The Mask Behind the Mask

maskbeautyMy mother used to utter the profundity (I automatically discount any words of wisdom from my own mother—as policy, you know) “I am afraid that behind people’s masks is another mask.” Like, WOW! That’s real deep, Mom. But, much as I hate to admit it, there is another mask or series of masks.

I habitually think of myself as “a truth person.” The one item on the checklist which I categorically reject is the one about being a compulsive liar. I only lie for a purpose, not for the sake of lying. But I know in my heart that there is a lot that isn’t for public knowledge. Maybe it’s not what most people would consider a big deal but it’s a big deal to me.

Who am I?
Strange question from someone grandiose. But grandiosity in a mortal being is already paradoxical.

Who Shall I Be Today?

smerdyakov
Smerdyakov with a guitar

Who am I today? I have been different people at different times. Being the literate type, I got ideas from novels. At 12 and a half to 13, my favorite author was Dostoevsky. The first novel I read by him was The Idiot. I decided to be Prince Myshkin. He was kind of a holy fool someone extremely naive, guileless and/or holy. I played at being him, acting at every encounter as if I were him. After about a year, I got so disgusted at all his goodness, I embraced a character who was the mirror opposite of him, Smerdyakov in The Brothers Karamazov. As positive as my former “self” had been, I was now that negative. Smerdyakov was born in a “bath house” to a feeble-minded woman Karamazov once had his way with. He was brought up to be one of Mr. Karamazov’s servants. As a kid, he entertained himself by hanging cats with great ceremony. From his grubby and funky beginnings, Smerdyakov managed to get an education as a gourmet cook and dress as a “dandy,” putting on airs of superiority. Clearly, he was a psychopath or a narc but those terms meant nothing to me at the age of 13. Both he and Prince Myshkin were epileptics (as was the author, Dostoevsky).

cardsWhen I got to the place in the novel where Smerdyakov kills himself, I didn’t hesitate to go over the edge. An overdose of sleeping pills landed me in Bellevue. During the entire time, I was still playing the game. I don’t think anyone ever understood what I was doing. None of my shrinks ever caught on. I considered them actors in the play I wrote, starred in and directed. They played their parts well. I kept my secrets well, too. I’m revealing them now but don’t think for a moment I’m telling you everything. Behind this open, letting it all hang out and letting the chips fall where they may, is an intensely secretive Scorpio moon.

In the movie The Serpent and the Rainbow, a character says, “In Haiti, there are secrets we don’t even tell ourselves.”

serpent

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