Mask, I don’t know you

For me the game as a notion is not just Germann’s aria in “Pikovaya dama”

City Liana Davidyan


We often are confronted with the sight of the triumph of dullness, militant barbarism and on the other side of the spectrum, a complex of educated and intelligent people realizing the lack of their knowledge. We shouldn’t get tied to the social mask that doesn’t suit us or realize that it doesn’t fit. Our columnist, director of AVRORACLINIC, Liana Davidyan explains.

I have good friends who won millions playing. In a direct sense of this word. No, they didn’t sit at the card table and didn’t empty casino. They made a business exploiting people’s addiction to the game and ardor. There’s nothing creative in it, I can hardly see a phantom of benefit to humankind but usually the thing that isn’t healthy becomes extremely popular.

For me the game as a notion is not just Germann’s aria in “Pikovaya dama”, but first of all Eric Bern’s “Games people play” and my favourite Somerset Maugham with his novel “Theatre”. Probably this is my attitude towards life: for me people, meetings, episodes are scenes from the play which stage director sometimes forgets what and with what purpose he began to perform. From my point of view, people are very artistic by their nature and they are sincere in their mummery. They get carried away by the role they play and at some moment their mask becomes unremovable.

What people represent, how they live, the number of masks they wear, the way we see them, the way they see us are elements of the game called Life. I can confess that there’s hardly a man in this world who knows the real me. And I, like others, wear masks. In different situations I’m different and sometimes dramatically. This morning I felt like creating a romantic image and wore white blouse with wide lace cuffs, high gathered hair. May be tomorrow it’ll be on purpose carelessly pinned hair like Venus’ of Botticelli and in a day strict ballet beam. There was a time when concierge service’s workers in our house asked neighbours what Theatre do I work for or what movie do I play in. Now they just wait for me leaving to work in order to look at me attentively and discuss it all with their colleagues during the day. Perhaps these things are not that important for men, but a woman is always a bit of an actress and tries different images at least in purpose to make her everyday mood better.

If we look more globally, we pretend that we direct our life and life pretends that it doesn’t notice this. It is sad to observe people who use their fate as a gambling field: they challenge it and risk. A shift occurs and this process changes from a way to comprehend yourself to an end in itself. It isn’t quite clear why they do it , it looks like they are flowed and they can’t act differently any more. A simple example: the habit to spread personal life on display with selfies. People get so much involved into the virtual public play that they stop feeling connection to reality. As a result for example two young people just a week before I came to Cape Roca in Portugal stepped back from the rock they climbed, in order to make a spectacular shooting and orphanized their two small children. Private life is a zone you shouldn’t let society enter at least for the reasons of security, is it so necessary to make your every step public? Or is it about playing the role of a successful you? And people are different as actors, some are good, some bad, some are talented, some not much of a talent. Roles also often don’t suit them and then life shows its dark side to them, they get depressed, suffer from bad moods and diseases. Sometimes people are imposed to play some roles. For example the role of a mother is stereotyped by some definite set of attributes and the absence of one of them is considered to be a deviation. If someone plays this role but the imposed parts of it doesn’t suit her she starts to suffer sooner or later. Sometimes people awry fused with their mask look a bit funny to others. Not a long time ago I was in process of preparing a big business conference, we discussed performances, lecturers and reports. We understood that timing was incorrect and made changes everyone easily accepted except of one participant. He got used to the role so much that he started to tell about the list of his merits and actively demonstrated his resentment towards the fact that he should share one tribune with other lecturers. Should I mention that he was the less titular than everyone else? It is obvious that the more someone reached in his life the more self-sufficient he is and the less importance he gives to the exterior attributes of his achievements. It was that very case when role doesn’t suit for the actor: he learnt its surface level but didn’t understand its deep content. I feel like smiling understanding him, it’s just not his role. It’s sad because he doesn’t live his own life and lies to himself.

There’s two ways out: to get fused to the mask and put up with the situation. Or to live in a life long inner conflict. Both variants are not good enough. The best decision would be a set of masks you can try one by one. If none of them is yours, at least you’ll enjoy the variety.

The ability to try different masks often helped me in negotiations when I imagined that I sat into the chair of my opponent or enemy. I needed to follow his logic, understand his character and possible actions. It was an interesting, venturous and intensive game in my life, I managed to count the psychological limit of the bet rising of many participants. Being a young girl I won in the experienced societies of the first auctions of the land for construction in Moscow.

Even the fact that I am writing has an element of a game. When you sit down to write a text and dive into the concentration state you get into the character of a person that expresses his thoughts. Usually the writer has an image of a mentor, imposing philosopher and writing a text is relative to meditation. I’m not always like this though, sometimes my inner author becomes more tricksy and mocking. And then I like to intrigue the reader, give him a chance to get involved in the plot but then not to develop it and leave my curious audience alone with its imagination in order to make it analyze what it just read. I don’t need to be the same but I slightly envy those people who have one image and never leave it.

We play scenarios, some of them are written by ourselves, some are imposed on us by others. But you can be satisfied with your life only playing the role that suits you. And the main spectator is a man himself.