Doug Bruns

the vision thing…

In Dogs, Life, The Examined Life on March 5, 2010 at 10:08 pm

I’ve told my kids that as you grow older you lose your peripheral vision. I’ve said this repeatedly; most often, it seems, each time I felt my own vision closing in. When I was young(er) the world was wide open and my vision reflected it. Then, as I grew up and more focused (though that is not really the correct word, but you get my drift), my vision closed in a bit, losing a few degrees at the edges, a sort of vignetting, as it were, figuratively speaking. That is, the older I grew, the fewer options were open to me. (Oh, how I long for the open fields of my youth.) (They say that the rod cells of the eye, which fail to detect colors, are the ones that give us vision on the sides, peripheral, that is. Speaking biology here. Dogs, have no cones, only rods, so the assumption is that our canine friends don’t see colors. I have a close affinity to my dog, as readers of my thoughts know. Is that why my camera is loaded with monochrome?)

As you grow older, if you are aware of the trend, you struggle against the loss of peripheral vision. Who wants to finish their days with blinders on? That is the logical sequence of things. First, wide open world, vision all the way to the sides, then less and less until, the next thing you know, you’re a horse and wearing blinders. You see only straight ahead. Head down. Somebody whipping your backside.

A person should want to avoid that. I think artists do. Great artists don’t lose vision on the sides. That is what makes them great. The rest of us need be aware and struggle against the tendency.

It is related to thinking–but then, what isn’t? And thinking is linked to language. (Heidegger: “Language is the house of Being.”) They say there is no culture until the poets show up. That is, commerce can flourish and life flow, but there is no real society, no commonly defined culture, until someone can think and speak through language in a meaningful way. It’s like turning on your computer without an operating system installed. The machine comes on but the screen is blank. Once we start believing that we know what it is we think, and the more defined we grow in this manner, the more staid and certain we become–the more vision we lose on the sides, the peripheral vision. Before you know it, we are fixed  in that which we think. But we see only in one direction, straight ahead, in the direction we have determined we must head. That’s great if you’re the captain of a ship heading to harbor, but not so great if you’re an explorer.

So, wanna be a harbor master or an explorer? That’s what I figured. Go explore.

I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading.

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