I’m having trouble keeping up. First we were told that masks were of no use in keeping COVID19 at bay; now we have state orders to wear them.
Oh, well, as it turns out the “health experts” lied to us in order to hoard the mask supply for medical professionals. Will we ever get a tally of how many of the “little people” died as a result of this misinformation?
Is there a statue of a bureaucrat out there somewhere I could topple?
There seems to be outrage everywhere, but not a peep about this.
And it seems we’re going a bit backwards this week. The “re-opening” is losing steam and turning into a “re-closing” of sorts. With masks on my mind, I decided to lose myself in a book and – wouldn’t you know it – came upon a passage in my latest read about – yes, masks!
The Weight of Ink is a historical novel about, among a plethora of other things, the establishment of a small community of Sephardic Jews in London in the mid seventeenth century following three hundred and some years of expulsion. I know, it doesn’t sound like a beach read, but it’s actually quite interesting. As a central character, Ester Velasquez, walks through a London park, she encounters a woman wearing a mask. The year is 1665 and, I discovered, such masks – known as visards – became popular in the 1500’s.
Often made of velvet, the masks were worn by wealthy women, presumably to ward off sunburn, but of course they might have come in handy for the occasional clandestine assignation. Interestingly, these masks were kept in place by a bead held between the teeth, which meant one was prevented from speaking while wearing the vizard. Thus, these ladies were neither seen nor heard. Small wonder that The Weight of Ink also explores the role of women in the seventeenth century.
Of course, masks had already been utilized by men for social and business dealings in Venice since the late thirteenth century. In its tight-knit community of merchant wheeler dealers, masks were a way to get things done on the down low in plain view and a way for gamblers to elude their creditors. It was all just a constant carnevale in Venezia back then.
For the masked character of 1665, however, the plague was just around the corner. So, it seems, everything old is new again, just that in our case, the plague came first. In fact, history seems to be repeating itself so fast that it’s falling all over itself. We’ve got Soviet era state propaganda, the Salem Witch Hunts per cancel culture and made-for-tv Jacobins in Seattle. Most ironically, we have a new civil war enacting itself by destroying the cautionary markers of the last one. No one seems to have read George Santayana. If you’re cheering the mob, you might want to recall that eventually, the mob comes for everyone. If you don’t believe me, go ask Robespierre.
I’ve got a stack of face masks at the ready. But I don’t think I will breathe easier until I have one to cover my eyes because this is all very hard to watch. As Petrarch said of the Dark Ages:
” My fate is to live among varied and confusing storms. But for you perhaps, if as I hope and wish you will live long after me, there will follow a better age. This sleep of forgetfulness will not last forever.”