February 10, 2010

Norman Finkelstein's Amazing Jawline

Not being terribly interested in the Israel-Palestine conflict, I haven't paid much attention to the endless Alan Dershowitz-Norman Finkelstein controversy, in which OJ's old lawyer, secure in his Harvard tenure, pillories the pro-Palestinian Finkelstein from post to post.

So, I'd never seen a picture of Norman Finkelstein, until I idly clicked on the review ("Is This a Man Who Sheds Light, or Simply Sets Fires?") of a documentary about him in today's NYT. To my surprise, Professor Finkelstein turns out to be a remarkably formidable looking 56-year-old, who could be credibly cast as the colonel of an elite commando squad in a big budget war movie.

Novelists used to be obsessed with the correlation between looks and personality. Dashiell Hammett, for example, goes on at great length in The Maltese Falcon describing Sam Spade's looks, which turned out to be the exact opposite of Humphrey Bogart's: Hammett's Spade was a 6'-3" blonde Scandinavian. In a world where images were expensive, conjuring up images through words were part of what a writer was paid for. It's still a part of high-end literary writing, but for the modern day equivalents of meat and potatoes novelists like Hammett, it's a losing proposition: the idea is to get Leonard DiCaprio and Tom Cruise into a bidding war for the movie rights to your novel, not to dissuade anybody from thinking they could play the part.

But, it was also that old time novelists believed there was a link between looks and personality. I've never paid that much attention to the idea, in part because I have a hard time decoding the facial terminology that old writers used, so I tend to skim over those long sections. For instance, Hammett writes:
Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller, v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The v motif was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down-- from high flat temples--in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan.

I just can't call up a coherent image from these sentences, but, evidently, a lot of readers used to be able to do that.

(By the way, Hammett looked just like another alcoholic novelist, William Faulkner. Who was copying whom?)

How much research been done on questions of the correlation of looks and personality? For example, just from the pictures of Dershowitz and Finkelstein, could people guess at better than random chance which one would take the popular and which one the unpopular side of a political controversy?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

43 comments:

bgc said...

Looking for correlations between body and mind - fields such as Anthropometry and Somatotyping - is associated with names such as Galton, Kretschmer and Sheldon.

These were given considerable (incl. photographic) attention in my first textbook of Clinical Psychiatry - co-written in the late 1970s by Mayer-Gross, Slater and the premier UK psychiatrist Sir Martin Roth.

This is one of those areas of science which are widely-supposed to have been disproved, but which were in reality dropped for other socio-political reasons.

In Robertson Davies' first rate 'campus novel' - Rebel Angels - he makes good use of Sheldon's categories of mesomorph, ectomorph and endomorph.

Fred said...

"To my surprise, Professor Finkelstein turns out to be a remarkably formidable looking 56-year-old, who could be credibly cast as the colonel of an elite commando squad in a big budget war movie."

Like a Jewish Lee Marvin.

"For example, just from the pictures of Dershowitz and Finkelstein, could people guess at better than random chance which one would take the popular and which one the unpopular side of a political controversy?"

Which is the popular side again? It depends on the setting, doesn't it? In front of an audience of Evangelicals, Dershowitz would be on the popular side, but what about in front of a lecture hall of university students? Finkelstein would be on the popular side there. The Times article you linked to notes that Finkelstein had strong support on campus for his tenure bid which was shot down (maybe due to fears of alienating alumni donors?).

Of course, 62 years ago, Dershowitz would have been the popular one on campus, as the plucky Jewish refugees of Palestine were underdog heroes of the left back then, and no one knew there was such a people as Palestinians (the adjective 'Palestinian' was used to describe Jewish organizations in Palestine back then, such as the English-language newspaper the Palestine Post).

Anonymous said...

But dershowitz takes insanely unpopular stances all the time.

David said...

It's true that, based on the photo, Finkelstein could pass for a colonel in the IDF, though if you ever hear him interviewed, you'll probably notice that he sounds a lot like Horshack from Welcome Back, Kotter.

Simon said...

"How much research been done on questions of the correlation of looks and personality? For example, just from the pictures of Dershowitz and Finkelstein, could people guess at better than random chance which one would take the popular and which one the unpopular side of a political controversy?"

