Tag Archives | Masks

The Terrifying Beaked Plague Mask Of Historical Europe

plague mask

The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice on the disturbing origins of raven-nosed masks, which were worn by so-called “plague doctors” during times of mass death in Early Modern Europe:

The earliest textual description of the mask dates from the 17th century. Charles de Lorme, chief physician to Louis XIII and likely inventor behind the design, wrote:

The nose [is] half a foot long, shaped like a beak, filled with perfume with one [hole] on each side near the nostrils, but that can suffice to breathe and carry along the impression of the [herbs] enclosed further along in the beak.

A coherent germ theory did not emerge until the mid-19th century – de Lorme was trying to protect himself miasma, or poisonous vapours associated with decomposition and foul air.

It is difficult to know how ubiquitous the plague mask was in the 17th and 18th centuries. Most physicians fled the city during outbreaks, leaving the dying to fend for themselves.

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The Disturbing Mystery Of Brazil’s Lead Masks Case

lead-masksWere they planning a heist of a radioactive device? Waiting to board an interstellar vessel? What were the swallowable capsules and the mask signal? Wikipedia on the Lead Masks Case:

The Lead Masks Case was the name given to the events which led to the death of two electronic technicians in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Their bodies were discovered on August 20, 1966.

A young man was flying a kite on the Morro do Vintém (Vintém Hill) when he came upon the two bodies. When police arrived, they noted the bodies’ odd conditions: The two males were lying next to each other, slightly covered by grass. Each wore a formal suit, a radiation-proof lead eye mask, and a waterproof coat. There were no signs of trauma and no evidence of a struggle. A small notebook contained the quote, “[translated] 16:30 (04:30 PM) be at the agreed place. 18:30 (06:30 PM) swallow capsules, after effect, protect metals, wait for mask signal”.

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Under Proposed Law, Masked Canadian Protesters Could Receive Ten Years In Jail

In surveillance states, concealing one’s face will be considered a significant crime. Via Russia Today:

Canadian lawmakers weren’t exactly in the Halloween spirit when they approved a new bill on Wednesday. The legislation makes it illegal to wear masks during riots and protests. If it becomes law, mask-wearers at riots face up to 10 years in jail.

Parliamentarian Blake Richards, who sponsored the bill, says the measure is aimed at targeting the “growing threat” of vandalism and violence. Lawmakers are particularly targeting the Blak Bloc anarchist group, whose members dress in black and hide their faces with glasses, scarves, and hoods. The group engaged in violence during the Quebec student protests earlier this year.

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Batman and Shamanism

BatmanSascha Idakaar gives us an unusual perspective on Batman over at Modern Mythology:

The mask is an idea, a symbol, we could look at from a million angles. It is, even at first glance, our double, a close relative of the mirror — but it is something other than the mirror. The mirror shows us our double. A mask creates a second double atop us. It transforms rather than reveals.

At the same time, a lot of psych pop lit has been written about Batman. But I’d like to use Batman as the pop culture model of the role of the mask.

Who is Batman, really?

Is is a story about how an emotionally disturbed, very rich young adult deals with psychological trauma that he cannot let go of. Some ideas, some emotions, are things that we hold onto, and they are done with us the moment we are done with them.

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Quebec: The Empire Strikes Back

MontrealZig Zag writes on the Vancouver Media Co-Op:

Provincial and city governments in Quebec are resorting to repressive new laws in an effort to defeat the student mobilization, which has rocked that province for the past three months. Faced with strong and militant resistance by thousands in the streets, on May 18 Montreal passed a by-law banning the wearing of masks during protests. If convicted, people could be fined $3,000. This comes as the federal government prepares to amend the Criminal Code making it an offense to wear a mask during a riot or unlawful assembly (Bill C-306), with a maximum 10 year prison sentence if convicted.

On the same day as Montreal passed its anti-masking by-law, the Quebec government passed emergency legislation aimed directly at the student mobilization but affecting civil rights in general, “Bill 78: A Law Allowing Students to Receive the Education Provided by the School Which They Attend.” It contains 36 articles, which lawyers, professors, and others have described as “draconian” and similar to the 1970 War Measures Act (when martial law was declared).

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