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The reptilian button

Luca Pacioli’s book Divine Proportion, illustrated by Leonardo da Vinci, and Albrecht Dürer’s work in descriptive geometry both retain their authority today; the advent of printing and paper did much to establish our understanding of human proportions. A universal pattern in Nature, based on the Golden Mean, gives rise to an ideal of beauty.

Marketers, advertisers and propagandists seek the “reptilian button” we all harbor, a switch for our own internal hard drives, where the first emotions of childhood are recorded as longing and memory, preventing us from reasoning coolly and clearly, from focusing on product utility, price or quality, and obscuring fallacies and false promises.

Yet even though the Golden Ratio is a proven reality in, for example, the relationship among the lengths of our finger bones, the proximal, intermediate and distal phalanges, there is a problem that many of us share: some of us have big heads relative to our height, or we have no neck, have short femurs or are fat. Fashion made for allegedly perfect bodies simply makes us look ridiculous and ugly. The classical ideal,
perhaps in awareness of this fact, simply opted for the toga as the fairest garment for all.