Bit difficult this as outside the US, the Pally side *is* the popular one! I've seen lecturers at my University walk around in pro-Hamas T-shirts; and a Conservative Party potential candidate to be an MP at a selection meeting, trying to wow a Conservative audience by making pro-Hamas statements - that did fail miserably though, we chose the one guy who sounded a bit Tory.

I'd say Finkelstein looks like a man confident in himself while Dershowitz looks highly neurotic, and that may explain some of his behaviour. Couldn't go beyond that though.

Ursula said...

Finkelstein, with his jutting chin and youthful appearance, looks like a striver for justice.

Dershowitz looks like equal parts shiftyness and smugness. Just the type who would be happy to defend OJ Simpson, Israel, and Jeffrey Epstein.

PatrickH said...

Finkelstein speaks in the most robotic expressionless voice, odd sounding what with his Brooklynesque accent. His face is like stone, as unmoving and unmoved as any I've seen. So when he defends Hezbollah by comparing them to Stalin, and defends Stalin by saying his regime was no "bed of roses", his position becomes double creepy: what he's saying seems devoid of any recognition of human reality, and how he's saying does too.

Dershowitz is a rodentine, ferrety kind of guy, but he at least seems human. Finkelstein, though, is a kind of hard left go-bot, programmed to speak only in AgitProp 2.0, inviting us to consider that Stalin's regime is best described by not being excessivly comfortable for its inhabitants (although now that I mention it, why would a "bed of roses" be seen as comfy or luxe? Beats me.).

Finkelstein is hard left. So his position on Israel is just another sign of the growing alliance between the hard left and, ah, ahem, uh, "anti-Zionism". Yeah, that's what it is.

Oh, and Steve, you've despised Andrew Sullivan for some time now (remember when you called him "AndrewGel"?). Can't help wondering if you're fonder of him now that he's talking the Mearsheimer/Walt line and getting up the nose of guys like Leon Wieselter?

l said...

Dr. Finkelstein is on fire here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNQSV3BBtZ4

dearieme said...

"Not being terribly interested in the Israel-Palestine conflict,..": you heartless anti-semitic bastard.

dearieme said...

"There’s no art
To find the mind’s construction in the face."

But perhaps someone who was better at it would have lasted longer as King?

Big Bill said...

God bless him, Dersh, Nozick and that short dead dude, (whatshisname with his "punctuated evolution") introduced me to Rushton and r/K strategizing in their workbook for "Thinking About Thinking".

I used to loan it out to young liberals I worked with in New York City.

Those three names on the cover worked like jiu jitsu on their liberal brains. Since the triumvirate put it in the workbook it must be important (and PC) to read it with an open mind.

Do effete Manhattan intellectuals still give air kisses these days?

DYork said...

Jaw line, like height, can be very deceiving when assessing Alpha male qualities.

Finkelstein doesn't quite live up to his jawline.

Norman Finkelstein On Israel

Like a Jewish Lee Marvin.

Not really. Lee Marvin was a tall, WWII Marine combat veteran with a deep, raspy, resonant voice.

Finkelstein is a smallish guy who sounds like a nebish.

Not that that diminishes the content of his views or his character in unapologetically stating them.

Bruce Banned said...

" Norman Finkelstein's Amazing Jawline "
Steve, this post is so... beta! (Damn stupid meme!)

Mr. Anon said...

"Not being terribly interested in the Israel-Palestine conflict, I haven't paid much attention to the endless Alan Dershowitz-Norman Finkelstein controversy, in which OJ's old lawyer, secure in his Harvard tenure, pillories the pro-Palestinian Finkelstein from post to post."

You'll forgive me for having thought that this has something to do with my country because it took place at Harvard. My mistake,.....won't happen again. Apparently this only concerns a dispute at a foreign embassy between members of some alien tribe.

Dutch Boy said...

He's something of a non-Hollywood version of Jeff Chandler.

Anonymous said...

I could be wrong but I thought that Hammett described Sam Spade as being "fully six feet tall". Three or so generations ago, an even six foot tall man would be considerably above the average.

Victoria said...

Finkelstein is as ballsy as they come, jawline or not. I'm stunned that as mainstream a publication as the Times would finally deign to cover this ongoing saga. I guess they felt they could take a chance on not inciting The Lobby by doing it as a film review.

