[lit-ideas] Re: Sunday Wotsit

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2008 11:35:42 -0700

A chaplain's dusty term--see notes for ref--leads me to this week's brief, which is to suggest a new discipline, naseology. Based on sudden insight had, ironically, while brushing my teeth, I re-wrote in my head the answer to an exam question some thirty or more years old. In both Pascal's day and that of Cleopatra, I reasoned, there must have been people who admired huge map hooters. How else does the famous person's pensee make sense, "if Cleopatra's nose had been a half an inch shorter, the face of human history would have been different"? Note the "shorter." Anthony liked her big beak; so did Pascal.

In class I have sometimes mentioned possibly studying the nose in art, confirming or challenging the hypothesis that in paintings noses, like breasts and other parts on which we fix, are mixes of the real and the imaginary, in size and shape influenced by fashion. Try, as a dip test, to call to mind a nose broken in brawl or war, a European one clearly inherited from Genghis Khan, a poxed proboscis? They exist, but they're hard to recall. I imagine many painters, on introduction to the sitter's chamber, being taken quietly aside by the chamberlain or lady's maid, "About that nose..."

Students might pursue the "hemline" thread, consider whether fashion for big conks was linked to the stock market's rise. Then there's the biographical aspect and the study of command: what is the link between being able to look down a long schnozz at people and success on or off the battlefield? Caesar started this, but Lord Wellington deserves a chapter to himself. And then there's Abe, the nose in poetry, caverns measureless to man.

Carry on.

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/miscellanea/ cleopatra/bust.html http://books.google.com/books? id=5s8IAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&dq=naseology&source=web&ots=- iGhbeDvnJ&sig=iUnjckeG7p5NE3IlEZRNOZNXu60&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resn um=2&ct=result

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