Everything profound loves masks. The most profound things of all even have a hatred for images and allegories. Shouldn’t the right disguise in which the shame of a god walks around be something exactly opposite? A questionable question: it would be strange if some mystic or other had not already ventured something like that on his own. There are processes of such a delicate sort that people do well to bury them in something crude and make them unrecognizable. There are actions of love and of extravagant generosity, after which there is nothing more advisable than to grab a stick and give an eyewitness a good thrashing: – in so doing we cloud his memory. Some people know how to befuddle or batter their own memories in order at least to take revenge on this single witness: – shame is resourceful. It is not the worst things that make people feel the worst shame. Behind a mask there is not only malice – there is so much goodness in cunning. I could imagine that a person who had something valuable and vulnerable to hide might roll through his life as coarse and round as an old green wine barrel with strong hoops. The delicacy of his shame wants it that way. For a person whose shame is profound runs into his fate and delicate decisions on pathways which few people ever reach and of whose existence those closest to him and his most intimate associates are not permitted to know. His mortal danger hides itself from their eyes, just as much as his confidence in life does, once he regains it. A person who is concealed in this way, who from instinct uses speaking for silence and keeping quiet and who is tireless in avoiding communication, wants and demands that, instead of him, a mask of him wanders around in the hearts and heads of his friends. And suppose he does not want that mask: one day his eyes will open to the fact that nonetheless there is a mask of him there – and that that’s a good thing. Every profound spirit needs a mask; even more, around every profound spirit a mask is continuously growing, thanks to the constantly false, that is, shallow interpretation of every word, every step, every sign of life he gives.
-Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, chapter 2, aphorism 40.