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Quotes / Becoming the Mask

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    Anime & Manga 

You're Puss in Boots, the one who tricks the prince. He hides who he really is and pretends to be someone else forever. So in time he becomes that person, so his lie becomes the truth, see? He transcends the mask. Well, don't you get it? That's how he finds happiness. That's pretty good, right?
Ninamori, FLCL

Reki freed herself from the curse of the sinbound by choosing a difficult path and by being kind to the weak. This began as an act, a mercenary attempt to gain salvation, yet over time it became her true nature.

    Comic Books 

Shock of impact ran along my arm. Jet of warmth spattered on chest, like hot faucet. It was Kovacs who said "Mother" then, muffled under latex. It was Kovacs who closed his eyes. It was Rorschach who opened them again.
Rorschach, Watchmen

My things were where I'd left them. Waiting for me. Putting them on, I abandoned my disguise and became myself, free from fear or weakness or lust. My coat, my shoes, my spotless gloves. My face.
Rorschach, Watchmen

Gods are not like people. They are real. We are creatures of story. I stepped into your part. And now that part steps into me.
Loki, Young Avengers Vol.2, Issue #5

"What we pretend to be we often become."
Darth Krayt, Star Wars: Legacy #17 — "Claws of the Dragon, Part Four"


    Fan Works 

Asuka:“That’s... another thing that’s hard to deal with. I keep feeling like it’s too good to be true, like I can’t deserve something that feels that good so easily. Or it’s some kind of trick. Or I get worried that he’s in love with the mask I always tried to project and not the real me.”
Daniel:“Who, the brave, vibrant, indomitable genius he knew? He knows the real you more than anyone else. Or at least can feel the things he doesn’t fully understand are in there. He knows you have pains inside you try to hide from everyone. He wants to help you, to take away those pains, or at least bear them together. Don’t worry about what ‘Asuka’ he’s in love with. The answer is still ‘yes’. You can make yourself into that mask. Free will is the ne plus ultra in my realm. You can be who you want to be. And you have amazing will, Asuka. Just defeat your doubts and remember who you are; the girl who even death can’t stop. I didn’t choose the motto for your ship idly. The past defines you but does not determine you. Put it aside and decide who you are. Act as you would want to be. Or to put it a more vernacular way; fake it ‘til you make it.”


You've fooled them all into thinking that you are Caine; you've even fooled yourself.
Duncan Michaelson, The Acts of Caine, Heroes Die

The thought [to try and be myself] was terrifying. I'd spent so long hiding behind masks I was no longer sure there was a genuine Ciaphas underneath them any more, just a quivering little bundle of self-interest.
Commissar Cain, Ciaphas Cain, For the Emperor

Perhaps it's impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.

Ginny Usher didn't give a damn about Mesan goons - had even, if not perhaps to the same extent as Berry, managed to put her past life behind her. But she did care, and deeply, about the young man standing in their midst. And was probably wondering - as Thandi had sometimes wondered, about herself - how often a human being could assume a role before the role itself became the reality. Before a man, or a woman, became the golem of their own creation.
—On Victor Cachat, Honor Harrington, Crown of Slaves

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.
George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant

"The only things I care about in this world are my parents and my sister. I care about them because my whole purpose was to pretend to be Valkyrie and pretend to care about her family. Only it stopped being an act. I stopped pretending and I started caring. I love them. I'd do anything to protect them."
The Reflection/Stephanie Edgeley, Skulduggery Pleasant, Last Stand of Dead Men

I didn’t want to send that email to Miss Militia because I liked those guys. That wasn’t the big realization. What made me stand up and burn the envelope was the realization that I liked those guys, I was fond of them, I trusted them to have my back…

Yet I’d always held myself at arm’s length.

It was stupid, it was selfish, but I really, desperately wanted to see what it would be like to get to know Lisa, without worrying that she would find out my scheme. I’d like to see what it was like to interact with her without having to censor myself out of fear that I’d provide that damning clue. I wanted to get to know Bitch and Alec better. And Brian. I wanted to be closer to Brian. I couldn’t phrase it any better than that, because I didn’t know if there would be any future with him beyond a simple friendship. I didn’t expect there to be. It still mattered.

