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FACES / Vol. 67, No. 1 (Spring 2000)

April 1, 2000

Arien Mack, Editor

 

Table of Contents

 

Arien Mack

Editor’s Introduction

First the face is part of us which is usually most visible and recognizable, and so in some cultures it must be masked, veiled or transformed in a variety of ways. It is the seat of beauty and the mirror of our emotions… The face is also a subject that figures in poetry, literature and metaphorically, i our languages. Men and women treat the face differently in different cultures and at different times. It is the subject of portrait painting and photography, and has an important place in the subject of history and art. And so the face is an interdisciplinary subject -the papers in this issue demonstrate this.

 

Alan Trachtenberg

Lincoln's Smile: Ambiguities of the Face in Photography

This article focuses on an analysis of the smile of former US President Abraham Lincoln in his photographs. There are many conflicting views on the ability of photographs to capture the true essence of an individual. Photographic portraits are said to give access to real if indeterminate individuals. The photographed face is looked upon as opaque and possibly devious, a collaborative construction between artist, sitter and viewer. The view that photographed faces make transparent the inner workings of subjective consciousness is unsupportable. The photographs of Lincoln seem to be saturated with history.

 

Richard Brilliant

The Metonymous Face

This article discusses various representations of the human face. A photograph of the tondo portraits of Malawi President Kamuzu Banda emblazoned on the costumes of his female followers during a rally is contrasted with the repetitive, highly conventional and partial portrait of Banda. By conventional treatment, profiles establish a third-person relationship between the subject and the viewer, rarely encountered for long in life. Caricature constitutes a particularly limited, but intensive form of expression. Certain features of an individual are exaggerated but still maintain sufficient likeness to be identified.

 

Georgina Kleege

Wearing the Mask Inside Out

This article discusses the supposed inability of the blind to hide their emotions and control their facial expressions. Facial expression can be formed with an average level of intensity. The eyes hold important powers for the sighted. Since vision is by far the dominant sense in human beings, it is natural that human language should focus on the eyes as the center and key to every expression. The ability to imitate and respond to others' facial expressions is a crucial phase in early cognitive development. The impulse to mimic facial expressions persists into adulthood. There are many occasions in everyday life when a person is compelled to put on a face.

 

Sander L. Gilman

Proust’s Nose

This article examines the significance of the nose to the efforts of Jews in France to disguise their identity, based on the novel Combray by Marcel Proust. The nose plays a big part in the acculturation of Jews in the country, which is apparent in the decision of some to have nose jobs. For Proust, the nose of the Jewish protagonist in Combray is a construction of the world in which the Jew must live as French. According to a passage from the novel, the nature of the self-consciously constructed and internalized identity of the Jew as diseased, as polluting, is reflected in his physiognomy. The fake nose is a mask synonymous with the new persona adopted by the Jew.

 

Elizabeth Haiken

The Making of the Modern Face: Cosmetic Surgery

This article examines the social significance of cosmetic surgery. At the turn of the twentieth century, this branch of plastic surgery appeared to contradict both the traditional injunction against vanity and the Hippocratic injunction against doing harm. Reputable surgeons generally refused to perform it. In the twenty-first century the popularity of the procedure has grown, especially in the US. The culture that produced cosmetic surgery is the increasingly visual, psychologized culture of the country. The US became an increasingly urban nation, in which identity is derived is from self-presentation.

 

Wendy Doniger

The Mythology of the Face-Lift

This article focuses on myths about the face-lift. Many myths about face-lifts were conceived by cultures far from the worlds of cosmetic surgery in Europe or the U.S. Some of these myths link face-lifts to incest. The sloughing of the skin is said to bring either youth or death. Face-lifts are also discussed in contemporary English and Japanese literature. In Hollywood films, face-lifts are often designed to carry off a deception, but the issues of youth, beauty and immortality remain powerful. The face-lift almost inevitably results in disaster or incest. With the face-lift a person actually changes into someone else.

 

Hamid Dabashi

In the Absence of the Face

This article discusses the significance of the Unseen Face of God in the Qur'an and the Bible. The Face is forbidden, concealed, thus absented. In the absence of the Face, the Name, in which the Qur'an begins, casts a long and enduring shadow on the literariness of the Faith. What cannot be seen, or the Face of the Unseen, is the defining moment of faith. The repressed is momentarily returned in the promissory notation of Revelation. The latter speaks on behalf of an Invisible Face by reassuring that it is covering-up a face. Hermeneutic concealment of the Face in the realm of aesthetics is quite evident.

 

Jonathan Cole

Relations Between the Face and the Self as Revealed by Neurological Loss: The Subjective Experience of Facial Difference

This article discusses the relations between the face and the self based on neurological loss. The body is never really absent, but rather defines our sense of self in subtle and often unrecognized ways. The face is the principal site for the visible expression of emotion, and facial expressions may often be thought of as being part of the emotion itself. There is supposedly a decisive gap between the scientific description of disease and the qualitative immediate experience of the illness by the patient. To adjust to acquired blindness may be far more perplexing than to be born blind. In contrast, to have never had a mobile expressive face may be a more profound problem than to have lost facial animation.

 

Ian S. Penton-Voak and David I. Perrett

Facial Attractiveness Judgements: An Evolutionary Perspective

This article examines consistency and individual differences in the perception of facial attractiveness. Evolutionary approaches to interpersonal attraction have grown in numbers. Darwinian approaches to the study of facial attractiveness are based on the premise that attractive faces are a biological ornament that signals valuable information to a potential mate. This field of research is said to be almost exclusively structuralist in nature. The properties of a particular set of facial features are the same irrespective of the perceiver. Evolutionary biologists provide a framework suggesting that individual differences in human attractiveness judgments may have parallels with the behavioral variation.

 

Signe Preuschoft

Primate Faces and Facial Expressions

This article examines the facial expressions of primates. Morphological evidence of similarities between humans and primates includes likenesses in the arrangement and position of bones and tissues, while behavioral evidence includes similarities in innate action patterns such as body movements and communication signals. Different species of primates vary with respect to how much eye contact they tolerate. Primates betray their internal states on their faces to trigger certain responses in the receiver. Primates also display their internal states on their faces to affect the observer or receiver of their expressions in a certain way.

 

 

 

 

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