She’s Not Just a Pretty FaceBy Richard Cox
January 26, 2010
A few weeks ago I was watching Planet of the Apes, the original version, circa 1968, for the first time in many years. It’s a movie you can only enjoy fully one time because of the famous concluding scene, the Big Surprise. I was streaming it on Netflix and only half-watching, at least until the point where our confused astronauts encounter a tribe of wild humans. One of those humans turns out to be a woman who eventually becomes Nova. Like all the wild humans, Nova can’t speak, and mainly she’s there to look pretty.
And boy, did she.
In fact, Nova was so astronomically hot that I had no choice but perform a little Google magic and find out more about her. Her name is Linda Harrison if you’re interested. She was born the same year as my father, and was married for ten years to 20th Century Fox studio boss Richard Z. Zanuck.
I know I’m not the only guy who Googles pretty actresses, but I would guess these searches are typically for women from the present day. I suppose the idea is to imagine for a few minutes what it might be like to meet the girl, or more precisely her face plastered on the character she played in the film you just saw, before you return to reality. In this case, however, the face I was searching for didn’t really exist anymore. The film is forty-one years old.
I think a lot about this, about attraction, and why it so heavily depends on looks. I understand generally the science behind attraction, and it’s easy to watch it in practice. Fair or not, it’s the first thing you notice about a person. If you’re looking at a photograph it’s perhaps the only thing you’ll notice. If you’re in a bar or at a party, and you see someone across the room, do you notice their personality? Do you notice their vocabulary or how well-read they are? Not likely. Not at first.
It’s not honest to say attraction to physical beauty makes you shallow or superficial. If all you care about is a person’s looks, then yes, it probably does mean that. But the reality is, as far as we’ve come from the trees, despite of all the amazing knowledge we’ve amassed, we’re still easily led around by the more primitive side of our brains. Intellectually, any of us can understand that the color of a person’s eyes, the shape of her nose, the thickness of her eyebrows, the curve of her hips…none of these things have anything to do with her personality. Or actually they probably do, but not necessarily in the way you might hope.
Women often claim that looks don’t matter to them the way they do to men. But they nevertheless notice the shape of a man, the way he moves, his posture, the physical presence he strikes. In the modern world, a man’s confidence and stature have little to do with his ability to protect a woman from danger, but that matters little. The ancient brain responds to these cues even when we recognize them as irrelevant.
In a forum such as this one, an online literary magazine, where words matter more than a 100-pixel wide avatar, attraction arises from other sources. The first thing you notice is not smooth skin or bright blue eyes, but a person’s sense of humor, their proficiency and creativity with language, with the subjects they choose to write about. Or the wittiness and insight of their comments. These are criteria by which we can mostly agree make for better friendships and romances, right?
And yet, when you meet an online friend in person, the physical personality doesn’t always match the online version. Invariably something is lost in translation.
I believe it’s easier to find an intellectually compatible friend or partner online because of the way we aggregate, the way we’re drawn to sites and concepts important to us. The opportunities are simply greater in number, and there aren’t many comparable ways to meet similarly in person. But because our ancient brains still cling to the importance of physical presence—even though modern technological society has rendered the survival benefits of beauty and strength largely obsolete—we can’t quite make full use of the impressive social benefits of the Internet.
But things are changing. Think about how much time you spend on the Internet today versus five years ago, or ten. Our social customs and behaviors don’t advance as quickly as technology, but they will eventually catch up. And when you consider how our physical world is really just information, elementary particles arranged in a certain way, how much of a leap would it be for your consciousness to reside in the computer itself?
As far as the universe is concerned, there’s not much difference between you and the air in front of you. Your body is made of higher density matter, more organization, but you, who you are, the concept of self…that’s a human construct. If you honestly believe physical beauty is only skin deep, that the essence of a person is his mind and personality, then the absence of a body might prove to be the ultimate expression of that idea.
Are you ready to make that leap?
Did you just see Avatar, Dickie?
I did. But I’ve also been writing a novel for the past couple of years that uses a similar concept but places it in the real world and explores the philosophical side a bit more.
And, you know, I wanted to post a picture of a hot girl. Ah, the halcyon days of MySpace blogs!!1!HiSharri!!!111
Interesting piece, Richard. (And, of course, love the art.)
Physical attractiveness is not static. Someone might look exactly the same, but the degree to which you know them, and how you then feel about them pro or con, colors their attractiveness. This is true of people you know personally, and people you only know from hearing about them. Mel Gibson, for example, while older, doesn’t look all that different from when he was People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive. And yet that was before the religious movies, the public drunkenness, the anti-Semitic remarks, and so forth, which colors our perception of him.
Also: what really attracts us to someone else is not physical appearance as such, but sex appeal, which is a combination of physical appearance, personality, and a certain je ne sais quoi. Examples of people who are sexy but not conventionally handsome/pretty abound, from Mick Jagger to Lady Gaga.
Funny that you posted today, as I’m reading Rift now.
Wait – no – I’m reading Rift!
See? We’re both reading it.
Doubly awesome. A thousand thanks to you. Please let me know your thoughts.
Rift is an amazing book. Ballsy. Would say more but would hate to spoil anything.
Thanks, dude. I think you are that novel’s biggest fan.
Absolutely. The totality of attraction includes looks and sex appeal and intelligence and personality and so on. But it does begin with the physical form, whether in person or in an image. And we haven’t even discussed the affect of Photoshop on the reality of beauty.
You’re reading Rift? Thank you. That novel is my first unintentional homage to Philip K. Dick. I’ve learned a few things since then.
Just as it’s very easy to see naked people in this day and age — unlike the last four thousand years, when you had to either visit a brothel or wait till your wedding day — it’s also easy to get bombarded by images of beauty — and much of that beauty is airbrushed and Photoshopped. It must wreak havoc on our collective standards, the quest for perfection. It’s can’t be good.
Re: RIFT. They’re on a golf course in Phoenix now.
I think people underestimate the social ramifications of Internet porn. It’s too easy to make the analogy of a rat pushing the cocaine button, but there it is anyway. If you’re one of these addicted one-handed computer studs, how do you propose to carry on a healthy sexual relationship unless you find yourself a nymphomaniac?
A golf course in Phoenix. Hahaha. I always forget about that. Write what you know, I guess.
Very interesting. I think about this stuff alot. How, say, here on TNB, for example,
actual relationships exist. Greg and I were discussing this – I was complaining that I felt like
I’ve been spending too much time in my online world lately – feeling like it’s make-believe or pretend.
But, he assured me that upon meeting some TNB people in the flesh that the relationships he has made here have actually seamlessly translated to real life.
I like to think of the online closeness we can feel toward others to be not unlike
what it might be like in the afterlife. Maybe? Just ideas and feelings floating around bouncing
off other ideas and feelings.
BTW, I just started your book RIFT – digging it!
I’ve made the jump from social networks to RealSpace several times, with almost all good results. If you meet honest and transparent online friends, I think it usually works out. But there is the occasional exception. And then there are the online stalkers. I had one once that would blow your mind. So many online aliases that I could only guess at the person’s true identity. But it was great fun using the Internet to track her (him?) down.