"And then there is the persevering Norman Finkelstein. Where does this man get his energy, spirit, and downright bravado? Talk about nerve and gall, the man has testosterone to spare. From the day he blew the whistle on the Holocaust reparations racketeers in his book The Holocaust Industry, to his exposure of the fabrications and outright lies of Israel's apologists in Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, it's been a non-stop ride for him.

"As reward for his outspoken truthtelling, Princeton University tried to deny Finkelstein his well-earned doctorate, smear campaigns made it almost impossible for him to get teaching posts, publishers have been pressured by his opponents from publishing his books, and he was denied tenure at DePaul University. Yet he relentlessly journeys onward. ...

"In the case of Norman Finkelstein, the late Professor Raul Hilberg, who was considered the ultimate authority on Holocaust studies (a field he co-founded), endorsed Finkelstein's book about reparations abuses, and declared, 'I was saying the same thing, and I had published my results in that three-volume work [his final edition of The Destruction of the European Jews], published in 2003 by Yale University Press, and I did not hear from anybody a critical word about what I said, even though it was the same substantive conclusion that Finkelstein had offered.'"

Anonymous said...

Did you listen to Norman Finkelstein's voice? I thought he sounded gay. (Yet, I don't mean to slight Finkelstein who is the better man).

ben g said...

Listen to Finkelstein's voice, though. He sounds like the parrot from Aladdin.

Anonymous said...

Dienekes' blog and some of the other blogs and sites he links to have some interesting studies which link personality and looks.

Among certain tidbits I remember:

Men with wide, roundish skulls tend to be more aggressive than men with long, narrow skulls.

Large, prominent jaws tend to be associated with higher testosterone levels and aggressive tendencies, along with prominent brow ridges. This also seems to be the case with large noses and having a lot of body hair.

Many women half-seriously believe that a man's nose size strongly correlates with his penis size. There may be some truth to this.

As an extension of that never-ending "alpha" male versus "beta" male debate, I dare say we can often tell who the alphas are just by looking. The alpha will tend to look more masculine and aggressive(on average), while the beta will tend to look somewhat less masculine(less jaw, less muscle, narrow shoulders, less body hair, longer skull) and more effeminate. Most men are of course a mixture(some short men can be very masculine while some tall men can be effeminate) and we shouldn't even take this alpha and beta types too seriously. Masculine men tend to have more oily skin, due to their hormones.

Height is important, but not too important when reading personality. Tallness is basically symbolic of good health and virility in males, which is why almost all women prefer tall men, or at least men who are taller than them.

Tallness is somewhat associated with higher testosterone levels and masculinity, but in isolation doesn't mean all that much. There are plenty of tall men who are narrow-shouldered, effeminate weaklings for instance.

Based on my experiences, I've also come to believe that masculine men tend to have significantly larger urinary bladders compared to effeminate men. Just about all the men I've known over the years with overactive/undersized bladders tended to be very effeminate looking(and their personalities were usually effeminate), and bladder size is closely linked with penis size as well.

Because of how complex the human animal is, its always possible for very aggressive, masculine men to look like wimps, and for masculine, tough-guy-looking men to be unassertive wimps.

DK said...

Dershowitz takes chances on the unpopular when money or Israel is involved.

albertosaurus said...

There are at least a couple areas where male looks matter. The first is in the military. Groups beat individuals so the ability to create and lead a group in the mark of a winner. Leaders tend to be taller and more masculine looking. Height, muscularity and a square jaw line are all signs of higher levels of testosterone.

Before someone starts blathering on about Napoleon let me hasten to point out that he was not short - for a Frenchman. In the early part of the nineteenth century the French were the shortest men in Europe. This changed rapidly but at the time the average Frenchman was only about five three or five four. Napoleon's height was missmeasured at death and this was reported in the British papers initiating the legend. Napoleon was five six and a half, not a big man like Peter the Great or Gustavus Adolphus perhaps, but not a midget either. Napoleon was like George Bush - taller than the average man but still a bit shorter than what people expect in a leader. This phenomenon supports the notion that we expect leaders to be tall.

Hollywood tends to favor small neotenous looking men like Cruise or Redford. Such men appear pretty on camera but they would not be spo attractive on stage. Classically on the opera stage we expect the Don to look like Ezio Pinza (See here) and the Leporello to look like Salvatore Baccalone (See here) Serious and sexy means tall and handsome. Short and fat means comic.

