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Soraya Tremayne

This article examines the interface between modernity and traditional cultural values. It suggests that Iranian society, in spite of its Islamic theocratic regime, is on one level an open society and has shown a surprising degree of flexibility in adapting to change. Yet on another level, Iran remains a closed society with strong cultural ties that act as unifying factors controlling the boundaries of interaction between the old and the new. One of the manifestations of the deep-rooted values that determine the form and extent of the acceptance of modernity is the consideration of one’s ‘face’ in public. ‘Face’ acts as a regulating agent directing the choices people make vis-à-vis societal change. The article concludes that social interactions and decisions taken by individuals in all public aspects of their lives, regardless of class, age, ethnic origins or gender, continue to be profoundly influenced by ‘face’.

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Howard Cooper

There are many approaches to reading the Hebrew Bible, from the pietistic in both Jewish and Christian traditions to the scholarly. Gabriel Josipovici’s approach is not about seeking the reductive ‘meaning’ of a text, but encouraging readers into an open relationship with the text in order to preserve the ambiguities and mysteries that adhere to such texts. Joseph’s encounter with an unnamed stranger in Genesis 37 is used as an illustration of this approach. Standing ‘face to face’ with the text requires humility, and trust in the storyteller.

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'of all things a face appeared'

Reading Faces in Samuel Beckett's "That Time"

Joshua Powell

In his study of psychology in the 1930s, Samuel Beckett registered a number of ideas regarding the face. He took note of the Gestalt idea that the baby is born with the innate ability to distinguish the figure of a face from a blurry buzzing background. His interest was also piqued by the finding that one's perception of a facial expression might change depending on how much of the face is made visible. These ideas would influence his later work. Focusing on the short play That Time, this article looks at Beckett's dramatic presentation of a face alone in the dark. It compares Beckett's approach to face-reading with the study of the face that developed in twentieth-century experimental psychology. Beckett, I suggest, is working with the idea, common in experimental psychology, that facial expressions can be produced involuntarily and perceived effortlessly. However, he also draws attention to a more effortful mode of producing and perceiving faces. Finally, the article situates Beckett's portrayal of the face in relation to a modern culture that increasingly recognises – and celebrates – the face's unmanageability, but has not stopped attempting to manage the face.

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Postwar Facial Reconstruction

Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face

Stefanos Geroulanos

This essay proposes a reading of Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face that focuses on the cultural and philosophical contexts of the face, its destruction, and imagined reconstruction in postwar France. The film foregrounds the protagonist's lack of a face and the effort to restore it into a cinematic argument heralding the ruin of natural beauty and genuine face-to-face relations, an approach that in turn theorizes the postwar world as premised on ethical and aesthetic opacity. By considering contemporary treatments of the face, as well as the representations of injury and violence, the essay argues that at stake in the political and aesthetic judgments proposed by the failed face transplants in the film was a concern with the technological reconstruction of a natural and pure state, a reconstruction that was now seen as impossible and could have devastating consequences at the ethical and aesthetic levels.

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Daniel Dayan

This text transposes, in the form of an article, the main themes tackled by the director Ygal Bursztyn in his book Face, Battlefield (Tel Aviv, Hakibbutz Hameuhad, 1990). Daniel Dayan thanks the author and the translator Sonia Hadida for their collaboration on this adaptation, reproduced with the kind permission of the review Hermes.

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Cutting the Face

Kinship, State and Social Media Conflict in Networked Jordan

Geoffrey Fitzgibbon Hughes

The local uptake of new media in the Middle East is shaped by deep histories of imperialism, state building, resistance and accommodation. In contemporary Jordan, social media is simultaneously encouraging identification with tribes and undermining their gerontocratic power structures. Senior men stress their own importance as guarantors (‘faces’), who restore order following conflicts, promising to pay their rivals a large surety if their kin break the truce. Yet, ‘cutting the face’ (breaking truces) remains an alternative, one often facilitated by new technologies that allow people to challenge pre-existing structures of communication and authority. However, the experiences of journalists and other social media mavens suggest that the liberatory promise of the new technology may not be enough to prevent its reintegration into older patterns of social control.

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Khul‘ Divorce in Egypt

How Family Courts Are Providing a ‘Dialogue’ between Husband and Wife

Nadia Sonneveld

In the year 2000, Egyptian women were given the right to unilateral divorce through a procedure called khul'. Khul' became the source of much controversy in Egyptian society, and most judges interviewed by the author expressed a negative viewpoint when asked about it. Nevertheless, the introduction of the Family Court system in 2004, with the explicit aim of solving marital disputes through mediation and communication, has made possible a 'dialogue' between husband and wife in a khul' procedure. This applies even in situations where mediators and judges profess an unfavourable opinion of women who file for khul' divorce.

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Baya Messaoudi

Beaucoup de philosophes et d’écrivains décrivent aujourd’hui la complexité de la relation homme/animal. Elle repose sur « l’imposture » et « l’hallucination » selon certains, et sur l’échange et le partage selon d’autres. Pour Sartre, le problème se pose surtout en termes de liberté. Même si le chien vit auprès de l’homme, et trouve dans son milieu socio-culturel ses aliments et son abri, il ne s’y intègre qu’à moitié. Le chien ne se fond pas complètement dans le monde humain, sa situation particulière l’oblige aussi à s’en tenir à l’écart. Cet article veut montrer un Sartre qui révèle les « pièges de la domestication ». L’animal possédé est privé de sa liberté. Le maître veut rendre sa vie meilleure, en s’appuyant sur tout ce que le chien peut lui procurer comme joie, et qui le protège de son « obscène » et « fade » existence.

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Beata Stawarska

This article discusses experimental studies of facial imitation in infants in the light of Sartre's and Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological theories of embodiment. I argue that both Sartre's account of the gaze of the other and Merleau-Ponty's account of the reversibility of the flesh provide a fertile ground for interpreting the data demonstrating that very young infants can imitate facial expressions of adults. Sartre's and Merleau-Ponty's accounts of embodiment offer, in my view, a desirable alternative to the dominant mentalistic interpretation of facial imitation in terms of the theory of mind.

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Élisabeth A. Vallet

Quoi qu’il arrive, la page du débat interminable sur la réforme institutionnelle sera terminée2 » déclarait le ministre de l’Intérieur en annonçant la consultation de la population corse sur l’avenir institutionnel de l’île3. C’était méconnaître l’extraordinaire volatilité de la vie politique insulaire. Tandis qu’une (courte) majorité d’électeurs s’est prononcée contre le projet soumis au référendum local du 6 juillet 2003, la Corse semble de nouveau aux prises avec ses démons. Si le refus de pousser plus avant la réforme institutionnelle a été interprété par certains comme un recul, il reste que la nature et la portée de la réforme constitutionnelle portant sur la décentralisation qui a précédé la consultation paraît aller dans le sens du renforcement des acquis corses au sein de la République. Cette actualité n’est que le reflet d’une relation complexe entre l’île et le gouvernement central, menant inéluctablement vers la pleine reconnaissance du particularisme corse, et ultimement vers la redéfinition de l’architecture de la République.