Jules van Schaijik
#1, Mar 25, 2012 10:56am
These are rich ideas that I would like to learn more about. I'm especially interested in Levinas' ideas about the human face, and the role it plays in ethics and human relationships. Do you know of a good place to start? (I've googled around a little bit, and it seems as if his thoughts on the subject are scattered throughout his works.)
Also, I am wondering if it is right to say that the human face bears one message only. Is it not possible to present a "armoured" or "fighting" or just "closed" face? Perhaps Hillman means that even underneath all these facial poses, a basic vulnerability and desire to be affirmed always shines through (to a loving and perceptive observer).
Anyways, thanks for this thought provoking post.
#2, Mar 25, 2012 11:40am
Look for the "The Levinas Reader". You can click to look inside the book and under search put down 82. This will bring you to 3 pages of Levinas dealing with the face. Hillman references "Difficult Freedom" and a work in French.
"Perhaps Hillman means that even underneath all these facial poses, a basic vulnerability and desire to be affirmed always shines through (to a loving and perceptive observer)."
And that's exactly what Hillman does mean about Melville's observation of Queegueg. He sets up this point in an earlier quote: "Good heavens! What a face!" But then Ishmael looks again and sees more deeply-thence the above quote.
Indeed Hillman mentions many other messages of the face, including using our face to decieve. There's so much that people want to hide, particularly the aging face through cosmetic surgery. But we do it, if I'm reading Hillman correctly, at the price of failing to offer a precious gift to the younger generation-the courage to allow the fault lines in their faces to be seen.
#3, Mar 26, 2012 7:05am
Ah, thank you. Now I understand the reason for the quote about Queegueg's face.
Like I said above, you've opened up a new personalist perspective, for me, on the question of make-up and plastic surgery. While both seem legitimate up to a point, and in certain cases, there is no question that they often have a depersonalizing reflect. They hide rather than reveal the person, and so, in a way, contradict our vocation in the world. The colder and 'impersonal' the world becomes, the more prevalent these things become.