The “smile” revolution

  A smile symbolizes friendliness, and a shallow smile has become a widely accepted social etiquette regardless of geography, politics and religion. However, the smile that is now commonplace has its own history. French historian Colin Jones made a counterintuitive conclusion in his book “The Smile Revolution in Eighteenth-Century Paris”: In modern France, people did not favor smiling as much as they do in modern times. In fact, “laughing” even contradicted mainstream social norms at the time. What is even more surprising is that at the height of the Enlightenment movement in the mid-eighteenth century, smiles swept through Paris like a revolution, and once became a fashion trend, but quickly disappeared again, and it was not until the twentieth century that it finally gained unshakable popularity. status. Why did the “smile revolution” happen at this historical moment and then come to an abrupt end? The ideological and cultural changes behind it are really intriguing.
  Why did the old system rarely see smiles? First of all, a good smile itself is extremely difficult for people of the day, because good teeth are not common. In modern Europe, malnutrition from prolonged wars and famine left teeth very fragile. More deadly is the lack of awareness and means of cleaning teeth. People neither feel the need nor know how to protect them, so they become accustomed to losing their teeth. When a toothache occurs, people do not seek to preserve the original tooth as much as possible, but try to endure the severe pain and pull it out. Ordinary people will turn to artisans who are engaged in tooth extraction, such as the Italian “Jianghu Youyi”. After the Wars of Religion, the group broke into the French market and gathered to practice at the market in front of Pont Neuf. In fact, these “travelling doctors” cannot be called doctors at all, because tooth extraction is only one of their many side jobs, and juggling performances are their housekeeping skills. But ironically, in terms of treatment methods, the royal doctor of the king is no different from them. They all use brute force to pull down the teeth, because regular medicine also pays little attention to oral health. In 1685, in what now appears to be a catastrophic tooth extraction, Louis XIV not only got rid of the last few disturbing teeth in the upper jaw, but also lost a maxillary bone, an accident that was not at the time. Not uncommon. In short, limited by historical conditions, even adults as noble as Louis XIV cannot escape the fate of losing their teeth early. Missing teeth not only impair chewing and digestive function, but also lead to facial deformation. A toothy smile will only reveal a hollow mouth, making the face hideous and prompting people to avoid it.
  In addition to the body, culture and institutions also constrain the occurrence of smiles. Old regime politics does not welcome smiles. The French royal family demanded to control and reduce the expression of laughter, not only to cover up physical defects, but also a requirement of court etiquette. A guide to conduct written to courtiers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries mentioned that laughing presupposes the existence of ridiculous things. Unprovoked, Rabelais-esque laughter is dismissed as an act of inferiority, a symbol of stupidity and insanity. In the second half of the seventeenth century, both the Catholic Church and the state clearly expressed their attitude to laughter: the wave of the Counter-Reformation tightened the medieval religion’s tolerance of emotion and opposed humor and ecstasy; Richelieu’s administration laid the foundation for politics. A serious tone was established, and a political culture of “listening more and speaking less” emerged. After Louis XIV came to power, he continued this style of governance, and he always maintained a solemn and solemn expression in both public and private occasions. His marriage to Madame Maintenon did not offer many opportunities for him to laugh and laugh, because the latter was religious and abstinent. The solemnity of the spirit, the tradition of court etiquette and the melancholy situation of Louis XIV himself kept him serious and without a smile.
  Before the emergence of the bourgeois public sphere in the eighteenth century, the French court led the fashion in Paris. At court, imitating the steady, indifferent expression of the king was not only a norm that had to be followed, but a survival and promotion strategy. Those in Paris who had no access to the court but wished to learn its manners acquired the necessary knowledge from the etiquette manual. The social elite under Louis XIV developed a consistent attitude towards laughter: laugh at everything. A smile is a weapon used by the upper class to ridicule and attack the people at the bottom to highlight the class gap, and it does not have the function of conveying friendliness. Maniacal laughter never appears on the face of the cultivated, because the expression of emotion must be restrained. The Sun King’s norm for expression control, despite being the norm in the seventeenth century, was unbearable for many. At the end of its reign, the masses began to gradually relieve their repression and created a brief emotional liberation after the regency of the Duke of Orleans. However, the ease of the Regency came to an abrupt end, as Louis XV fully followed the political style of his great-grandfather after he came to power, and the courtier’s expression thus reverted to a state of solemnity and solemnity.
