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Waarden en uiterlijk

Voorkant Marwick 'IT - A history of human beauty' Arthur MARWICK
IT - A history of human beauty
London-New York: Hambledon and London, 2004, 276 blzn.;<
ISBN: 18 5285 4480

(ix) Preface

"But what of those men and women who are born beautiful - are their life chances affected thereby? That is the question I have set out to resolve. It quickly became clear that if my computations were to be valid ones I would need to adopt a rigorous definition of beauty [mijn nadruk], not rolling it up with all the other desirable qualities a person can have - such as kindness, intelligence, humour - as is often done in ordinary conversation.(...) in this book beauty is an attribute purely of the face and figure."(ix)

Wie we mooi vinden is veel constanter gebleken dan Marwick aanvankelijk aannam.

"... my own study of the evidence compelled me to the conclusion that ... beauty (in the western world that I am qualified to write about) has changed little. That is why I call it a 'relative constant', a 'relative universal'."(ix)

[Gericht op de westerse wereld en toch praten over universeel? Wat zijn 'relatieve universalia'?]

"This book makes a fundamental distinction between what I refer to as the 'traditional' and the 'modern' evaluation of beauty. Beautiful human beings (men as well as women) have always been objects of fascination to the less well-favoured majority but, up to the nineteenth century and even beyond, views about beauty were deeply confused. Status and wealth were still the major criteria upon which people were judged; beauty was recognised, but was seen as dangerous and disruptive, fomenting lust, tempting young people into socially disastrous marriages.(...) Only in recent times has the 'modern' view of beauty emerged. This sees beauty as a purely physical quality, embodying sex appeal, but no longer having to be parlayed into actual sexual congress; an independent characteristic whose value rivals that of status and wealth."(x)

[Ik vind de tegenoverstelling niet erg overtuigend. Schoonheid gaf status en luxe, vroeger en nu, maar uiterlijke schoonheid garandeerde nooit iets. Dat mooie mensen gevaarlijk gevonden werden omdat ze anderen het hoofd op hol konden brengen is waarschijnlijk ook nog steeds zo. Het hangt er van af wie er naar kijkt. Ik snap dus die moderne kijk op schoonheid helemaal niet. Ik weet niet wat een 'puur uiterlijk kenmerk' is dat dan toch wel iets te maken heeft met 'seksuele aantrekkelijkheid' alsof het hetzelfde is ... En dat brengt me op het grote probleem in het hele boek: bestaat 'schoonheid als een puur uiterlijk kenmerk' hoe dan ook wel? kun je uiterlijke schoonheid wel apart nemen van allerlei andere eigenschappen van een persoon?]

(1) 1 - Fascination

Mensen zijn het minst eerlijk over de uiterlijke verschijning van mensen.

"But of all human attributes, the one over which there is most dishonesty, most persistent refusal to face the facts, most doublethink, is physical appearance. Much of this, of course, is in the cause of common civility and decency (...) it is because personal appearance is intimately bound up with the sense of self-worth, and, more critically, with sexuality, sexual attractiveness and sexual success. (...) Outstanding physical beauty (in both males and females), the less privileged of us cannot help noting, offers its possessors sexual opportunity aplenty, and thus hints at promiscuity, lust and carnal gluttony — indulgences incompatible with any ratified notions of the meaning of beauty."(1-2)

"Yet while much lip service is paid to the notion of the transcendental quality of beauty, the overwhelming evidence is that in our everyday lives we are actually obsessed by surface appearance, those enjoying great natural beauty always attracting special attention, sometimes adoration, sometimes hatred, there being frequent laments about the unfair advantages enjoyed by the comely and the cruel penalties imposed on the ugly."(2)

"Thinking straight on beauty is one of the most difficult tasks encountered by human beings."(2)

"Despite all the confusion and doublethink, it has, in reality, never gone unnoticed that a rather small number of individuals enjoy great natural beauty, while the vast majority do not;"(4)

Hoe belangrijk blijkt het in de praktijk om mooi of lelijk te zijn? En 'mooi' moet dan niet begrepen worden als 'in overeenstemming met de mode'. Bovendien is er niet slechts een type schoonheid.

"My sole points are that, in an investigation such as this, fashion must be distinguished from natural beauty, and 'beauty' of the women's magazines, that is self-presentation, must be distinguished from natural endowment. Elegance and good taste are undoubtedly admirable qualities, but they are simply not the same thing as physical beauty, and truly sharp eyes will not mistake them for such."(6)

"There are many different types of human appearance. Among the main types' to be found in everday discourse (and associated loosely with geographic or ethnic origins) are 'Nordic', 'Mediterranean', 'West European', 'Slavonic', 'African', 'Arabic', 'Indian', 'Oriental' - these labels are not scientific, but their broad import will be readily apparent. In each of these groups (and several others one could no doubt think of) there are (a minority of) beautiful people, a proportion of personable ones, and a majority who are nondescript, or worse. Beautiful people are the most perfect representatives in face and figure of their own particular type; some of the most beautiful individuals are the products of interbreeding between different ethnic or geographical groups ..."(8)

