They’re Watching Us

Ariel Dorfman from an revised essay collected in Homeland Security Ate My Speech .. highly recommended.

As the 2001 Patriot Act proves …, if people are frightened enough, manipulated enough, fear-mongered enough, they are more than willing to abrogate their own freedom … in the name of personal and national security. And if there were to be another terrorist attack like the vile ones perpetrated on September 11th 2001, even more invasive surveillance would be eagerly authorized, indeed demanded. Think of what fanatics like them could do with such colossal executive muscle at their disposal. Though what’s unsettling is to grasp that prospective tyrants wouldn’t require new legislation, now as during so much American history, to rein in free expression

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Mascara, by Ariel Dorfman, is the story of an unnamed character who is born without a recognizable face. He is effectively invisible: no one ever remembers who he is. All his life he has been obsessed with photography and uses his talent to capture the faces of others, constructing what he calls “an authentic gallery of human privacy – thousands of faces at their worst, their most intolerable.”

Two other characters expand the themes of the novel: a young girl/woman love interest who in opposition to the man with no face is the woman without a past, and a plastic surgeon who can provide his patients with any face they desire.

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