That's old "Banjo Eyes" Eddie Cantor, largely forgotten now but once a very popular entertainer, noted for his expressive eyes. You really have to see films of him to get the full impact.
But it's popular today to refer to looks of incredulity as eyerolls. That is the subject of this post.
Self-relection suggests to me that I have a tendency to do that too much when people tell me of unusual events in their lives. Let me modify that a bit. I tend to do that when they come to me "out of the blue" with a strange tell. If I am starting the conversation and probing their lives for such tales, I tend to be more serious, as if I'm doing research. Well, in fact I am.
A friend came to me and told me the dirt on her mother's grave sank in several inches and within six months another family member had died. It was a sign, she told me. Eyeroll!
Another friend, of the fundamentalist Christian variety, told me of a person at his church who had fallen and shattered his knee cap. After coming up for prayer in the church, his knee cap was instantaneously restored. Eyeroll!
But when I probe my younger brother's mind and ask for details about the time he was allegedly awakened by a ghost shaking his bed, or the time my mother swears she saw a gnome that upon realization of being seen suddenly ducked into the ground behind some rocks, there is no eyeroll. There are more questions. "Ah, that's interesting."
I love these kinds of stories and collect them, especially stories from people I know personally and have good reason to believe are of basically good character and sound mind. They mean the most to me. They do because they reaffirm a belief I have that the world isn't necessarily an easy place to find understanding.
I write about worldviews a lot on my blog. These are models we have constructed (or simply bought into wholesale with little if any thinking on our own part) and which we use to determine what is true and what is real.
When we encounter something contrary to our comfy little worldview, it is all too easy to eyeroll.
Consider something philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote in his The Analysis Of Mind:
There is no logical impossibility in the hypothesis that the world sprang into being five minutes ago, exactly as it then was, with a population that "remembered" a wholly unreal past. There is no logically necessary connection between events at different times; therefore nothing that is happening now or will happen in the future can disprove the hypothesis that the world began five minutes ago.
I remember (at least I think I do) my reaction upon reading that for the first time. I thought: "Okay, true enough; but no reason in the least to seriously entertain the notion." (I don't remember if my eyes rolled after I read Russell's statement.) I had at the time (and still do) this strong conviction that the past is real and my perception of reality as I experience it is real (if admittedly not completely understood).
Maybe God (whatever he/she/it is) is a trickster. Maybe God created a universe - or dreamed it into existence (maybe reality isn't real but we all this around us are only figments of another's imagination) - that is reasonable enough to basically understand it, but yet filled with illogical oddities that are designed, I don't know, maybe to keep us from getting bored, overly arrogant, or just to keep us confused and intellectually off-balance.
I don't really believe that is the case. I know it wouldn't go over well with my atheist friends. But I think they lack imagination sometimes. The reason atheism is the imposing force it is is because most people define God out of existence.
Any eyerolls on that?
As I suggested the other day in my At Rainbow's End post, we all are more or less imprisoned by our inner perceptions of what is true (read: our worldview). And for us that prison can be quite real and confining. Breaking free of our mental prisons might not bring us to "the truth," but at least it makes the quest more wondrous and enjoyable.
Having written all the above, I have to confess that I still have the eyeroll on ready for the next time I hear something that doesn't square with my worldview. But after the eyeroll I'm going to say, "let's lay out some possibilities and see what makes the most sense based on what we think we know." A better response than "you're nuts!"