This is not Dick Washburn you're seeing, not exactly. Dick has vacated possession for this bit of chat. Standing here is not Richard Godspeed Washburn, who sustained a nasty concussion on his fifteenth birthday, the very eve of the Go Away War, and who spent his next weeks in darkness and candlelight as the hospital he had gone to slowly shut down and ran out and fell apart, then grew to manhood in the new, broken world. This is not Quick Dick of the Harley Street Boys, who - before the orphanfinders came and settled him in a home of sorts and things got somewhat normal once again - could open the rear door of an army truck and pinch a pound of chocolate before the soldiers ever knew. This is Jorgmund itself, staring through Dick's eyes and measuring things as numbers and profit margins. Of course, Jorgmund is nothing more than a shared hallucination, a set of rules which make up Richard Washburn's job, and every time he does this - slips away from a human situation and lets the pattern use his mind and his mouth because he'd rather not make the decision himself - he edges closer to being a type C pencilneck. He loses a bit of his soul.

A year ago, I'd never have imagined it possible that one day I'd stand toe to toe with violent criminals and be ready to gamble they'd back off first. It's curious to think this was the result of one crazy mistake: a young girl, a child taking me for someone else - for a tough guy named Sainte-Claire. The creation of my pen. I'm a crime writer. I write graphic novels. That's crime thrillers with pictures - not in any way comics. You may have read one of them. A couple have been turned into films.
When it all began, Sainte-Claire was the product of my imagination, only as real as the ink on a page. Now I think he's taken me over.
No, that's not accurate. I know he has.
Graphic, by Shane Briant

    Live-Action TV 

My name is Saul Tigh and if I die today, then that's who I'll be.

Charlie Rose: Is Walter White still out there?
Gretchen Schwartz: No he's not.
Charlie Rose: You sound very sure of that.
Gretchen Schwartz: I can’t speak of this Heisenberg people refer to. But whatever he became, the sweet, kind man we once knew? He’s gone.

Somewhere along the line, the fake life that we created as a cover for me to kill became real. It's not fake to me anymore.
Dexter Morgan Dexter

You've been in that skin-suit too long. You've forgotten. There used to be a real Margaret Blaine. You killed her and stripped her and used the skin. You're pleading for mercy out of a dead woman's lips.
The Ninth Doctor to Blon, Doctor Who, "Boom Town"

Bounty Hunter: What do you know of the right thing to do? You — who would risk exposing the entire project for a game? A GAME!?
Josh Exley: I hit a home run tonight.
Bounty Hunter: A home run?
Josh Exley: Number 61. I set a record.
Bounty Hunter: Show me your true face so you can die with dignity. As your executioner I show you my true face before I kill you. (He morphs into a grey alien) Show me your true face, or you will die without honour.
Josh Exley: (Remains human) This IS my true face...
The X-Files, "The Unnatural"

Malcolm: Oh, how quickly they grow up. You fucking think you know me?
Ollie: Uuuuuhyeah. Yeah, I know you.
Malcolm: You know Jackie fucking Chan about me. YOU KNOW FUCK ALL ABOUT ME! I am totally beyond the realms of your fucking tousle-haired, fucking dim-witted comprefuckinghension! I don’t just take this fucking job home, you know: I take this job home, it fucking ties me to the bed, and it fucking fucks me from arsehole to breakfast! Then it wakes me up in the morning with a cup full of piss slung in my face, slaps me about the chops to make sure I’m awake enough so it can kick me in the fucking bollocks! This job has taken me in every hole in my fucking body! Malcolm is gone! You can't know Malcolm, because Malcolm is not here! Malcolm fucking left the building fucking years ago! This is a fucking husk, I am a fucking host for this fucking job. Do you want this job?
Ollie: ...Yes.
Malcolm: Yes, you do fucking want this job. Then you're gonna have to fucking swallow this whole fucking life and let it grow inside you like a parasite, getting bigger and bigger and bigger until it fucking eats your insides alive and it stares out of your eyes and tells you what to do.

Lilah: It's a survival thing. I made a lot of devil's bargains and I stuck to them. As a result, I live somewhat dangerously, and quite comfortably. My mother, who no longer recognizes me, has the best room at the clinic. I get up every morning, put on my game face and do what I have to.
Angel: Thing about a game face, Lilah, you wear it long enough, it stops being something you can put on and take off.
Lilah: Wow. We've spent so much time and money on you. You're so pivotal to the coming cataclysm, that I sometimes forget how dense you can be. The game face - the one I worked so hard to get - I became that years ago. Just like you've become simpering and good from yours. You're the new poster boy for human. Thank you very much. I don't want it.

"I think ... if you pretend to be something long enough, it's not pretending."
Drew Thompson/Sheriff Shelby Parlow, Justified


My mask is growing heavy, but I've forgotten who's beneath.

