"Some of these unfortunate creatures, perhaps vaguely conscious that something oozes from them, themselves assume an inscrutable, rigid expression, with all exits blocked, as though to keep these mysterious effluvia from escaping; or perhaps it is in a spirit of imitation, the result of suggestion --they are so easily influenced, so sensitive --that they, too, in the presence of the masks, take on that set, dead expression. Others, in spite of themselves, dance about like puppets, twitching nervously and making faces. Still others, in order to get into the good graces of the mask and restore life to its stony features, play the clown and stoop to any lengths to provoke laughter at their own expense. Others, even more contemptibly --these are generally the older, more vicious ones --as a result of a sort of irresistible attraction, sidle up like a dog rubbing against its master's leg, beg for a pat or an affectionate gesture that will calm their fears, and lie wriggling on their backs, all four feet in the air: they chatter away, open wide their hearts, grow confidential and, in a voice that lacks assurance, blushingly tell their most intimate secrets to the motionless mask.
But the mask won't give in. It simply won't let itself be taken in. On the contrary, all these contortions and flummery more often than not only serve to make it grow harder.
It would be difficult to say exactly whether it is in spite of itself, and without knowing very well why, that the mask keeps growing harder like this, or whether it doesn't deliberately overact, in order to punish the person who has stooped to these degrading buffooneries in its presence, and so increase the smart of baseness; whether it is in order to discourage the opponent, by playing dead like a fox at the approach of an enemy, to defend itself against these contacts and repulsive wrigglings; or whether, on the contrary, it is in the unconscious desire to foment these goings-on in order to make the game more exciting, and thus prolong and relish for a greater length of time a subtle kind of secret, sensual pleasure.
I have no idea. Nobody has any idea. Nobody has ever given it a thought. They've all got other fish to fry, other, more worthwhile, more legitimate things to think about."