Masks: An Irony

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Masks are commonly seen as a means of concealment, of treachery, of lies and betrayal. But there is another side to them, too, for although they cover our natural face from sight, they also allow the expression of whatever we want to be without the fear of prejudice.

It is a trade of liberty, you see: the self, under the mask, is freed from societal pressures, while those interacting with the masked one have lost the freedom to associate and take stock of the one they’re engaging with- they have lost the ability to judge.

But it goes deeper than that.

The mask doesn’t just alter social interaction, but also the mind’s perception of the self. By removing the embodied self and supplanting it with the cognitive self, the mask becomes a mental gateway to a new you.

Now then, which do you think is the real you?

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Connecting Silent Hill to the Kabbalah Pt. 1

“Hungry for sacrifice, the demon will swallow up the land. I knew this day
would come. And what’s more, the task is almost finished. There’s
only two left, to seal this town to the abyss, the mark of Samael.
When it is completed, all is lost.” – Dahlia Gillespie (SH1)

 

Let’s start with a basic fact: We all know the god that Alessa gives birth to at the end of Silent Hill is referred to as Samael. Now then, what some of you might not know is that Samael is a demonic god in Jewish mysticism, representing “the barren desolation of a fallen and failed creation,” or “The Desolation of God” (Notes on the Demonic Orders Adverse Sephiroth by Bill Heidrick).

Samael is also known in the Qliphoth. Stay with me here. This next bit’s a mouthful. The Qliphoth is the polar opposite, negative form of the holy Sephirot. And the Sephirot is a diagram of the holy infinite’s attributes/forms. Got that? Good.

In the Qliphoth, Samael is known as the negative form of Hod. Hod being the manifestation of subconscious desires, the embodiment of submission, hope and prayer. Since Samael is the negative form of this, Samael would be the submission into fear, being lost to curses of damnation, a hopeless plunge into subconscious woes and terrors.

While this information is interesting unto itself, my main point is that it would make sense that the god The Order was actually trying to summon was not Samael, but in fact Hod.

Samael himself is a fragmented, failed form of Hod. Just as Alessa was fractured into another self (Heather/Cheryl), so too was the god she gave birth to. This means that somewhere in Silent Hill is a heavenly paradise with the presence of Hod. It is just never revealed to us because of the greater influence of the corrupting presence of Samael.

Dahlia’s motivation, and the motivation of the cult, seems to be to summon Samael, but that is only how Alessa understands it. Remember, everything in Silent Hill came from Alessa. And Alessa was most likely kept in the dark concerning The Order’s true intentions. Her understanding of the cult’s intention had to be influenced by the torture and abuse she was put through. So she split not just herself but the people of the town into dichotomies, one of which expresses her view of them: as manipulative and evil people who want to bring about the destruction of everything. And just as we only see the negative world with the demon, we only see the negative side of these people.

However, the fact that we see both versions of Alessa means we must also be able to see both versions of the people in the town. This would explain Dahlia’s motivation when Harry asks her what the symbols he’s been seeing are, “It is the mark of Samael. Don’t let it be completed.” Up until now most players assumed she was trying to trick Harry, but I think we were just seeing the other version of Dahlia.

In fact, the fissure spreads much further than that: it explains why there are two worlds of Silent Hill (the “other” world and the foggy one). But the foggy town is still populated by monsters so it can’t be the heavenly world of Hod. At least, not through our eyes. It’s possible that that is still the heavenly world, but even though we are there, we are seeing it through the perspective of someone still under Samael’s domain, through Alessa’s perspective, because ultimately, it’s her view that controls everything, even the perspectives of the other characters, such as Harry.

To save the town of Silent Hill, then, the protagonist can’t just escape the demonic world, but instead the protagonist must try to meet the demonic world with the heavenly one, to bring the two worlds together, to make the world whole, to make Alessa whole. And because this never happens in any of the games, Silent Hill remains a split universe that traps those that wander within it in a never-ending nightmare.