  When the Enlightenment reached its climax, the “smile revolution” really started. To understand Jones’s “smile revolution” proposition, we should go back to the course of academic history. A consensus has long been formed in the academic world that in the Age of Enlightenment reason and emotion went hand in hand with almost equal importance. And “sensitivity” once again appeared in people’s field of vision. A number of new studies on cultural history have been published in recent years, further revealing the unity of opposites between reason and emotion in the Enlightenment. The term “sentimentalism” is often translated as “sentimentalism” in literary history research, which is indeed an important feature of literature in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and tears and weeping have always been the focus of research. Colin Jones’s unique vision is to discover that the taste of “sensitivity” does not only bring tears and weeping. The brief popularity of smiles in the eighteenth century also benefited from this cultural wave, and even combined with tears. tension relationship.
  ”Sensitivity” has a complex background in intellectual history. Since its inception, its connotations have been continuously superimposed, spanning physiology, epistemology and moral philosophy. Eighteenth-century physiologists updated their understanding of the structure of the body, arguing that “fibers” rather than “fluids” fill the human body, and these fibers have the ability to sense external stimuli and constitute the physiological meaning of “sensitivity.” In the field of epistemology, the empiricism initiated by Locke maintains that knowledge and personal consciousness originate from the influence exerted by the outside world on the individual mind, and Condiac and others took over Locke’s mantle in France. These sensoryists believe that the sensitivity constituted by the human sensory faculties is a prerequisite for the acquisition of experience and knowledge. In Diderot and Rousseau, however, the passive, physiological attribute of sensitivity gives way to an active, moral connotation, referring to the innate human ability to be emotionally, morally, and spiritually touched, emphasizing human emotion The legitimacy of human beings requires showing human equality, sympathy, and saving others from unfortunate feelings. Therefore, “sensitivity” is also the key to enlightenment emotion theory.
  It is literature that truly embodies “sensitivity”. British sentimental literature is famous all over the world. Stern’s “Sentimental Travel” and Richardson’s “Pamela” and “Clarissa” have earned enough tears from people all over Europe. In France, local novels such as “New Heloise” have become popular, and the creation of the characteristic drama “Comedy of Tears” is also in full swing. Under the transformation of Diderot and others, the genre has further evolved into “bourgeois drama”, focusing on the real daily life of the Paris bourgeoisie (and the main audience of the drama). Literature that can be called “sentimentalism” has a similar structure and purpose: it sets up a plot where the righteous side who should live happily is attacked by evil forces, and by revealing misfortune, it cultivates the audience’s sympathy for justice and yearning for virtue, and realizes the function of education. .
  It must be admitted that tearful eyes run through sentimental literature inside and out: the reader weeps with the protagonists, whose tears nourish the sensitivity of the former. However, smiles often appear on the protagonist’s kind face, and even appear together with tears. How to understand the literary design of “smile on the lips and tears in the eyes”? Jones realizes the tactical function of smiles at this time: the pure protagonist is oppressed by evil forces, provoking tears in the reader, but in the end the smile is frozen. Against the background of the tragic plot, the protagonist’s peace, composure and grandeur become more and more distinct, and his holy personality is finally sublimated. Before dying, Clarissa smiled, not only heralding the beginning of eternal happiness after her death, but also making the tragic nature of this image more impactful, lingering in the hearts of European readers for a long time. The design of the dying smile was also applied to Julie by Rousseau: although she could not love her all her life, Julie died with a smile in her eyes under the gaze of those who loved her deeply. The subtle mix of sadness and joy is embraced by readers, tempering their emotions and teaching them to cry and smile. At this time, the role of smiles has changed: the ironic smiles of the dignitaries in the old system are contempt and attacks on others’ humble status and unfortunate situation, full of condescending arrogance, while the affectionate smiles reflect the ability to empathize with others. Contrasted with each other, high and low stand out, shining the dawn of human progress.

