Listen to Carl Nielsen’s wonderfully sparkling and life-affirming Overture to his opera ‘Maskarade’ played by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard. While listening to it, I invite you to read
my associations about the Overture below.
”Please wear a mask” – a request probably none of us would have thought will ever be a general demand for most of humanity. What does it mean to be masked? What does it include? When I think of wearing a mask, I think of the historical masked ball of Venice. A place where other rules applied since once one’s real identity was exchanged for the time of the ball. In an exciting but possibly very dangerous way it could become a place whithout laws or boundaries, a wild place where everything was possible.
One could exchange one’s own identity with an identity one wanted to be. Those thoughts occur suspiciously well-known to me. Isn’t that a try of humanity ever since? The try to exchange one’s own identity with something we find often better, more beautiful, greater, flashier?
Where does a masked ball start, were does it end? What does it define? Where is the limit?
The situation today creates in a bizarre way an own masked ball, though very differently than at Venice’s masked ball. It is hard to see the full expression of our face when the whole mouth region is covered – we don’t show ourselves fully. We depend on the expression of our eyes and will need some benefit of the doubt to not misinterpret each other negatively. The mask gives us a little room for hiding ourselves. It isn’t a Venetian mask but it is still a mask.
The masquerade mirrors to me a phenomenon in the outside we face inside: To be ourselves.
It is much easier often to take on a mask, one for every day maybe, one for sundays and one for christmas. Sometimes we get confused and lost in our own ‘masquerade’. Too many masks can make us ill and if we wear it too long, we may have forgotten who we are without a mask. Or we literally don’t get any air anymore.
At the same time a mask can also be a chance. It can protect us in every sense. We can try to be us. First in a protected room within the mask, ‘practising’ for later, when a mask hopefully at one point is not necessary anymore. Is it a room for protection or an exchange of identity? This everybody has to decide by himself.
What is meant as a viral protection for us turns out to be a door to a philosophical question:
Who are we?