protective and proclaimed, at other times it is hidden, and the function of camouflage, deception and misdirection is undiminished. Is it not the intercourse of human faces and ritual symbols?

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Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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