What good are my eyes if they only see what they are told to see? I have always seen what I’ve been shown, with or without the light necessary to see as I should. What good are they, these eyes that look at the world, to the world . . . I am asking. I look at I look to I look for . . . my eyes locked. I have looked and looked again with and without having seen what I was supposed to see, what I was taught to see, so much of what I have seen has been what I had been told I could see should see must see–see this.
I have had trouble seeing what many around me have insisted I should be seeing; I have denied being able to see what others insist I should be able to see, as these others have denied seeing anything that I have seen when I have said I see what I do–do you see this? I have asked. I look at mouths agape on the bus, on the subway, in the park, at work, among my students staring as if fixing sight on nothing in particular (as most do when an accompanying quizzical expression comes over the face, sometimes also with a squinting of the eyes, as they do, as I have noted lately often) is what they should do, do do in an attempt to look as they are supposed to look in a world where doubt on doubt is the newest and most anticipated possibility waiting to bury us. I have retreated into a fixed condescension, how impossibly obtuse can human eyes be? I ask. I look but I do not see; I have not the eyes to see what I should see? What’s the use in asking my fellow monkeys? My hypocrite brothers.
Being present to be seen at all, the things a person knows he sees, sees with his physical eyes fixed on the world, sees with his eyes he looks to things or persons–ideas are things–in his head; the mind’s eye, we used to say, yes, we did. What eyes do I see with in my dreams? I have asked. The inferences were clear, to me at least; they remain so at present: seeing what is supposed to be seen and not seeing what is not there to be seen are both ends of sanity when sanity is primarily and lastly defined socially, by what everyone agrees on, and what is to be seen is a negotiation. Most immigrants anywhere suffer a kind of insanity until they recover by a slow process of enculturation.
Sight has a lot to do with a focus manipulated from outside the Self; I see only what I am supposed to see? Sometimes I fear this is true beyond even utility–there is always a way in which individual sight is manipulated, the medium is the message you should understand. To see is to understand; in this sense, the opinions we hold are a kind of sight. To disagree is a form of blindness, you see. In this sense, my sanity may or may not be dependent on looking. I could close my eyes and become sane again. The denizens of Plato’s cave discovered this truth. Seek and you shall find? Look and you shall see? Do I? I do not ask. Close your eyes and become healthy again, clean again, all sanity is sanitation.
What means this seeing that is something the blind can be taught to do. I’m not talking about the kind of seeing I must do by closing my eyes. Kubrick asserted as much right before he died, Eyes Wide Shut; the kind of looking without seeing, the kind of seeing that is all about not looking but saying yes or no to what has been told to you, another kind of indoctrination. Primo Levi talked about this similar kind of seeing done by the Germans that lead them into the Nazis horrors.
A typical German crosses a street where traffic is not allowed. He gets hit by a car and thrown to the ground. He asks what happened to him when he comes to. Someone tells him that he had just been hit by a car. He then responds by saying that it is impossible for him to have been hit by a car because traffic is not allowed on the street he was hit by a car on. I am the typical German, the multiplicity of this category is I; again, as I have said elsewhere, I am we, everywhere, every when; everyone is exactly like myself; all of us share a common human nature–yes, nature, both as it is from nature and as it becomes from habit too long endured. The latter is a nature of a kind; it mimics nature. In imitatio naturae.
Our typical German that voted for the Nazis understood what about his world, about his politics, about his society, about others who were not German as he was German; what does Donald trump see or not see; what do his words imply and infer we should see; what do his followers see; is it all just six of one and half dozen of another diseased minds —I am the typical German; I am not the typical typical German; I am the typical Nazis as I am the atypical Nazis as I am not a Nazis, never a Nazis. He saw something other than what there was to be seen, understood his experience differently from how it happened, the typical German who crosses a street.
I see, he sees, we see, what do we see and when do we see it or them or what else do we have in words to say what we understand, either what we understand about what we should be learning or understand about what it is that we are actually seeing—we wait for the media to tell us this too often, no? What about you? What do you see, understand stand under, another way to walk in another man’s shoes–would I have to wear heels to walk in some women’s shoes? I know a man cannot see the truth of birth until he can shit a bowling ball.
Sometimes this seeing the same all around the pronouns. I see it; I see them; I see her; I see him—them is for things, them is for persons, them is for places. What then is sight? What then is seeing when to see is to understand in a way contrary to fact, even experience? It is interesting we use sight and seeing for understanding and for wisdom, as blind as I am, have become, do become at will or whim. No one will come to seek me in the underworld.
What then do I know? I do not ask.