Man cannot cast off this mask; it is a projection of his own flesh and spirit. He can no longer remove from his own face this mask which has already grown like skin and flesh so he is always startled as if disbelieving this is himself, but it is in fact himself. He cannot remove this mask, and this is agony. But having manifested itself as his mask, it cannot be obliterated, because the mask is a replica of himself. It has no will of its own, or one could say it has a will but no means of expression and so prefers not to have a will. Therefore it has left man with an eternal face with which he can examine himself in amazement.
—Gao Xingjian, Soul Mountain
I turn 30 in eight months, and I still don’t know if I’m the person who smiles, or the person who hides behind the smile.