I Guess I Need to Read War and Peace Again
Górecki: Symphony #3

Seeing--Like, Actually

Seeing is more than indifferently reflecting (as a mirror reflects all that passes within range). It is a vital process that directly affects our lives. To see, perceive, means to receive into oneself, to submit to the influence of things, to place oneself within their grasp. Necessarily, the will mounts guard over the vision. One protection against precarious things is to look at them sharply, so as to discover their weaknesses; another is to look away, so as to remain unaffected by them. On the whole, we see what we choose to see; the selectiveness of the individual eye is a protective measure of life itself. This being true already on the natural plane, how much truer it is on the spiritual, with its cognizance of others, of the positions we take to the truths and demands thrust upon us. To see another human being as he really is means to lay ourselves open to his influence. Thus when fear or dislike moves us to avoid him, this reaction is already evident in our gaze; the eye caricaturizes him, stifling the good, heightening the bad. We discern his intentions, make swift comparisons, and leap to conclusions. All this proceeds involuntarily, if not unconsciously (in which case our powers of distortion, uncurbed by reason, do their worst). Seeing is a protective service to the will to live. The deeper our fear or distaste of a person, the more tightly we close our eyes to him, until finally we are incapable of perception or the profound German word for it, Wahrnehmen: reception-of-truth. Then we have become blind to that particular person. This mysterious process lies behind every enmity. Discussion, preaching, explanations are utterly useless. The eye simply ceases to register what is plain to be seen. Before there can be any change, a fundamental shift must take place in the general attitude. The mind must turn to justice, the heart expand; then only can the eye really begin to discern. Little by little the sheen of the object on which it rests strengthens its visual power, and slowly it recovers the health of truth. 

--Romano Guardini, The Lord

I said I was not going to discuss current events and controversies during Lent. But this passage is uncannily applicable to those. 

Amaryllis 1-5-2013 12-25-27 PM 1900x1527This picture has nothing to do with this post. But suppose you associate red with someone or some group you hate and/or fear.

 

Comments

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Sadly true.

I love red.

AMDG

Is that a political statement?

Thanks, Mac, for that Guardi piece.

I've often thought that the cliche "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", as it is commonly understood, to be in fact quite the opposite of what it really means. It is generally taken to mean that beauty is merely an opinion, a subjective projection of one's tastes. But then why not say "Beauty is in the eye of the viewer"? Beholding is such a powerful word. To behold is to look a certain way, to be held by, to be endebted to, to be beholden to. Doesn't the phrase actually mean that to see the beauty of something is to allow oneself to be touched by an objective reality that only someone with the correct internal disposition can see? Looked at this way the phrase is not a motto of relativism but a challenge to recognize that seeing, as Guardini reminds us, requires an internal humility, a capacity for openness to the other. Not everyone has the eyes to see nor the ears to hear!

You're welcome.

I guess "what the meaning of 'is' is" can always be debated. :-) But yeah, I think you're right.

I think the way that saying is generally taken to mean is probably what it was originally intended to mean--if any definite origin can be found. But I've always thought it was wrong.

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