"The beauty which I am concerned with is not 'more than skin deep', but is purely a surface quality, one which is registered on sight, and before one has any chance to appreciate the other qualities the person may possess. And it is not 'in the eye of the beholder'. Beauty goes far beyond personal predeliction or fancy; it appeals to majorities', it is 'in the eye of all beholders', or (given that the disgruntled and the idiosyncratic are always with us), 'almost all beholders'. There would be no point in studying the influence beauty has on people's lives if it were simply a matter of personal taste or choice. (...) Outstanding beauty registers itself immediately and announces itself by the effects it has on beholders; we, most of us, recognise it when we see it."(9)

"Beauty is that entirely physical phenomenon which has a disturbing, enticing, arousing effect on beholders."(9-10)

"What there is will be grabbed by the rich and the powerful. Thus if we wish to track down a cross section of the most beautiful women from any era in the past we should look to those chosen by the royal, the noble and the wealthy as concubines and mistresses - that is, for pleasure, rather than for matrimony, companionship and the breeding of children. Evolutionary theories which confuse physical beauty with breeding potential (and thus absurdly equate wide hips and big bottoms with beauty) fail to understand the lure, for those human beings in a position to achieve their goals, of the sexual possession of a beautiful body. Beauty is an independent quality, inextricably associated with sexual pleasure: it is differential genetic inheritance which leads to a few people being beautiful and most not, but, beyond the undisputed attraction of the aesthetically alluring and the even stronger one of sexual gratification, there is no need at all for evolutionary theories to account for the appeal of beauty. To dispose of arguments which too readily became eugenicist and racist let me state bluntly that the most beautiful is not axiomatically 'the fittest'; one strives to bed a beautiful partner not (despite even the wisdom of Shakespeare) to improve the gene pool, but because the outcome is in itself wondrous. If evolution really tended to the consistent selection of the beautiful and the steady elimination of the plain and the ugly, why is it that, alas, there are still plenty of the latter in every population? [mijn nadruk]"(10)

"Beauty in human beings is always perceived as sexually desirable, though everything that is sexually arousing is not necessarily beautiful.(...) Given freedom from all constraints, what we would like to unite with sexually are the most nearly perfect specimens of our species. What we find most desirable is most beautiful; what is beautiful we wish to possess. I believe that any analogies from the animal kingdom applied to human beings are deeply suspect, our evolution and acculturation having proceeded over thousands of years in highly distinctive circumstances.[mijn nadruk]"(11-12)

[Ik denk dat het eerste niet het geval hoeft te zijn, je kunt ook gewoon iemand om je heen willen hebben omdat het plezierig is om naar haar of hem te kijken. Maar natuurlijk is het ook plezierig om seks te hebben met iemand die je mooi kunt vinden. Met de laatste opmerking over de evolutie ben ik het zeer eens.]

"Being about beauty, this book is also about its absence. Broadly what I have in mind is a fourfold taxonomy ... (...) First, we have the beautiful, a tiny minority: perhaps, today, around five per cent of the male and female population between the ages of, say, sixteen and forty in any major country (from America to China, India to Australia). Then there are the personable, perhaps up to about a third of the same population - those who definitely have some of the qualities of beauty and who have a strong chance of doing well in the realm of self-presentation. After that come what I shall call the ill-favoured, rather more than half of the remaining population; these include those suffering from the ravages of ageing, and range from individuals who are widely recognised among those who know them to possess considerable sexual attractiveness (though, to repeat an absolutely key point, this will not be apparent on sight to beholders), to individuals who will be thought of as homely, to those who are termed plain, to those who are ugly (this term, it should be clear by now, is no more being used in a moral sense than is the term 'beautiful').
Finally there are those who suffer from some significant physical disability. To some readers this sort of taxonomy will reek of what is sometimes called cbody fascism'. Certainly the consciousness of imperfections and blemishes of face and figure causes much misery, and to dwell on them is to be cruel and oppressive. However, as already noted, an investigation of this sort must depend, in an area traditionally beset by polite evasions, on facing the truth."(12-13)

"Universal but not uniform: that is what I am saying about beauty. The range of types recognised today is great ... (...) It has become unexamined dogma that such qualities as beauty (and everything else!) are entirely relative, are 'culturally constructed' ... But if we abandon dogma ... and focus instead on the kind of evidence I am examining here, we may well accept that, granting minor variations in emphasis, concepts of beauty throughout the history of western societies are basically unchanging."(14-15)

"I think it has to be admitted that both in our own eyes, and judged by the types of women being painted just before, and just after Rubens, and indeed by other artists at the time of Rubens, his women are too fat to be beautiful."(16)

"A variety of evidence, then, indicates that Rubens's representations of women were not primarily intended by him to be models of female beauty - he had other purposes in mind."(18)

"My contention is that ideas of what, in the Western World, have constituted human beauty are more universal, and less subject to variation (though they have been subject to expansion and increasing flexibility), than is assumed, practically without reflection or examination, by trendy theory. What has changed though, and that is a central theme of this book, is the way in which beauty is valued. Today, the evidence lies all around us that our civilisation as it exists now has an intense preoccupation with personal appearance, and gives a very high rating to human beauty."(18)

"Since then [na het verschijnen van Marwick's eerste boek Beauty in History: Society, Politics and Personal Appearance, c. 1500 to the Present - GdG] a number of hard-headed economic studies have conclusively demonstrated that in many areas the beautiful get the better jobs, pull in the higher earnings."(20)

