Monday, February 23, 2009

Quote on "Seeing"

This was sent to me by one of my mentors:

At first, it appears that nothing could be easier than seeing. We just point our eyes where we want to go, and gather in whatever there is to see. Nothing could be less in need of explanation. The world is flooded with light, and everything is available to be seen. We can see people, pictures, landscapes, and whatever else we need to see, and with the help of science we can see galaxies, viruses, and the insides of our own bodies. Seeing does not interfere with the world or take anything from it, and it does not hurt or damage anything. Seeing is detached and efficient and rational. Unlike the stomach or the heart, eyes are our own to command: they obey every desire and thought.

Each one of those ideas is completely wrong. The truth is more difficult: seeing is irrational, inconsistent, and undependable. It is immensely troubled, cousin to blindness and sexuality, and caught up in the threads of the unconscious. Our eyes are not ours to command; they roam where they will and then tell us they have only been where we have sent them. No matter how hard we look, we see very little of what we look at. If we imagine the eyes as navigational devices, we do so in order not to come to terms with what seeing really is. Seeing is like hunting and like dreaming, and even like falling in love. It is entangled in passions--jealousy, violence, possessiveness; and it is soaked in an affect--in pleasure and displeasure, and in pain. Ultimately, seeing alters the thing that is seen and transforms the seer. Seeing is metamorphosis not mechanism.

James Elkins, The Object Stares Back

Nice. Interesting thoughts. Thanks Lynda!

1 comments:

pieter

that is so well said.
reminds me of that quote on your blog.

You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus.
- Mark Twain

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