I don’t know how far back the Greek masks of comedy and tragedy go. I do know that Athens reaches further back than Rome. Then it is on to a variety of places before you wind up in Egypt or India. Some speak of the Sumerians and Chaldeans and you hear about Atlantis and Lemuria. If you want to head into strange country you can look at what L. Ron Hubbard or Gurdjieff came up with as they stretched time far enough to punch some sort of alternative sensation through the mind, while the supplicant was busy being distracted by numbers.
It’s likely that L. Ron is not one of the good guys. I know his people tried to have me destroyed due to an altercation over what is real and what is a scam. I know they’re tried to destroy a lot of other people and they want all your money. It’s possible that Gurdjieff was treating the mind like taffy in order to make it supple enough to let go of all the flotsam and jetsam that likes to stick to taffy or wash up on shore. I don’t know what to think about some of the people I have wondered about. Did they heal? Did they harm?
One thing is for sure, those masks or some approximation of those masks has probably been around for as long as there have been people who studied people or pretended to be people. Today we celebrate actors more than just about anyone. We celebrate them for being able to effectively pretend that they are someone else. In many cases we celebrate them whether they are effective or not. We celebrate them when they are capable of no more than massive personal embarrassment of which they are completely unaware. We celebrate them as they perform in their own lives as characters of wretched excess. We follow them the way flies follow corruption and for the same reason.
We watch them crash and burn with no loss of anything of value and then we celebrate their resurrection into a new person pretending to be someone else on their way to Africa to end world hunger. From twit, with brains of shit... to H. Rider Haggard’s “She”... in less than fifteen minutes. We watch them go from whore to doting mother and back to whore as the musical dress goes up and down the chemical leg in suggestion of the presence of something that might be the well of fear itself, advertised as the entering gate to Shangri-La and Lethe.
The men match them stride for stride, up and down the staircase, in and out of every room across the endless loop of time. The faces of the moment are always composites of all the faces dreaming and watching from the audience. They are everyone in search of nothing. They are the repeating stutter of things gone wrong and made heroic and beautiful overnight. They are what nearly everyone wants to be and gets to be and regrets for a long, long time.
They simulate historical and personal events. They are the sunbeam in the crowd. They light up the way they went so that you might follow and find nothing, so that you might come to the desert and search the horizon for a mirage.
There must be some kind of Prometheus who is chained to something hard and lives and suffers back of the eyeholes of these masks. Something screams in pain that cannot be separated from the laughter and the light from the paradigm descending on the wheel, going home down the back roads in rotation... to the little country that lays between Never, never land and Here it Comes Again.
Here are the actors portraying the actors. Here is the same face in an endless curve where two mirrors face each other. It curves out of sight. So do we all ...along the bending stretch of time.
For as long as anything like us has been here... and that has been a very, very long time; there have been those who have insisted that we take off these masks, there are those who have suggested other worlds, there are those who have talked of conducts, punishments and rewards. It is to be assumed that, in many cases, their eloquence, the force of their being, was much greater than any record of their words might suggest to us. But on it goes. It not only goes on but it becomes ever more dreadfully lacking in performance and point.
Humanity walks on glue-boards reaching for the cheese. The cheese smells as those kinds of cheeses must do and the agony and frenzy of the feet lifting in the taffy, reaching and falling... face down into the ever melting murk... oh the horror of horrors... Their mouths fill with the glue, they sink into the glue. They are the fly in the cooling amber, the silent frozen scream across endless space. They sink into each other. They sink into the product of light frozen in extension and growing dark.
Can any performance free them? Is there some personal effort that can be made which will melt the glue and the mask and the moment and everything sticky that welds everything against everything until it catches fire? Is there some monumental act? Is there some superhuman concentration of force that can be mustered and... from where will it be drawn?
Up they come from the dank graves. Here come the skeletons in ancient armor. Finally they will right this wrong whose origin and details no one can remember. They will fight and fight until they cannot fight and they will fall into the grave and lay until the dream once again forces them to their feet and the red heat will burn and there will be blood and pain and fury. There will be glory and shame. There will be horns and gallant cries. Advantage will be seized and lost and pretty girls will part their legs in the hope of new heroes for the war whose purpose no one can remember.
They will dance and sing behind the masks. They will move in a Mobius strip from the audience to the stage as they replace one another. Like patrons in a butcher shop they will hold the numbers in their hand until they are called and that will be a movie too. They will build wonderful and terrible machines and massive backdrops for the spectacle to be performed by flesh upon flesh for the benefit of flesh in search of spirit. Even while spirit was all that there was... the mask forever continued to convince us that it was a face.
Admissions will be charged and posters will proclaim. We will all wait our turn and then go back into the place where old roles are stored until they are needed again. Each role is set back a millimeter from each following role so that they too can be seen in a long line that curves away until they disappear. Each is a little lighter or darker by progression. Around the corner, out of sight, lie Chaldea and Atlantis and Lemuria. Egypt is fading. The massive calliope is turning and one day all of this will be around the corner and out of sight.
How long can such a thing continue and the actors remain unaware of what has produced and directed them? How long can this continue? It can go on for a very, very long time.
There hang the masks. They hang on nothing but they are fixed and changing and changing and fixed. They laugh and they cry and forever they deceive and never reveal a thing. Each lie moves deeper into the thing called mystery... promotes and prostitutes the idea of a mystery and celebrates a mystery which is cosmetic and beckoning and which... after the grand ball, after the search...after the penalties and the prisons and the pain... after the confessions and the executions ... after the kingdoms and all the woven destinies ...after the rise and the fall... after it has been grasped and finally unraveled ...turns out to have been nothing at all. It turned out to be nothing at all.
'The Clicking Mandibles' is track no. 4 of 8 on Visible and The Critical List's 1987 album
'La Vierge Sperme Danceur'
About this song (pops up)