[Hij geeft fraai af op Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth. P.20-21]

"No doubt it is unfair that some individuals are beautiful and most are not; but then it is also unfair that a relative minority have musical talent, mathematical talent, artistic talent, literary talent, acting talent, business talent, sporting talent, the uniquely flexible cartilages and joints which make possible the exquisite contortions of the ballet dancer. It's true that exploitation of the main range of human talents calls for dedication, training and hard work in a way that exploitation of beauty generally does not, though, as we shall see in the course of this book, the exploitation of beauty usually does call for elements of thought, patience, strategy and, often, the exercise of another talent or talents. But whether we are talking of the most formidable intellect, the most sublime artistic genius, or merely great natural beauty, each is, ultimately, a gift from the genes. In the past the beautiful cashed in on their looks almost exclusively by granting sexual favours to the powerful. But in modern mass democratic society, though beauty, of course, continues to carry its elemental sexual charge, its commercial value, based on its appeal to masses of people, as consumers, viewers, audiences, no longer depends on sexual transactions (though jobs putting sexuality up for sale continue to blossom - from male prostitution to female lap-dancing). The advantages conferred by beauty can be irritating, even infuriating. But try this simple test: would you really prefer there to be fewer (perhaps even no) beautiful people in the world, or more of them? Most of us recognise that, in fact, we get immense pleasure from the company of beautiful people (of both sexes), from beholding them, and (generally) experience a sense of lift when a beautiful person comes into the room; and that, short of getting what we really want (a stunningly beautiful sex-mate for our ourselves) we would rather have more of the beautiful around than fewer of them. (...) What causes the agony is the mad pursuit of beauty when it is better to recognise that, like the vast majority, we do not possess it, and the failure to recognise that there are so many other worthwhile personal qualities, such as friendliness, generosity and understanding."(21-22)

"The curious point about these feminist and post-feminist works is that, while I have always been concerned with the implications of beauty in men as well as of beauty in women (though my feminist critics refused to give me any credit for this), they are exclusively concerned with looks in women."(23)

"My fundamental point is that beauty is no figment, no myth: beauty exists. It stands out, it arouses desire, it is disturbing; it may bring success, or it may bring tragedy. As two women psychologists, Elaine Hatfield and Susan Sprecher, have put it in their brilliant synthesis based on masses of empirical work, Mirror, Mirror: The Importance of Looks in Everyday Life:
Undoubtedly, it is good to be good-looking when it comes to developing and maintaining personal relationships. Those possessed with good looks seem to have many advantages in their social lives ... people do desire the company of attractive men and women. In most people's fantasies, the 'romantic other' is someone who looks like he/she just stepped out of the pages of Glamour magazine. When men and women do not have to worry about the possibility of being rejected, they tend to prefer the most attractive partner possible ... attractiveness can stimulate passion - the best aphrodisiac seems to be an attractive partner.
Hatfield and Sprecher point out some of the disadvantages beauty can have ..."(23)

"Beauty as aphrodisiac and provoker of sexual fantasy, as well as beauty as enhancement of earning power: these are the blunt, unambiguous ways in which beauty is evaluated today. But throughout the centuries, up until very recently, beauty, while always perceived as exceptional, and therefore as exciting and disturbing, was thoroughly enveloped in ambivalence and confusion."(24)

(25) 2 - Plato, Augustine and Mrs Astell

"From classical times till at least the late nineteenth century the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of the West scratched a living from the land. They were mobile neither geographically nor socially: the peasant lived, worked, married and died within his own community. (...) Again, therefore, personal appearance was scarcely a matter of great concern."(25)

"For the most powerful (and, therefore, male) there certainly were opportunities for exercising the eternal predilection for a beautiful sexual partner, but in marriage, and all formal social and political relationships, considerations of wealth and status always reigned supreme over those of mere physical beauty."(26)

[De vraag is dus of dat nu zo veel anders is.]

"Even today most books about human beauty focus exclusively on women. Though there are exceptions, it is an important part of the traditional evaluation of beauty that it is seen as a quality essentially pertaining to women."(26)

Bespreking van Plato.

"Clearly Plato (or Socrates) did believe deeply in the distinction between the noble beauty of the soul and the wickedly tempting beauty of the body, though there does seem to be more than a touch of wanting to have your crumpet and moralise about it too."(31)

Bespreking van Augustinus.

"As he tell us in the Confessions (400?), written after he had become a Christian, a bishop, and the leading theologian of his day, he frequently succumbed to the temptations presented by attractive young women."(32)

"Augustine made clear his immense debt to Plato, and in his own writing all the abhorrence of lust, all the guilty fastidiousness we find in Plato, appears in spades."(33)

"Augustine also goes on for page after page, and with great gusto, about the evils of sexual desire and sexual activity."(34)

"Here we have the origins of that twisted puritanism, Catholic and Protestant, which had such a devastating impact on ideas about sex, and, of course, about sexual attraction. At the same time, of course, Augustine is recognising sex as 'the greatest of all bodily pleasures', and for all of his strictures against it, he does linger sensuously over the beautiful woman that he imagines Philosophia, or Wisdom, to be: anyone seeing Philosophia's face 'would fly, an impassioned and holy lover, amazed and glowing with excitement to the beauty of Philosophia'."(35)

