kaigou: I knew it! not in the sense of knowing it, but I knew there was something I didn't know. (3 knew it but didn't know it)
[If you haven't read the other posts in this ongoing conversation-with-myself, you'll probably find it helpful to do so, to get some of the context before reading this post.]

The first, and maybe most important, thing to keep in mind (even if it did take me awhile to figure this out) is that absence of a thing does not automatically indicate presence of something else. I know, that's basic logic, but still. It's easy to forget.

The second is that if what you're about to read strikes you at any point as wrong, or wrong-headed, or simply not-okay to think... I get that. Chances are, I agree with you. But I also think that sometimes, you have to say the stupid thing out loud to fully grasp the depth of stupidity. Yes, there's that whole thing about needing to pull up your pants, but I think sometimes that reminder/colloquialism is misinterpreted (willfully or no) as a message to simply not speak of this. To cram the reaction or statements down somewhere, hide that ignorance away lest everyone see clearly that we retain some ingrained ignorance.

But this is something I can tell I need to work out, to understand what's going on in my brain, before I can understand what it means, let alone what to do about it. If saying it aloud (typing it aloud?) here gets me farther along to see any wrongness, then I'm willing to take the chance of looking like an idiot. If the alternative is denying a possible flaw, I'd rather look like an idiot. At least the second can be fixed, but the first never would be.

The reversal of recognition, single ethnicity-markers, what it means to lose them, and the problem with faces in dramas. )
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (3 break out of prison)
My previous post on this topic (and the ones before) were working towards a kind of apology, and a kind of working-through on just what/where that apology is due. When I had posted about seeing a Korean actor at a specific angle and mistaking that facial structure for my little sister, I gave none of the context that I've given in these past few posts, so it's possible the post could have been read on several -- totally unintended -- levels.

Without context, a reader might ask... Was I actually implying in some way that a Korean man's face might be so neutral ("all you ___ look alike") that I could impose my sister's facial structure upon him? Was I erasing the distinct features of "Korean-ness" or "Asian-ness" and superimposing "Anglo-ness"?

I would hope that the post directly before this one (in the topic-string) makes it clear that my mistaking one-for-the-other was operating on the level of most prominent (to me) facial details -- cheekbones, jaw, nose, brow. For that matter, the similarity is/was really only significant when the actor is filmed at three-quarter angle, from slightly above. Again, without context of understanding the properties of light and how I'd learned to view faces as a matter of angle and proportion against the light cast, then... yeah, my acknowledgment of seeing facial similarities may have been misleading, and as a result, potentially offensive. For any offense given, I do humbly apologize.

And I think if there was offense given, that my tone within the post may have also been a trigger for that offense -- because I did write bluntly about my own confusion as to how I could be "seeing" these similarities. But again without context -- and, I should note, without addressing or understanding other related issues bubbling underneath -- then even such admittance could be ambiguous.

Was my confusion or seeming dismay at the mistake/overlay because I couldn't see (so to speak) how I could mistake an Asian (implied: not-normal) face for an Anglo (implied: normal) face? I say "implied" not because I meant to imply such, only that in expressing "how could I mistake one for the other" that my reaction might be read as dismay. If you've spent your life with people thinking your face is strange, or not-normal (in contrast to Anglo faces), and so on, then to have someone say, "how could I mistake that for this" (and explain no further), one might conceivably knee-jerk right into: "So, basically, you're saying that you're shocked you might mistake that (not-normal) face for this (normal) face."

In this particular instance, the real surprise for me wasn't the Korean/Anglo aspect; it was the male/female aspect. I'm used to comparing within a sex, but almost never between sexes. (More context: I spent time among drag-queen communities as I came of age, and learned quickly to use other cues -- clothes, hair, speech, walk, etc -- to identify sex. Regardless of strongly so-called 'masculine' features, if someone dresses like a woman, uses the women's bathroom, etc, the person is clearly 'being' a woman, and for all intents and purposes is a woman. Hence, to this day, I'll compare male/female faces but rarely mistake them for each other, not when there are plenty of other cues otherwise; doing otherwise will catch me off-guard because it's going against that ingrained rule.)

Getting back to the point: the fact that I spoke without a double-meaning (ie, to imply that X type of faces are not-normal) doesn't mean that someone else hasn't used the same statement to intentionally imply that negative meaning. The burden isn't on the reader to force the trust that the speaker (me) means no harm. The burden is on me to either avoid the topic and not say such double-meanings (intended or no), or to give careful thought first to whether there might be a better way to express myself. Whether I stay silent or speak, neither absolves me of wrong if I did offend; that remains my responsibility. And if I did offend, I deeply regret it, and apologize most sincerely.

