Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Rake

Because of all the heavy rain lately I had to do some emergency paving on the driveway to stop the car getting bogged. I thought in addition to a shovel and wheelbarrow, a rake might be of use. I opened the shed and the rake was there in his 16th century clothing as expected. I asked him if he could help me with the paving.

He said "Kind sir do I take your meaning to be, that you wish me to pick up a spade and engage in common labour as though I were a gentleman of Nigerian heritage?"

I said "Easy on the metaphors there."

So he said "Nay, I contend this fad of political correctness poxing our society is the enemy of expressions of wit. So too does such a fad hound the scientific truths of Physiognomy. I will have none of such conceptual musings."

I said "Hmm, I see your point."

He said "My expectations were that you would sir."

I said "So you're not going to help."

He said "I believe I made that intention clear. Now good day, I have some fornication to attend to."

So I did the paving myself. No, it's not crooked, it's called heritage, rustic charm.

Physiognomy (judging a personas character on their facial features) dates back as far as the 2nd century. Aristotle makes frequent references to the theory and Pythagoras is recorded as having rejected a prospective student (named Cylon like in Battlestar Galactica!) because of his appearance, which Pythagoras deemed indicative of bad character. In the Middle Ages it fell into disrepute due to it being used as a tool by vagabonds and swindlers.
With the renascence, physiognomy experienced a widespread acceptance throughout the educated world (and quite rightly too!) which escalated into the early 20th century. From 1936 to 1945 a physiognomist named Yoshito Mizuno was employed by the Imperial Japanese Naval Aeronautics Department, examining candidates for the Naval Air Corps, after it was discovered that he could predict with over 80% accuracy the qualifications of candidates to become successful pilots.

The growing trend of political correctness and avoidance of stereotyping people based on their ethnicity in the later decades of the 20th century, ironically, stereotyped all physiognomy believers as racists.

Recently however, new research has emerged revealing the effects of hormone levels, not only on behaviour, but also on facial feature development. Chemicals that alter the brain also leave a mark on our features.

A February 2009 article in the New Scientist reported that: "...the field is undergoing something of a revival. Researchers around the world are re-evaluating what we see in a face, investigating whether it can give us a glimpse of someone's personality or even help to shape their destiny."

So remember if someone has weaselly looks they probably act that way, and if you look like a pig it's because you have distinctly hoglike traits.

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