01 May 2010

Funny Face

I recently watched the musical Funny Face, a 1957 musical comedy with Fred Astaire as fashion photography Dick Avery, Audrey Hepburn as obscure book-store clerk turned model Jo Stockton, and Kay Thompson as publisher Maggie Prescott.

As you may know, the plot of the movie is the old Pygmalion-esque one. Publisher and photographer turn obscure gal into world-famous model.

But the plot doesn't really work on its own terms. After all, the obscure gal is ... Audrey Hepburn! She didn't have the "funny face" in the early scenes that the logic of the plot requires at all. She had one of the most beautiful feminine faces in the history of film, and the fact is obvious.

Still, plot schmot. The music was Gershwin's, and the spoken dialogue was charming, as when the publisher and shutterbug decide to hold a fashion shoot in "a sinister place in Greenwich Village."

Finding a bookstore: "That's sinister enough."

The bookstore seems to have a lot of material on various mind/body theories in philosophy. Says Hepburn's character of one book, "This deals with epiphenomenalism,
which has to do with consciousness as a mere accessory of physiological processes whose presence or absence makes no difference."

Not only does that line make perfect sense in the context of the plot (I won't try to explain why just now), but it also happens to be a very fair and concise definition of epiphenomenalism.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.