Anonymous said...

That robust jawline probably suggests significant Aryan ancestry which obviously explains his extreme anti-Semitism.

Anonymous said...

Finkelstein supports two-state solution and insists Israel's right to exist. I don't think that's unpopular stance in the I-P conflict.

Norm Chomsky is his ally, so was the late Raul Hilberg, who was a republican. What makes him a "radical" is his style and tone in calling out the bad behaviors committed by Jews.

Anonymous said...

"in which OJ's old lawyer, secure in his Harvard tenure, pillories the pro-Palestinian Finkelstein from post to post."


Wait, what?


I'm not sure what you mean by this--it's true that Dershowitz attacks Finkelstein, but Finkelstein has crushed him on anything resembling an objective scorecard.

greenrivervalleyman said...

This should (if people were intellectually serious) put to rest any Kevin McDonald-like notions of Jewish liberalism as a Trojan Horse for ethnic chauvinism. Because as the example of Finkelstein (and Noam Chomsky, and Howard Zinn, and countless others) show, liberal Jews do take their liberalism seriously, up to and including support for the effective destruction of Israel. Anglo-American historian Tony Judt was once a nice, moderate-Zionist New Republic-style liberal til the horror of the 2nd Intifada so cracked his mind he became a conspicuous advocate of the "1 State Solution" (i.e. Bosnia-izing Israel by letting all the Palestinians in). And if you read the Washington Post consistently every several months you'll run across yet another story of IDF enlistees mutinying over some "harsh" policy their anguished Jewish souls just simply cannot brook (the last one I heard of was 100 reservists refusing to do house-to-house searches because they could no longer bear frightening Palestinian grandmothers).

Extreme liberalism, humanitarianism, and go-gooderism is a mental disease to which Jews are particularly susceptible:


From [his mother] Maryla, Mr. Finkelstein says that he inherited the conviction that Jews have a special obligation to ease the suffering of humanity because of what was done to them, and that it is not enough to pay lip service to one’s convictions; they must be acted on. A childhood friend remembers her emotional investment in left-wing humanitarian causes as bordering on hysteria.


Yet this is a disease to which all Westerners are prone, from religiously-fervent Protestant abolitionists of the 19th century, to anti-war Vietnam-era Quakers, to those Catholic nuns who'd find ICBM silos out in the middle of Nebraska to try and shut down. And let's not forget Obama-pal and major fruitcake Samantha Power, who called Hilary Clinton a "monster" because she apparently did not share Power's conviction that America's primary national security interest consisted in open-ended involvement in the Third World to prevent "genocide". Power is now married to someone named Sunstein, but she is as Irish as a 4-leaf clover.

Dahlia said...

Norm MacDonald doing the SNL fakenews:

"In a highly unusual ruling, the California State Supreme Court declared this week that O.J. Simpson attorney Alan Dershowitz is 'One ugly bastard'."

http://snltranscripts.jt.org/95/95rupdate.phtml

Anonymous said...

Based on my experiences, I've also come to believe that masculine men tend to have significantly larger urinary bladders compared to effeminate men.

Real men have big used-beer storage tanks?

Anonymous said...

Illuminating background on how Chomsky became Finkelstein's ally in the jihad against Israel qua Dershowitz

http://www.chomsky.info/books/power01.htm

headache said...

I'd say Ursula got it right and PatrickH is just shilling for the usual suspects.

Matra said...

could be credibly cast as the colonel of an elite commando squad in a big budget war movie

Were you thinking of Colonel Mathieu (Jean Martin) in The Battle of Algiers when you wrote the above?

Steve Sailer said...

Dear Matra:

Good call.

Not consciously, but now that you mention it, no doubt about it.

Kylie said...

"Novelists used to be obsessed with the correlation between looks and personality."

Looks solely as physical features or looks as the whole man (physical features, facial expressions and bodily stance)?

It makes a difference, I think. Daniel Day Lewis also has an amazing jawline but I find the sum total of his appearance unpleasantly effete.

http://socialitelife.celebuzz.com/images/2007/12/there_will_be_blood_121107_0001.jpg

Left-leaning white men have become increasingly epicene, as you can see from this website:

http://menwholooklikeoldlesbians.blogspot.com/

They tend to smile with their lips closed (evidently to minimize the appearance of being threatening) or grin broadly (apparently for the same reason). Instead of looking head on, they now often tilt their heads in a manner once referred to as "coquettish". The rimless glasses, scarves, earrings and other accessories they affect also serve either to obscure or to neutralize their masculinity. Even their facial hair, invariably wispy and/or scraggly, resembles less the robust beards of old than a baby's peach fuzz.