I don’t know if I believe in the afterlife, but if there isn’t a real one, I’m totally willing to try immortality inside my computer.
Zara, Simon, Duke and Lenore all exceed the RealSpace jump, I’d say.
Simon, did you steal “aw shucks” from me? (I’m lately developing the kind of paranoia in which all roads lead back to my brain, as per Zara’s compound.) Anyway: Aw shucks, Matt.
You can borrow ‘Jinkers’ if you like. It works well for me..
Wait. Didn’t I use “jinkers” first?
NO!!!! Jinkers is mine!! All mine!!!!
Sorry kids, I’m the Jinker King now. I bought the rights. I dub thee Jinkerites.
Is saying jinkers a form of jingoism?
I compliment you guys and you start fighting about it. Don’t make me come over there, kids!
Duke: not that I know of. I think it may have been an independent dual discovery.
I think you should change your name to Simon Synchronicity.
Hmmm. There has to be a portmanteau in there somewhere. Simon Synchrosmithity?
I knew it, SS. I knew it. Like meat on a hook in a croc pit.
Teppanyaki crocodile is delicious.
Regarding immortality inside the computer – an old boyfriend of mine was killed last summer on his bike and his facebook page is still active. All of us (who miss him) joke and kind of believe that his soul spends some time on that page. Especially when facebook asks you to write on his
way and “reconnect with him”. We’ve used it as a memorial page – I like to think maybe he reads his wall sometimes – if I’m wrong – I’m wrong – but I like to think it anyway.
sorry that nested weirdly – whatever…
You might be right. I hope you are. And you have every reason to think and hope he reads the page.
Someone made a memorial Facebook page for a girl I graduated with but didn’t know, and for whatever reason I don’t care to receive the “reconnect with her” notifications. But I suppose if she had been my friend, I’d think about it the way you do.
Hopefully this isn’t insensitive, but I found it interesting: Death Book
wow, no – not insensitive at all. thank you for the link.
I guess for some who know they are dying it gives a peace
of mind to get your online stuff in order too.
I don’t think I’d be likely to set-up a posthumous birthday greeting or anything though – yeeesh.
Given it all comes down to energy, mostly, I don’t know about reading the page (as that would necessitate some physicality), but there’s got to be some dynamic interaction with it. We can’t destroy energy, after all, only change it in form, so part of his energy lingers to change with yours.
thank you, Will.
I do feel him sometimes – I just do.
He’s gone from here – but something real remains.
I remember a debate that once bounced around our friendship group; how much personality matters and in what context. One of us dropped a cannonball on the discussion of one-night stands by saying ‘Hey, look – you can’t have sex with a personality.’
Which was a salient point.
There’s actually meant to be a science to attraction, isn’t there? Certain ratios and facial features; I know that symmetry is supposed to be a characteristic of more attractive faces.
But, as Greg says, it’s not just the car you’re driving, it’s the fuel you put in it. Personality goes a very long way.
That is a great point.
But as you mention, it’s the confluence of factors that ultimately drives attraction. Where all the factors come together is where magic begins, but unfortunately that doesn’t happen as often as Hollywood would have us believe.
Let’s also not forget our other senses here too – smell and taste.
Which I think play a big part. We see someone that makes our brain go “ding ding ding – we have a winner” – and then get closer – their scent can draw you in even closer.
And then there’s the kiss – which cinches the deal, really.
Really, we’re not attracted to anyone we wouldn’t want to put our mouth on.
Oh yes. The Kiss.
It’s all important.
Is there anything better than a fantastically good kiss? I think not.
To me – there’s nothing better.
And that’s when you know.
You certainly do. The magic has to be there the very first time.
Agreed on all counts.
I will forever be indebted to my first girlfriend for teaching me how to kiss properly. And yes, I can remember each one of my really good kisses.
“The kiss originated when the first male reptile licked the first female reptile, implying in a subtle, complimentary way that she was as succulent as the small reptile he had for dinner the night before.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
But you’re right, Stephie…smell, especially, is oh so important. I dare say it’s THE most important factor, actually, in the final analysis.
Still cries at a good film. Still kisses with saliva. Calm, fitter, happier, and more productive.
Smell is pretty important, Greg. But speaking personally, it’s all in the kiss for me. If the teeth bang together, or it’s too sloppy or weak lipped, then I don’t care if he smells like heaven. It’s a deal breaker!
Oh man – I hate the teeth bang or the slobber.
And of course, it goes without saying, smell alone does not do it for me.
But it can draw you in. Or make you run for the hills.
I think the kiss is the one thing you can’t really learn to improve with someone. If it isn’t there at the beginning, that’s pretty much it. Most other things you can grow together with, but for some reason it seems everything resides on that first kiss. And that seems like a lot of pressure, but if it’s the right person, the last thing you do is worry.
I should go on the record here and add that I’m not attracted to my wife solely because of the way she smells. (Although she does smell nice).
But when I cast my memory back to how it was when I was single, many moons ago, I recall being put off by how certain people smelled. Not that they smelled bad. They just didn’t smell right.
Exactly right Richrob. It’s got to be there at the first second.
And it’s not just the kiss, it’s the tilt of the head, the pressure, and the hands too. Hands are very important in a good kiss. You definitely want hand participation.
“You definitely want hand participation.”
Words to live by in all situations, I’d say.
Gee, way to make something beautiful sound smutty, Matt! Thanks a lot!
What I should have said is HAND PLACEMENT. Scratch participation. My bad.
Hey, I was serious! We get so caught up in our telephones and emails and other forms of electronic intermediaries that we lose sight of how important–and telling–a simple touch can be. The way a person shakes your hand, holds your hand, hugs you or, yes, caresses you says a great deal about them, and for me at least can really be a factor in the attractiveness/sexual chemistry part of things.
The fingertip may not be the most sensetive part of the human body, but it’s up there.
Oh okay then. I take it back!
I’ve thought about this as well. Do I even want to meet my online friends? Could they live up to the coolness they project online? Are they being honest about themselves? Are they crazy crackheads? Would they roll me like a drunk on the subway?
Sometimes fantasy is as important as reality (like my torrid imaginary affair with Clive Own), but I’m very interested to meet TNBers, as it would be like heaven on Earth if everyone DID live up. Besides, even when you meet someone in real life, you never really know him/her. We only know what people want us to know.
And I could make the argument that smell (pheromones) has more to do with attraction than looks, but you’re right about looks being important. It’s just not always the most important.
I was going to add that, Ducky – that pheromones is part of that smell phenomenon.
which is why I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate aftershave or men’s cologne.
I will, however, strongly endorse Old Spice Swagger.
I hate to admit this, but I am sucker for good old fashioned Polo cologne.
I also used to date a drummer, and I loved the way his pits smelled after a show. (He thought I was sick. It didn’t work out. Obviously.)
Well, I’m never one to turn down a good pit – especially drummer pit –
throw in Old Spice Swagger and I’m toast.
Certainly the first time I’ve ever heard this phrase spoken in English: “Well, I’m never one to turn down a good pit – especially drummer pit.”
A rotten personality can really ruin someone hot though.
Just like you can not be attracted to someone initially and then you get
to know that person and then suddenly you’d like to jump that person.
That can happen.
