But above all — and one saw this the moment one set eyes on him — the significance of his physiognomy had been altered by a formidable monocle. By introducing an element of machinery into Bloch’s face this monocle absolved it of all those difficult duties which a human face is normally called upon to discharge, such as being beautiful or expressing kindliness or intelligence or effort. The monocle’s mere presence even absolved an interlocutor, in the first place, of asking himself whether the face was pleasant to look at or not, just as, when a shop-assistant has told you that some object imported from England is “the last word in chic,” you no longer dare to ask yourself whether you really like it. In any case, behind the lens of the monocle Bloch was now installed in a position as lofty, as remote and as comfortable as if it had been the glass partition of a limosouine and, so that his face should match the smooth hair and the monocle, his features never now expressed anything at all.
— Proust, Time Regained