"Through all medieval discussions of beauty, the insistent theme is that corporeal beauty, where openly recognised to exist, is something for males to admire in females. In medieval Europe the convention became established of beautiful women as the inspiration for male action and heroics. Beauty certainly was considered a valuable asset in medieval monarchs, and the medieval romances do not entirely neglect male personal appearance, but the emphasis is on stature and strength, broad breasts and shoulders, thick strong thighs, and on such characteristics as valour and endurance, rather than on distinction of facial features. Discussing male beauty in the manner in which female beauty had always been discussed is, of course, in large measure unique to the modern, post-1960s evaluation of beauty.[mijn nadruk]"(35)

Bespreking van de eeuwen daarna.

"Among the many departures from tact that the strict pursuit of the aims of this book forces me into is the comment that slimness is always prized in women, and that while the canonisation of that quality may have gone to health-threatening extremes in our own day, it is a complete myth that, in the West, fatness was ever prized."(36)

"On the point that beauty was felt to be a characteristic of women rather than men, however, the evidence is sound."(36)

"The theory, then, was that bodily beauty went with goodness and godliness: along with their conventionalised physical attributes, heroines always have a string of oft-recurring and rather bland epithets applied to them: worthy, godly, virtuous, gentle, meek. But of course, even in the most ritualised society, reality keeps breaking in. With its strong (official) hatred of sexual pleasure, the Christian Church was overly aware of the sinful temptations besetting a beautiful woman since, even if she was inherently virtuous, she would be the object of persistent attentions from desirable males to a degree not encountered by her less well-favoured sisters. Through to at least the early seventeenth century writers from within the Christian fold constantly repeat the same conflicting and hypocritical utterances: within a few pages a writer can define beauty as goodness, attack it for arousing lust, and then proceed to dwell lubriciously on the unseen intimate beauties of a woman's body."(37)

"The city states [dit behandelt de Renaissance - GdG] offered a unique urban environment in which comparisons and choices could be made between attractive members of the opposite sex, and a unique form of courtly life wherein questions of beauty and sexual attractiveness were openly discussed: the whole process was greatly enhanced by the mobility which existed between these north Italian cities. Secondly, humanist thought, which was at full strength at the beginning of the sixteenth century, while not to be identified with secularism, certainly encouraged hedonism and the belief that 'pleasure is the proper purpose of every human act'.(...) "Thirdly, in the Italian city states were gathered the finest artists, and the finest collections of paintings; how beauty should be painted was an important matter for discussion; aesthetic standards were high and could actually be applied in the pursuit of sexual pleasure. Finally, among the privileged of Florence and Urbino, Mantua and Venice, Ferrara, Siena and Lucca, women were less trammelled by conventions and stereotypes than they had been in medieval courts and castles; questions of male beauty came into the reckoning, as well as the more traditional ones of male valour. Indubitably, the position of women, even in circles where 'modern' ideas about beauty were being canvassed, remained very much one of dependency."(41)

"Pride of place, however, must go to Agnolo Firenzuola's Dialogue on the Beauty of Women, first published in 1548. Of a number of similar works [zie deze pagina verderop - GdG] from the sixteenth century this most unambiguously presents the notion of beauty as an independent characteristic, esssentially sexual and unrelated to morality."(43)

"What is most significant in Firenzuola is that beauty and sexual gratification are presented as good ends in themselves, without any need to link one to godliness and condemn the other. For beauty, he says, we see a man forget himself; and on beholding a face graced with this celestial gift, his limbs will quake, his hair stand on end, and he will sweat and shiver at the same time'. Beauty, this natural attribute, the 'celestial gift', is very much not something merely in the eye of the beholder, a matter of subjective judgement:"(44-45)

"Naturally, the perception of beauty as a desirable commodity in its own right did not suddenly disappear with the collapse of the Italian city states: in secure, affluent environments (for example the courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV, or the great houses of some of the most eminent English aristocrats) beauty could be an independent characteristic of great value to its possessor. But the publication of dialogues openly praising sexual beauty ceased; mistrust and moralising took over. For almost all sections of society in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries life was too serious for beauty to play a significant role. For families at the top of the social scale, as also in the relatively comfortable middle, the most pressing requirement was the consolidation or improvement of social status, and the acquisition of a beautiful spouse did not automatically secure that."(46)

(49) 3 - Kings and Concubines

"One gigantic problem is that in the more remote periods (the sixteenth century and earlier, say) it is very difficult to be sure just exactly what any one particular person looked like."(49)

Maar van een aantal bekende namen kan toch wel gezegd worden dat het schoonheden waren, gezien allerlei reacties van tijdgenoten die we hebben. Volgt een uitgebreid verhaal over het hofleven, koningen, prinsen, hofdames, en noem maar op, waaruit blijkt dat de meeste schoonheden aan het hof voordeel konden plukken uit hun schoonheid, tenzij ze TE gretig werden en bijvoorbeeld koningin wilden worden (wat alleen was weggelegd voor vrouwen die pasten binnen bepaalde koninklijke families en politieke verhoudingen) of te veel macht naar zich toe trokken.

