Monday, March 23, 2009


Arrangement of featuresEyes, brows, nose, mouth, chin, cheekbones - arranged in a certain way, reflecting the activity taking place inside the skull of that person - just one look is all you need to set off fireworks in your own brain: an explosion of feelings such as love, desire, lust, awe, empathy, recognition, déja vu, plus a whole cascade of indefinables.

From childhood onwards - maybe eight or nine years old - a particular kind of male physiognomy has fascinated me and I decided to pick out some well-known faces to try and define what it is about this particular arrangement of features which gives it such power. Apart from being in an elevator with George Sanders once, I never encountered any of these famous men but I have, in real life, met this type (he, or they, may, or may not, be found in my autobio).

So here's my rogue's gallery, my pin-ups. Searching the internet for examples of 'my types' and then lining them up , I was stunned by their similarities, not only physically but in personality. Rather than go into details (which can be found by looking them up), I'll ask you:

What strikes you about these faces? What do they have in common? Only one of them does not fit certain character traits they all have - do you know which one it is?



Dominic Rivron said...

Not sure - but they all have quite prominent, well defined noses.

Anonymous said...

Dominic, the noses, of course. But I was asking more about what their faces reveal of personality?

tpe said...

Okay, I’ve just spent far too long examining these faces (all of them quite beautiful, in a way, although I maybe struggle slightly to warm to the faces of Paco de Lucia and Waylon Jennings). I’ve been looking at furrowed brows, an impressive set of chins, bags beneath the eyes, high foreheads, a certain angularity, expansive top lips….I don’t know. It always usually comes back down to the eyes for me, but these men (specifically in these pictures, I mean) seem to play it close.

They all certainly look like they may be familiar with the outlines of melancholia, perhaps, but then I tend to see this in everyone, never really trusting an expression of happiness or joy (I know, I know, it’s ridiculous). So what do they have in common, I wonder? Baffled and stumped.

Anyway, hello. How are you doing? I was just catching up (I’ve been away from internet stuff for April and most of May) and got stopped in my tracks by your men.

I wanted to say ages ago how much I enjoyed your film of snow falling in London. I watched it a good few times when you first put it up and then got distracted and forgot to comment. Sorry about that.

Anyway, at the time (and now, too, in fact) I found it very soothing and beautiful. I’m not really a fan of London, unfortunately (too many people, too much noise), but I was forcefully reminded of how extravagantly gorgeous it can be when I saw pictures of the snow on the news and, of course, in your film. But your film wins on the soothing front.

Then, of course, I wanted to say something about your race to finish the self-portrait, but found that I had nothing worthwhile to offer. (Better just to shut up and gawp, probably, than to reveal one’s abject ignorance of the matter at hand. I think I’m allowed to say that I was impressed and fascinated by the process, though, without tripping up over my own industrial strength stupidity.)

Right so, I should get back to the business of getting up to date with your blog, although time is now an issue (damn those beguiling men). Hopefully see you in a future post of yours some time soon. Onwards and upwards…..

Kind regards etc,


Natalie said...

Hello tpe, good to know you're here. Thanks for spending the time on my snowfall and on my pin-ups' faces. The puzzle of what they have in common is endlessly interesting to me. Melancholia, yes, but also a sardonic kind of humour and a huge dose of ego, along with the devil-may-care risk-taking that goes with it. All adds up to very sexy and unreliable. Summed up very well by Waylon Jennings in this clip ("I've always been crazy but it kept me from going insane"):

Now do you see what I see in him? As for Paco de Lucia, watch this:

Hope you'll go back to blogging soon.

tpe said...

Wait. I’m egotistical and hugely unreliable. What were the chances? We should date. I’ll pick you up at seven, okay? (Although I won’t be there, obviously, as I need to stay true to my unreliable roots – and to my girlfriend, as well, I suppose.)

