Quote by W. H. Auden
Every European visitor to the United States is struck by the comparative rarity of what he would call a face, by the frequency of men and women who look like elderly babies. If he stays in the States for any length of time, he will learn that this cannot be put down to a lack of sensibility -- the American feels the joys and sufferings of human life as keenly as anybody else. The only plausible explanation I can find lies in his different attitude to the past. To have a face, in the European sense of the word, it would seem that one must not only enjoy and suffer but also desire to preserve the memory of even the most humiliating and unpleasant experiences of the past.
This quote explains the observation made by European visitors to the United States, noting the noticeable absence of what they would consider a "face" or a distinct expression or individuality. The explanation offered is that this lack of uniqueness in appearance is not due to a lack of sensitivity or emotional depth in Americans, but rather stems from their different attitude towards the past. In order to possess a face, as interpreted in the European sense, one must not only experience joy and suffering but also have a desire to remember and retain even the most difficult and unpleasant past experiences.