2020-11-25 13:44:35 来源:参考消息网 责任编辑:郭庆娜

What We Miss When We're Masked

我们戴口罩时想念的东西

Mary Laura Philpott 玛丽·劳拉·菲尔波特

few months into the coronavirus pandemic, I started seeing a new physical therapist for my cranky back. His name is Matt. But I might not be able to pick Matt's face out of a photo lineup, because I've never seen more than his eyes and forehead. He probably wouldn't recognize a picture of me either; we've both been masked for the entirety of our acquaintance.

With the exception of my immediate family, when I see people these days, I see only the slice of face between their hairline and the bridge of their nose. I miss seeing people's faces. Their whole faces.

Many socially distanced citizens the world over now understand the concept of skin hunger, the mental and physical malaise that comes from going too long without being touched.

But what about face hunger? English has a word for something similar: Pareidolia means seeing familiar shapes in unfamiliar objects, including seeing faces where none exist. That's what happens when you look at a cloud and see a cherub-cheeked smile, or when you spy Jesus in your toast. It's why I imagine my car's front grill and headlights are grinning at me. Our brains interpret lines, curves, and shadows as faces so often because they're constantly scanning for meaning, and faces mean a lot to us humans.

Seeing family and friends' faces virtually on FaceTime is far better than nothing, but I'd rather see their living, breathing faces in real time. Like a lot of people, I have a case of screen fatigue. My eyes are tired of two-dimensional digital approximations of people, and Zoom meetings often feel like group staring contests. Paradoxically, the technology that purports to bring us closer also flattens our likenesses and drains them of life.

There's a reason people say “It's so good to see your face!” and not “It's so good to see your elbows!” As poets had been writing about for centuries before Charles Darwin wrote The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, faces showcase our feelings and personalities.

Our brains are wired to detect faces. I suspect that's why I have unexpectedly come to love the magnifying mirror in my bathroom, an “amenity”I swore until recently I would never own. But after four decades of reliable eyesight, my perfect vision evaporated. My friends had warned me that middle age would bring farsightedness, but I had no idea it could happen seemingly overnight. One day, I bought a pair of fuchsia-framed reading glasses at the drugstore, and I installed a makeup mirror on a stainless-steel arm over my bathroom sink.

I didn't time my blurry vision to coincide with our current era of face deprivation. It just happened that way. But my longing for faces makes me greet my own with extra interest and kindness. It feels good to see and be seen in return—always, but especially when separated from the rest of humanity. We need to lay eyes on one another just like we need to lay hands on one another. Being unable to do so creates a particular kind of yearning, even grief. Say what you will about the ending of Cast Away; to me,the saddest scene in the movie comes when Wilson the volleyball floats away, leaving Tom Hanks sobbing for his friend with the face made from a handprint.

Who knows when it will be safe to bare all our facial features to the world again? Until then,

I continue to look more closely at not just my own face but other people's faces, even masked. From six feet away, I zero in on what the mask doesn't cover—the color of eyelashes, the curve of earlobes. I see details, pores, tiny pulsing movements, all telegraphing the truth that we are each so strong, so delicate, so singular. You can see it if you really look:We are all so alive.

新冠疫情暴发几个月后,我开始去找一位新的理疗师治疗我背部的毛病。他名叫马特。但我可能无法从一堆照片中挑出马特的脸,因为我从来没见过他的眼睛和额头以外的部分。他大概也认不出我的照片,因为我俩在整个相识相交过程中都戴着口罩。

除了我的直系亲属之外,现如今当我看到人时,我看到的只是他们的发际线和鼻梁之间的那一部分脸。我想念看到人们的脸——他们的整张脸。

世界各地众多保持社交距离的公民现在都理解了皮肤饥渴症的概念,这种心理和生理上的疾病是由于太长时间没被触摸造成的。

但面孔饥渴症又是怎么回事?英语里有一个词描述了类似的现象:空想性错视(Pareidolia),它指的是在不熟悉的物体上看到熟悉的形状,包括看到并不存在的面孔。当你在云朵上看到小天使般的笑脸或是在烤面包片上看到耶稣,那就属于这种情况。这就是为什么我想象我的车的前栅格和前大灯在对我咧着嘴笑。我们的大脑常常把直线、曲线和阴影解读为面孔是因为它们在不断搜寻意义,而面孔对我们人类来说意义重大。

在视频通话中以虚拟方式看到家人和朋友的面孔比什么都没有要强得多,但我宁愿实时看到他们鲜活的、带气息的面孔。和很多人一样,我也有屏幕疲劳的情况。我的眼睛厌倦了人们的二维数字近似形象,而软视软件会议常常感觉像是集体干瞪眼大赛。矛盾的是,旨在拉近我们距离的技术也抹平了我们的相貌,使它们失去了生气。

人们说“看到你的脸真好!”而不是“看到你的肘真好!”是有道理的。正如诗人们在查尔斯·达尔文写出《人与动物的情感表达》之前的数百年里一直所写的那样,面孔展示了我们的情感和个性。

我们的大脑天生就会探测面孔。我怀疑这就是为什么我会意外地爱上了我浴室里有放大功能的化妆镜。直到不久前我还发誓永远不要这种“便利设施”。但是在拥有了40年可以信赖的视力后,我完美的视力消失了。朋友曾警告我,人到中年就会远视,但我没想到它似乎能在一夜之间发生。有一天,我在杂货店买了一副紫红色边框的老花镜,并在浴室面盆上方的不锈钢横杆上装了一面化妆镜。

我并没有选择自己视力变模糊的时间,让它正好发生在当前我们不准露脸的时期。事情就这样发生了。但是,我对面孔的渴望使我对自己的脸格外感兴趣和亲切。看到人、也被人看到的感觉很好——一向如此,但在与其他人分隔时尤其如此。我们需要彼此用目光接触,就像我们需要彼此用手接触一样。无法这样做就会产生一种特别的思念,甚至是忧伤。不管你怎么评价《荒岛余生》的结尾,对我来说,影片中最伤感的一幕是:排球“威尔逊”漂走,留下汤姆·汉克斯为他那个用掌印做成面孔的朋友哭泣。

鬼知道什么时候才能安全地把我们的五官全都再次暴露在这个世界面前?在那之前,我不仅会继续更加近距离地看自己的脸,而且会去看别人的脸,即使他们戴着口罩。在6英尺以外的地方,我把目光对准口罩没有遮住的部分——睫毛的颜色,耳垂的弧线。我看到细节、毛孔、轻微的脉动,它们全都在传达一个事实,即我们每个人都是如此坚强、如此细腻、如此非凡。如果你真的去看,你就能看到:我们全都如此充满活力。(王雷译自美国《大西洋》月刊网站11月10日文章)

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