Alysaa Pelish in The Smart Set:
In the very last volume of Proust’s very long novel, the narrator attends an afternoon party where everyone seems to be wearing a mask. He can recognize the voices of his long-ago friends and acquaintances, but their words issue from faces that are all strangely slackened and faded, or hardened and rigidified. They seem to be wearing powdered wigs. Even his host, having disguised himself in the same manner as his guests, appears to have taken on the role of one of the very last stages of the Ages of Man.
What has happened, of course, is the passage of time. These people have aged.
This quality of the aging face, in so many respects like a living mask, was something I had hardly considered until I began to notice the fine crosshatching beneath my own eyes and the first tracing of lines across my forehead. It was disconcerting, these creeping forerunners of age — of aging. The only face I had ever known as my own — a face resolutely unwrinkled for over three decades — was somehow being impinged upon, irreversibly. I knew that, unlike a spate of pimples or the red peel of sunburn, these new lines and creases were here to stay, and they would only grow more pronounced.
As I considered the changes in my own face, my eyes were soon drawn to the lines in other people’s faces, as if searching for a benchmark of normalcy, a point of comparison. What I discovered, though, was the variability of a phenomenon I had never before bothered to notice. Some brows, I now saw, were entirely furrowed, really ploughed-in deep parallel lines that never even began to fade when the eyebrows lowered, as if that fairy Queen Mab who hectors sleepers had driven a team of oxen back and forth over the course of many nights.