Face Value

No image captures our attention quite like the human face - its ability to communicate is unparalleled. All of mankind believes they are 'face readers,' too. Everyone believes they can tell what another person is thinking simply by means of facial clues.

Phi, or the golden section, would appear to be the universal standard of beauty (whether we like it, or not). Phi is 1 to 1.618. Shan Baker, the president of the AAFPRS (American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery) puts it this way: "While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, there's a real mathematical equation for measuring a person's attractiveness. In fact, the skeletal proportions are the true determining factors."

According to the AAFPRS the perfect face looks like this: high cheekbones and a clear complexion are givens, but the well-proportioned face also divides into equal thirds when lines are drawn through the forehead hairline, the brow, the base of the nose and the edge of the chin. For women, short, delicate jaws, fine chins and graceful noses, along with prominent eyes, full lips and visible cheekbones. For men: broad foreheads, deep-set eyes, imposing brows, and strong jaws make up the most desirable male.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings us to the concept of 'assortative mating,' i.e., the attraction to others who are like oneself. "Wanna go for a ride?!" Well, here we go: most couples, husbands and wives, tend to be similar. They come from similar religious back grounds, similar ethnic back grounds, similar levels of innate intelligence, and have many similar personality traits, including moral codes.

From whence comes this congruity?

Well, Aristophanes, the comic satirist, presented a unique take on the concept. It goes like this: the god, Apollo, divided man into two parts, each part desiring its other half; and once they came together, throwing their arms about each other, they entwined in mutual embraces, longing to once again become one. Eventually, they were on the verge of dying from hunger and self-neglect, because they did not like to do anything apart from each other. But when one of them died and the other survived, the survivor sought another mate, man or woman as we call them, and grabbed hold of that.

Interestingly enough, this theory has corroboration. Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:21-22 provide a similar creation of Adam and Eve. The passage plainly reads: "And God created man in his image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them." Thus it is clear that the man spoken of here, first in the singular as 'him,' and then in the plural as 'them,' originally comprised in himself the nature of Eve as well as the nature of Adam. Obviously, the idea expressed here in Genesis is ultimately the same as that of Aristophanes. And from the standpoint of physiology neither man nor woman is an individual in the 'whole' sense, rather the combination of the two makes up the whole. Each one of them, man alone or woman alone is but a one-sided half of human existence. Each, by itself alone, is doomed to die; both in unison are immortal.

From these two lemmata we may gather that 'living substance' was originally asexual, or perhaps bisexual, and that its pristine state was immortal. Thus death was not the original lot of life. Death came into the world by the Biblical Fall and subsequently by birth. Biologically, the process of meiosis and polar body are the explanation of death. Therefore, speaking philosophically, and logically, life cannot be annihilated; in other words, immortality is a fact. Indicative mood - for the grammarians.

One single question becomes salient: why have we lost interest in our ancestors? Because on the one hand, the legend, the myth is not taken literally. And since it is not taken literally, the imagination of mankind is not attracted to it. The myth is now interpreted solely as an allegory - mayhap an interesting one - but not factual. Now mankind believes in evolution -- "our Father up a tree ...." Evolution is ostensibly the deeper comprehension of life, and a truer insight.

Glamor has left life. We now believe in 'science.' Yet mankind cannot live with his/her own conclusions. For the etic/emic reality is this: we live not for ourselves, but for others. And therein rests the beauty of life. If 'science' is correct, and evolution is the foundation of life, then there is no beauty. It is all just chance - a cosmic roll of the dice.

Beauty exists. I know it - for I have seen it. Thus, I side with Aristophanes and Genesis. Simply look at one beautiful face - and you have seen the Truth.