The second one has always fascinated me. How you can look at someone one day and see just a person, and the next day they are your obsession. Fickle, isn’t it?
Yeah. I agree, Stephanie. Talent and sense of humor can go a long way.
Great piece, Richrob.
Funnily enough, I have been thinking about this very subject over the past couple of days.
It’s interesting, as Greg says, how behaviour can influence the way you see someone. I once thought my ex was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen, but after 10 years and a shitty breakup, when I see him now, I don’t find him at all attractive.
But I do think looks are important. They do draw you to people. Maybe I’m shallow, but I like to like the way a person looks.
And I concur with Greg and Steph above – I am amazed at how seamless the friendships I have made online here at TNB have translated into the real world. I’m awed at the fact that when I have met people from this site they are better in person that I ever imagined. Isn’t life brilliant?
Thanks, Zara. It is quite interesting how attraction evolves over time, in one direction or another. In this piece I tried to isolate pure physical attraction, but it’s never that simple, is it? Our perception of beauty can never be divorced from personality, at least once we get to know that person.
Life is brilliant. It doesn’t always seem that way, but it is.
Very thought provoking! Actually, though, there’s a great argument, which I can’t fully make because I don’t completely grasp the science behind it, but basically it says that our personalities are much more “physical” than you might think … that much of what we consider to be thoughts or emotions are still just chemical reactions (physical reactions) in our brains, so … I’m not sure about what would happen if we could transfer our consciousness into a computer.
Also, I was aware of my husband online before we met (we were both regulars in a certain online gaming group), but we weren’t really friends at the time. When we met in person for the first time, there was an outrageous spark, so we were obviously interested in one another at that point. But we lived pretty much on opposite sides of the country, so we spent the next several months getting to know each other via phone calls, e-mail and online chats with the occasional visit (It was all really cheesy and romantic b/c we were both pretty broke and spend all our money on plane tickets to see each other.) Anyway, I think that combination made for a pretty solid relationship.
One of the most complex problems of approximating human consciousness is the emotional component of decision making. The brain is certainly a computer, but the interconnectedness of its neurons is far more complex than what goes on inside a Pentium chip. A Pentium chip calculates many, many times faster than the human mind, but is limited by its simpler structure.
But that won’t always be the case. And the chemical interactions you mention are ultimately just information being shared between molecules, which (barring humanity’s prior destruction) we’ll eventually decipher. So where uploading your brain into a computer is concerned, it’s not a question of if so much as when.
I love the story of you meeting your husband. To me that’s a beautiful and perfect outcome of the Internet. Even though TMZ.com gets more press. 😉
Eek! SSE. I was thinking of neuron interconnectivity for the first time in years yesterday, as I was the idea of information being shared between molecules.
Get out of my head, Cox!
So…you’ve got Cox on the brain, then?
(Godammit, why can’t I stop this?)
I can feel a double dick joke coming on.
Yes, I said “coming on.”
I’m really having a ball with this conversation.
You guys are such dicks.
Forgive my inserting myself into a private conversation but perhaps you shouldn’t be so hardon them….
At this point I think everyone’s privates are fair game.
I’m afraid I just can’t get down on this.
Then I guess you need to suck it up.
Don’t just pull out of the conversation. I know it seems hard but it’s all in your head. You can beat it!
I ‘spose I can harden up.
A stiff drink may help.
Beware the dreaded whiskey dick.
Much as I would love to keep this up, I’m afraid I’m spent and still have a long, hard drive home stretching out before me. Granted, I may be a few minutes premature, but this corporate life just fucking rubs me raw.
Maybe if you came a little sooner next time, you’d be able to avoid the chafing of your obligations.
it’s not the length of the comments on the comment board but the width of their appeal!
i was so dangling here – in the wind. was it that bad?
One might even say that your comment got dicked over.
I guess my comment didn’t have that certaine “je ne sais quoi”.
No need to get testy.
Steph: but it had plenty of jeans en quoit.
It’s just not fair to leave a girl hanging – it’s only fair – we have needs too.
Steph: the only thing hung around here is…you know what? I’m not gonna go there.
My apologies, Stephanie. Didn’t mean to stiff you.
That’s so cute, Mary.
Looks are certainly important, and anyone who says otherwise is a fool, but the standard by which they matter is intriguingly plastic, and beyond that, entirely subjective from person to person. A generation ago Marilyn Monroe, with all her softness and curves, was considered the zenith of female beauty, but one doesn’t often see women of her body type being touted on the covers of today’s magazines. A pretty fair amount of women I know have said that while Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp were pretty boys back in the day, the age lines the last ten years or so have added to their faces have just made them more handsome, instead of less so. (I feel the same way about Julianne Moore, myself).
I entertain myself sometimes by fantasizing that succeeding generations will look back on our current “standard” of beauty–with all of the plastic surgery that’s come with it–and shudder.
Entirely subjective, but not irrelevant. And that’s the rub. Whether you find her attractive or not, I do, but am I judging her fairly or making poor decisions with my ancient brain?
I had a bit about plastic surgery in there that I cut. I think of plastic surgery as a sort of transition technology between our old world bodies and what we might become in the electronic realm. Pushing pixels around is a lot easier than knitting bone and skin. If the physical form was no longer relevant, there’d be no need for plastic surgery.
P.S. Ms. Harrison, pictured above, was famous in generally the same era as Marilyn Monroe, but her look is far closer to today’s standards. No doubt contributing to my entirely superficial, short-lived fascination with her.
Two words: Christina Hendricks.
Two more words: fuck, yes.
Though to be fair, she has mentioned that she gained a bit of weight for her role on Mad Men. She was skinnier during her appearances on Firefly, but still sexy as all hell.
Damn I love a redhead.
I always worry about the jump from online to real life. Part of the reason I’ve never used an online dating service is because I’m afraid I’ll disappoint in person.
It’s much easier to be witty on the page. You have more time to ponder your comebacks. And it’s certainly easier to appear better-looking. Only choosing the best photos, fudging your physical statistics, etc.
But who’s to say that our online personalities aren’t more authentic? That they aren’t the crystallization of what we’d really be like if nerves were factored out of the equation?
I think the jump is nerve-wracking for anyone, but it’s made far worse by online exaggeration. None of us can help that we’re better writers than conversation-makers, but photographic and statistical lies are deal-breakers the first time you meet someone in person.
But the questions in your last paragraph have fascinated me for years now. I think it’s time to reevaluate the very nature of what we believe constitutes a “relationship.”
i don’t have much to add here – looks are important but personality is more important. and by this i mean that looks and personality must both be at an acceptable level for attraction to occur. and in my experience, as soon as that attraction is verbally confirmed, it ceases to exist.
nah, kidding, lust is forever.
i google pretty women way more often than i google pretty men. attraction makes no sense to me. i wish i never became attracted to people. that would make my life much cooler.
i’m babbling, but it’s cause i liked this post.
I totally missed this comment. I agree of course that the combination of looks and personality is where it’s at. But I’m even more interested to hear you Google pretty women. I mean you guys are just more fun to look at. Seems like everyone can agree on that one.
