Friday, October 25, 2019

Death Mask

"Death and the Maiden" by Hans Sebald Beham (Art Institute of Chicago)
So called Narcissism is a normal part of human personality. Who's going to love you, if you can’t love yourself? Of course, the kind of narcissistic grandiosity that leads to feelings of impregnability is a perversion, simply because it’s not true. Joshua may have fought the battle of Jericho, but one man can’t hold back an army. Narcissism can also lead to feelings of specialness and the idea that the normal rules that inure to everyone else no longer are applicable. One of these is the fact of death. Literally everyone maintains the secret hope and wish that they’re different, that no matter how many times they tempt fate by admitting their own mortality, they secretly hone to the notion that their intonations of acceptance will somehow exonerate them, making them the exception that will free them from their fate. Day after day as age brings generations closer to those who will fall before them, both fear and denial are at work. Like micro-aggression, human beings experience successive mini traumas as they realize they’re next in line, while at the same time battling the reality with the endorphin rush produced as the mind goes into shock and ignites overactive defense mechanisms. By definition, everyone thinks they’re different. You will harbor the wish and hope you’ll be spared right up until the last minute of your dying day—until the legacy of your once living self is simply a death mask. 

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