Regression into Technology, or the First Mask
While the practice of wearing masks is probably only a few thousand years old, the appearance of the mask motif can be traced further back and connected with the discovery of technological knowledge. This article discusses the meaning of a mask in a Paleolithic scene, trying to demonstrate what it may tell us about transformative images. The earliest known mask, which imitates and thus channels potency, is truly extraordinary. It is part of a bizarre prehistoric narrative image, named the “Shaft Scene”, which is about fifteen thousand years old. It not only substantially differs from previous cave paintings, but alternates their meaning, by regressing into technology, leading to a condition that was worse than that already given. The particular dramaturgy of the “Shaft Scene” is a persuasive introduction into the nature of technological knowledge, which separates human from nature by opening up their eyes to utilize hidden resources by passively taking up a schismatic position in order to gain power. Technology is the abstracting of a set of methods that enables automatic growth. The “Shaft Scene” presents detailed practical knowledge of this matter, implying a whole set of radical changes in contrast to the previous attitude towards reality.
Keywords: mask, liminality, trickster, seduction, schism, technology
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