Only the masks are real


July 3, 1982


The sky is bland gray with splotches here and there hinting of rain.

I am up and awake, although awake is the wrong word. My dreams cling to me like wet clothing and yet I cannot remember them.

They are only the impressions of cold and loneliness that comes with the dark.

I wait and rush to print my name on the fabric of the day, This is me, here, alive, breathing in, the shape and scents of the morning Ė the monoxides and the ozone that mingle above me.

I stretch and stretch this space like some new big bang, burning away the haze that fills my head and eyes. But what comes of it is no better than the haze.

There is only a hint of rain and me with objects scattered here and there for effect.

Reality is this thought I think, this impression I make, this pretense which others believe.

We keep looking into the souls of our friends for some measure of truth. We believe that under their skin there is another self.

But is there?

Is the surface reality or a mask? Is what lies beneath something different or an extension of what we see?

Is not the mask that Machiavelli would have us wear mere license to release another aspect of ourselves?

So this morning, I don this mask and with a splash of cold water from the sink, I secure it in place.

This is me now.

But the distinction between which me is me is fragile.

The thoughts I think behind the mask is always the same pattern.

Me is a pattern of thoughts, ideas, shuffling in and out of line in the same manner.

Sometimes I want to scramble them, toss them up like monkey dice to see what comes up next.

A new man?

A new creation?

My poet friend, Michael, worries about being original; I simply worry about being.

Another fine distinction made by the subtraction of words. Michaelís latest prophet is my best friend, Pauly.

I guess this makes sense in his world where prophets climb out of your head and invest themselves in others.

I want to be my own prophet, not an island, but a continent whose mask is an island with boundless resources.

The object of life is creation, I think, and dress, then decide Iím wrong.

Life is a mask, too.

Just as the distinction between human and inhuman is a mask.

There are things in nature that are wiser than we are, and we kill them Ė all the time calling ourselves creators.

We are not.

We call ourselves intelligent; but we are not.

We call ourselves masters of the world, and yet the nature we destroy cries out in pain, denying us any real satisfaction from our mastery.

We cannot even master ourselves, for we need these masks to hide all the things inside of which we are not.

Perhaps in the end, only the masks are real.


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