cult and paste

be careful where you clique

Man and his diagrams


You need pattern. you crave it. It’s part of your hard-wiring. Look at the image, it doesn’t move, but your eyes scan all over it with rapid acuity. They look for edges, they look for definition…. familiarity. You internalize it, and then: then you see it- a statue, a spaceship, a polar bear about to munch you.

Based on habits and split second conclusions you act on what you think you see…  you start to fill in the gaps with your imagination and assumptions about what you think it IS or SHOULD be. This is all good and fine as long as your imagination is in order; anything too far out of bounds becomes illusory.

Some people argue that our dreams are just attempts to project patterns upon the stimuli coming across our mind as our body resets the neuronal pathway-slate. Maybe. We are, after all, pattern makers. These arrangements are part of the homo sapien operating system. Yet each of us have specific genetic variabilities and environmental experiences that make us Joe the plumber or Betty the Boop,  a very unique individual way of patterning things- this is called the spice of life.

File:Galton at Bertillon's (1893).jpg

There have been many attempts to pattern how men make patterns…

Sir Francis Galton the cousin of Charles Darwin was among the first. Galton (seen above in lambchops) was an early method man. He foresaw the value of questionnaires, standard deviations and correlations long before Starbucks did.  In comparing organisms and applying patterns to their patterns He became captivated by the mysteries of inheritable intelligence-

Remember, this was a time before people knew about genes. Galton loved measuring people, testing people… If he could have, he would have bred people.

Edward Bernays took things a step further in the early 20th century when he tried to financially capitalize on the patterns that  “governed” men and women. Mr. Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. He came to America and applied psychoanalysis theory to the business worldy- creating persuasive advertisement aimed at the unconscious. Bernays is credited today as the father of Public Relations and modern marketing strategy. The result of his “work” can be summed up best by the man himself, who in 1928 wrote-

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

Have a look at some of Mr. Bernay’s portfolio of work…


Sadly Mr. Bernays was NOT one of those human beings who we can say made the world a better place. His contribution to modern materialism and over-consumption have only exacerbated and distorted our self-awareness crisis, however credit must be given where credit is due.

Being a sucker for bizarre diagrams, I was delighted to come across the unconventional explanations of William H. Sheldon – psychologist, numismatist (coin collector) and all around weird guy. In 1954, Mr. Sheldon published a book, Atlas of Men in which he describes his discovery of a correlation between human personality and physique.

Mr. Sheldon took over 4000 photographs of willing, naked people standing systematically in a pirouette holding pattern. The subjects, each shot from 3 fetching angles, were mostly students enrolled at Yale University.

Upon classifying the various body types- long, short, big, buff, slender, medium, dank…. Sheldon gave the subjects a personality questionnaire and evaluated them based on a series of interviews. Upon collecting his data, Mr. Sheldon retired to his study for a pipe and further deliberation.

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The conclusions Sheldon drew are exemplified by his interesting graphs. He posits that body carriage and personality are indeed linked. He classifies 3 main archetypes- The ectomorph, The mesomorph and the endomorph. This of course is directly lifted from a Human Embryology textbook (See Embryology entry).

  • Ectomorphic: long and thin muscles/limbs and low fat storage; receding chin, usually referred to as slim.the tendency towards slightness, corresponds to cerebrotonic temperament- artistic, sensitive, apprehensive, introvert
  • Mesomorphic: large bones, solid torso, low fat levels, wide shoulders with a narrow waist. tendency towards muscularity, corresponds to somatatonia temperament- courageous, energetic, active, dynamic, assertive, aggressive, risk taker
  • Endomorphic: increased fat storage, a wide waist and a large bone structure.has the tendency toward plumpness, corresponds to viscerotonic temperament- tolerant, love of comfort and luxury, extravert

Sheldon was a hard sell on the academic establishment of the post war period. His grading scale of physique and his fitness algorithm for personality types somehow smacked of eugenics, or maybe it was just that his system of classification was too pedantic- an new version of the old four humors idea. His evidence didn’t seem to stand the test of time. What if an endomorphic personality went on the Atkins Diet?


What was Sheldon hitting on?

There is a link between our personality and how we carry ourselves. Our posture and gait are reflections of how we feel. With habit and time more solid expressions manifest- our bones restructure themselves along the lines of stress we present them with… With time we become masters of articulating certain feelings and repressing others with our body, our mood, our behavior- this either sharpens us or wears us down.

Some people feel the need to compartmentalize, organize and classify everyone else into distinct bitesize groups…. this will always be a distortion at best.


4 comments on “Man and his diagrams

  1. Tom P
    April 19, 2009

    I like this blog I’ll be recommending it to friends. This is quite a good colon cleanse product:

  2. Emma D
    April 19, 2009

    One of the most important things I found out about colon cleaning is you MUST juice fact for 3-5 days to get the OLD stuff out of your system. Of course clear the fasting with your doctor first.

  3. Tay
    April 19, 2009

    Thanks, Tom, for the amusing non sequitor, bot-esque advice about colon cleaning products. I’m always on the lookout for those!

    when my mother went to college–an all girl’s school in New York State in the 60’s–the freshman girls were all photographed in their underwear and then evaluated on their appearance. They were given specific exercises to “correct” whatever ways they deviated from the ideal of the 1960’s woman.

    She never forgot it. And when she went back for a reunion many years later she asked one of the Deans, who happened to be a woman, what happened to all those photographs of nearly naked girls. The dean told her that a few years ago some of the Alumni who were around in those pre-feminist days and now had positions of power in the college gathered all the photographs together and burned them in a ceremony. My mother reported being stunned, but on reflection she understood, I believe, the anger that led to this ceremony.


  4. bob
    April 21, 2009

    I wish I could write this well! great blog thanks.

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