I tried Internet dating awhile back, and it’s funny how what you suggest in your essay kinda goes both ways. I gave the benefit of the doubt to someone who wrote incredible emails and was great to chat with on the phone. On our first in-person date, it wasn’t his appearance that let me down, rather it was the fact that without the distance and remove of a computer, the guy wasn’t able to maintain the articulate awesomeness (heh, ouch…articulate awesomeness…how’s *that* for awesome, speaking of articulate) of his online persona.
So, much like we suss out people physically if we first see them then get to know them, I think (at least in my experience) developing an online relationship, be in intimate, professional and friendly, has its pitfalls. Sure, someone can write something charming and great, but can they say those things to your face (never mind the chemistry of how he or she feels about your live in-person face itself)?
Interesting questions, though…
I know what you mean about the articulate awesomeness. Marni mentioned something similar above. And while I agree with her questions about how to define a relationship, the fact remains that for the time being, if you want to participate in a relatively normal one, you’re going to have to see that person live. And if you’ve ever spent a perfect evening with someone, you know well the magic that emerges from the personal interaction. That doesn’t mean you have to be a NFL quarterback/stand-up comedian/Casanova. It just means your personality and physical presence, whatever it is, should fit well with the potential partner. It’s not complicated, really. Just rare.
I’m notoriously a sucker for a pretty face, but I don’t necessarily that makes me, or others like me, superficial. Physique contains information about personality. You can tell, to some degree, how intelligent a person is simply by looking at them — or you can if you’re observant. A reflective quality comes through, just as other qualities are worn unwittingly on the face and elsewhere: extroversion, vanity, vulgarity, athleticism, timidity, and so on, and their opposites. I think we take in far more information at first glance than we’re consciously aware, even from photos.
Oh, and I’ve heard it said by other contributors at TNB (but never by me — oh, no!) that looks play a part in what gets read and what doesn’t, so even in a literary forum, it isn’t simply a matter of words.
As for Linda Harrison, I didn’t know she was married to Daryl Zanuck, but that makes sense. I have a thing for sixties chicks, and Harrison always reminded me of Daria Halprin, the star of Zabriskie Point:
That film sounds interesting. Thanks for the link. Plus it gives me an excuse to watch something with Linda Harrison in it again.
And you’re right about detecting personality and other attributes from looks. In most cases you can recognize intelligence and grace by the way someone carries herself, but you can occasionally be fooled.
Surely readers here don’t base their choices on the tiny images we post. I get it, sure, but the pics are so small and usually in such poor relief that you could Photoshop them to look like anything. And a hot, shitty writer doesn’t sound very interesting to me. It sounds like Paris Hilton, actually. Well, she isn’t even hot. Scratch that.
Hey, there are no shitty writers at TNB. Come on, man, let’s show some patriotism!
But, seriously, it takes very little to activate the superficial gene, including a picture smaller than a postage stamp. And while the girl I mentioned isn’t technically Linda Harrison, she’s in the ballpark. She was briefly married to Dennis Hopper, who, I was told the other day, is going to die any second now. Man, I thought Dennis Hopper, much like Keith Richards, could survive anything.
I agree and disagree with this post. But it’s a good post. It made me wonder.
And I can’t even really put my finger on my disagreement with the post. It’s complicated, and only opinion driven on my part. You present a fair argument for the evolution of seeking beauty.
I’d love to hear it. I find the subject fascinating, and a dissenting opinion would only serve to further the discussion.
Nice post. I think part of the tension here is that physical beauty is only a small part of appearance. You mention confidence and the way one moves; there are certain people who have that je ne sais quois (sp? I really only use the one tongue well. It’s normally sufficient). But you ask “If you see someone across the room, do you notice their personality?” Which can have a number of implications. I mean, you can’t see someone’s personality except in that particular moment of action; in other words, a guy’s offering his seat to a girl versus his ordering a drink at the bar is going to demonstrate different aspects of personality, and that’s all you’ll see for that moment of that personality.
On the other hand, just your looking demonstrates something, doesn’t it? How many people have that personality that stands out in a crowd?
Ultimately it probably depends on values and mental erogenous zones–that is, whatever turns you on. Some men might be more turned on by a pierced navel while others might go gaga over a pair of glasses. Ditto, some women.
How about a pierced navel and a pair of glasses. Now we’re talking.
But you’re absolutely right. I simplified to physical beauty because I was also thinking about the pictures we post on Facebook and the like, but even then you can detect something about a personality from the types of photos posted.
I’d like to get into the mind of a woman for one day to see how she evaluates the men she sees in a day. I bet that would be eye opening. And a little scary.
Two things about that: I think it’s a mistake to assume women think differently from men, as it would be a mistake to assume all women think alike (or all men think alike, for that matter). Getting into the mind of a woman might open your eyes about how she thinks, but not about how women think. To attempt any conclusions concerning that, I’d want a sample of at least a thousand or so, I think.
Just for the sake of thoroughness, of course.
In this case I disagree. While yes, all women are unique and will think about individual circumstances in their own way (and the same with men), I believe there are commonalities in each gender that would be useful to understand better. If you poll 100 men and 100 women about a certain question, I believe you would certainly find more commonality within genders, rather than there being no trends whatsoever.
Again, not saying that all women or all men think alike. There are wide variations within genders, particularly when you consider people of ambiguous sexual identification. But I believe strongly that women as a gender approach the world in a way that’s different than men, and vice versa. Certainly you can see the effect of this in everyday life. Why do you think there are fiction genres that appeal to respective genders?
Finally, from a statistical point of view, yes a large sample size would be required. I was just making the point in a general way, rather than go into the math.
I also disagree.
When I look around the room, I can say with a very high degree of “hits,” exactly which women the other men will find attractive. I can say “this girl over here is not my cuppa, but she will drive certain guys WILD.”
When I look around at the guys, I can not in any way say the same thing. I actually asked women this once, a sort of unscientific experiment…and the results (i.e. what guys were defined as “attractive” to women) were completely stochastic…essentially random. You couldn’t even qualify gross physical deformities.
So I think women and men DO think in different ways, about physical attractiveness. Not that I can offer more than that basic statement.
[…] Richard Cox knows what’s […]
Good analysis, Dick.
I had fun over in the cricket vs baseball discussion copying and pasting from drafts. Here’s one of my characters holding forth:
“You know how it is when you get naked with somebody for the first time? Usually it’s at night, right? Usually there’s not much light, maybe candles or a lamp turned down low. Nobody’s gonna say Hey, turn up every goddam light and let’s get naked. No way. Damned if I know why women do it like that. Maybe they want to make sure that first look isn’t too clear. Makes sense to me. Don’t know that I want to be checked out too close the first time either.
There was none of that bullshit modesty you sometimes see with women who are proud of their bodies but don’t want to say so. Why not? If it’s nice, it’s nice. If not, not. See, I don’t care all that much. If I’m going to get it on with a woman it’s because I want to, and she wants to, and if everybody wants to, well then you work with what you have, right? Both of you. I’m not saying if I had a choice that I’d turn down a beautiful woman for one who wasn’t. It’s just that it’s what you do with it that counts. I know guys who worry about their dick size say that same thing, like defensively, but I mean it in general, you know? Sex is two people getting it on together. If it’s not getting it on together than you might as well be jacking off over some fuck book.”
