"Good from far, but far from good" is a fairly recently coined cliche* most probably used by a man-child in reference to initially distantly viewed female. The proposition of the expression is that distance and tricks of the light (and the mind) have operated to deceivingly render appealing a woman later deemed unattractive; but, naturally, that a closer approach dispelled the illusion.

This may seem mundane, juvenile even in the subtle misogyny of first reducing another human being to their distantly perceived physical attributes, and then dismissing them as having somehow failed some sort of test of the evaluator's imagination when the evaluator's own initial set of assumptions is what has proved faulty. And yet there exists an element of pareidolia in such an exercise, just as surely as the same is to be found in reports of Jesus in the French toast or the Buddha in a rock formation. When viewed from afar, it simply seems probable that mens' minds are geared toward assumptions which would render the distant female form most pleasing to contemplate.

These tendencies may well be as deeply embedded, and even have similar origins in evolutionary biology, as our tendency to commit to religious iconography -- for we stand a better chance of survival if we are inclined to mistake things at a distance for what we would most benefit from discovering them to be up close (probably an instinct arising for quite opposite purposes, so that a distantly spotted possible predator would be reacted to as if it were a real one, thus enhancing the chances of predator evasion). And indeed we may find ourselves exhibiting an almost religious level of certainty about the lady espied from afar. A man who distantly sees an unknown woman he images to be a scintillating siren, who some weeks later ran across the same stranger from close enough to register with certainty various features which he found compellingly unattractive, might well remain certain to his core that the subjectively uncomely woman he has encountered up close today is a wholly different and distinct person from the beauty he spied from afar those weeks before!!


* The first time I could find this being used was 1978, and the second all the way in 1987; another surprisingly late entry in the cliche sweepstakes.



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