Tuesday, July 24, 2012
How do I know you? Let me count the ways.
I know you by height and width and shape
That negative space outline your body fills
I know you by the way your hair goes to springy curls in the rain
Misbehaving brown corkscrews shot with gold
And by the lilt your tongue gives certain vowels when you’re aroused
Or the rickety clack your tone takes when you’re annoyed
I know you by the company you keep
Ragged men with ragged souls
I know you by the places you haunt
Junkyards of lost causes that you find new uses for
I can’t wax poetic about a blue-eyed devil or patrician noses or chiseled jaws
But I know you on the inside
That when you walk through a door, I’ll feel like the sun is rising inside me
I know you are the only one who makes me feel an inner sun
And despite all the times a haircut or a new hat or a cold in your head
Tricks me into thinking I don’t know you
I believe that if one day we met on level ground
As spirits rather than bodies
I would know you
Because I know you from the inside out
I know you by heart
I’m face blind, which means that while I see fine and without glasses, I can’t record a memory of facial features. I’ve always learned people from the inside out. My brain might not deliver an information file when I see a face, but I have a sense of people, a physical response to their presence. Some give me a warm feeling that makes me smile and others set my teeth on edge. I’ve met one or two that that turned my blood to ice. They are serving time in prison for murder.
Recent research backs up my sense of knowing people without my eyes. When a face blind subject looks at a photo of a friend or family member that she doesn’t recognize, her skin conductance (measure of emotional response) changes. I call that knowing someone by heart instead of by head. Which way would you rather be known?
I would rather be known by heart. I may be biased. It baffles me how important pictures are to everyone on the internet. We’ve leveled the playing field. It’s possible for everyone to be known and appreciated for the individual they are inside, but people seem to need those headshots before they know for sure if they like someone.
I was signing up for a class this weekend and my friend was leaning over my shoulder saying, “That teacher looks evil. You sure you want to do this?” I had fallen in love with the idea of taking the class when I read the first paragraph of his course introduction. I want to learn storytelling from the man who wrote that paragraph. It never occurred to me to look at the instructor’s headshot. What can you learn from a picture? I can’t learn much. Tell me what pictures tell you.
I laughed at an email this morning about the best writers' websites. The blogger was going on about how great the author pictures were. How friendly and likeable. It seemed to be his criteria for judging the quality of their product. Don’t you want authors with wild hair and wild eyes? Don’t you want that mad genius look? Sometimes I feel like an alien from another world. Does my face blindness make me see everything differently?
If you're intrigued by the idea of seeing with more than your eyes, or by face blindness, my newest novel contains a face blind character and her journey into learning to see with more that her eyes.
You can grab a copy here:
You can catch me weekly blogging erotic poetry and flash fiction at www.NaraMalone.com
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Posted by Meg Benjamin at 4:00 AM