Surprise! My sentiments exactly.
Excellent insight there. Although the light never bothered me. Candles and low light are more romantic in general, but if it’s under the noon sun at the equator, well, that’s okay with me, too.
I was in this bar once with a group of people, one of who was a girl I was really, really into at the time – I mean that crazy, amour fou kind of into (at least, I guess I thought it was at the time). And this bar had a predilection for setting out candles and dimming the lights way, way down – so it was only by accident that I discovered how much I like seeing the faces of people I like by candlelight, to the point where, the next time I really fell hard for someone, one of the situations I really wanted to bring about was to see her face by candlelight.
Candlelight is your best friend as you get older…
I also think it’s easier to find an intellectually compatible friend or partner online because for shy people, like myself, it is much easier to get to know people in this manner.
For example: I’m convinced my husband and I never would have married had we not exchanged email addresses. We worked together and had gone on lunch and dinner dates, but I could barely get a word out. I would just sit there, turning splotchy and red, unable to open up. Once we started chatting via computer and got to know each other better, I calmed down.
Physical attraction definitely has to be a part of the relationship. I know I’m not the only woman who has looked at a picture of a creepy old rich guy and a young hot girl, shuddered, and whispered, “Never. I would never do that for money.”
I mentioned recently after my friend Gloria’s first TNB piece that I am aware that men don’t want to fuck my beautiful soul. I get it. But I truly believe a beautiful soul can make someone attractive in the eyes of another if they take the time to get to know them. And back when I was dating, no matter how pretty the guy was on the outside, nothing would turn me off faster than ugly on the inside. I can’t even do that for one night.
Nova/Linda Harrison is gorgeous in the above picture, like a little fairy-girl or something. She looks like she might sprout wings and fly away to sit on a mushroom or something.
I’m such a girl. I don’t want to make out with her, I just want to put her on a unicorn.
Agreed on the shyness factor with regard to online communication. With no real data to back me up, I think shy people tend to be better writers because they prefer to communicate that way. So the Internets probably appeal more to those people, at least the social networking aspect, and thus email and comment boards and the like become their watering hole. A place to bullshit with friends or meet a possible lover.
These days, I honestly can’t imagine getting to know someone without email or IM. It’s too easy to communicate that way, and, for me at least, I would want to know the person could express themselves somewhat capably in the written word. So yes, writers and shy people and creative types in general are probably somewhat predisposed to gravitating toward the Internet.
I suppose when you see a very young girl with a shriveled-up old rich fella, you can easily see where her priorities lie. Although in most of those cases I would assume the girl was simply looking elsewhere to supplement her other priorities. Ha.
I wouldn’t mind seeing Linda Harrison on a unicorn. I bet I could work that out in Photoshop. She rode a horse in Apes, after all. 😉
Thanks for commenting, Tawni. It’s so rare to see your Gravatar on my posts anymore.
Ooooooh, guilt trip. Ahhhhhhh! My eyes! It burns! It burrrrrrrnnnnnsssss!!!! 🙂
P.S. Unless you can add fairy or butterfly wings, don’t bother Photoshopping Linda (and her flowing chocolate river of awesome hair) onto a unicorn. It just wouldn’t be the same.
I feel like a complete moron, but I just stumbled across the “Edit This” feature of comments. I saw Duke talking about deleting someone’s comments, which I didn’t know how to do. Now I see you can not only delete them but edit their content as well. I’m not so sure we should have that option. Ha. Can you tell which word I added to yours?
I’ve done that on occasion: edited the comments of others, to correct typos and the like. But never for content. Oh, no, never. Though I did out-and-out delete a vicious comment once.
You can also change the name of the commenter (commentator? comment allez vous?). Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.
I know! Their name, their link, everything! Talk about power you don’t want in the wrong hands.
I go with “commentator” personally. I think “commenter” sounds ugly — apropos a post about looks.
putting my internet forum administrator hat on (I admin a decent-sized audio production forum) We tell our moderators that editing is all-or-nothing…either it goes or it stays, intact. There are some potentially serious legal ramifications to editing for content like that, even if you leave a marker (i.e. edited by moderators).
but, dear God it is tempting…..
I think it’s a matter of our DNA kicking in. People, at their core, want to reproduce with hot people. Even if that’s not the conscious goal, all that stuff that operates under the surface still pushes and strives for the hottest, most athletic, nearest-to-physically perfect specimen of the opposite sex. We want our genes to mix with that.
What defines physical beauty is a little fuzzier… Simon touched on it. Symmetry, certain ratios and features. What people find attractive however, seems to be a constant. Linda Harrison is/was gorgeous by pretty much anyone’s standards.
I think that you have to clear that physical hurdle before you can ever take a real look at what’s behind it. Even when we read someone’s work in the absence of a picture, we tend to glamorize them in our heads. I know I do. If I like what they’re contributing non-physically, then I tend to assign an attractive “avatar” to them immediately in my mind.
It’s coded in us, the same way the animal kingdom falls for flashy feathers and spots. It’s just that in the world of the internet, those without the feathers can sneak in and demonstrate their other skills. It will certainly make for an interesting future.
Good read. I’m off to buy Rift now. I feel left out.
I like what you said about glamorizing someone in our heads. When I see a girl who looks good from behind, like her hair or shape or whatever, I form a sort of generic picture of “hot girl” in my head of what I hope she looks like. And sure, when I look at the 100 pixel avatar images I tend to fill in the areas that aren’t clear with the most attractive possibility. It’s weird. Intellectually I know it’s silly and that I shouldn’t care…but a part of me does. Ultimately it’s DNA that drives it. The drive for genetic immorality. But that unromantic idea certainly isn’t a very popular one.
Thanks in advance if you pick up a copy of the book. If you can’t find one, may I suggest a copy of The God Particle? (Shameless plug for my second novel.)
Firstly, I must admit that I rarely read comment boards, so if I mention something here has already been covered, all apologies.
Before I read this, I had this thought as I observed a beautiful woman walk by and shortly after saw a woman watch a handsome man walk by. The thought is: We all do (or have done) this. There is no exception. The ugliest of humans will nearly faint if someone they perceive as attractive approaches them and shows interest. We hold physical beauty to such the holiest of high heights that we grace probably 99% of all our media (tv shows, newscasters, commercials, films, magazines) with beauty. Even really intelligent mensa-level, double-doctorates will tell you that someone is nice to look at, and would like to spend some amount of time with them, especially in a coquetish manner. Your observation is spot-on: we are little more than animals who can reflect and project via language and wield a fifth digit, the thumb and big toe. We may not smell each other’s excrement, but we do look on with a very similar dog-like impetuousness when someone we find attractive is in our presence. It is physiological, as our heart beats go up, we get nervous, sweaty palms, awkward in our social mannerisms. We can melt to little children by a certain look by a certain object of affection.
When people say a date didn’t go well or it’s simply not working because “there is no spark”, I think they mean that appeal is low or gone for whatever reason. I get really turned off if a girl won’t stop talking incessantly just to fill the silence all the time, even if she’s gorgeous. Or if her voice is really annoyingly high-pitched, this tends to douse the spark for me. (I’m certain every one’s spark-fizzler is different for everyone.) Conversely, if the looks are complimented with a voice that I find alluring, I am further pulled in, want more, etc. What we euphemize calling a spark really is subtext for saying — for whatever reason — that there is not attraction, that the one doesn’t find the other attractive.
