Have I said it already? I am learning to see. Yes, I’m beginning. It is still going badly. But I want to make use of my time.
For instance, I never realized how many faces there are. There are lots of people but still more faces, for everyone has several. There are people who wear a face for years, of course it wears out, gets dirty, cracks in the folds, stretches like a glove one has worn on a journey. Those are thrifty, simple people: they don’t change it, they don’t even have it cleaned. It’s good enough, they maintain, and who can convince them otherwise? The question does arise, since they have several faces, what do they do with the others? They keep them in reserve. Their children will get to wear them. But it also happens that their dogs wear them when they go out. And why not? Face is face.
Other people put on their faces with uncanny rapidity, one after the other, and wear them out. At first it seems to them as if they have them forever, but they are barely forty and this one is already the last. That of course has its tragic side. They are not used to take care of faces, they run through the last one in a week, there are holes in it, in many places it is as thin as paper, and then slowly what’s underneath emerges, the not-face, and they walk around with that.
From The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. Translated by Burton Pike.