August 16, 2011
tarnoff:

A phrenological chart, mapping the different zones of the human brain. “Destructiveness” is near the ear; “Individuality” is right above the nose.
Why do we talk about foreheads when discussing culture? The word “highbrow” first appeared in the 1880s; “lowbrow” came into use right after the turn of the century. They came from phrenology, a nineteenth-century pseudoscience based on the (entirely false) idea that the shape of a person’s skull revealed something fundamental about their character. The creative, intellectual parts of the brain were located behind the forehead: thus Anglo-Saxons were superior to other, darker races because of their higher foreheads, or “brows.” Italians, Irishmen, Africans, Asians couldn’t create art on the level of Shakespeare or Milton because their brains simply weren’t built for it. They belonged to the “lowbrow,” on account of their lower foreheads. 

Check out Perry Meisel’s The Myth of Popular Culture from Dante to Dylan for more on this.

tarnoff:

A phrenological chart, mapping the different zones of the human brain. “Destructiveness” is near the ear; “Individuality” is right above the nose.

Why do we talk about foreheads when discussing culture? The word “highbrow” first appeared in the 1880s; “lowbrow” came into use right after the turn of the century. They came from phrenology, a nineteenth-century pseudoscience based on the (entirely false) idea that the shape of a person’s skull revealed something fundamental about their character. The creative, intellectual parts of the brain were located behind the forehead: thus Anglo-Saxons were superior to other, darker races because of their higher foreheads, or “brows.” Italians, Irishmen, Africans, Asians couldn’t create art on the level of Shakespeare or Milton because their brains simply weren’t built for it. They belonged to the “lowbrow,” on account of their lower foreheads. 

Check out Perry Meisel’s The Myth of Popular Culture from Dante to Dylan for more on this.

11:24am
  
Filed under: Science 
  1. ethanstanislawski reblogged this from theatlantic
  2. abrahammx reblogged this from ratak-monodosico
  3. ratak-monodosico reblogged this from theredshoes and added:
    A phrenological chart, mapping...different zones of the human brain. “Destructiveness” is...
  4. jahnnasbrain reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    anyone who’s known me more than about, oh, five minutes knows that i despise any distinctions of “high” art versus “low”...
  5. 41thirteen reblogged this from theatlantic
  6. thepopsherpa reblogged this from theatlantic
  7. genetta reblogged this from theatlantic
  8. nimbleasanoun reblogged this from theatlantic
  9. watsonwelch reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    Despite how much of a ridiculous pseudoscience phrenology was, it’s eerie to think that neurology would later prove that...
  10. obscuringnarcissism reblogged this from theatlantic
  11. bloomsbumyst reblogged this from theredshoes
  12. readingnotions reblogged this from theatlantic
  13. theredshoes reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    You know who was really into phrenology? CHARLOTTE BRONTE. (Yes, I can make anything about the Brontes. Anything.)...
  14. jessthevagabond reblogged this from theatlantic
  15. swimskinnyinthesea reblogged this from theatlantic
  16. chrischappel reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    TIL that high/low-brow refers to phrenology and is pretty fucking racist.
  17. starmichael reblogged this from theatlantic
  18. hiqus reblogged this from theatlantic