Friday, November 26, 2004

Masked and Anonymous

Found this passage interesting in light of what I'm forever going on about here:

It is curious, the term that [musicians in Rio in the early 1960s] used to designate one who didn't do drugs: "careta." Apparently this word, which traditionally had mean "mask" or "masked person," emerged among criminals as a jocose diminutive of cara, which means both "face" and "person." So if one abstained from taking a mind-altering substance, it was said that he had a "cara limpa," a clean face. And many times I heard musicians say that they had to deal with this or that awful situation "totalmente de cara," by which they meant "completely clean," not high. In this roundabout way, through the outlaw slang of musicians, careta came to mean the opposite of masked or disguised. But even this "pejorative" use, referring to those who did not do drugs, ended up bringing back something of the old meaning, since to do drugs was understood as opening up to God and to music--an unmasking of oneself.

That's from careta musician Caetano Veloso's book Tropical Truth, and I'm struck by the whole connection between removing a mask and "opening up to God"--and to the role that drugs play in both. Of course, you can't really take a mask off till you put one on, and that, for me, is where batplay comes in. Now that the Monk has deprived me of mine, the question is: to what am I opening myself? And what will my new face look like?

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