The mask is something put on, something external. As a physical object it remains quite distinct from the man who wears it. He feels on him as something foreign, something which never wholly becomes part of himself; it hinders and constricts him. As long as he wears he is two things, himself and the mask. The more often he has worn and the better he knows it, the more of himself will flow into the figure it represents. But there is always one part of him which necessarily remains separate from it : the part that fears discovery, the part which knows that the terror he spreads is not his due. The secret he represents to those who see the mask from outside must also have an effect on himself inside it, but it clearly cannot be the same effect. They are afraid of the unknown; he is afraid of being unmasked. It is this fear which prevents him abandoning himself completely to the mask. His transformation can go a very long way, but it is never complete. The mask is a limit set to transformation. Because it can be torn away, its wearer is bound to fear for it. He must take care that he does not lose it; it must never be dropped and must never open. He feels every kind of anxiety about what may happen to it. Besides playing a part in his transformation, the mask is also a weapon or a tool which its wearer has to handle. He must manipulate it, remaining his everyday self, and, at the same time, must change into it as a performer. While he wears the mask he is thus two people and must remain two during the whole of his performance.
Elias Canetti, Masse und Macht, trad. Carol Stewart, Continuum, 1978.