Ozeki Writes Interesting Analyses in “The Face”

You may recall my review I did last year on Ruth Ozeki’s “A Tale for the Time Being.” I loved reading that book, for it was truly an engaging story she had written. Since then I’ve learned quite a bit about Ozeki and she has quickly grown to be an author I’d love to have a conversation with one day.

Recently in a time of needing time to kill, I decided to randomly search her name in the Kindle shop, just to see what I could find. Along with “A Tale for the Time Being” as well as her previous novels, I also happened across a fairly short autobiographical piece that was published this year called “The Face;” where she conducts a three-hour experiment of staring at her face in a mirror and jotting down her observations. Intrigued not only by the synopsis, but also the cheap price to download it to Kindle, I bought it and started reading.

I think it’s safe to say that we spend many times in front of mirrors; whether it be to do a clean shave, apply makeup, put on contacts, pop a pimple, or something along those lines. However, I don’t think too many of us would actually take the time to study the features of our faces as in-depth  as Ozeki. In “The Face,” she talks of how she sees the present appearance of worry in her eyes she inherited from her anthropological dad, the origin stories behind a few scars, and how her face blends together both her white and Japanese ancestries. Her analyses are insightful, for she pretty much defies what it means to stare at your reflection.

It was also comical to hear of the struggle it took for her to conduct this experiment. She challenged herself to stare at herself in the mirror for three hours, and just getting through the first hour alone was a miracle for her. She would keep a time code through it all; one minute agonizing over what a struggle this is, the next minute she digging into an observation on one of her features. Ozeki has a well-timed sense of humor that she rightfully refuses to hide.

Reading “The Face” really makes you wonder what you find if you were to conduct a similar experiment. Whether it be for half an hour or the three hours like what Ozeki pulled, what would you find? Would you consider which family member you inherited your eye color from and what their story is? Would you reflect back on any scars you may have? Are there any signs of aging present yet and if so, what are your thoughts about that? What would be your overall impression of your face?


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