Hello again, thanks for taking the time to respond. I’m glad you responded so soon, actually, as I was about to go and ramble most incoherently on the Donald Pass post. Not so much about him, really – except to say that I see Blake, for sure, but don’t know anything about El Greco and so can’t say whether or not I detect an influence – but more to do with the things you said at the beginning about faith and god and Richard Dawkins. I only thought to come and check down here at the last minute, saving us both a veritable train-wreck of a contribution, I feel. (I was also going to wonder if you knew where a line might be drawn between “mystical experiences” and mental breakdown – especially in relation to Blake, I suppose? And no, this wasn’t going to be some sneerily rhetorical question, just a question. Personally speaking, I have absolutely no idea, although I always allow for the thought that the supposed headcases may be onto something and that it’s the notionally sane and rational people, in fact, who may be seen to be failing. Deary me, even that came out all messily. I’m glad I kept schtumm. Phew. Maybe some other time, though, when my head is functioning properly. Try to contain your excitement.)

Anyway, yes, well, I can now see all of those things that you mention (ego, sardonic humour, the risk-taking gene etc) and agree that these parts can constitute an agreeably sexy total. I also happen to think that these “qualities” very often obliterate the trifling concerns of a mere physicality.

But Waylon Jennings. Hmm. The singing, the song, the sentiment, the delivery…no problem. I can see the attraction of these things. If I had to choose a moment when the man himself felt at all attractive to me, however, then it would only really be when he looks down to play his solo on the guitar. That’s the flashing glimpse of vulnerability that would be more likely to seal the deal for me. He can get back to strutting afterwards, but I’d need to know that this was there (the hint of insecurity, that is). I mean, this all comes down to personal preference (not that we have much say in the way that our minds work in these matters, right enough) and so to fight over the attractions or otherwise of one Waylon Jennings would be profoundly corrupt (and exciting, obviously).

Pacio de Lucia? Sold.

Me oh my, but that was a thing of wonder. Thank you. (And, of course, the unsmiling flourish at the end made me feel that it would probably be perfectly okay, you know, for this man to experiment on me in a deadly, cold-eyed fashion.) Okay, I need to go and lift some weights and punch a few people and double-check the bearings of my sexuality. Crikey.

I'll get out of your hair for the time being.

Only good things to you, Natalie.

Kind regards etc....


Natalie said...

Heh heh, 7pm, okay. But I won't be there either of course.
As for:
"...the supposed headcases may be onto something and that it’s the notionally sane and rational people, in fact, who may be seen to be failing..."
Yep, that's what I think. When you look at some of the things that supposedly rational people do, especially those in high places, you have to wonder about definitions of rationality. I'm not saying that headcases should be ruling the world, but would they make more or less of a mess of it than the 'sane' leaders?
As for mystics and visionaries, whatever click in the brain allows life-enhancing/entrancing visions to enter may be no different to the click that makes some people go insane: it could be that the possibility for either scenario to happen has to already exist in the person. I am no expert and am speaking merely from hunches.

About Waylon, I agree with you:
"...when he looks down to play his solo on the guitar. That’s the flashing glimpse of vulnerability.."
It's definitely that, plus the cheeky grin, which does it for me.

I'm glad you 'got' Paco de Lucia. Now have a look at him older,somewhat the worse for wear, but with charisma/sex-appeal intact:

tpe said...

Hello again, Ms d’Arbeloff, I hope you’re having a lovely day.

This latest clip made our hero seem softer round the edges, more rounded (and funny, too). I would have preferred a slightly more deadpan approach as he delivered the initial lie (about prison) to his seemingly credulous interlocutor, of course, but we mustn’t be picky. The main thing, however, and the quality I am weak for in people, is this seamless switching between being funny and sincere. It keeps you on your toes. And his sincerity, when it came, was very touching. Generous, warm, loving, even, with no hint of unease at talking about things (and using the kind of language) that would maybe might cause more buttoned-up men to blanch and retreat. Marry this to his breathtaking gift with the guitar and the general feeling that he would probably gladly lose himself in the wrong-joys of profound sexual deviancy, and I think we may have found us an ideal husband, Ms d’A. Now back off, I saw him first. Okay, I didn’t, but still back off.

