Wednesday November 3, 2021
Public smiling in photographs probably started in the 1920s. Photography just took too long for people to hold a smile in the early years of photography. So, they sat still instead of sitting happy. Then photos got faster and people started to smile for those photos. But, probably most if not all of us suspect people actually did smile prior to 1920. We just don’t have photo-documentation. And way long ago, George Washington probably didn’t smile for his portrait because his ivory-tooth dentures hurt.
Dr. David Cook eloquently pondered smiles on Facebook recently saying “The stunning smile lowers perception as it raises pulse; the beautiful smile inspires as it lifts spirits. One smile owns you; one frees you. One you see; one sees you. One absorbs; one reflects. One is of the flesh; one, of the heart. The stunning smile too quickly fades; the beautiful smile shines on and on.”1
Ya gotta love a good smile. That assumes you can recognize a smile. Can everyone tell the difference between a wry smile suggesting some deeper internal knowledge and a big grin?
Ayn Rand described faces at length in her writings. In The Fountainhead, Rand describes Dominique Francon: “She did not smile, but her face had the lovely serenity that can become a smile without transition.” Or, in describing what Dagny Taggart saw upon opening her eyes after crashing at Galt’s Gulch in Atlas Shrugged: “It was a face that had nothing to hide or to escape, a face with no fear of being seen or of seeing, so that the first thing she grasped about him was the intense perceptiveness of his eyes—he looked as if his faculty of sight were his best-loved tool and its exercise were a limitless, joyous adventure, as if his eyes imparted a superlative value to himself and to the world—to himself for his ability to see, to the world for being a place so eagerly worth seeing.” 2