Philip Wolfson studied Chinese politics, spycraft, language and culture at Columbia University in the 1960s, while passing the Foreign Service Examination of the United States Information Agency—all of which fueled his ongoing interest in espionage and international relations, including propaganda and cultural warfare.
In his 9-year stint as Creative Supervisor in medical advertising, he used the power of facial imagery to communicate and persuade, drawing from historic galleries of the human form, ancient texts of physiognomy and the modern science of photography.
A forty-year career in cosmetic dentistry refined his knowledge and appreciation of the importance of the face to the human psyche, the universal preferences for faces and features that are symmetrical and proportional and how our present appearance can affect our future.
Faces Tell All (2019)
Biggest literary influencers:
John Updike (elegant prose), Saul Bellow (unforgettable characters), E.L. Doctorow (poetic lyricism), James Baldwin (emotional intensity), John le Carre, Ken Follett (atmospheric and authentic spy novels), Robin Cook, Michael Crichton (plausible techno-thrillers), Dan Brown (numerology thrillers, an interest of mine.)
Last book read:
Lives of the Poets, E.L. Doctorow
The book that changed your life:
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. Monumental in scope, structure and style, its richly textured, often dazzling prose represents the finest traditions of both sides of his Anglo-Indian literary heritage. Multi-layered, with fascinating characters and stories intertwined with actual events and magical realism, it’s been compared to an excursion through an Indian Temple with all its idols, icon and relics. In all, the most impressive work of fiction I had ever read, Midnight’s Children inspired me to someday write a novel—one with a multi-cultural theme and a universal message; ergo, Faces Tell All.
Your favorite literary character:
Oscar, the mute dwarf in Gunther Grass’ “The Tin Drum.” Grass’ black humor and savage irony is as piercing as Oscar’s high-pitched scream—loud enough to break glass and his only “voice” of protest against mindless cruelties. Born in Eastern Germany during the Hitler era, Oscar is kind of a barometer of evil in its many forms: racism, hatred, persecution, sexual predation and other violence, indifference and hypocrisy. He is a foil but not a neutral, passive one: vacillating between victim and victimizer along with the mass of his countrymen. One of the most compelling literary characters I have encountered, his “silence” becomes a metaphor for the moral vacuousness that can plague supposedly civilized peoples.
Currently working on:
I’m working on my website blogs and articles on topics relating to faces. These articles cover areas such as surveillance, facial diagnosis of physical and emotional fitness, the hypnotic power of facial imagery, the psychology of faces relating to obsession, narcissism, racism and celebrity worship, the faces of Hollywood. I’m also researching my second novel, Salieri’s Ghost, also about artificial intelligence—but applied to music.
Words to live by:
Contribute to the world.
Advice to new and aspiring authors:
Create appealing characters; flesh them out, inhabit their heads and they will write your novel.
“Philip Wolfson weaves his engrossing spy mystery around the exponential growth of AI technology …beyond sci-fi, many of the concepts presented, before you realize, will be fully implemented within social media and robotics.”
–T.H. Lloyd, MCSc., former CEO of LCI Digital Forensics.
“Dr. Philip Wolfson has taken the human face as signifier of emotional life, expressiveness and value and turned it into amazing sci-fi adventure. His fiction is more than a romp through imagined possibility. It brings to life potential worlds, multi-dimensional tours and wonders of experience.”
-Michael Eigen, PhD., psychologist and author of Contact with the Depths, Feeling Matters, and other works
“Witty…insightful… takes the constant presence of faces to a new level of public awareness…so we look at television, advertising, cinema, even the tabloids, with deeper understanding of the human drama.”
–Thomas Bird, former NYC broadcast General Manager (WNCN).