25 mars 2008

fixed firmly on the object in view

"We must try to keep the mind in tranquility. For just as the eye which constantly shifts its gaze, now turning to the right or to the left, now incessantly peering up or down, cannot see distinctly what lies before it, but the sight must be fixed firmly on the object in view if one would make his vision of it clear; so too man's mind when distracted by his countless worldly cares cannot focus itself distinctly on the truth."
- Basil of Caesarea


cross-posted to Unspoken Cinema

2 commentaires:

J.K. Stewart a dit…

Yet that's precisely not how we see, right? Visual "objects" - as in, contours and reliefs standing out from backgrounds and each other - come into view because of ever shifting, cicadic eye movements. We see clearly when, and because, we look askew. To "fix the sight firmly on the object in view" would be to loose it.

This all made me think of the dizzying first paragraph of Walter Chaw's recent review of The Beat That My Heart Skipped....

dave a dit…

I don't think Basil is speaking of perception, but rather of attention, concentration. That is, we should see an object rather than simply looking at a series of objects. Basil's subject is deep knowledge and the measures necessary to attain it (at least as I've appropriated the words of a 4th century theologian). What's at issue is what constitutes "clear" vision and "truth." For me, Heidegger has it right: art is that which reveals things as they are by setting them forth as things to be seen.