Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chapter 6, The Transparent Body: Biocultures of Evolution, Eugenics and Scientific Racism

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt

Link here for video. Observation - every detail of human body. Studied details of human body, strive to understand how to reproduce. Greeks produced a realistic human body. Effect realism has on a culture.

Kritios Boy. Realism. Greek, around 480 BC. Link here for more info.

Michel Foucault, French philosopher, 1926-1984.  Link here for more on Foucault.

Physiognomy - fiz-ee-og-nuh-mee

"This idea of beauty is like an essence extracted from matter by fire; it seeks to beget onto itself a creature formed after the likeness of the first rational being designed in the mind of the divinity." 
The ideal was also exclusively white. "As white is the color which reflects the greatest number of rays of light, and consequently is the most easily perceived, a beautiful body will, ac-cordingly be the more beautiful the whiter it is." Joachim Winckelmann.   The ideal embodies perfection, he believed, something that no actual human was capable of fully achieving, though a small few came close. It was, in short, an ideal of beauty that was essentially exclusionary. 

Classical Antiquity, Apollo Belvedere, circa 120-140, white marble, 88 inches, Vatican Museums.  Ideal aesthetic perfection for Europeans

Birth of Venus, Botticelli, 1485

Johann Lavater, Swiss Protestant minister, published essays on Physiognomy.
Above image a sample of his work from 1810.

Petrus Camper, Dutch anatomist, Treatise on the Natural Difference of Features in Persons of Different Countries, 1775. 

Measure intelligence and ability. The facial angle, invented by Petrus Camper in the 1770.  Dr. Samuel Morton, Crania Americana, book, 1839. The book portrayed American Indians as inherently violent and incapable of education due to their facial angle. Morton's book provided scientific justification for Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act, which turned America's original inhabitants into refugees and led to genocide.

1920's, American Eugenics Society, "Fitter Families for American Firesides".    

Circa 1915.  After US Civil War ethnic landscape transformed.  Johnson-Reed Act of 1924.  Jim Crow laws 1876 - 1965.

Louis Agassiz, Swiss scientist.  Races came from separate origins (separate creations), classified into specific climatic zones, compare to classification of animal and plants.
 Chart above 1855.
Theories fuel argument for slavery in United States.  

Carolus Linnaeus, born Sweden 1707.  Botanist,  Physician, Classification system Genus-Species - pays little attention to internal anatomy.  Genus - group to which it belongs.  Species - specific name within genus.

 Thomas Rice, a white entertainer, invented the character "Jim Crow" in 1828.  Reconstruction - Civil Rights.

American Museum of Natural History, founded 1869.  Hall of Man.  Eugenics Society Meetings. Link here for website.

Link here for film clip.  Source is Trefethen Studios.
The idea that there was an “Aryan” race was proposed by certain 19th century writers and was taken up by Hitler and other proponents of racist ideology, but it has been generally rejected by scholars..
Time Magazine, Monday, June 2, 1930, Article - Medicine: German Hygiene Museum.  Linkhere.
"The transparencies of organs and bones fascinated visitors. Dr. Werner Spalteholz, professor of anatomy at the University of Leipzig, developed them. He treats the heart, for example, with a solution which hardens cavities, arteries, veins. Then he soaks the organ in reagents which change the flesh of the heart into a transparent jelly. The observer can see the hidden blood vessels intricately intertwined like the roots of a seaweed."

Transparent Woman, 1958

Jaipreet Virdi is a PhD candidate at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto.  Her blog discusses the Transparent Man.  Link here.

Current Day, Plastic Surgery.  "One such principle is that the perfect face can be divided into equal thirds. This is based on the mathematics of the golden proportion devised by the Greek mathematician Eudoxus and used since then in architecture and art. It was Pythagoras, another Greek mathematician, who determined that this formula also could be the basis for the portions of the human figure, and Leonardo da Vinci, some 2,000 years later, used this golden proportion to show that the face should be divided into three equal horizontal spaces. The famed artist showed how these spaces are further subdivided into spaces occupied by the facial features. Aesthetic balance is achieved when the facial features fall within these parameters. To determine the "thirds," use a photograph and divide your face into three sections by drawing horizontal lines through the forehead hairline, the brow, the base of the nose, and at the lower margin of the chin. On the ideal face, the three sections are equal." Source link here

Man With A Glove painted by Titian, 1520-23.

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