I read another book on the way TO Mississippi . . . “Emotions Revealed,” by Paul Ekman. Ekman is an expert at facial expression. He has identified the facial expressions that are universal, shared even by primitive people who have never seen civilized people before. His book teaches us how to identify true expressions of anger, surprise, fear, disgust, contempt, and sorrow. Fascinating!
If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink,” you’ve read several pages about Ekman’s work. Ekman is the one who proved that if we make a certain facial expression for a while, we begin to experience the physical sensations (high blood pressure, pounding pulse, etc), that accompany that expression.
But to my point–I was particularly intrigued by Ekman’s ideas on disgust. This gets a little–well, disgusting–but it proves something I find fascinating. We are disgusted by things (physical discharges, in particular) that are out of their proper place.
For instance–your mouth contains saliva. So does mine. That realization doesn’t freak us out. But spit into a glass of water, then drink it? Ick. No way, even though the saliva was in my mouth only a minute before.
(In college, my pals on the Youth Aflame drama team did this skit where they took turns pretending to wake and do things with a glass of water–brush teeth, spit, squeeze a pimple, etc. And then the last one would drink the water down. I ALWAYS gagged and had to turn away. I simply couldn’t watch.)
Spit isn’t the only thing that disgusts me. Roaches do, too. And I think it’s because if I see one in my house, I’m upset because he’s out of his proper place . . . which is ANYWHERE but in my house. Randy Alcorn keeps assuring me that I won’t be disgusted by roaches when I see them on the new earth (and maybe even in heaven), because roaches are God’s creatures, too . . .
Disgust is signaled by nose wrinkling and a raised upper lip, sometimes with lowered brows. Contempt–usually directed at people, not things–often adds a lip raised in a one-sided smirk.
So . . . next time you see something disgusting in your kids’ bathroom sink, glance up at the mirror . . . and you’ll see a wrinkled nose, a raised lip, and maybe even lowered brows. Then you can laugh.
P.S. I didn’t mention why I was in Mississippi, did I? That’s another story . . .:-)
P.S.S. Any requests for book of the month? I’m open . . .