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Memories of the 28th Century

Beauty and Ugliness

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The matter of unconscious communication came to mind again today. I was reading Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages by Umberto Eco, when I remembered that the best explanation for beauty among humans is as a sign of genetic superiority. If someone has healthy genes it shows up as healthy, well-proportioned features. Observations and measurements have shown that a woman whose waist measurement is 70% of her hip measurement is ideal in that way, I didn’t have anything to do with that study, but it accords with my observations; although I do not use a tape measure. There is more variation in upper body measurements, but the most interesting signs are seen in faces.

In addition, people look like what they are. I don’t know whether people’s faces change to look like their personality type, or if the two develop together, but people look like what they are. One man I know said, “By the time someone’s fifty he has the face he deserves. You born with one face, but you build your own over the years.” He may be right. A few months ago, we had a reunion of a university program I was in, and some people looked the same as they did some years ago, but there were others who looked like completely different people.

It runs counter to modern thought, but people who look wolfish (have a lean and hungry look) are wolfish, and I prefer to avoid them. People with piggish faces, fat and small eyed, are almost always like what they appear to be. And people who look humane and intelligent with a large forehead are almost always intelligent and humane. Subtle details such as the size and shape of the nose, the shape of the mouth and eyes, angle and shape of eyebrows, and so on.

This is a rather interesting subject, so I did a little internet search and learned that there is a lot of information out there, and some of it may be useful. (See links below) For all of the sites and information out there, there does not seem to be a good reference. And some of this seems downright silly.

A few weeks ago I read Eco’s On Ugliness, and that might have been more interesting, because beauty is pleasant and unremarkable, but ugly people tell a story of themselves on their faces, and the primary message seems to be “Beware”. The nasty, cruel man looks nasty and cruel, and shrews look shrewish. While beautiful people show evenness and pleasantness, the ugly show the specific problem, or problems, that they have. And I just recalled another way in which people show their problems, cowlicks. People normally have a hair whorl in the middle of the back of the head, but some people have it misplaced, or they have another cowlick (see link below) somewhere else, and that almost always shows a problem of some sort. The same is true of domestic animals, especially horses and cattle. If they have a misplaced whorl in their hair, then they will have a bad attitude, and they often become dangerous (see link below). And there are other differences that can be used as indicators of Schizophrenia (see link). Even the Feds think that strange cowlicks are to be considered: “Abnormally placed or absent scalp whorls have been associated with abnormal brain development.”

While ugliness may seem to be a subjective matter, the standards of beauty and ugliness are quite universal. Ugly people are not desirable, while beautiful people are desirable. The appropriate proportions are hardwired in our genes, which is where the errors that result in ugliness are also spelled out.

Much of the communications along the lines of beauty and ugliness seems to be subconscious. Yes, we realize that so-and-so is attractive, but the details of that attractiveness are fuzzy, at best. I wonder sometimes, if the subconscious isn’t analogous to a network administrator, someone who can watch what I am doing and watch how my computer is doing and watch what processes are going on in the background. Processes include the heart, metabolism, immune system, kidneys, digestion, and so on. I wonder if what I perceive when I think about such things is what my subconscious perceives, or does the subconscious have everything in front? And the subconscious is looking for threats, and threats would include people with anomalous cowlicks.

Further reading:
Reading faces

Cowlicks on horses

Cowlicks on people

Minor Physical Anomalies in Schizophrenic Patients and Normal Controls