Michaux, Henri - In the Land of Magic - Pulling off a face
Type of Spiritual Experience
Michaux considered the face to be the mask of personality. In essence our faces were the reflection of our current personality - though he does not, like others, seem to believe the eyes are the key to the underlying Higher spirit.
In his writing there are a great number of apparently gory references to ripping off faces or parts of faces, cutting off noses, gouging out mouths and so on, none of which are meant literally. All are references to trying to suppress the personality or rip it away - removing the mask, to reveal the Higher spirit - it is thus an attempt to 'know yourself' more truly.
A description of the experience
from in the Land of Magic
One needs unbelivable willpower to pull off a face, so accustomed is it to its man.
Little by little, the face lets go, begins to come off.
The executioner redoubles his efforts, braces himself, breathes heavily.
Finally he rips it off.
If the operation is done well the whole thing comes off, forehead, eyes, cheeks - the whole front of the head - as if cleaned off by some kind of corrosive sponge.
Thick dark blood gushes out of the pores, which ar wide open all over......
If the offender is particularly tough and the operation is not performed well, they only manage to rip off his nose and eyes. This is still quite a result because the extraction is purely magical; the executioner's fingers cannot touch or even graze the face to be pulled out.