Anonymous said...

"How much research been done on questions of the correlation of looks and personality?"

Satoshi Kanazawa, who is to Steve what Pat B was to google - an unperson - has written a little about this on his blog.

AmericanGoy said...

"Not being terribly interested in the Israel-Palestine conflict"

Not that it has any impact on American foreign policy, numerous wars (both current and soon-to-be) or my g**d**m tax money.

Uh oh...

Finkelstein is a great, funny guy, and from what I've seen a GREAT thinker and someone I would have a beer with (unlike a faux cowboy), but his view on the Israeli lobby in the USA is just dead wrong.

Reg C├Žsar said...

Hammett's Spade was a 6'-3" blonde Scandinavian...

For instance, Hammett writes:

He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan.


Hammett writes right. The short, crisp, Anglo-Saxon "blond" (or "brunet") is analogous to the strong jawline. It was the only spelling used by two-fisted writers like Carleton Coon, John Baker, Lothrop Stoddard, Madison Grant, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, etc., even when writing about women.

So how come so many of my favorite two-fisted modern writers, like Scott Trask, James Fulford, and, well, Steve, keep making the same schoolboy mistake of adding that faggoty French "e"?

I hope it's not a sign that evolcons and paleos themselves are going epicene. Then all hope is lost!

robert61 said...

Finkelstein is a provocateur who creates a lot of his own troubles. It was his baseless yet tenaciously held charge of plagiarism that made a sworn enemy of Alan Dershowitz, and having Dershowitz as an enemy may well have been a big factor in his failure to get tenure. Dershowitz footnoted a Mark Twain quote that he apparently found in another book as being from Twain instead of the other book. Dershowitz claims he knew the quote before. Who knows which is true? Who cares? Norm Finkelstein, that's who.

Besides looking like a raptor, Norman Finkelstein has a hairy back. Does that correlate with aggression? My effeminate gay uncle had a glorious mat of black hair on his back, and he was badger-like in a debate.

Thanks for the pointer to the film, which I enjoyed and would otherwise have missed.

Anonymous said...

OK, explain to me: I thought "blond" and "blonde" were both French in origin, hence the masculine and feminine forms corresponding to typical French orthography. And I've seen "blond(e)" in spoken and written French fairly often. So was it an English borrowing of a French term, or the other way around?

David said...

greenrivervalley, that's rather incoherent. KMac is talking movers and shakers much like HBDers talk averages. Zinn et al. are not movers and shakers any more than the lassie you cite is typical.

David said...

David, I thought the same thing (other David). Another curious thing is that Fink's writing is strikingly masculine - no, this isn't jock-sniffing - I mean it's dense, tone-deaf and uncompromising in a rather Aspergery way. In this sense he resembles the intellectual Marxists in their utterly humorless tracts. I have watched one of the Dersh-Fink interchanges (a debate somewhere on YouTube) and Fink never looked Dersh or the moderator in the eye - not out of shyness, but out of utter, radiating contempt. You got the sense he would prefer not to give them the time of day.

Udolpho.com said...

he's got a long chin but his jaw is not what I would call strong

Anonymous said...

yea, i second that. not really a strong jawline, but a pointy chin. and hearing finkelstein speak, he kind of has a light and lispy voice.

airtommy said...

"in which OJ's old lawyer, secure in his Harvard tenure, pillories the pro-Palestinian Finkelstein from post to post."

Wait, what?

I'm not sure what you mean by this--it's true that Dershowitz attacks Finkelstein, but Finkelstein has crushed him on anything resembling an objective scorecard.


True, however we don't use an objective scorecard in America. Thus, Dershowitz is a tenured professor at the #1 university in America, despite being stone cold busted committing plagiarism, which is the single worst offense in academia. Meanwhile, Dershowitz successfully blocked Finkelstein from getting tenure at a non-prestigious university.

Israel rules American campuses, though Israel's grip on colleges is not nearly as tight as it is on the mainstream media.