TELEPHONE - Reading List 25

La Piccioletta Barca

Our discussion this month takes the form of the Chinese Whispers game, where each participant responds to a piece sent in by someone else.


Auto-Facial-Construction, Mina Loy (1919)

"The face is our most potent symbol of personality.

The adolescent has facial contours in harmony with the condition of his soul. Day by day the new interests and activities of modern life are prolonging the youth of our souls, and day by day we are becoming more aware of the necessity for our faces to express that youthfulness, for the sake of psychic logic. Different systems of beauty culture have compromised our inherent right not only to “be ourselves” but to “look like ourselves”, by producing a facial contour in middle age, which does duty as a “well ­preserved appearance.” This preservation of partially distorted muscles, is, at best, merely a pleasing parody of youth. That subtle element of the ludicrous inherent in facial transformation by time, is the signpost of discouragement pointing along the path of the evolution of personality. For to what end is our experience of life, if deprived of a fitting esthetic revelation in our faces? One distorted muscle causes a fundamental disharmony in self­-expression, for no matter how well gowned or groomed men or women may be, how exquisitely the complexion is cared for, or how beautiful the expression of the eyes, if the original form of the face (intrinsic symbol of personality) has been effaced in muscular transformation, they have lost the power to communicate their true personalities to others and all expression of sentiment is veiled in pathos. Years of specialized interest in physiognomy as an artist, have brought me to an understanding of the human face, which has made it possible for me to find the basic principle of facial integrity, its conservation, and, when necessary,  reconstruction.

I will instruct men or women who are intelligent ­­and for the briefest period, patient,­ to become masters of their facial destiny. I understand the skull with its muscular sheath, as a sphere whose superficies can be voluntarily energized. And the foundations of beauty as embedded in the three interconnected zones of energy encircling this sphere: the centers of control being at the base of the skull and the highest point of the cranium. Control, through the identity of your conscious will, with these centers and zones, can be perfectly attained through my system, which does not include any form of cutaneous hygiene, (the care of the skin being left to the skin specialists) except in as far as the stimulus to circulation it induces, is of primary importance in the conservation of all the tissues. Through Auto-­Facial-­Construction the attachments of the muscles to the bones are revitalized, as also the gums, and the original facial contours are permanently preserved as a structure which can be relied upon without anxiety as to the ravages of time. A structure which complexion culture enhances in beauty, instead of attempting to disguise.

This means renascence for the society woman, the actor, the actress, the man of public career, for everybody who desires it. The initiation to this esoteric anatomical science is expensive, but economical in result; for it places at the disposal of individuals, a permanent principle for the independent conservation of beauty to which, once it is mastered, they have constant and natural resource."

Margaret Atwood, the Robber Bride

“Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it’s all a male fantasy: that you’re strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it. Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.”

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