March, 1953, The Hall of Fantasy, a weekly radio series broadcast “an original tale of fantasy by Richard Thorne entitled,” “The Masks of Ashor.” The story begins when Marsha’s Uncle Harold sends two gold masks. Marsha’s husband, Bert, says that the masks are “…beautiful, except grotesque at the same time”; his wife adds, “well they look human, and yet….” In spite of their uncertainty about the masks, they decide to hang them up on either side of the mirror that hangs above the fireplace in their living room.
Accompanying the masks is a letter from Uncle Harold. The masks are from Istanbul, they’re gold yet the seller sold them for very little—was eager to be rid of them—and, “there’s some kind of story connected with them, I don’t know what it is….” When Uncle Harold finds out, he rushes to save his niece and her husband from the true owner of the masks, Ashor—but too late.
Last year—in March, as a matter of fact, I received a pair of masks in the mail. I have no Uncle Harold, but an Aunt Eileen. One of the masks is pictured above.
During my Color Plates book tour, I was handed a play, properly, a masque, by an actress leaving what I presumed was an audition taking place in the space above the bar where I read. I transcribed some of the “Black Masque” here, in the hope someone would claim authorship. No one has. Though I am not the author, I tend to think of it as mine.
My copy of Transactions of the Flesh arrived a little ahead of Christmas. I’ve only just started to poke at it, but see it includes “Indescribable,” an excerpt from M.O.N.’s ObliviOnanisM, a “profanely mystical work of hyperpurple theory-porn”—a description provided by ObliviOnanisM’s publisher, gnOme. The connection I made between gnOme and the masque handed me in New York City is gnOme’s aesthetic toward anonymity and an authentic kind of falsehood, the sort of truth that lives in, as gnOme has it, “pseudepigrapha” and “apocrypha.”
I believe the “Black Masque” is more than just a script; it’s a transcript, and when performed, a liturgy.
Does Anonymous make contact with gnOme, or does gnOme contact Anonymous?