"Undoubtedly sex appeal can be found in people who are not beautiful, though whether it has the universal and immediate impact of physical beauty may be questioned."(50)

"These, presumably, are thoroughly definable elements of sex appeal. Many women have ways of indicating - through walk, use of eyes, lips, hips, voice, display of cleavage, of thighs - a profound interest in sex, perhaps a readiness to 'turn tricks'.
It is certainly an observable fact that a woman who knows herself to be less than beautiful may put extra effort into hinting at a possible readiness for sex. Sometimes what is meant by 'indefinable sex appeal' is a selection of the other qualities which endear a woman to a man: style, elegance, wit, intelligence, talent, understanding and compassion. This, however, seems to be to stretching the term 'sex appeal' into meaninglessness, rather as, traditionally, the word 'beauty' has been stretched into meaninglessness."(50-51)

Leeftijd is natuurlijk een bepalende factor wat betreft iemands schoonheid.

"If that sounds like a poisonous compound of ageism and sexism, then I fear that in a study of beauty ageing is not a factor that can be ignored; we are constantly coming up against it, not least in the lives of Henry VIII's six wives."(52)

[Op p.52 heeft Marwick het over "the intense appeal of young girlhood", als hij de bijna zestienjarige Catherina van Aragon beschrijft. Wat bedoelt hij daar precies mee? Dat iemands jeugdigheid een belangrijke reden is voor iemands schoonheid? Dat jonge meisjes - en ik neem aan jongens - door hun leeftijd alleen al vaak prachtig zijn?]

"This draws our attention to an important point. One cannot predict that a person born beautiful will automatically enjoy happiness and success. What one can predict is that their lives are likely to be different from those led by the less comely. For good or ill they will draw attention to themselves: they will have opportunities not open to others. What is made of these opportunities will depend on other personal qualities, and on circumstance. Beauty affects life experiences rather than necessarily life chances."(59)

[Hm, een beetje tegenstrijdig, dit, door die laatste vage zin. Het gegeven dat je schoonheid 'opportunities' voor je opent vertalen we toch als dat je schoonheid je kansen geeft. Dat je in staat moet zijn - via andere persoonlijke eigenschappen en door omstandigheden - om die kansen ook werkelijk te benutten is heel wat anders. Mensen die niet mooi zijn krijgen die kansen niet eens. Je kunt dus maar beter mooi zijn, al is mooi zijn alleen misschien niet genoeg.]

"The stale argument that Pompadour as rendered by Boucher represented the ideal of beauty of the day is completely subverted by the large number of Bouchers featuring truly luscious young women, not differing one whit from one of the types which we find beautiful today."(63)

(71) 4 - Something Handsome and Cheap

"All of the women, and some of the men, cashing in on their looks were in fact doing so by granting sexual favours to one of more persons in positions of power."(71)

"There were, indeed, a number of occupations whose doors were more readily opened to beautiful women than to plain ones, though until the twentieth century the greatest material rewards continued to be secured through some branch of the sex trade: prostitution, concubinage and, in certain circumstances, marriage."(71)

"Here we touch on the general point that in some environments, or some situations, highly praised looks are a comparative, or relative, matter: salonières, ladies who organised and acted as hostesses in 'salons' to which they invited the leading intellectuals and artists of the day, were not, as a group, outstandingly beautiful, but some achieved special eminence because, compared with other women of similar intelligence, talent and culture, they were at least highly personable and sometimes genuinely beautiful."(71)

"In sixteenth-century Italy, and most notably in Venice, there was a special class of sex-worker, the cortigiana onesta (the 'honoured' courtesan, 'honest' in the sense of being 'valued' in a way in which the common prostitute, the meretrice, was not), who, recognised by the state, basically earned her keep from sexual services rendered, but who was also expected to offer cultured and intellectually stimulating companionship."(72)

"D'Alembert was himself no beauty: the blunt truth - plain women preferring beautiful men just as plain men prefer beautiful women - is that, despite his devotion to her, Julie did not fancy him."(74)

[Kijk, dat zijn nu van die uitspraken .. Is het waar dat doorsnee mensen de voorkeur geven aan mooie mensen? Waar is zo'n stelling op gebaseerd? Men zegt ook dat mooie mensen altijd gaan voor andere mooie mensen, maar ook dat is een stelling die onderbouwd zou moeten worden. Misschien is het eerder: iedereen geeft de voorkeur aan mooie mensen? En ook, en misschien wel in het velengde: iedereen geeft de voorkeur aan jonge mensen - veel van Marwicks voorbeelden laten dat zien. Mooie mensen hadden de voorkeur in dienende posities bij rijke mensen - de butlers, kamermeisjes etc. - en in verkoopfuncties toen die ontstonden, zoals ze dat altijd al hadden in artistiek werk zoals in het theater en in sekswerk.]

"Looks mattered in the pre-industrial world. The penalties for being ill-favoured or worse were more severe than they are today. Beauty was noticed and sought after, but attitudes towards it contained much of the traditional ambivalence, and conventions about what constituted beauty and what did not, though ignored by the clear-sighted and the lusty, remained strong. It always had profound effects on the lives of those who possessed it, but did not guarantee happiness and success, and could bring tragedy. Social status and wealth were still more important than personal appearance."(93-94)

(95) 5 - Getting Married

Van de 16e tot en met de 19e eeuw draaide de keuze van een huwelijkspartner niet om lust of schoonheid.

