About Face by Jonathan Cole
(Face Biology)

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What is special about the face, and what happens when neurological conditions make expression of comprehension of the face unavailable? Through a mix of science, autobiography, case studies, and speculation, Jonathan Cole shows the importance not only of facial expressions for communication among individuals but also of facial embodiment for our sense of self. He presents, in his words, "a natural history of the face and an unnatural history of those who live without it". Drawing on work in neurology, human development, anthropology, philosophy, and the arts, the book moves from the biological evolution of the face, through the mechanics of expressionism and perception, to research on the importance of the face in the development of emotion and communication. The heart of the book, though, lies in the experience of people with facial losses of various kinds. The case studies are of blind, autistic, and neurologically impaired persons; the most extreme case involves Mobius syndrome, in which some individuals are born with a total inability to move their muscles and hence to make facial expressions. Cole suggests that it is only by studying such personal narratives of loss that we can understand facial function and something of what all our faces reflect. As the author advances his natural history and theory of the face, he reveals something of our nature and how it is defined, in part, by the face.

About Jonathan Cole

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Jonathan Cole, D.M., F.R.C.P., is Consultant in Clinical Neurophysiology, Poole Hospital, and at Salisbury Hospital (with its Spinal Centre), a Professor at Bournemouth University and a visiting Senior Lecturer, Southampton University.
Published January 1, 1998 by The MIT Press. 223 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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This British neurologist's natural history of the face opens with a delicately empathic case study of Mary, an elderly woman who becomes depressed and isolated after an ailment deprives her of fac

Dec 29 1997 | Read Full Review of About Face (Face Biology)