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What do masks do?
They hide, conceal, distort our human faces. They make breathing difficult. They become petri dishes for the bacteria we breathe out only to be breathed in again and again. They interfere with talking and sneezing. They make eating impossible. They disrupt communication. They prevent what is our most quintessentially human feature from showing itself in full, from conveying emotion, nuance, and the infinity of our expressive palette. They are used in acts of stealth, in acts of unlawfulness. They contribute to the objectification of the human being in perverse sexual games.
When worn en masse they create an army of faceless units. When worn in the open air under a State’s covidian mandates they become a badge of soldierly pride.
Some months ago I chanced to be at a fashionable restaurant in Wellington to meet with a lawyer to discuss legal challenges to New Zealand’s masking policies. A masked waiter served us. At the crowded tables in our vicinity people ate and drank as normal people do and should, but when they ventured to the counter to pay or place another order they donned their face coverings.
I asked our jolly young waiter why he wore a mask when, as I informed him, drawing upon my medical knowledge, they didn’t do anything to stop the spread of a respiratory virus. His simple reply was: “I have to.” He moved his mask down to talk from time to time and I pointed out to him the many merry diners nearby who were unmasked.
“Does it make any sense to you?” I asked. He shrugged.
“Why don’t you take it off?” said a companion to him. He laughed and went about his duties.
Just last week I walked into a bank to cash a foreign cheque. A single podium stood in the forecentre of the floor, with a transparent plastic shield, while in the depths of the office and along the sides were unshielded desks occupied by bankers who wore masks.
One of the bankers approached me, a fashionably dressed cheerful woman who immediately reminded me that I should have a mask on. She wore a black cloth number that went with her outfit. I told her I was ‘exempt’ and produced my official New Zealand mask exemption card. She offered to help me with the cheque but she couldn’t do so at her open desk and directed me to the forecentre podium. I asked why, and she replied that it was for her protection … from me, apparently.
I complied, still unmasked of course, and at the podium I naturally had to move around the small plexiglas shield several times to point things out and to sign papers. The banker was pleasant enough behind her disguise, and after finishing my business I departed.
I was tempted to give a brief lecture on the practical uselessness of masks, perhaps even going so far as to draw the masks’ orifices and explain that a miniscule pathogen would easily pass through them. But I didn’t.
I didn’t becauseI realized it would carry no weight because the case the government has provided for masks is – unlike the masks themselves – airtight. It’s all about minimizing risk.
When I have raised such objections to people I had once regarded as reasonable folks, when I had noted the absurd dance in cafés and restaurants, where masks were donned and doffed many times and often worn below the nose when worn, I had come up against an argument that brooked no dissent. When I had inquired of reasonable people who preferred to do their bike-riding in disguise, I received the same response. Propaganda can never be wrong, can never be corrected, never be challenged by truth or fact.
Thus the errant viral particle in the air above our heads, or the sneaky viruses exhaled as we approach the cash register, or the lurking virions in our very own automobiles – these were the invisible enemy that was everywhere, and anything we could do to impede their aggressive and dangerous intent to infect would be justified. Anything.
And why do so many go along with the charade? I believe two factors are predominantly at play. First, most people trust the authority of their State, despite the historical record of frequent if not perpetual State deception. Second, because the mask itself is indeed a barrier – not against small airborne pathogens but against large water droplets and dust – it remains psychologically accepted as an effective defence, even for those whose advanced university degrees mark them as, presumably, highly intelligent.
The most successful propaganda uses a kernel of reality about which to envelop its thick layers of absurdity and irrationality. And the most successful propaganda understands the extremely effective uses of irrationality in moving the masses to submit. These irrationalities are deliberate: they are there to create an aura of the mystical, of the realm beyond reason and natural law, a feeling that one is in the childhood land of sorcery and miracles.
The magic bullet of the JFK assassination, the wondrous discovery of a hijackers’ passport in the rubble of the Twin Towers just after 9/11, the freefall collapse of World Trade Centre Building 7 from office fires on 9/11 … these are purposeful. In the initial response to these spectacles we may perhaps be forgiven for believing that bullets and buildings and fire could behave in this way. But in considered repose, when our benumbed and awe-struck faculties have recovered, we may begin to discern anomalies and inconsistencies – only, however, if we have personally surmounted the impulse to remain in thrall to the supernatural event.
We may continue to object and dissect and doubt, but the State will respond – in a most devilishly clever manner – by citing the uniqueness of the propaganda incident. “Could airplanes create fires that would bring down two immense towers in nearly freefall speed on their own footprint?” we may ask. “That’s what they did!,” will be the answer. “Could a paper passport survive the conflagration we gawked at in awe and horror?” we may say. “That’s what we found,” they will respond.
Propaganda is a form of violence. It seeks to bend the hearts and minds and souls – and, in consequence also the bodies – of its subjects to its own agenda. Propaganda will use reason and truth – truths small and large and absent – for its own purposes, just as it will employ outright deceit and every shade thereof.
The propaganda exercise that has been all things covid for the past two and a half years continues to be nourished by the imposition of masking. I am daily astonished at the number of Wellingtonians who enthusiastically demonstrate their ignorance and complicity by wearing the insignia of submission, and who turn against those who are unfraid to be natural and clear-thinking. Of the many pernicious features of the covid catastrophe – the quarantining of the healthy, the drumbeat of inflated death counts, false testing, the suppression of early treatment, the pushing of dangerous and unnecessary inoculations, the revision of the concept of vaccination, the creation of an apartheid society, the covering up of the multitude of adverse reactions to the jabs, the encouragement to distance and, in effect, to regard each other as sources of harm – the dehumanizing mask is at the forefront.
Power always seeks to augment itself. Those in power never willingly relinquish their control. The imposition of masks even unto our children is their most pernicious and perfect tool.
If so many are able so willingly to accept anonymity and debasement, what else may they, at their State’s behest, ultimately be willing to do?
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Dr. Garcia is a Philadelphia-born psychoanalyst and psychiatrist who emigrated to New Zealand in 2006. He has authored articles ranging from explorations of psychoanalytic technique, the psychology of creativity in music (Mahler, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Delius), and politics. He is also a poet, novelist and theatrical director. He retired from psychiatric practice in 2021 after working in the public sector in New Zealand.
Featured image is from Mercola