At the same time, I believe that choosing a life partner, or anyone with whom you will spend a very large amount of time, a balance must be struck. Beauty will dissipate, physical attraction is eventually going to lull if for no other reason than the sameness of it. At some point sex will wane until it’s gone (talkin’ like three or four decades here), and when it is, you had better enjoy speaking to that person, enjoying their observations, matching wits and just having a general comfort level of being around that person. An old man once told me at a bar that the relationship with his wife that had lasted 50 years was due to the fact that they were compatible from the beginning and they “played house”, which I think meant lived well together.
Anyway, those are my thoughts.
Beauty may be skin deep to begin with, but real, whole, complete beauty involves the substance under the shell on both ends. Anything else is doomed to failure.
Excellent reflection here on physical beauty, as it catalyzed me to verbalize so much.
Thank you, man. I appreciate your comments about the ubiquity of beauty in media, because as we all know, sex sells. And the idea of having sex with a hot person sells even better. I’m careful to write something like that because the conversation can easily devolve into an indictment of unattractive people, so the point I tried to make here is how we intellectually know there is more to attraction than simple physical beauty, and yet sometimes we are captured by its spell anyway.
And certainly, no matter how physically you are attracted to someone, you’re going to get bored with their looks and sexuality at some point. Not to say you can’t find creative ways to keep the spark alive, but your point is a valid one–if you have nothing to talk about, it’s not going to work in the end.
It’s really so true. Totally Killer Greg and I have been together ten years now.
And I can honestly say we really like each other, along with all of the other stuff.
I mean, my sheer hotness, as steamy and irresistible as I am (snort), even this amount of hot cannot be the only thing keeping us going through ten years and parenthood. If we didn’t like each other so much, along with all the other stuff, parenthood would be an unbearable mess – you have to be friends – you have to really like each other.
My hotness has something to do with it, too.
Yes, you have to like each other. It also helps if you like the same things. With few exceptions — football, Laura Brennigan’s “Gloria,” pot — my tastes and Stephanie’s overlap to a great degree.
I don’t know how James Carville and what’shernose do it.
Make no mistake Olear, your hotness has everything to do with it.
You put the spice in Old Spice, baby.
I like this. It’s something I obsess over constantly – and especially with the TNB connection. I feel like I *know* so many of you in this community, and yet I’ve only actually met a couple TNBers. How many of us in real life would still get along so well? I’m dying to find out!
The only way that’s ever going to happen is a TNB tour, where a bus travels from one city to another picking up TNB writers, until we’ve all gathered in one location. Then we can use one-way plane tickets to return home. After a big party and a lot of stimulating conversation, of course.
Email Greg and ask him to set that up.
Simon, hasn’t it been established that the vehicle has to be in physical sight before “shotgun” can be called?
Those are, of course, the rules. As long as the bus is currently imaginary, however…
I’ve proposed in the past that we should get David Wills drunk and just follow him from a distance, like a chimp in the wild. Make sure you put a wet bar on the bus for him.
I’m on it. It just might take awhile.
And Duke is right, Simon — you must be in sight of the vehicle to call shotgun. At least, that’s how we roll in the States.
Apple iPad-Wave of the Future?…
High Hopes for Apple’s iPad …
Whew! Thanks for the pic Linda Harrison. What a babe. Way beyond 10. My fav: T’Pol – Star Trek Enterprise
[…] Not just another pretty face. […]
It’s a question of Cartesian dualism…or something very similar to it, that you’re asking…maybe…
Some hint of the notion that there is some difference between the mind and the body–that they are two different things that can operate independently of one another.
It’s a hairy topic (no pun intended), since if one is not VERY careful, s/he can all of a sudden find him/herself arguing on the opposite side of the debate from which s/he started.
Most people, the second they mention “mind” as an entity separate from “body,” are already guilty of it.
It’s a technicality which, if applied strictly, pretty much makes everyone a dualist, since almost everyone makes some distinction between things that happen in their head as opposed to things that happen in their toe.
This being the case, one of my anthro professors (another community college guy who should really have his own TNB homage), posed the following scenario to us as a more practical way to determine whether or not someone is a Cartesian dualist in the more metaphysical sense:
Let’s say you have some kind of degenerative brain disorder; it’s some time in the future, and there is incredibly advanced microtechnology available–a computer chip, basically–that is small enough to replace individual cells in the brain as the organic cells become damaged and quit functioning.
All the synthetic cells will replicate the information and progamming/behaviors contained in the organic cells they’re replacing, including memories; your behavior and personality will not change. You will continue to learn and mature as normal, and no one besides you would ever have to know you weren’t 100% organic.
So, the question is, at what point, if ever, would you cease to be “you?” At what point would you start to be a machine and not a person? After one cell was replaced? 20% of the cells? 55% of the cells?
I feel like I’ve already posed this question to you at some point.
If so, you made me think of it again.
It’s an interesting thing, the pervasive dualism that we see everywhere in the human condition.
I’ve developed an opinion on that, which is also one of the core ideas in my novel that I’m working on…that duality has nothing to do with US as humans…it arises because of deficiencies in language. I have come to believe that language drives a lot of how we think, and even causing the boundaries of WHAT we can even think. Cue the linguistics guy, who would now step in and accuse me of promulgating a lot of Sapir/Wolfe nonsense. But whatever. A deficient language forces us to develop overly-complicated constructs to try to capture a concept that’s too broad or multi-vectored for the semantics.
For example, imagine trying to describe visual colors, in a language that didn’t have any words for color or even the concept of color. You’d end up getting wrapped around the axle, and having to come up with dualistic treatments for something that was green vs something that was orange.
Bad news: I am linguistics guy. Or gal. Not officially, but as an area of secondary interest.
Unfortunately, your hypothetical scenario is a lot like imagining a world without gravity.
Sure, we can do it, and we can say what might happen, but it has little or no practical bearing on any actual situation on planet earth.
They only place without a way to describe color would be a place in which color either didn’t exist or wasn’t important at all–so nowhere on earth, and unless I found myself there as some kind of space traveller, I’d have no knowledge of such a thing, let alone a need to describe it.
Language is such–without exception–that if there is a use for a concept or word in a given culture, speaking people will create one or borrow one or modify/extend an existing word to represent it.
Because thought–“here is a thing I need to be able to convey to others”–determines language, not the other way around.
It is literally not possible for a language to be deficient. Its only boundaries are those put upon it by its speakers. If a language could be deficient, the internet wouldn’t exist because we couldn’t think of a name for it.
Obviously that is not the case.
When we speak about things of inherent physicality, I completely agree with you. So the analogy to color is somewhat simplistic, but imagine instead we’re talking about something metaphysical or non-corporeal…
…like, “ethics” or something like that. and “mind/body.” “yin/yang.” “good/bad.”
We are like little trains, running down a track. The track is language, and thought is the train. As we hit uncharted territory, we have to lay new track in front of us as we go.
