Horror is the Removal of the Mask

Horror is the removal of masks.” ― Robert Bloch

This is the third post I publish about masks, all of them relate to a series I’m working on about the topic.  You can read my first post here, and the second one here.

Robert Bloch (1917 – 1994) was an American fiction writer, whose most famous novel is probably Psyco, that was the basis of the film with the same name directed by the “master of suspense” Alfred Hitchcock in 1960. Now, regarding the topic of the above Bloch’s quote, “Horror is the Removal of Mask” probably the obvious follow up questions would be, what would you find beneath the mask?  are you able to handle it? Moreover, do you want to know what’s beneath the mask?

But, for me, the real question has to do more with horror. Do we really know what horror is? Have you experimented horror in an extreme situation? Days ago I revisited the movie “Apocalypse Now” by Francis Ford Coppola, where Colonel Kurtz masterfully played by Marlon Brando does a revealing monologue of what horror is about, Kurtz says:

“I’ve seen horrors… horrors that you’ve seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that… but you have no right to judge me. It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face… and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies. I remember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for Polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn’t see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember… I… I… I cried. I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget. And then I realized… like I was shot… like I was shot with a diamond… a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God… the genius of that, the genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men… trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love… but they had the strength… the strength… to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral… and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feelingwithout passionwithout judgmentwithout judgment. Because it’s judgment that defeats us.

So, the question is, are you will to remove the mask and see, without passion, without feeling, but especially without judgment who you really are. I’m not sure I’m.

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