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Holding a Mirror

[First published in PhotoStatic #33, November, 1988.]

What is the significance of my face?

When I look in the mirror I see the familiar configuration of flesh and bone which form my features. I see my usual eyes, blue eyes with a starburst of yellow in them. I see my forehead, cheeks, nose, and mouth. I see a batch of white hair above my forehead. I see one ear on either side of my head.

Yeah, that's me.

But what is the significance of my face? I mean, aside from its purely utilitarian value, why have the forces of evolution or God or the imps of nature given me this particular face and no other? Does this configuration of the usual features reflect more truly what I really am? (I speak here of the "I" which exists behind my eyes and between my ears. I have never had my "I" in any other part of my body.) Is there a correlation of some sort between my face and my personality? Can the kind of person I am be discerned from a look at my face? Is the physical form I have assumed merely a cloth draped over an invisible structure?

I think, in a general sense, that the answer is yes. Certain "types" of people do exist and you can spot them in a glance. You look at a face; you gather impressions about that person, categorize them according to some instant classification system of which you are barely aware.

Now, this article will not go into great detail explaining the relationships between physical appearance and personality type. That sort of thing bores me. And besides, I see text as an interactive form. One in which the reader contributes as much to the subject at hand (or in his hands) as I do. So the whole business of proving or disproving my theory about appearance and personality?delineating the discreet relationship between the inner and outer man, if you will?falls on your shoulders, not mine. I have come up with the idea. It is for you to complete this article by reacting to it.

And that is, ultimately, how all text works. The reader either accepts or rejects what he reads. He is not a sponge which indiscriminately sops up a message from the words. He is not a stone wall off which the words bounce without effect. He interacts with them, absorbs them, digests them, and finally, well, I don't want to carry this biological analogy too far. But the reader does finally give something back.

So see if I am right in what I say about appearance and personality. Take a mirror and look into it. What do you see? Why do you see it? What don't you see? What clues does your face give you about your Self? How can you identify those clues?

In a sense, you are already holding a mirror in your hands.

--Thomas Wiloch