Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Mask: (Part VII).



The Divine Love of Dante and Beatrice by Botticelli.

In The Wild Swans at Coole (1919), William Butler Yeats re-published a poem from his pamphlet Per Amica Silentia Lunae (1917). The poem, dated to 1915, is titled "Ego Dominus Tuus". In this poem, Yeats develops his theory of The Mask. The poem is a Platonic dialogue between Ille and Hic, That and This. Ille, or Willie, as Pound put it, is the voice of Yeats the occultist-poet. The Mask is described by these emotional lines:

I call to the mysterious one who yet,
Shall walk the wet sands by the edge of the stream
And look most like me, being indeed my double,
And prove of all imaginable things
The most unlike, being my anti-self,
And, standing by these characters, disclose
All that I seek.

On joining the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Yeats took the name DEDI (Demon Est Deus Inversus: The Demon (Dark) is a reflection of God (Light). The central aim of the Golden Dawn was to attain the philosopher’s stone which appeared as the golden rays of morning. And this took place at an advanced psychological level through the Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel. What Ille refers to is God, the opposite of the Demon, the world of shadow. And the Mask is Yeats’ Antithetical Self, “my anti-self”. Instead of seeing the mask as an artifice that blanked out the face, Yeats adopted a ritualistic—almost African—approach to the mask. The mask erases the human so as the divine might speak through the mask. The idea of the antithetical sense came from mystical conversations between Yeats and a spirit-being known as Leo Africanus (the Hoy Guardian Angel). It is interesting to note, how Yeats, the Western lamb, saw his opposite as the lion-named African! Truly, antithetical even by name. (And probably, it is the Lion-formed antithetical self that moves towards Bethlehem to be born in “The Second Coming”). The Mask, for Yeats, is the opposite that makes an individual whole, which frees him or her from the "persona". In "Ego Dominus Tuus", it is the divine Love that balances Dante’s earthly sexual life. Among the African Baule, every man and woman has a divine lover whose image (masked-form) must be sculpted and honoured. Every human relationship is part of this divine relationship. One night in every week, the man sleeps with his divine love and the woman with hers. For Yeats, the Mask is not created for the outer life, but born from the inner life. The Mask is the deep, erotic and artistic longings of the hermaphroditic human who forever searches for the missing part of his or her being.

1 comment:

Cero said...

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