Excerpts from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek about "Seeing"
by Annie Dillard:
Seeing is of course very much a matter of verbalization. Unless I call
my attention to what passes before my eyes, I simply won't see it.
It is, as Ruskin says, "not merely unnoticed, but in the full, clear
sense of the word, unseen." My eyes alone can't solve analogy tests
using figures, the ones which show, with increasing elaborations,
a big square, then a small square in a big square, then a big
triangle, and expect me to find a small triangle in a big triangle.
I have to say the words, describe what I'm seeing.
But there is another kind of seeing that involves a letting go.
When I see this way I sway transfixed and emptied... But I can't
go out and try to see this way. I'll fail, I'll go mad. All I can do
is try to gag the commentator, to hush the noise of useless
interior babble…The effort is really a discipline requiring a
lifetime of dedicated struggle; it marks the literature of saints
and monks of every order East and West… The world's spiritual
geniuses seem to discover universally that the mind's muddy river,
this ceaseless flow of trivia and trash cannot be dammed, and
that trying to dam it is a waste of effort that might lead to madness.
Instead you must allow the muddy river to flow unheeded in the
dim channels of consciousness; you raise your sights; you look
along it, mildly, acknowledging its presence without interest and
gazing beyond it into the realm of the real where subjects and objects
act and rest purely, without utterance. "Launch into the deep," says
Jacques Ellul, "and you shall see."
The secret of seeing is, then, the pearl of great price. If I thought
he could teach me to find it and keep if forever I would stagger
barefoot across a hundred deserts after any lunatic at all. But although
the pearl may be found, it may not be sound. The literature of illumination
reveals this above all: although it comes to those who wait for it, it is
always, even to the most practiced and adept, a gift and a total surprise.
Seeing Beyond Sight: Photographs by Blind Teenagers
With its ambitious, seemingly paradoxical premise,
“uniquely powerful” ~ Utne Magazine
"savvy, passionate, witty, and yes, beautiful"
"This book will make you look—and look again—
Available on Amazon for $16.47 ($8.48 off) or used for only $5.95.
Author — Tony Deifell
Foreword — Robert Coles
Publisher — Chronicle Books