THE EYES HAVE IT…

…but unlike Parliament, does the nose have it too? Or the mouth, for that matter?

Okay, what I’m really asking here is whether the age-old adage, the eyes are the windows to the soul, still holds true in these times of masks. Yes, they remain pretty much the only part of the face we can see a lot of the time, but what do they really tell us in the absence of our other features; in isolation, if you like, to coin a phrase? How much difference is there, in the movements around the edges of the eyes, between a grin and a grimace?

From a purely practical point of view, as someone who needs, from time to time, to wear glasses, even the eyes have a tendency to go missing in the misty fug of our own breath.

Personally, I feel we have discovered that, while the eyes are expressive, they are just a part of the machine and need to work in conjunction with the rest of the face and our voice.

Boy, are we in weird times?! Can you imagine, even two years ago, being stopped at the door of a bank because you weren’t wearing a mask? (By the way, do you remember banks?) I find myself recalling the Jim Carrey film ‘The Mask’ when I arrive somewhere and realise I can’t find the damned thing, then with relief discover one in my pocket: “I’m looking for…my mask!…I got it!” If only we could be imbued with the same powers when we pull them on!

I’ve noticed vulnerability in the eyes of some people. Is this because it has been so inculcated in our culture that the eyes express our very being? Does this lead us to feel we’re giving ourselves away when they are all others can see of us? Do we feel exposed? Of course, the little matter of COVID leaves us all, to an extent, defenceless and unstable. Scared.

Body language has always been revealing, but now? Let’s face it; almost all of us have spent the past year with folk who know us well. To them, we have nothing new to tell. Besides, I don’t think it takes a quantum leap of imagination or analysis to realise most people’s body language, shoulders hunched from too much time online and carrying the cares of the world, speaks of being at the end of their tether.

I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but for me we have always been wearing masks. Walking through any crowded city, sitting on any public transport, it was rare to see the real person in those around you. It’s something I address to an extent in my book ‘This Changed Everything’ where the central character, DCI Ben Logan, suffers prosopagnosia, or facial blindness. I enjoyed creating his character because not only does he struggle to recognise faces, he therefore wears a metaphorical mask of his own to hide his condition.

So I guess a last question is – has the role of the mask itself changed? In the past it has typically either expressed or concealed something, whether tribal gods, intimidation, the desire to scare (think the movies ‘Scream’ and ‘V for Vendetta’) or just hiding in plain sight, with all the implications that carried at a Venetian ball or for someone like DCI Logan. The highwayman managed to convey both intimidation and concealment. And now – is it all about the three P’s; protection, prevention and pandemic?

As always with my blogs, I welcome your thoughts and input – it’s certainly never my intention to hide! Please feel free to leave your comments on my website.

2 thoughts on “THE EYES HAVE IT…”

  1. Very interesting. I have noticed that during the first lockdown seeing other shoppers wearing masks in the supermarket was very intimidating but a year on, it seems the norm and we’ve all got used to it and are happy to strike up convesations with strangers without a second thought.

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  2. Personally I’ve developed a new way of smiling under my mask – I crinkle up my eyes a lot more than I used to in order to emphasise that I really AM smiling and have my happy face on. It probably means I will end up with even more wrinkles!! Thanks again for such a thought provoking blog David.

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