  Since the 1770s, toothy smiles have spread on the faces of the people of Paris, and a silent “revolution” has begun. Behind this is the result of the multi-faceted reflection of enlightenment ideas and culture: cultivating emotions and reforming society. The idea of ​​fashion has shaped the way a generation treats expressions and emotions through literature. Also, don’t forget that laughter contains a joyful instinct. The rapid development of science inspires trust in human abilities, which in turn leads to the unstoppable part of the Enlightenment narrative of progress and happiness. Laughter is a genuine response to this general optimism and makes Paris the “City of Joy”. In addition, smiling and social prosperity are also inextricably linked. The unique and rich social life of Paris not only intensified everyday pleasures, but also contributed to the creation of a new public sphere, replacing the court with the dominance of cultural and social norms. A gentle smile accompanied by intimate physical contact such as kisses and handshakes has become a necessary skill for new social interaction, breaking through the restraint of court etiquette. Jones even believes that the common choice of the people of Paris to smile, to some extent, symbolizes the emergence of “general will”. Thus, Baron Holbach sees “joy, vigor, courtesy and sociability” as the national traits of France, in contrast to the gloom across the channel.
  The “Smile Revolution” is also displayed in the field of art. The female painter Madame Vigie Le Brun boldly introduced a toothy smile into her paintings, defying the neoclassical style represented by Jacques-Louis David, which dominated the academic school. Although this trend is not appreciated by the mainstream of the art world, it has won the favor of the market for a time. In order to show emotional identification, customers are asked to show their charming smiles in the delivered portraits. Smiles appear widely in paintings and sculptures from the 1960s to the 1980s, and the style is self-contained, further confirming the breadth of the “smile revolution”.
  The “smile revolution” also led to an unexpected result: a toothy smile placed higher demands on physical discipline. Social is destined to lead to imitation and comparison. For elites who attach importance to social interaction, showing others with a rotten smile at this time will damage their prestige because of their unsightly appearance. Almost at the same time, the moment of stomatology came quietly. While the traditional recreational tooth extraction continued to radiate charm in the hands of artisans represented by Jean Thomas, more modern oral medicine was gradually developed amid the wave of independence of surgical medicine. The new dentist attaches great importance to the humanistic care of medicine, and considers the pain of treatment and the life-long well-being of the patient in addition to rehabilitation, and vows to draw a clear line with the wandering doctors. They take the preservation of the patient’s original teeth as the core purpose of treatment, and no longer blindly perform tooth extraction. Dental disease prevention and attempts at various restorative techniques have become the focus of dentists for a while. The latter is particularly pioneering, and in addition to inventing beautiful ceramic dentures, radical doctors have even experimented with human dental implants. For last resort tooth extraction, the precision of the instruments and the lightness and flexibility of the manipulation improve the patient’s experience. The consultation room has also changed. It has been transferred from an open market to a closed room, and is furnished and furnished with the concept of a comfortable bourgeois home, striving for privacy and comfort, and making you feel at home. All these are not only means to compete for the market, but also demonstrate the doctor’s orientation. The tenderness of the patient. Dentists in Paris experienced a golden age.
