Psycho-socio affection for masks

Bill Maher, late night talk show host, in former times an unrepentant lefty, apparently has been red-pilled.  In commenting on the pathology of mask wearers, and usefulness of masks per se, he says a mask is merely an “amulet.”

Amulet, a pithy descriptor of a CCP Covid mask, is akin to a fashion piece of neckwear or bracelet, sometimes associated with warding off evil or unclean spirits, otherwise bringing good fortune.

A mask also operates as a talisman, conveying some special powers, enhanced by the mystery of how the spirit occupies the soul behind the mask.

Roman Catholic rituals for centuries have sanctified the wearing of medals—blessed by a priest-- invoking patron saints, notably the Saint Benedict medal worn as a necklace. Rings with inscriptions of the fish symbol, a dove, or the Cross, were once seriously sacred, but now profane standard-issue accessories adorning the glitterati and folks who have never seen the sanctuary of a church, let alone kneeled at the altar.

Now, the dominant CCP Covid mask culture, relying on zero medical efficacy, nor having any religious import, instead has dumbed down the enrapturing secular renaissance and baroque mask wearing from women seeking hygienic protection from atmospherics—namely sunshine, wind, and fly ash.

“The look for Winter” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1643). Rijksmuseum

The most provocative, flamboyant, and seductive mask wearing, outside of medico della peste, was on display in the 17th and 18th centuries at the Venice Carnival, and at masked balls and games at court all over Europe.  A rundown of mask wearing from the Middle Ages to the Age of Jazz can be found here.

The psychology of mask wearing has fascinated playwrights and librettists for centuries, as The Conversation references a line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth: “And make our faces vizards to our hearts/Disguising what they are”. We then have the confrontation in Much Ado About Nothing; and the murderer’s flight from Verdi’s Un Ballo In Maschera.

Mask wearing has always been comic, farcical, dark, and teasing sexual theater. Yet for many, imprisoned by the age of anxiety, mask wearing is an obsession designed to conceal a body dysmorphic disorder accompanied by diffidence requiring a screen to provide safe space and refuge from imagined uncomfortable judgments and rejections based solely on cosmetics.

Of course, we are still conditioned to revisit, indeed resurrect, medieval superstitions that masks could ward off deadly plagues. Ditto warding off micro-aggressions.

Further from The Conversation:

 “A mask tells us more than a face”, wrote Oscar Wilde in his 1891 dialogue Intentions, yet by the 19th century the mask as fashion accessory was démodé. Masks were generally only mentioned in newspapers and fashion magazines when referring to fancy dress and masked balls, which still took place in the homes of the wealthy.

“Society is a masked ball”, wrote one American columnist in 1861 mirroring Wilde’s famous quote, “where everyone hides his real character, and reveals it by hiding”.

Thus mask wearing has been enduring; both as a largely innocuous voguish exhibition, and as a psycho-socio prosthesis. Normalizing masks to cover-up aberrant psychology, acutely toxic if mandated or coerced, has enabled the imposition of someone else’s misguided fashion horror, or worse, encumbered the rest of us with medieval humbug.

And now mask wearing carries not a tincture, but a torrent of moral imperatives. Even while defenders and enforcers admit mask wearing is impotent and irrational, they demand compliant dishonesty, empty altruism, and phony communitarianism, a malignant affection.  The Atlantic’s “Mask Mandates Are Illogical. So What? They Only Need to Align With Communities’ Goals” is an absurd, but apparently sincere take on why CCP Covid mask wearing is noble.

What suffices, and matters most, is the gallant gesture where a hollow exhortation triumphs over underlying truth.

The Enlightenment from Bacon to Kant to Newton to Harvey ushered in the era of logic, reasoning, mathematics, physics, human anatomy and the philosophy of science.  Coerced and mandated, CCP Covid mask wearing has abandoned all of that, forsaken truth, and sadly, trivialized beauty, and brutalized whimsy.

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