[FOUNTAIN]The eyes have itChina’s Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove were a group of lofty scholars who despised complicated life in the mundane world in the era of political disunity between the Wei and Jin Dynasties. One of the scholars was known for his ability to make a variety of expressions with his eyes. He could express likes and dislikes with a single move of his eyes. When his mother passed away, he was visited by two brothers. He made it clear how he felt for each one of them.
When looking at the older brother, he showed the whites of his eyes as if he were cross-eyed. When looking at the younger brother, his eyes showed interest and affection. He looked at the older brother with an uninterested look because the older one was not earnest, and only pursued his own interests. Meanwhile, the younger brother was not interested in fame and was not selfish. Thus the expression - “to show the white of the eye to someone” - means to disdain someone.
The white of a person’s eye takes up more than half the eyeball. On the back side of an eyeball, there are six muscles attached that move the eyeball freely in all directions.
Feelings of joy, anger, love and excitement are clearly expressed by movements of the eyes.
According to a recent study, people’s eyes are designed to clearly show their feelings to better communicate with others and to cooperate with them. This is the cooperative eye hypothesis.
A study conducted by the Max Planck Institute showed that primates, such as chimpanzees and gorillas, moved their eyes to follow observers when humans moved their heads.
Human babies responded when observers merely moved their eyes.
This research team concluded that the white part of the human eye is developed more than some animals’ because it helps with communication. The team also explained that human eyes are proportionally large.
We need to wait before deciding if the cooperative eye hypothesis will be confirmed.
But as seen in the tale of the Chinese sage, we know from experience that our eyes are very effective in expressing our feelings.
People used to gaze at the government with expectation and affection, but now they stare at it with disdain due to the continuous chaos in policies and lack of morality of government officials. Perhaps it is too late for the government to figure out what people’s disdainful gaze means. The markets’ resistance against government measures has gone beyond the level of a movement of the eye.
*The writer is the Beijing correspondent
of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Yoo Kwang-jong