  At this point, the smile of the eighteenth century seems to have stepped on the threshold of modern society. However, the outbreak of the political revolution put an end to the “smile revolution”. At the beginning of the French Revolution, the two seemed to be reinforcing each other. Many studies have pointed to the abundance of emotion throughout the Revolution. Faced with the political upheaval that followed in 1789, smiles of hope and tears of excitement coexisted harmoniously again. The optimism and joy of the early days of the revolution were powerfully contagious, before the seemingly palpable hope of national rebirth. The spontaneous smiles on the corners of the people’s mouths symbolize the general will’s recognition of the revolution, which in turn declares the legitimacy of political innovation. Furthermore, the empathy, virtue, and sociality asserted by human sensitivities converged with the revolutionary yearning for solidarity and fraternity.
  But in front of the giant wheel of revolution, the smile soon encountered a crisis. The National Assembly stipulated that there should be no laughing during discussions. Any humor or smile is a sign of political immaturity. Since then, with the radicalization of the revolution, neutrality and compromise have become less and less acceptable to the radicals, but the smile happens to symbolize some kind of moderate mood. In the end, the revolutionaries wanted to reshape the country according to a unified political standard, but they now find that smiles are not controlled at all, which poses a huge risk to the revolutionary cause. The counter-revolutionaries laughed at the revolution and regained the function of laughing at attack and sarcasm; the sans-culottes’ plebeian humour was nowhere in the world. The most terrifying thing is the “smile before the guillotine”: the traitor who should be punished by the revolution actually put a peaceful and calm smile on his face before he died. This evokes a certain literary metaphor that reverses the roles of good and evil in emotionalist narratives. In the eyes of revolutionaries, it is a weak country that has suffered from powerful counter-revolutionary forces, and the legitimacy of the death penalty lies in upholding justice and doing justice for the heavens. But the smile of the executed person before his execution seems to incarnate the protagonist of Richardson’s novel, grabbing the image of the weak persecuted by the revolutionary tyranny for himself. The smile at this time was a mockery and resistance to the silence of the revolution, which was unbearable for the Jacobins. The factors of popular politics and counter-revolution have caused irreconcilable contradictions between the smile and the revolutionary cause.
  From a symbol of pre-revolutionary social progress to a symbol of counter-revolution, smiles began to withdraw from public life in general. The ideas and cultures behind it also continue to flow: after the 1990s, the enlightened emotion theory was replaced by the revived pseudo-scientific physiognomy: facial expressions are deceptive, and only the structure of the skull can reveal human nature – further inferences lead to people Species, class, and gender pros and cons. Due to the reduction of state support, oral medicine has also come to a standstill, and the medical industry has ushered in a revival. It was not until the 20th century that the progress of photography and media technology made the picture of a beautiful smile fixed in the hearts of the people, which made the smile finally become the norm of modern social society and gained an unshakable position.
  Looking back at this “smile revolution”, Colin Jones pointed out its limits: smiles are limited to Paris, the result of the accidental aggregation of multiple factors on their own development tracks, with distinct historical contingency. The fleeting smile of the eighteenth century constitutes a unique historic moment in the long history of France. It’s not a grand, important historical phenomenon, but it has a lasting lingering effect from Jones’ research. Some traditional propositions are echoed once again. For example, Enlightenment is an age of reason, but it is also an age of emotion; enlightenment philosophers are not cold preachers, they have fully explored the meaning of human sensibility in intellectual life. Regarding the connotation of emotionalism, Jones does the opposite, revealing that tears are not the only aspect of it. The seemingly contradictory laughter and tears, joy and sadness are in harmony with the pursuit of sincere emotion and virtue. The tension and special connotation of laughter and tears in the 18th century shows us the profound historicity of emotion and its carrier, which is the crux of the study of emotion history. Finally, Jones presents the flow of physical and medical history behind the smile. The multi-line approach, despite the risk of blurring the focus, also reveals the complexity and variety of Enlightenment practice: emotions and expressions are simultaneously subject to the discipline of the mind, the discipline of the institution, and the discipline of the body. This implies the universality of the connections between the elements of the Enlightenment, a reminder of the intertwined nature of intellectual, political, and cultural history.

error: Content is protected !!