What’s in a Face

I picked up to read Ayn Rand‘s opus recently. Currently, I’m on The Fountainhead and I stumbled across this extremely interesting paragraph that, like the work of art from which it is extracted, rings truth loud and clear:

There’s nothing as significant as a human face. Nor as eloquent. We can never really know another person, except by our first glance at him. Because, in that glance, we know everything. Even though we’re not always wise enough to unravel the knowledge. I think that every human soul has a style of its own. Its one basic theme. You’ll see it reflected in every thought, every act, every wish of that person. The one absolute, the one imperative in that living creature. Years of studying a man won’t show it to you. His face will. You’d have to write volumes to describe a person. Think of his face. You need nothing else.

Indeed, it is not the name nor hair color nor speech nor acts nor profession that reveals the naked truth about a person. It is the person’s face that does it. One may try to fight it, but it only goes so far. As Rand says, “we’re not always wise enough to unravel the knowledge”, so you can fool some people all the times. You can fool all the people some times. But you can not fool all the people all the times.

Ivo Andrić has captured it extremely well:

There are people who are able to hide the direction of their thoughts and the course of their feelings so successfully that no one can guess their true nature. But it seems that imperceptibly, over the years, our thoughts and feelings model our faces, as quiet, persistent water does the surface of the earth, and when old age starts to approach, they suddenly show unexpected furrows and chasms. And anyone can read all that once seemed forever hidden.

So there you have it. Go look in the mirror and tell me what you see. That, my friend, is the truth. If you like what you are seeing, you are a rarely lucky person.

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