Tuesday, January 23, 2007

an anthology of quotes on seeing

"What do we see when we go outside and look at the world? Has it become so familiar to us that we pay no attention to it at all? Or perhaps when we look at blue sky do we think of the refraction of light? When we notice the sun, do we think of a nuclear furnace? When we see a fox in a zoo, do we think of what we learned in biology class about bones and organs? And beyond this, when we step back and view the world, how do we see it? Blue sky, green fields, brown earth, blue water-does this set of images mean anything at all, or is it "just the way things are"? How do we view the world?"
-James Jordan

"I looked up and saw sparrows landing on a sign. Suddenly, the whole scene became completely abstract, as though I were seeing it through nascent eyes. I realized I could remove all preconceptions about these birds. That ability was very exciting."
-Richard Vander Wende

"It was less like seeing then like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance."
-Annie Dillard

"We should look at green again and be startled anew (but not blinded) by blue and yellow and red."
-J.R.R Tolkien

"And art itself may be defined as a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect. It is an attempt to find in its forms, in its colours, in its light, in its shadows, in the aspects of matter and in the facts of life, what of each is fundamental, what is enduring and essential -- their one illuminating and convincing quality -- the very truth of their existence.
My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel--it is, before all, to make you see. That--and no more, and it is everything. If I succeed, you shall find there according to your deserts: encouragement, consolation, fear, charm--all you demand--and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask."
-Joseph Conrad

"I have learned that what I have not drawn I have never really seen, and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle: the branching of a tree, the structure of a dandelion's seed puff. "A mouse is a miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels," says Walt Whitman. I discover that among The Ten Thousand Things there is no ordinary thing. All that is, is worthy of being seen, of being drawn."

-Frederick Franck

"I was born with busy eyes.
It’s not my fault, it’s just the way things are.
... Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, it’s just that they are hard to keep up with at times. One ends up doing a lot of explaining, usually about just what exactly the devil one is doing in restricted areas, on the wrong side of high fences or locked gates, at the top of stairwells clearly posted Not Open to Public.

... They always seem to be wandering over textures, judging light and the thickness of the air. Chasing motes and dandelion seeds, calculating the flight of birds. They are continually going astray. I never know where I’ll find them.
They’re a little shy, that’s why they skirt warily around the edges of other eyes, just in case they slip and plummet down to whatever deep waters are awaiting, but otherwise they’re fearless. No sky is too big to scan, no detail to small to focus on.
When in company, I am continually having to explain why I’m so slow. Well, I stammer, there was a statue back there, yes I know it's been there for ages and it’ll be there tomorrow, but that’s just the point. Maybe tomorrow it’ll rain, or there’ll be sun backlighting it or there’ll be different clouds. I just had to make sure I saw it properly today
SO much to look at, and only the two of us, they must think. So much moss on trees, so many trees in a forest, such a variety of leaves for all seasons, such endearing smile lines at the corners of mouths, such grace in hands and strides... It’s a full-time job to get all that seen. "
-John Howe

"For John, seeing is knowing (6:40; 11:45; 14:7), and knowing/seeing the Father and Son is eternal life (John 17:3). If there is no way for us to see the Father, there is no way that leads to life. We need some way to behold Him. The good news is that there is such a way, and that the name of that Way is Jesus."
-Peter Leithart

"It gets like that with cameras on vacations...It's because you don't want to miss anything. Just seeing something counts as missing it.

The result is you don't really see anything. You either skim over it because it isn't worth taking a picture of, or you take a picture of it. When you take a picture of it you feel as if you have it forever so you don't have to really look at it. You are free to move on, looking for the next thing you can't afford to miss."
-Thomas de Zengotita



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