Beauty Is Composite By Edoardo Lombardi Vallauri

and Paolo Biondi2

(1)

Aesthetic and Maxillofacial Surgery, Padova, Italy
(2)

Maxillofacial Surgery, Forlì, Italy
 
Abstract
In this book, the terms “physical beauty” or “beautiful face” are never utilized simply because they are inappropriate. Facial surgeons deal preferably with proportion, shape, volume, and the symmetry of a face, as well as function, pain, and patient satisfaction. In order to avoid repeating these terms, we have selected a study that has been carried out from a nonmedical, contemporary point of view of physical beauty by Professor Edoardo Lombardi Vallauri.

In this book, the terms “physical beauty” or “beautiful face” are never utilized simply because they are inappropriate. Facial surgeons deal preferably with proportion, shape, volume, and the symmetry of a face, as well as function, pain, and patient satisfaction. In order to avoid repeating these terms, we have selected a study that has been carried out from a nonmedical, contemporary point of view of physical beauty by Professor Edoardo Lombardi Vallauri.
“Beauty Is Composite” was presented for the first time during a successful Italian RAI-Radio 3 broadcasting series, Castelli in Aria which is a chapter of the book Semplificare. Micro-filosofie del quotidiano published in 2010 by Academia Universa Press, Turin, Italy. Professor Lombardi Vallauri teaches Linguistics at Roma 3 University.

17.1 Beauty Is Composite

17.1.1 It Is Built, but It Destructs

In this chapter, we shall try to pursue some all too-simple lines of reasoning on a subject of great importance to everyone: physical beauty. Where does the beauty of a person lie? Is it a purely anatomical characteristic? More precisely, does the beauty of a face depend only on lineaments, on physical features, or do good looks actually derive from something else?
After answering questions of this kind, we shall ask whether this attribute which a person may possess, which everyone possesses to some extent at a given moment in life, is lasting. How much of our beauty is preserved in time? With advancing age, to what degree can we talk about beauty? There are conflicting opinions on this, and we shall be expressing an unpopular one that people tend to repress because it is bothersome and hard to accept.
So where does the beauty of a person lie? In particular, when and under what conditions does it come natural to say of a face that it is beautiful? Many are led to believe that physical beauty is above all an anatomical fact which depends on material form, physical contours, on the boundary that the body identifies between itself and surrounding space. Thus, if a face has cheekbones that are too pronounced, it is no longer considered beautiful; if it is too long or too wide and the eyes are closer together than we might expect, it is less beautiful. If one lip is far fleshier than the other, or if it hangs down, and so on. These are all anatomical characteristics. Perhaps this is proof that the commonly held opinion is true: that there are indeed anatomical traits which automatically make it difficult to classify a face as beautiful.
But although this anatomical criterion (regularity of lineaments, correspondence of facial anatomy to the canons of harmony) may be an almost necessary condition of beauty, it is not a sufficient condition.
Let us take the case of an anatomically regular face that comes under the canons of standard beauty but is stupid. In my opinion (once more simplifying a little), we may distinguish two basic types of stupid expressions. The first is the passive expression: eyes with the lids typically at half-mast, eyes that are not looking, that are in a position of inertia. The sensation of passivity is given by the fact that the eyelids are rather less open than would be necessary in order to look, while the mouth is slightly open and, in all likelihood, with the corners turned downward, which is to say with the facial muscles in a state of relaxation.
In general, the passive expression is one in which all the facial traits have been neglected, are somewhat sagging. The muscles are not activated because there is no will tautening them, putting them under tension, or driving them to some purpose: they are neglected because they are doing nothing. The passive stupid face is an abandoned face. I hope the reader has got a pretty realistic picture of it.
The other stupid face is the “etymological” one. The word stupid derives from the Latin stupor which means amazement: the stupid person is someone who understands so little that whatever she or he sees elicits obtuse amazement. So the “etymological” stupid face is the face forever caught unawares: eyebrows raised, mouth protruding (the spout mouth), which tends to form an oh! of amazement. Try to imagine or to actually make this face by imitating the description. It is the face of someone who – whatever she or he sees, whatever she or he comes across – expresses amazement, meaning an inability to understand. In brief, lack of intelligence in the etymological sense of the Latin word intelligo, “I understand.”
What do these two faces have in common, the wholly neglected one and the one “caught unawares” by everything? They are faces behind which no thought is going on. Although anatomically perfect, a face that betrays no thought but on the contrary reveals a state of neglect or total inability to understand transmits a sensation of the unbeautiful. It is very difficult to find a face beautiful, for all its regularity, if it bears one of these two expressions, which is to say if it shows no sign of thought.
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Oct 18, 2015 | Posted by in General Dentistry | Comments Off on Beauty Is Composite By Edoardo Lombardi Vallauri
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