Were the issue underlying these posts only a small matter to me, then silence is the option I would've chosen. But what's going on underneath is of such importance to me, that I need to address this possible failing in myself -- and make amends. )

Because this is getting long, I'll be posting this part now, and posting the rest shortly.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (4 perfect whatever-it-is)
previous part

Meeting CP had a profound effect on the way I see faces. The first has taken much longer to quantify, but the second was almost immediate, and it's that one that I think might provide another level of context. CP, like my father and his father, is a photographer, and both our fathers -- while never more than hobbyists slash recorders of their many travels -- had/have an amazing instinct when it came to candid portraiture. CP shows the same instinct, and when we started dating, I had just bought a new Canon Rebel. It was under CP's tutelage that I started learning about the intricacies of aperture and depth-of-field and all these other mysterious things...

Except that I freaking sucked at candid portraiture. If I had any instinct when it comes to capturing faces, it was the innate ability to capture people at their absolute worst expression, at the most bizarre angle, and every person ended up looking... well, like a mutant, really. It's all optical illusion, but if you get a person at the just-so angle, the nose looks abnormal, the cheekbones tilted, the jawline extended. So frustrating! I couldn't seem to anticipate, the way CP (or our fathers) could. More than that, even when the person was perfectly still, I couldn't get a decent image. I know I'm hard on myself as a student, but I'm talking way beyond just being slightly critical. Even from a objective stance, I was getting something totally wrong.

The issue wasn't anticipation. The issue was that I didn't understand light. )
kaigou: organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. (3 fixing to get organized)
I've been considering this for several weeks now, but coming at it rather obliquely in terms of posting about it, and I think I may have been unclear in a previous post about familiarity-of-faces. I had followed that up with a second post (now deleted, which in hindsight was rather stupid of me to let my temper with myself get the best of me, but anyway), and I think some of the frustration I've been feeling recently (with myself, that is) can be traced to the lack of context. Part of that context is in providing a better definition of what I mean when I talk about recognition.

First off, here's the definition of faceblindness, from Wiki:
Prosopagnosia (sometimes known as face blindness) is a disorder of face perception where the ability to recognize faces is impaired, while the ability to recognize other objects may be relatively intact....

Few successful therapies have so far been developed for affected people, although individuals often learn to use 'piecemeal' or 'feature by feature' recognition strategies. This may involve secondary clues such as clothing, hair color, body shape, and voice. Because the face seems to function as an important identifying feature in memory, it can also be difficult for people with this condition to keep track of information about people, and socialize normally with others.

...but I get the impression this is not the same as something else -- the term of which, I'm not sure -- in which faces are simply, well, not-there. It's a situation in which someone doesn't register facial expressions, or can't interpret the expressions seen; that seems to be related to empathy-issues. (This is not an issue for me, but I'm mentioning it because the two -- face-recognition versus facial-based-empathy -- seem to get conflated, sometimes.)

A few demonstrations of the process of recognition. )

That's the first big chunk, but I'm going to break this into parts, because there's a lot to work through and a lot to unpack, and I want to take my time considering each part carefully.
kaigou: under this playful boyish exterior beats the heart of a ruthless sadistic maniac (2 charming maniac)
I recall doing a beta-read for [profile] difrancis and tripping over a sub-plot that involved two childhood friends meeting again as adults... and recognizing each other instantly. That, to me, seemed preposterous. Biiiig suspension of disbelief! And bigger for Di herself, when she said she's recognized (as adults) people she knew in second grade. Just. Could. Not. Comprehend.

Oi. I have trouble recognizing coworker faces if our paths cross outside of work, and don't even ask me about faces (or names) of classmates, excepting a handful of really close friends. I've even walked right past my own sister with no recognition at all, when she chopped hair short and bleached it to white. And sure as spit, don't ever call me and think I'll recognize your voice. I've gone blank when my own father calls, for crying out loud. I'm never able to identify who's calling if I don't have caller-ID or some other hint to clue me in.

In person, I rely on things like hair color, length, and style, which means abrupt and extreme hair-style changes will throw me, especially if you're not wearing frequently-worn items like a distinctive coat or pair of shoes. I've learned to look for distinctive gestures and mannerisms, even if that means waiting patiently until someone who I think I should know -- and who acts like they know me -- says or does something that brings the face into sharper focus.

CP sometimes snarks that "all you white people look alike", but to me, pretty much... everyone does look alike. Or maybe I should say: everyone looks different, yes, but everyone looks unfamiliar. I just plain can't recall faces, and I sure as hell can't recall them if they're out of context (ie coworker not at work) or it's been more than about a year (ie old classmate).

Does anyone else do this, or have any similar kind of failure of recognition? I've always wondered if it's just me, or if it's just that everyone else fakes the lack of recognition better than I do.