"Beauty, or in this case its absence, is recognised to exist; but, where marriage is contemplated, beauty, as compared with wealth, is not highly regarded, and the discovery of a woman's wealth readily led to a modification of the estimate of her looks or, more accurately, of her desirability in the marriage stakes."(96)

"At the bottom of society, the struggle for existence continued to be so intense that there was little time for the contemplation of beauty on the part of either sex."(98)

"It is characteristic of traditional ideals of beauty that they are largely derived from fictional sources (or visual representations), while the modern appraisal of beauty is based on actual living, moving people, even if those are seen only on film or television."(99)

[Dat is opnieuw een erg vage stelling, een schijntegenstelling tegelijkertijd. Ik denk dat mensen hun beelden van schoonheid toen en nu ontlenen aan fictie zowel als aan echt mooie mensen. De media veranderen misschien, maar in de kern maakt dat niet zo uit vind ik.]

"Do women pay more attention to men's eyes than men, on the whole, pay to women's? It seems likely, as it also seems that women are more flexible in their appraisal of looks in men than men are in appraising women (a difference that can be of importance in matrimonial choices)."(100)

[Is dat een vraag of een stelling? Weer allerlei onbewezen vooronderstellingen hier.]

Marwick geeft vervolgens weer veel voorbeelden, deze keer voornamelijk van dagboeken en zo waarin iemands uiterlijke verschijning niet eens genoemd wordt, laat staan het bestaan van verlangens en andere seksuele gevoelens voor een ander.

"What my cullings from a miscellany of letters and diaries have demonstrated is, that for the mass of humanity, marriage is too serious a matter for beauty, or to be ruthlessly realistic, the absence of it, to be a crucial factor. But we all know that, anyway, don't we? The trouble is, swamped in romantic fiction, film and television, where every lover and every loved one is beautiful, we don't always want to know it."(110)

Vervolgens bespreking van de Franse publicatie uit 1825: The Secret of Conquering Women and Holding Their Affections.

"As travel increased and societies became more mobile, the chances of encountering beautiful persons of the opposite sex increased."(112)

"I think we can safely formulate the maxim that in marriage beauty plays the greatest part amongst those who have the widest choice, and practically no part with those like Thomas Turner or Charlena Anderson, whose choices are circumscribed by social circumstance and their own lack of strong physical attractiveness."(113)

(119) 6 - Grandes Horizontales

Negentiende eeuw wordt besproken.

"But it was also the period of the last of the same, marking the culmination of the process whereby beautiful women, in order to achieve fame and fortune, had first to trade sex. There were more renowned courtesans than ever before, many also being famed for their association with show business, and some for running salons. These grandes horizontales were recruited from an ever-increasing range of nationalities and social classes. Of the twenty-six most celebrated beauties of the Parisian demi-monde, three were Italian, three British, one Spanish, one Austrian and one Russian; from Paris, one took her assets for a spell in Budapest, another for a spell in London, three for spells in St Petersburg. Lola Montez and La Belle Otero went to America, as, from Britain, did dance troupe 'The British Blondes' and courtesan and actress Lillie Langtry. Two were from the nobility, four from the respectable middle classes, twenty (including Schneider) from 'the popular classes'."(121)

"These bare details of birth and origins say no more than that it was possible for a woman of the humblest background to achieve the wealth and celebrity of the demi-mondey to a degree that, Nell Gwyn notwithstanding, had not been true of previous centuries. The same elements of ambition, determination, strategy and luck were required, as we shall see from looking further at some individual cases. Were all of the grandes horizontals beautiful, and was beauty the essential prerequisite? From both the visual and written evidence it is absolutely clear that twenty-five out of the twenty-six courtesans I am speaking of possessed a beauty which we would, most of us, recognise today, and which spirited men recognised at the time."(123)

Allerlei voorbeelden.

"Have I taken it too much for granted that these women were well rewarded for their skilful deployment of their double-edged sword, one edge beauty, the other sex? (...) But most amassed considerable fortunes, and some acquired genuine titles."(129)

"The most important development in the United States with respect to the growth of a modern evaluation of beauty, and enhanced life chances for the beautiful, was the invention of the commercial beauty contest."(134)

"The lines dividing horizontales ('moyennes' and 'petites' as it were, as well as grandes), mistresses, prostitutes and artists' models (we noted the example of Apollonie Sabatier) were constantly fluctuating and seldom rigid. However, a new, entirely respectable calling did begin to emerge, that of mannequin. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the more beautiful salesgirls (often recruited in the first instance, as we have seen, for their looks) began to take on the extra roles of showing off shawls, mantles and cloaks to customers."(139)

"We are back with the oldest profession and the most basic transmutation of beauty into cash. But we have also seen hints of, as I put it, the march of female beauty out of the boudoir and into the public world, to be admired (and paid for) by the masses. During the twentieth century the way in which the beauty of actual people (famous or unknown) was publicised and, in diverse ways, turned in for a cash price, was to have a profound effect on the general evaluation of beauty. Human beings would continue to want to believe in beauty as connoting moral excellence; but the evidence was multiplying that it possessed an entirely independent value (separate, that is, from other personal qualities)."(141-142)

(143) 7 - The Tallest Wins

Over de verkiezingen van regeringsleiders en de rol die uiterlijk daarbij speelt - vooral sinds het algemene kiesrecht en de opkomst van de televisie - in met name de U.S.A. en de U.K..

