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Masqueman Shuffle Trick
© June 1982, Roy Stucky

Take an expectation
And the darkest of my fears,
Blend in aspiration
And a face somehow appears.

I tie that face over mine,
Though cut where flesh doesn't fit.
It's safe to lie here behind
The cloak that hides where I'm hit.

I pose for the picture
You wanted to see.
I dress for the role
You've written for me.
Change and a new face shows as quick.
The Masqueman Shuffle Trick.

My hidden soul again asks
What I'm afraid that I'll find
Without this closet of masks
That hide each other's design.

I pose for the picture
You wanted to see.
I dress for the role
You've written for me.
Change and a new face shows as quick.
The Masqueman Shuffle Trick.

This mask shuts off all my air
But still I keep it in place.
Our costume dancing affair
Can't bare a naked soul's face.

I pose for the picture
You wanted to see.
I dress for the role
You've written for me.
Change and a new face shows as quick.
The Masqueman Shuffle Trick.

 


Masque is used here because it unifies images of the theatre and a mask. Not only is all the world a stage, but all the actors are in disguise.

"Expectation" is what others want of me.

"The darkest of my fears" is that no one will care if I live or die.

"Aspiration" is what I want, which is to be at least accepted, if not loved.  As an aside, note money is a concrete token of at least one measure of cultural acceptance.

"Face somehow appears" is that the combination of the world's expectation and my aspiration produces a role, a part for me if only I wear the proper costume.

"Flesh doesn't fit" ties to discarding aspects that do not correspond to our assumptions, as examined in Asylumthink.

"Lie here behind" is both hiding behind the mask and falsehood.

"Hides where I'm hit" is that this mask conceals my pain from the world. The world does not want to know because it reminds them of their own pain, and I don't want them to know because the predators take it as a sign of weakness. The nuance is one of combat.

"Pose for the picture" implies a static view, and a passive action. The world can more easily deal with me if I don't change. This is the first stage, in that it is also relatively easy for me to take the position and fade into the background. This ties to Art of Pantomime.

"Dress for the role" is the second stage, in that now I must step to the front and perform.  This ties to the drama and allegory of masque.  The aspect of allegory is important here, in that while the person is performing the surface level expectations, i.e. the lines of the script, they also hope the audience will understand there is more to the story.  As we live behind the facades of our lives, the deeper aspect of our true self come across as streams of symbols few people are able or care to assemble and comprehend.

"New face shows as quick" ties to Performers. The play continues, so there is a stream of script revisions and character changes. It is easy to be fast on your feet if you have no root.

"Closet" means a couple of things. One is that, by the time we've come of age, we have a host of masks which we pull out to fit the occasion.  The other is that we keep private the fact that we even possess these masks, let alone that we wear them. In this sense, part of awakening to true life, for everyone, is to come out of the closet. When we watch a play, we are rarely shown the prop closet and dressing rooms. Everyone knows we are wearing masks, but knowing this does not help you see the wearer's real face.

"Design" is that the various roles demanded of us are often incompatible.

"Naked soul's face" is that in a costume ball discarding the costume is considered, at the least, in bad taste. But if the costume is suffocating you, should group approval be your first priority?

 


Quotations

"Over the natural amiability of that sonís face had come a rather sardonic mask, as though he had found in the circumstances of his life a necessity for armour. The features were certainly those of a Forsyte, but the expression was more the introspective look of a student or philosopher. He had no doubt been obliged to look into himself a good deal in the course of those fifteen years."
John Galsworthy

 


Bibliography

God (forever and ever)
The Holy Bible

John Galsworthy ( )
The Man of Property ( )