“Is it Possible To Be Many Things at Once?” On Stanisław Lem’s The Mask

In the proposed interpretation, Lem’s The Mask is a story of a pursuit of a coherent identity. On one hand, this aspiration is realised through attempts to isolate the “proper” body of the Mask from the prosthetic, one’s “own” history from prosthetic memories, individual identity from its supplementary prosthetics, external names, finding relevance based on free will, getting free of influences. On the other hand – through attempts to create identity in a constructive gesture of storytelling, giving oneself a shape, definition in self-narrative. These parallel aspirations are not fulfilled, both one and the other fail – the narrator fails to gain a whole, integral form. Instead, the final scene of The Mask offers the discovery of a pleasurable but also soothing prosthetic identity and the narrator’s consent to complete the tale, to be fitted within its frame.