And agreed, by the way - his charisma/sex appeal is still intact. If anything, on a purely physical level, I far prefer him in this clip to the last.

Thanks again, though, it's always a joy to be introduced to something new. I'd never heard of Paco de Lucia until I found him here and have already found myself busily searching for more clips of his magical skill/gift/craft/genius. Very rewarding, thank you.

Richard Dawkins, the curious desire of the rational to strait-jacket the terms of rationality, god, mystics and visionaries....well, it can all wait. I have entrancing visions of Paco de Lucia in my head, and that's probably more than enough to be getting on with at the moment.

Kind regards etc....


PS. Happy (belated) Blog Birthday.
PPS. I like and admire the work of Richard Dawkins, just to be clear, but have never cared for his sneering, dismissive attitude. I don't think this helps. Ditto Christopher Hitchens.
PPPS. My main gripe would be with organised religion, not with (gentle) faith itself.
PPPPS. I've never really understood why "god" needs to be defined, although I can sympathise with those who try so hard to do so. I think people should be allowed to have this word - or any substitute - mean just whatever they want or need it to mean at any given time.
PPPPPS. Just so long as they don't start trying to make laws or claim a moral superiority or pureness of spirit on the back of this (necessarily blind) faith, is all.
PPPPPPS. Phew. I'm going, I'm going. Sorry about that.

tpe said...

Good grief. Lose the words "would maybe" from the sentence "that would maybe might cause more buttoned-up men......"

Hanging my head in shame, appalled at this sloppy mistake.

(Don't worry, I recover quickly. Very quickly. In fact, I feel better already. Tally-ho.)

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Buenas tardes, tpe. Never mind ungrammatical cock-ups. Writing inside a little box which may disappear any minute isn't the best place for literary finesse.

Now, about our hero:
"...I think we may have found us an ideal husband..."
Husband?? No way! Something much less organised, certainly. Do you want to make him an offer or shall I? Alas, I fear he may be swamped with such offers and can't possibly accept them all even though, as you astutely intuit "he would probably gladly lose himself in the wrong-joys..." etc.etc.
What IS this radar which makes us (some of us anyway) able to read such arcane information simply from a look, an expression? I don't want a prosaic it's-all-down-to-evolution answer. I prefer to wade in a much more mysterious and interesting ocean. One that the likes of Dawkins and Hitchens (or as somebody named them, Ditchkins) will never experience.
I think I'll do some more with my pin-up faces - a video maybe.
Hasta luego.

tpe said...

Hmm. Tricky. I suppose we should always be mindful of the fact that we may be entirely wrong in those traits we ascribe to people on the back of a look or passing expression…..but, between ourselves, I think we both know that this isn’t the case. Hurrah. (Do let’s try to keep this boasting concealed, though – we don’t want people feeling disconsolate and second-rate.) To attempt an articulation of how these arcane snippets may reach us, however, is completely beyond me.

People just give off certain feelings, though, don’t they? A deeper kind of information surrounds them, even if they’re not aware of it. This can be choking if you’re in a big city, of course, but very useful if you’re considering handing over money to a builder. It is baffling and wonderful and freaky and weird. And, for something that most people would view as a very imprecise science, I find the precision of these feelings/hunches/insights – call them what you will - to be nothing short of miraculous. So, yes, eat your heart out Ditchkins, I suppose. (Although I still love their books. Covering all angles here, just in case.)

Hello. I hope you’ve had as bright and sunny a day as we’ve had here (in Ireland). A video? Of our men? (You’ll like how I’ve muscled in on this, I trust, appropriating your men as my own. It’s a gift, I tell you, a gift. Or a theft, perhaps, in the eyes of the law. But still.)

Anyway, yes, good idea. Get to it, Ms d'A, and I'll try to contain my keening.

Kind regards and tally-peep,


(For future reference - is it easier if I comment on the other blog? Just wondering. It would save you going back and forth, I imagine, if I went to your main home.)

tpe said...

Writing inside a little box which may disappear any minute isn't the best place for literary finesse...

Good point. They seem to share your outlook at BBC4. I'm just saying.