In my latest post over at Law & Liberty (https://www.lawliberty.org/2019/06/28/commercial-civilization-apollonian-or-dionysian/) I try to show that Caillois’s account of us — members of a commercial civilisation — does not quite capture the totality of how commerce works.
Caillois thinks we are Apollonian, rather than mask wearing Dionysians. Civilisation is the substitution of the norms of competition and chance for the prestige of mimickry and vertigo (Man, Play, and Games, p. 141). Put differently, the unmasked policeman, and rule of law, replaces the shaman:
“The uniform is also a disguise, but it is official, permanent, regulated, and, above all, leaves the face exposed. It makes the individual a representative and a servant of an impartial and immutable rule, rather than the delirious prey of contagious vehemence” (p. 132).
This article documents the extent of mask wearing, and the size of the beauty mask business (https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/07/everything-is-a-mask-skin-care/593329/). Smith would be less surprised than Caillois, though Caillois still nails Instagram: a site dedicated to mimickry, struggles for prestige, and vertigo from comparison. The shaman is never very far away.