Paint her in
One colour ends and one begins
Brush away what's stray
Add the finishing touch
The rapture's cold as a pearl
Now the portrait has captured the girl
—"Portrait of A Girl", in Bare: A Pop Opera

Chicanery will always make you happy
But we all know the hat is wearing me
Marilyn Manson, "Dope Hat"

"So he got a job with the mob
smuggling heroin
But the law was hot on his trail
pursuit was narrowing
So he disguised himself as a priest
and a Samaritan
And felt the urge to be so much more
than a barbarian"
"Then a vampire came
and devastation reigned
This man saw this monster
sucking blood from people's veins
So he took a holy blade
and he stabbed it in the brain
The vampire was slain,
the incident lit a flame!"


It's too late—I have cast myself into my mould. I wore vice like clothing, now it is stuck to my skin. I am truly a ruffian, and when I joke about people like me, I feel serious as Death in the middle of my gaiety. To kill Tarquin, Brutus played the madman, and what surprises me now is, he didn't lose his mind at that game. Learn from me, Philippe, here's what I have to say to you—don't work for your country.
Victor Hugo, Lorenzaccio.


    Video Games 

But at some point, the man became incapable of distinguishing his performance from his person.
Rosalind Lutece, Bioshock Infinite

You can't break a man the way you break a dog or a horse. The harder you beat a man the taller he stands. To break a man's will, to break his spirit, you have to break his mind. Men have this idea that they can fight with dignity, that there is a proper way to kill someone. It's absurd, it's an aesthetic. We need that idea to endure the bloody horror of murder. You must destroy this idea. Show them what a messy, terrible thing it is to kill a man... And show them that you relish in it. Shoot the wound, then execute the wounded. Burn them, take them in close combat, destroy any preconceptions as to what a man is and you become their personal monster. When they fear you, you become stronger, you become better. But let's never forget, it's a display, a posture, like a lion's roar or a gorilla thumping at its chest. If you lose yourself in the display, if you succumb to the horror, you become the monster, not more of a man, but less... and it can be fatal.
The Jackal, Far Cry 2

If you have so many masks, what does your true face look like?

A mask is just like a musical instrument—it reflects the character of its owner.

    Web Original 

SO! You wish to learn the sacred art of the grapple from me, Los Tiburon? It would be my pleasure to pass along the ideals from my teachers and ancestors to another generation! ... Know this, my child, that when you wear the mask, who you were underneath is gone, and you must BECOME the mask! Let the mask give you strength, and give that strength to the mask itself!

    Web Video 

"When he became stuck in his morphed form, it could be interpreted that that's how he saw himself all the time: as a Ranger. He wasn't Tommy Oliver, he became the powers. It was all he was anymore."
Linkara, interpreting Tommy's character in Power Rangers Dino Thunder.

"Ooh, lookit me! I'm gonna put on silly outfits! Pretend to be other pop stars, but it's still just me! Lil' ol' Taylor Swift! These costumes don't fit me!" Yes they do. You are those costumes. They are your personality. They are who you are now. You'll never "band geek" Taylor Swift again. You're the cheer captain, and...I dunno, Lorde is on the bleachers.

(realization hits) Oh God, Lorde! Where's she gonna be in five years?

    Western Animation 

Before you start, I have something to say: I came here as a patriot. I had a mission, and I carried it out. What I couldn't know is that I would come to care for the Earth and her people... That I'd come to care for all of you. I've spent the last five years torn between my feelings and my duty. I won't ask you to do the same.
Hawkgirl, Justice League

Tuffnut: The plan is to smash those dirty Berkians to pieces, with both fleets! It's gonna be awesome.
Hiccup: Uh, you do realize, we're the Berkians?
Tuffnut: Oh, right. Still gonna be awesome!

"This is worse than I thought. This isn't as simple as pretending or play-acting, Eddy! Ed actually believes he's become a monster!"
Edd, Ed, Edd n Eddy, "The Day the Ed Stood Still"

    Real Life 

People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked...

And the distinction between pretending you are better than you are and beginning to be better in reality is finer than moral sleuthhounds conceive.
C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy.

We are what we do.
Erich Fromm

Also, though I don’t believe in character changes, I do have a theory that if you keep giving a conservative politician liberal speeches to read, he will eventually become a liberal, and vice versa.

When you are in the public space you'd better sound like a true believer. An actor immersed in a role is going to be better at it.
—Journalist Michael Malice on living in North Korea

Essentially the world’s most complicated man, Manson speaks in riddles and misdirections, all designed to wrong-foot and throw you off. I needed to decode and decipher, to waft away the smoke and mirrors, and look beyond the dozen different personalities he adopts in the course of a single sentence, to find the real Charles Manson, whatever that was. Maybe he’s so genuinely unhinged that there is no real person anymore; just a madman-slash-showman spewing patter like a broken radio.

A role too artfully assumed ceases to become a role and instead becomes a species of identity—an observation equally true of Robert Frost himself.
This article on Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken



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