[Totaal oninteressant hoofdstuk. Langzamerhand wordt het wel erg onduidelijk wat de auteur nu mooi en niet-mooi noemt. Ik betwijfel hier de objectiviteit van de oordelen nogal.]

(161) 8 - Movies

Wéér over regeringsleiders en de rol van uiterlijk in hun verkiezing. Daarna over filmsterren.

[Weer allemaal verhaaltjes over individuele personen, zonder dat er sprake is van een goede analyse van grote lijnen en trends. Een slecht soort geschiedschrijving vind ik dat.]

(191) 9 - The Swinging Sixties

"Entailed within this 'revolution' was the triumph of the modern view of beauty, of physical, 'surface' beauty as possessing an independent value in itself - not, of course, in the hearts and minds of every single individual, but in society at large, in its public mores, its newspapers, its advertisements, its television programmes, its social, cultural and political behaviour. In the traditional view, the prized qualities were social position and wealth; beauty, apart from being an enticement to the sin of lust, was seen as a menace to both of these. Now beauty was universally praised and sought after; it had achieved a kind of parity with class and wealth, and was certainly no enemy to either."(191)

[Ik neem aan dat hij zoiets bedoelt als dat de mooie buitenkant belangrijk gevonden wordt los van allerlei andere karaktereigenschappen en sociale factoren. Het maakt niet uit of je dom of wraakzuchtig of intelligent of wat ook bent, je wordt bijvoorbeeld alleen aangenomen op je 'looks'. Ik denk niet dat dat vroeger anders was en ik denk ook niet dat het toen een bedreiging was voor sociale status en rijkdom, integendeel, de mooie mensen slaagden er juist in via hun schoonheid rijk te worden en status te bereiken, zoals ook nu. Met andere woorden: ik zie nog steeds niet die historische tegenstelling die Marwick de hele tijd naar voren brengt. Als je mooi bent pluk je de voordelen, zo simpel is het.
Ook de opmerking erna "the response to beauty is a deep sexual instinct"(191) komt steeds terug. En ook daarvan geloof ik geen bal.
Hetzelfde voor het bestaan van "different types of beauty"(193): wat zijn dat? Daarmee dreig je te zeggen dat iedereen mooi gevinden kan worden, al naar gelang, en dat geloof ik gewoon niet. Hij geeft overigens ook nergens aan wat hij nu eigenlijk zelf mooi vindt aan een vrouw of man, blijkbaar is er geen standaard voor?]

"If ever there was a time when one particular convention of beauty reigned above all others (and I have suggested that in real life among flesh-and-blood people such conventions matter much less than the theorists of relativism maintain), that time was destroyed in the sixties with films, and television, presenting beauty in its manifold varieties."(194)

[Wat betekent dat nu helemaal? Tja, als je zelfs Twiggy 'mooi' noemt ...]

"First there is the great, and insufficiently recognised paradox to which I have already alluded several times. In the climate of explicitness, the relationship between beauty and sexuality was more openly paraded than ever before; among the highest compliments was to call someone 'sexy' and sexual attractiveness and sexual success were among the most envied and the most highly prized attributes. Yet whereas the fame and fortune of Veronica Franco, Nell Gwyn, Lillie Langtry and, to some degree at least, Marilyn Monroe, had depended on sexual transactions with men, the sheer economic demand now for beautiful faces meant that women, while openly exposing their sexuality (as, indeed, did men in similar roles), were not required to grant actual sexual favours."(200-201)

[Vanwege de economische vraag naar 'mooi' hoefden mooie mannen en vrouwen dus niet meer naar bed met een begunstiger om er beter van te worden? Wat een naïef idee over die film- en modeindustrie.]

"Paul McCartney was uniquely beautiful; George Harrison was darkly beautiful in a rather conventional way; John Lennon was personable and sensitive looking;"(206)

[Vindt wie? Marwick zelf blijkbaar. Wat subjectief allemaal. Ik denk dat er massa's fans van The Beatles waren die John Lennon het mooist vonden en Paul McCartney helemaal niet. Ik vond Paul nooit aantrekkelijk bijvoorbeeld ... ]

"Movie star Robert Redford was a top box-office attraction, universally recognised as the epitome of one type of male beauty ..."(208)

[Weer zo'n oordeel. Hoezo 'universally recognised'? Door wie? Niet door mij. En over een of ander experiment - de 'computer dance' - experiment - schrijft hij:]

"The conclusion was clear: the only apparent determinant of how much each student liked his or her partner, how much he or she wanted to see the partner again, and how often they did in fact see each other, was how physically attractive the partner was. The more physically attractive the partner, the more he or she was liked."(210)

"The conclusion was still that physically attractive partners were markedly preferred by everyone, women as much as men, but that within this general trend it was apparent that men and women of lesser attractiveness did tend to choose less attractive partners than did the highly attractive students. Further experiments confirmed that men generally preferred to date the most physically attractive women, but that this was most pronounced when they were assured of acceptance;"(210-211)

"In all of these academic exercises two features stood out. First they were based on the premise that everyone involved can make, and will accept, distinctions between the beautiful (the 'very attractive') and the lesser levels of attractiveness (that is, the modern conception of beauty in the eyes of all beholders). Secondly, beauty, in a cool and dispassionate way far removed from the heated confusions of traditional discourse, is clearly recognised as a characteristic in itself possessed of high value."(212-213)

En nog wat over presidentsverkiezingen.

