A Devil Mask

‘A man’s features, the bone structure and the tissue which covers it, are the product of a biological process; but his face he creates for himself. It is a statement of his habitual emotional attitude; the attitude which his desires need for his fulfilment and which his fears demand for their protection from prying eyes. He wears it like a devil mask; a device to evoke in others the emotions complementary to his own. If he is afraid, then he must be feared; if he desires, then he must be desired. It is a screen to hide his mind’s nakedness. Only a few men, painters, have been able to see the mind through the face. Other men in their judgements reach out for the evidence of word and deed that will explain the mask before their eyes. Yet, although they understand instinctively that the mask cannot be the man behind it; they are generally shocked by a demonstration of the fact. The duplicity of others must always be shocking when one is unconscious of one’s own.’

The Mask of Dimitrios, Eric Ambler.

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