Also, language can’t be tossed together into the same box. In my refutation of dualism, I now declare in dualist fashion that language can evolve serially, and/or recursively…the serial form giving us new words for new things, the recursive giving us new words for new realities.
So, no…I’m not suggesting that language is static or limiting in and of itself, but rather that it has inherent boundaries. There are some primitive languages that don’t have a future tense, so can’t even discuss future events as “future” events. Many purely oral languages don’t support syllogism, so can’t really achieve objective concepts.
I know it sounds like I’m lecturing you here, and it will piss you off because the way I’m saying this, is very simplistic and rudimentary, particularly to someone who has studied a bit…but my intention is more to goad you to dialog…so my apologies!
First of all, there is no such thing as a primitive language. Any language that works for the people who speak it is perfectly sophisticated.
At best, you can say that they don’t have a future tense like we have a future tense.
That doesn’t mean they can’t and don’t express things that will happen in the future and understand that it will happen in the future.
They may not support syllogism, but that doesn’t mean they don’t express objective concepts.
I have never once, in any linguistics course, in the dozens I’ve seen flung at an instructor, run across a single one of such alleged exceptions that stood up to any amount of scrutiny.
These kinds of conclusions almost always stem from a provincial, narrow, or unconsidered position on the part of the researcher–a failing on his or her part to consider all possibilities, not from the language he’s studying.
The subjunctive, for example, is disappearing in English; it is prevalent in all Romance languages. So does a person from Spain or Italy declare that we have no subjunctive?
Maybe. At least we don’t have much of a subjunctive compared to their language.
But that doesn’t mean we lack a way to express what it expresses. We simply do it another way.
If there is a need to express something in a given culture, there is a way to do it with language. There is no but.
It’s definitely a slippery slope. I don’t see the distinction between matter and energy in one’s body versus the air I’m breathing or the ribeye steak I’m about to eat. It’s all quarks and leptons. The difference, if there is one, is simply organization. Particles organized in a certain fashion carry a certain piece of information. But they are still physical particles.
Where I get confused is the particles exist whether or not someone is there to recognize the information. For the information to be useful it must be decoded (and presumably encoded). And herein lies the problem: If you can copy and transfer that organization to another set of particles, like in a computer chip, then is the information, conceptually, separate from the matter and energy? What exactly is the information if it can be related by more than one medium?
Like if I want to tell you something, I’ll write to you or talk to you, and some information passes from my brain to yours. What’s that medium? You’re reading this at the moment, so photons that strike your retina are passing the information to you, along with the electrons that passed the binary code through the Internet tubes after I pressed keys on my laptop. If I were talking to you, it would be air molecules reaching your ears by compression waves. So those physical substrates are the medium, right?
But is the information itself something different? I know smart people spend their whole lives thinking about this, so it’s a bigger discussion than a TNB comment thread. But still…?
Your point disturbs me, because it seems tautological.
I will not attempt to refute your characterization of fieldwork and it’s relative quality..but doesn’t that have a possible explanation in the deficiency of the language of the researcher, who cannot discover appropriate cross-language mappings? In other words, the scope of the language is not large enough to contain the alien concept. The language must evolve to do so, or suffer from the aforementioned inefficient and duality-causing deficiency.
My point isn’t that language CAN’T express something that there is a need for, but rather that it’s a push-pull three-legged race, where the language and the need are careening along in a “quantum stagger,” that advances in fits and starts, with plenty of friction and instantaneous dislocations, rather than a smooth, contiguous motion.
I guess I’m challenging you here a little bit: Doesn’t the problem of inexact translations from language to language indicate that your statement, “If there is a need to express something in a given culture, there is a way to do it with language. There is no but.” is not universally true?
To your last point regarding inexact translations–It’s not a challenge, and I’ve well headed it off, or so I thought. I said that there is a way to do it with language. Not that there is an exactly analogous word in every language. Though I think, if a concept is important enough, it’s safe to say an analogous word will surface, even if it is simply borrowed from the source language. See: Schadenfreude.
As far as the researcher goes, obviously the problem was in his thought processes, not his language. Other people, even those who speak his language, have had no problem calling him out on his mistake. Why would language limit him and not them? Because the thought occurred to them and not him.
My guess is that said researcher was probably a bit ethno-centric. But that is an issue of cultural awareness (or lack thereof). That’s a function of history and politics. Language stopped him from doing nothing.
I’m not sure what you think is tautological. You said there are cultures that can’t express things that will happen in the future. I said that’s ridiculous and I don’t believe it.
I’ll believe it when you show me a culture with no concept of “tomorrow.”
Richard, here is where (per usual) we run into a problem. I’m talking philosophy and you’re talking physics.
Leptons are decidedly outside of my realm of expertise, if I am an expert in anything.
But I think I get you. Mostly. The murkiness you describe…
What is the thing that does not appear to be anything other than the net effect of the other things?
Information, if you like. Or self. Or soul.
Frankly, I don’t know what to tell you.
For everyone’s benefit, here is the conversation as it continued elsewhere:
Richard: “I think it is philosophy. I’m rendering the ideas in their physical properties, but ultimately a person’s point of view on what information really is, that’s got to be philosophy.
It makes sense to look at the same concept from different areas of expertise, right? To get the best picture?
Or should I just set exposure and focus to ‘Auto?'”
Becky: “I think you have to do what works best for you. You know, accommodate your brain. If two perspectives can arrive at essentially the same conclusion with minimal translation, there can’t be much wrong with it…I don’t think.
But I will probably never go around conceiving of dualism in terms of leptons. It’s just not how I roll. Maybe we have, if nothing else, proved from more than one perspective that there is a fundamental rogue variable in the nature of existence, and it has a consistent character…something like that.”
Becky (again): “So there’s The Guy, but there may also be ‘The Thing.’ Which means we could start saying things like, ‘Deep down in my Thing…'”
I only point out the physics because, ultimately, in a mind/body discussion, it’s helpful to know what we mean by body. And information. Information may exist outside of the physical form, but I think the discussion is missing something when it’s not informed by how, physically, the information is conveyed.
When you get down to the nuts and bolts of how things work, you can strip away a lot of the mysticism. When you know the sun isn’t pulled across the sky by a chariot, you no longer need Helios. Unless you have low self esteem or whatever.
Give me one good reason why I can’t call those forces Helios, Richard. Just one. And be careful.
We were just getting along. And then you went there. You really are a naughty boy. And you LIKE it.
Haha. That isn’t what I said. You can call it whatever you like. I’m saying there isn’t an actual dude in the sky pulling the sun across with an actual chariot. Especially since the sun isn’t in the atmosphere in the first place.
You know what I mean.
Are you sure? Not even metaphorically? What about The Guy? What does he do when he’s not totally focused on ruining Richard Cox’s life?
And…AND…I defy you find a literary metaphor, on par with Icarus, among your so-called “truthful” physics.
Hey, modern physics theories aren’t exactly correct. We already know that. But get in a spaceship and go visit the sun and show me the chariot.
Yes, you’re right, there is human value in many myths. Personally, I think Helios is not one of the more useful stories, but there are plenty that are, and Icarus is a perfect example. But when you are attempting to describe how things work, is it not useful to rule out scenarios which obviously have no observations to back them up, and which have been superseded by far more plausible scenarios? The math behind Newtonian physics and relativity is used every day in many ways. Who’s invoking the story of Helios?