(219) 10 - A Gift from the Genes

Wat literatuur zegt over "how those who are beautiful do well compared with those who are not."(220) Austen, Dickens komen aan de orde.

"We noted the suggestions of Nancy C. Baker and Wendy Steiner that beauty should be defined in 'a more human sense', to include concern for others, intelligence, enthusiasm, humour, self-confidence and being worthy of love. And indeed there is an everyday tendency to run together 'beauty of the person' and 'beauty of the mind', so that someone can be described as beautiful without in fact being physically very attractive. This is a very understandable and, indeed, a very human tendency. But if, as a novelist, you are describing human society as it really is, or, as a historian, you are trying to pin down the value human beauty has in different eras, it is a very unhelpful one. If you are to compute the power or the value of beauty, you have to be absolutely clear what it is, and what it is not. Beauty, defined rigorously, is what Baker herself, in The Beauty Trap, recognises as having an independent existence, using the words 'gorgeous face and figure'; [mijn nadruk] beauty is not an omnibus word mopping up everything complimentary we can find to say about a person; if one wants to call someone intelligent, generous, dynamic, humorous, one should praise each of these qualities by name, but not confuse them with 'beauty', used in the vague, blanket way of that much abused epithet, 'nice'."(220)

[Ja, is al eerder gezegd. Maar nog steeds is dan niets duidelijk: wat voor 'face'? wat voor 'figure'? En waarom zouden alleen fysieke kwaliteiten iemand (seksueel) aantrekkelijk maken?]

"The problem, of course, is that, such is the desire of almost everyone to be thought sexually attractive, people prefer to be described as beautiful - the power and value of beauty is so universally recognised that we all like to lay claim to a piece of it, despite, with most of us, there being no validity in the claim."(220)

[Vage zin. Is 'sexually attractive' nu weer hetzelfde als 'beautiful'? En even later zegt hij weer "I was obliged to be rigorous in my definition of beauty"? Nou, daar heb ik niets van gemerkt dan.]

"Psychologist Nancy C. Etcoff sums up with true scientific caution: 'the assumption that beauty is an arbitrary cultural convention may simply not be true'. My historical researches (always open, of course, to challenge from further such research) suggest that it is very definitely not true. There is one other consideration: songs, sagas, poems speak to us directly across the centuries of the power and fascination of human beauty. Is it really believable that all that passion, all that joy, all that despair was lavished on what was merely a cultural construct?"(222)

[Waarom is dat een tegenstelling? Schoonheid heeft altijd enorme indruk gemaakt en werd inderdaad bezongen. Binnen een bepaalde context was het voor iedereen heel duidelijk wie mooi was en wie niet. Maar dat betekent nog niet dat schoonheid geen culturele / sociale constructie is. En dat gezeur over "beauty as a relative constant and a relative universal"(222) zegt helemaal niets.]

"The historical evidence demonstrates that as they have achieved greater economic and social freedom women have tended more and more to judge men as men have always judged women - that is on looks."(224)

"So we return to the central theme of this book: the way in which, out of the old ambivalences and confusions about beauty, there emerged a modern attitude, a modern evaluation, in which the hallowed myths are ripped away, and in which beauty, in men as well as women, is recognised as an independent personal characteristic whose value rivals that conferred, traditionally, by status, or wealth, or, more recently, by education, or by some other marketable talent, in, say, music, or storytelling, or property development, or stock manipulation, or, to come bang up to date, football. Within the bedroom, beauty is the greatest aphrodisiac there is, a fact understood by the masses outside, for whom it is possessed of enormous vicarious sex appeal, which explains why it can command such high prices. Throughout most of history, women could only exploit their beauty through providing powerful men with sexual services; now that there are mass audiences, masses of customers and clients, all paying to enjoy sex appeal at a distance, provision of such services is no longer the essential precondition of success."(224-225)

[Herhaling van zetten. Ik zie die historische ontwikkeling niet, ik zie niet waarom schoonheid per se iets te maken heeft met sex-appeal.]

"Beauty, as I have insisted throughout this book, is only skin deep, is only a surface characteristic. Where image is all-important, natural beauty is a specially valuable component - it comes without extra cost, and it is the human quality with the most powerful, the most immediate supercharge, being the instant visual aphrodisiac."(226)

[En opnieuw ... En opnieuw opsommingen van acteurs en actrices en andere beroemdheden die mooi zijn of niet mooi 'zijn'. Omdat ze in lijstjes van de 100 mooiste vrouwen of mannen staan die gemaakt worden door marketingafdelingen, de mediaindustrie of wat ook? En dan niet zien dat uiterlijke schoonheid een culturele constructie is? Wat een oppervlakkigheid. En wat een slechte analyse. De man gooit werkelijk alles door elkaar.]

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