Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Mask

Janus (photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen)

The death mask can't be repealed. You either look like yourself or, as is usually the case, an ancestor who is not you. After a family member dies there are often reports of strange doings with chimes tinkering or lights flashing on and off, even if there is no storm. But these kinds of paranormal events are superseded by the transformation that takes place when "Conatus," Spinoza's life force, is removed and the lights go out forever. When a cadaver is embalmed, you may attend a viewing that can go on for days. You can study photographs of luminaries lying in state, but they're actors whose faces are covered in blush. Makeup hides the final expression they will take with them to the grave. Their final "look" has the deceased individual staring death "literally" in the eye.

read the Kirkus review of The Kafka Studies Department

and listen to "You'll Never Walk Alone" by Patti Labelle and The Bluebelles

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