Jesus, famously, said that the eyes were the lamp of the body. This repays thought. The level of expression which we bring through our eyes is possibly greater than that through any other body part. We can convey desire, joy, insolence, indifference, boredom, barriers to understanding and an internal attitude that even our smile cannot hide. So when they are described as a window to the soul, that is also true. You know, when you are looking at someone directly into their eyes, that a whole world of meaning is sitting there. If we turn our eyes away, it is a message that we do not want to be explored in that way.

Hugh_specsBut since Roger Bacon and Alessandro della Spina started using and manufacturing eyeglasses, we have insisted on covering our faces with bits of glass or smoky quartz, sometimes invisible, sometimes gloriously visible – lampshades for the lamp of the body, if you will. They bring character to our faces, and can be used to hide or refract aspects of our souls in the same way that a prism refracts light. I find this particularly interesting now because the last 5 years has seen a growth in the kind of glasses that I feel would be more suited to a robot than a human. They are narrow and rectangular, but not in a good way. And for me, the net effect is that it makes the faces of those who wear them more rigid, possibly more determined, more clinical, less compassionate, more protected from the outside world than glasses before. I can’t imagine a farmer wearing them.

x_eyes_048_front__43613_1278443124_1280_1280It hardens the edges and the angularity of the face, makes the overall effect more challenging. They do not so much frame the eye as redefine its shape. They take the softness of the natural form, the curve and depth, and turn it into a 2-D representation of the visual facility. I have seen a lot of young women wearing these recently – it adds little to their attraction, but it hardens them in an indefinable way. Anyone who sees the way I dress will know that I am a long way from being able to comment on fashion trends, but in this, I feel a great sadness, as though for the first time, like reflective sunglasses in the seventies, people have found a way of protecting themselves against an unknown and fear-inducing future. They seem to me to be refuting the openness that leads to fellowship and community. And to see this in the reflected attitudes of adults so young – it is probably not a tragedy, but in a strange way, it feels like one, a small shift along the equilibrium from fully human to industrial….

Is this just tosh? Or does anyone else notice this?


About Huw Humphreys

I am a headteacher in the city of Milton Keynes, where I have been since April 2011, looking to make education effective for the whole child and keeping a distant relationship with the powers that be and their narrowing approach to education... but most of all I am looking to find out what it means to be both a follower of Jesus Christ and a passionate educator in the midst of an unsettled community. I am also a part time musician, part time linguist and lover of history and literature...committed both to freedom to learn and depth of learning for all our children. The views on this blog are all my own, and not in any way those of the school I lead!

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