Friday, February 15, 2008

On the Possibilities of Listening and Seeing

What happens when one wishes aside the powers-at-be, when one ceases to mould oneself according to hand-me-down authoritative certainties? Within such clearings, is it possible to listen to a world where nature is able to speak? Is it possible to hear to a world where humanity is able to sing and cry and laugh ? Some say, No!! Some say we can only hear within and according-to our cultural constructions -- we cannot truly hear nature, or humanity for that matter either. But others, while denying any unqualified certainties, also say, Why not? Why not listen? So, if we can listen, if we do listen, what might we hear?

According to George Elliot, in our listening, we might not just hear nature we might be overwhelmed in our hearing.

If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.
Nature, then, can certainly be heard, and can certainly be seen, but these encounters might occur with a thunderous aplomb, over there on that other side, beyond our usual hearing and listening. And, apparently this hearing and seeing comes to those who carefully create some kind of a keen vision and a certain feeling for ordinary life. Yes, an opening of perceptions, not to the exceptional, not to the typical causes for applause, but toward the ordinary and the overlooked. Within such a turn in listening and seeing (through all our doors of perception), nature roars and engulfs.

What to others a trifle appears
Fills me full of smiles or tears
For double the vision my eyes to see.
And double vision is always with me.


He who would do good to another must do it in Minute

General Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite,
and flatterer.

William Blake

William Blake also talks of such listening and seeing. First of all, he suggests that we might, in our seeing, see a double vision... that is, both a this and a that! Nothing simple: always thorny, never clear and precise. Nothing comfortable in this perception, for options are not resolved, they just seem to accumulate. Blake also notes that our seeing will be in particular, not general. We will see details, minute ones, again accumulating, creating abundances. Not details, organized and arranged, but rather, specifics, scattered and amassing. For Blake that is all we can see, all we will see, all that is possible to see. Seeing anything but such details places us, according to Blake, in the company of scoundrels.

One more thing from Blake, he invites us to see seeing as a creative activity – the imagination and the body moving together, experimenting, making things, producing new assemblages.

Vain, foolish Man! wilt thou believe without Experiment...

I must Create a System, or be enslav’d by another Man’s
I will not Reason and Compare; my business is to Create.

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