From chapter 17, A Pocket-Sized Mirage
That’s the conceit, that to put on costumes put on make-up put on masks remember your lines and it’ll mean something, someone may love and maybe you, and maybe it’s more, more than a group of costumed men reciting words of men and women now long dead. It’s just how characters without character become great if for a moment, Alain may at his best be some Iago or a Lear, but strove I felt to be the King’s fool. And I guess he was, I’d give him that, perhaps more Edward though, and his bastard’s revolt, to be sincere, a director like Pinocchio had Gepetto loved him. And it’s easy! so much easier; isn’t it? To play Proust’s goddess Mme. de Guermants or the enchantress Albertine or perhaps Bovary, because it meant something, somehow, someone cared. Because they meant something to so many, and through osmosis this makes us mean something, at best, if not to ourselves but someone. So we say the things they say and wear their clothes, what do those without talent do but play some better written part?
In the Arabian Nights, there is a dervish, a magical device. Put it on and you become whatever you want to be. If I put on that dervish, I’d rather turn into myself, without some complex or another, without needing to be a character needing love, a character without the need for meaning or purpose, but with some form of happiness, artificial or genuine. It might have meant nothing, but it meant something to me. Not much, but something.. To say it best, but poorly:
Why dally then? To me no word of thine
Is pleasant: God forbid it e’er should please;
Nor am I more acceptable to thee.
And yet how otherwise had I achieved
A name so glorious as by burying
A brother? so my townsmen all would say,
Where they not gagged by terror, Manifold
A king’s prerogatives, and not the least
That all his acts and all his words are law.
For Antigone, no hallowed ground, nor me. There is no such place; but at least it’s quiet. I do not need applause.