Letter on Masks


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Cover art by Jon Legere

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

-T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another.

-William Shakespeare, Hamlet

It was the mask engaged your mind,
And after set your heart to beat,
Not what’s behind.

-W. B. Yeats, The Mask

Throughout recorded time and all stages of cultural development the Mask has held a place of symbolic significance across the world. From the Yaka of central Africa, whose young boys are surrounded by ritual masks before donning their own in the tribal rite of initiation, to the Chilean festival of La Tirana where multitudes of masked celebrants (up to 150,000) dance in the street in a melding of European and ancient indigenous practices, to the masquerade and music of the New Orleans’ Mardi Gras parade, the mask has found a fixed place in the human tradition.

Employed universally and in such great variety the mask becomes an obvious object of fixation for thinking people. It is emblematic of a central human concern, a physical representation of the point of convergence between how we are and how we wish to be perceived. Taken further, the mask represents the paradoxical duality of life experience; the redeeming lesson wrapped in pain, the enemy disguised as an ally, the god in the clothes of the beggar.

In this issue, as we reach the half-year mark, Glasschord Magazine takes Masks for its theme. For the past sixth months we have had the honor of publishing work by a continually expanding community of artists. Thanks to our contributors and to our readership the Glasschord project has made its way into thousands of imaginations worldwide. We have been received in 89 different countries including our own. In fact, just this past month, one solitary scholar in South Dakota granted us the distinction of having made our way to minds in every state in the union. We hope as always to continue to bring stirring and provocative content to our audience and to broaden the exposure of our cherished contributors.

As artists we reach for the place beyond the veil, behind the mask, the place where opposites meet. We wander the world-wracked corners of the mind to bring forth stories and songs. We reach and we render interpretive representations of reality. We fashion images. We make Masks.

Daniel James McCabe
Glasschord Magazine
June 2011

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