Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Scruton on Faces

 

In The Soul of the World, Roger Scruton writes:

My face is … the part of me to which others direct their attention, whenever they address me as ‘you.’ I lie behind my face, and yet I am present in it, speaking and looking through it at a world of others who are in turn both revealed and concealed like me. My face is a boundary, a threshold, a place where I appear as the monarch appears on the balcony of the palace….

When I confront Mary face-to-face, I am not confronting a physical part of her, as I am when, for example, I look at her shoulder or her knee. I am confronting her, the individual center of consciousness, the free being who reveals herself in the face as another like me. Hence there are deceiving faces, but not deceiving elbows or knees….

The face occurs in the world of objects as though lit from behind. Hence it becomes the target and expression of our interpersonal attitudes, and looks, glances, smiles become the currency of our affections.

A prediction: In a month or two or three, when the world again opens up, it’ll be on the condition that we don masks in public. We may leave our houses to pursue communal life, but only if we take the necessary precautions. We may worship again, but only if we hide ourselves behind cloth and gauze. Scarves and surgical masks will become our burqas and niqabs.

For months, and maybe years, hence, the specter of the pandemic will float over our civilization, every blank expanse of turquoise mask-flesh reminding us that something has gone terribly wrong. The currency of our affections, like the currency in our wallets, will have run out.

Only in the domestic sphere will we enjoy a fully human existence, free of the burdens imposed by the current crisis. Such snatches of normalcy will bring joy to a lucky few — and burning envy to all the rest.

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  1. philo Member

    Kephalithos: [Scruton] “The face occurs in the world of objects as though lit from behind. Hence it becomes the target and expression of our interpersonal attitudes, and looks, glances, smiles become the currency of our affections.”

    I would argue most of this is more specifically the eyes and, with ever larger and darker fashions in sunglasses (and poor manners), we have been living this world for quite some time.

    • #1
    • April 5, 2020, at 7:07 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  2. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce Caward Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    That’s poignant. I wonder how much communication has been affected by so much interaction between people these days is through texts and multi media; we allow emojis to be our faces.

    • #2
    • April 5, 2020, at 7:44 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor

    We may be called to wear masks for a while, but I don’t think it will last. We will have such a longing for human connection, that people will gradually “reveal” themselves and hope that others will do the same. We will have been isolated for too long, and the need to “see” each other will be greater than the desire to be safe.

    • #3
    • April 5, 2020, at 9:12 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Michael Brehm Member

    Finally, a chance to break out this puppy!

    • #4
    • April 6, 2020, at 2:04 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. SecondBite Member

    Michael Brehm (View Comment):

    Finally, a chance to break out this puppy!

    Or this one: iu (2000×1000)

    • #5
    • April 6, 2020, at 2:13 PM PDT
    • Like
  6. Henry Castaigne Member

    Kephalithos: For months, and maybe years, hence, the specter of the pandemic will float over our civilization, every blank expanse of turquoise mask-flesh reminding us that something has gone terribly wrong. The currency of our affections, like the currency in our wallets, will have run out.

    If you are sniffly. It is decent and fair to wear a mask to avoid contaminating other people. It’s just good manners and the Asians have been doing it for decades without their societies collapsing.

    • #6
    • April 8, 2020, at 6:35 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.