"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
How many masks to you have?
The displays in the UCO Library show so much culture, imagination and spirituality.
But in America we Europeans have submerged such art, considering it primitive. Masks still exist in some Native American cultures like the Zuni and on the Pacific Coast, cultures which are older than ours and anything but primitive. Maybe we're afraid to be honest about our masks.
The only time we're honest about our masks is around Halloween, when we figure that yes, we can have fun again. But otherwise, we hide our masks, thinking we are fooling people.
Instead we speak of "keeping our guard up," or "not letting our guard down," in our work and personal lives.
It's ironic and appropriate that the African mask display is at UCO. University campuses are filled with people wearing masks, especially the faculty, administrative and academic organizations, such as faculty ranks, supposed hierarchy of disciplines and publications and academic "turf"--the ruling principle of higher ed. My Mom would call much of that "putting on airs." One staff member said to me this week, looking me in the eyes, "You've got to admit the faculty has some large egos."
What are your masks?