Your literal mind will be the end of you, Richard Cox.
How things work? You’re telling me physics are sufficient to explain how things work?
Could you look me in the eye and say that without feeling utterly empty and depressed?
Fewer and fewer people use allegory, it’s true. No thanks to Newton.
Thank God we have him to save us from interesting storytelling. Phew.
Well, here we have reached the question I continually ask and for which I have no answer. Let’s say it’s the future and we really do know precisely how everything physically works.
So yes. There is more to enjoying life than knowing physics. I happily agree. But there’s got to be a place where you can live a fulfilling life and also be fairly well informed about the world around you.
Your last line made me laugh and cringe at the same time.
Well, I am well-informed. At least relatively. I don’t think anyone could call me ignorant of science. Or I hope they wouldn’t.
But I still prefer to talk in mythological terms. And they make more sense to me. They’re more human and more encompassing of The Thing. The Thing being a thing that, you seem to admit, physics can’t really account for.
Dammit, I have a whole TNB post-in-waiting about a portion of The Thing. I’m not sure it’s fit for consumption, though.
I have a whole book of it. Just you wait.
And if you don’t post yours, send it to me via email.
You and Will.
Gonna figure it all out where thousands of years of human history have failed. And write it all down so that in another 3,000 years, your equivalents can, if you’re REALLY lucky, look back at you and talk about how ignorant you were.
Guyspeed, man. I salute you.
You do know I don’t read, right?
Wow. So there’s not even a point to telling a story against that backdrop? Asking your own questions among all the questions that have ever been asked?
And you’re lecturing me about being depressing.
Well, sure, there’s a point. I’m just saying it’s a long and storied tradition. Though there’s an argument to be made that they’re all the same questions, rephrased. I don’t find that depressing, though. I find it comforting. It means that there are consistencies and commonalities (universals, even) in existence, not just cross-culturally, but cross-temporally. It means that you and I think and worry, in large part, about the same things humans have always thought and worried about. It means we are part of a dialogue that is thousands of years old.
What’s the “Wow” for? Like it never occurred to you? I’m not trying to be a jerk, I swear. Just taking the 20,000 foot view here.
I mean, I’m sure Homer was sure he had it all sorted too. Living in the most intellectually, culturally advanced civilization of his day, etc.
There is a pattern there. That’s all I’m saying.
Of course there are only a few stories. And a few chord progressions, etc. Nothing is original in concept, but in execution mostly everything is to some degree.
But when you put Will and me together, I assume you mean stories with some amalgamation of religion and science and philosophy. As if those particular stories are pointless because he and I aren’t going to figure out anything.
I already wrote one book on looking for God in the particle fabric of reality. I had fun writing it, but I did admittedly reach a point where I realized the big questions die when they’re couched strictly in physics. There’s just no romance in that (don’t get me wrong…I still find the actual outcomes of physics extremely fascinating).
But in telling the story of a man, it can leave one wanting. In the new book, The Guy is a prominent concept, but this time around I realized the real story ultimately lies with the human characters. It’s why The Truman Show worked better than The Matrix. The latter is concerned primarily with the world, where the former is concerned with those who people the world.
I feel like we’re arguing for the same thing but not getting any closer to agreement. But what else is new? 😛
Truth be told, I preferred The Matrix. The theory is more complex and, I think, more correct.
I suffer no particular discomfort with religion or mystical systems. So to me, in the way you’re doing it, yeah. It’s pointless. It’s not of much use to me. I, personally, don’t have much use for the erasure of God or religion. I have no application for that crusade, and I do think it’s a crusade.
Not because I believe in a given religion but because I don’t disdain it…religion is not in my way.
I don’t feel the discomfort you and Will do when it comes to organized religion, and it’s not for lack of understanding its literal incompatibility with science. I just don’t read religion literally. Incompatibility erased.
I don’t need the world to be provable, I just need it to be logical. Does that make sense?
It makes sense, yes. Although I will say I’ve moved past my earlier disdain for organized religion. It’s got nothing to do with me. People can do/believe however they like. I may occasionally lapse into a debate about it, especially with you, but I’ve given up the personal vendetta.
For me the first Matrix film was awesome because of its revival of the Philip K. Dick/Gnostic idea of artificial reality and imprisonment by some greater/higher force. But by the second film, and especially the third, they lost me with all the action and effects.
And I’m fairly disappointed Andrew Niccol didn’t mention PKD as an inspiration for The Truman Show. His film is a fairly detailed ripoff of a novel called Time out of Joint.
Anyway, The Guy is obviously my version of the Gnostic imperfect creator. I’m about 50/50 on whether he exists. But I’m almost 100 percent sure it doesn’t matter.
What matters is, in the commune, are you going to release the Kraken?
No. Because now I’m brooding and grumpy. *arms crossed pout*
Who CARES about the effects? And I couldn’t get over, with the Truman Show, that Carey was basically a puppy. If he mugs enough, you’re going to feel sorry for him–whether he’s playing a victim or a serial killer.
I liked the film, on the whole.
But The Matrix, as a concept, was better and more interesting.
I’m not a special effects snob, for the love of the Guy. I’m saying I fell asleep in Matrix 3. It must have been 120 decibels in the theater and I actually, honestly, dozed off. I’m not talking about the effects themselves; I meant that the brothers were so concerned with fights and effects that (for me) they forgot about the story they were telling.
It’s the same reason Kill Bill bored me in places. Uma Thurman is über hot, and I love Tarantino, but I can only take so many minutes in a row of jabbing and parrying before I begin to yawn. No offense, Matt.
Truman is by no means perfect. eXistenZ is one of the more realistic simulated reality/solipsistic films I’ve seen, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the two we already discussed. That’s the reason I wrote my own. Someone has to get it right.
Hated Kill Bill 1, loved the second one. On the whole, though, I wish Tarantino would drop off the face of the earth.
Have I not mentioned this before? I hate Tarantino. Hate him. The 3 movies I ever liked that he had anything to do with: Natural Born Killers, Hero, Kill Bill 2. Flush the rest. If I never hear about Jack Rabbit Slim’s or Mr. Pink again, it will be too soon. I want to punch that motherfucker in the face. Hard.
Matrix 3 confused me, but that’s what kept me awake. Trying to figure out what the fuck was going on.
Not even the Basterds?? Really??
I haven’t seen it. No real urge. I may get around to it, but I’m in no rush.
And yes. I really hate him. It’s difficult to explain. He’s a phony.
OH MY GOD!!! Finally someone agrees with me on Tarantino.
Becky, I love you.
No. I love YOU. You’re one of maybe 3 I’ve met in my life who see the nastiness. He’s like flypaper for hipster douchebags, and he spends all his time indulging his own pretentious taste in movies by making movies for other pretentious dicks. What a dick.
I have always hated Tarantino. I think he is just derivative. I can’t think of a single thing he’s done that I have liked. I know this puts me in the minority, but I just don’t like his stuff one bit.
I’m know exactly what you mean, Zara. Do you have a favorite director?
I’m a big David Lynch fan.. and Scorsese.