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DOES A SMILE REPRESENT OR MANIFEST?
Is a smile representative or manifestative? There are two modes of expression. They are found in both tone and action, but we see them especially marked in human action. Representation is objective, descriptive and illustrative. It is deliberative. Manifestation on the other hand, is spontaneous, frequently unconscious. It never describes. It is an outward sign of inner activity, an outward revelation or emanation of something within. Representative action belongs more especially to the hands-the external agents. Manifestation belongs to all bodily agents. The smile is a characteristic example of manifestation. It is only a mock smile when one man employs it to represent the smile of another. In all expression, manifestation must transcend representation, and the smile possibly illustrates this.
The tendency to exaggerate the importance of representation in action is a great mistake. Action has been regarded, not only as representative, but imitative, objective and external.
The smile should teach us that signs are primarily manifestative. Manifestation is the motion of emotion, the texture of a condition, the position of a disposition, the modulation of a mode. Its cause always lies within. Any effort to give it the character of a symbol is an affectation and vitiates its true nature. An attempt, such as has so often
been made, to make all action stand for something external, develops weakness and artificiality.
Manifestation reveals directly and immediately man's degree of realization, his deepest experiences, the primary habits of his life.
It is because action is primarily manifestative that the relation of signs to symbols is so important. Symbols, being representative, may become purely objective and cold in comparison with the living, manifestative sign. A speech or play, even a great poem, implies a living voice, which can be interpreted only by living, manifestative signs such as the modulations of voice and body. Manifestation must always transcend representation in perfect and artistic expression.
Here we see also the true nature of delivery. This is a supplementing of words as representative symbols of man's highest embodiment of ideas, with manifestative signs of feeling, of disposition, of the inner spirit, which is found in the highest poetry and literature.
Manifestation and representation must both be found in true unity to have perfect human expression in any form, in oratory, in acting or in literary interpretation. Even highest literature itself employs and suggests this union.
"Our human speech is naught, Our human testimony false, our fame And human estimation words and wind. Why take the artistic way to prove so much? Because, it is the glory and good of Art, That Art remains the one way possible Of speaking truth, to mouths like mine, at least. How look a brother in the face and say * Thy right is wrong, eyes hast thou, yet art blind, Thine ears are stuffed and stopped, despite their length, And, oh, the foolishness thou countest faith!'
Say this as silvery as tongue can troll-
True art is not merely symbolic. It is the smile of the human soul. If it has not the character of the smile it will be mechanical, artificial and will never move the world.
The sign manifests the life of the individual. On one hand the smile may be so used as to embody the thought of a thousand years; on the other hand, it may die the moment it is born, but it shows the love of man, the real pulsating motives behind his words. The greater the writer,-the greater the artist, the more definitely does he suggest the necessity and character of the true companion, the sign.
Those who sneer at action and say it belongs only to the savage part of humanity, and hence must be repressed as something outgrown, should study the smile. How ridiculous must their opinion appear when we consider the significance of the simplest facial changes or bodily expansions, or the simple attitudes of the head or motions of the
hand. What would the intercourse of human beings become were it not for the constant play of the face and the subtle actions and positions of all parts of the body.
The tendency to make all action of the body and even voice modulation, representative, descriptive, or symbols rather than signs, is one of the greatest mistakes ever made in human education. Descriptive expression lacks true character of the deepest expression. It discards the fundamental facts of modulations of being through voice and body.
Human words, great as they are, necessary as they are, to express human ideas, opinions and thoughts, fall short in the manifestation of human feeling.
We find here an indication of the necessity of human art. Every art expresses something that no other art can say. Unless it can do this, it is not an art at all. Human language is as complex as the human faculties and experiences which are the cause of all expression. This complexity shows the necessity of the artistic point of view; art is a necessity of man's higher faculties.
The higher experiences must not only transform symbols into figures, but they imply the awakening of higher realization and require certain modulations of voice and body to express them. In the same way all the arts are necessary to reveal the deep causes of human experiences and give higher interpretation to human language. This has been well shown in Browning's “The Ring and the Book.” When a man is inwardly stirred and sincerely speaks out, then his art rises to poetry or to the dignity of a sign or a smile. “The look," said Balzac, “the voice, the respiration and the attitude
or walk are identical. But as power has not been given to man to stand guard at once over these four different simultaneous expressions of his thought, watch that one which speaks but the truth, and you will know the whole man.” Do we not all agree with Emerson when he says “Nature tells every secret once? Yes, but in man she tells it all the time, by form, attitude, gesture, mien, face and parts of the face, and by the whole action of the machine."