Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The object stares back: on the nature of seeing By James Elkins

Elkins argued in regard to notion that seeing is a simple action. "Seeing is metamorphosis, not mechanism." (12). Elkins' "Blindness" discussed the blindness as the opposite of seeing and examines the complexity that follow the concept itself. Vision is described as the act originated from the early hunting. He argued that all goes through a process and observation. “Vision runs back and forth from objects to eyes, and whatever is seen also sees...seeing is self-definition. Objects look back, and their incoming gaze tells me what I am.” (86) Vision is an incomplete process, for we cannot truly see everything. Elkins references Georges Bataille, who claims three objects cannot be seen: the sun, genitals, and death. (103). A series of questions follow his argument of vision such as Why are these objects problematic for vision? How do we bridge this shortcoming of vision? What is the connection between visual comprehension, linguistic reference, and anatomical reference?
Elkins argue that if blindness exist in old age it also exist on the infants. He poses questions "How did I see as an infant and what did I see?" (p. 202). In connection with the memory he argued that blindness and memory go together and in early infancy this link has not linked yet.
Elkins touches upon collective memory: "Since seeing can be dependent on memory, and blindness on forgetfulness, it is not extravagant to find the same relations in collective memory-in history-as there are in individual memory. Entire cultures have disappeared into blindness because they let themselves be forgotten..." (203)

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