I See, I Saw an Eye See-Saw
I don’t know how I see anymore.
In my time here at St. John’s, I’ve been told that certain aspects of the curriculum drive one crazy. So far, I’ve had fascinating conversations, been exposed to thoughts and ideas which truly jolted, if not shifted entirely, my perspective on things. But nothing until now has caused me to very literally question my perspective as our classes on light. Philosophy is one thing, but when one is made to question how one sees anything – something so physically fundamental – everything else collapses in tow as well.
We take our senses for granted. I knew this; took it for granted, in fact. When it comes to hearing, the question remains muddled, but I can come up with a somewhat reasonable account, having to do with air, vibrations, the ear drum… The broader question of what a sound means, the arbitrariness of language, the effects of music, all can be philosophically discussed. The fact that they can be discussed, even if not resolved, is somehow reassuring. The same would go for taste and smell, and touch. Matter affecting matter, essentially.
But seeing? How does one see? What is light, anyway? How is it that I can recognise light as such, as light, but also see through the means of light and differentiate among objects, colours, shapes…? And what about the mind’s eye, imagination, dreaming, visions? Even stereograms, for that matter, have taken on a mysterious twist for me now.
A friend told me that it was “an interesting state of consciousness” to be spacing out and to see other people out of the corner of one’s eye spacing out themselves. Seeing most certainly affects one’s consciousness, and I certainly am consciously aware of the implications of not coming up with a satisfactory account of seeing. It’s driving me crazy, literally and figuratively. I’m sure you see what I mean.