Friday, December 6, 2019

Looking and Seeing

Frederick Sigfred Franck

The glaring contrast between seeing and looking – at the world around us – is immense; it is fateful. Everything in our society seems to conspire against our inborn human gift of seeing. We have become addicted to merely looking – at things and beings. The more we regress from seeing to looking-at the world – through the ever-more-perfected machinery of viewfinders, TV tubes, VCRs, microscopes, spectroscopes, stereoscopes – the less we see. The less we see, the more numbed we become to the joy and the pain of being alive, and the further estranged we become from ourselves and all others.

If we could still really see what day after day is shown on the six o’clock news, we would burst out in tears. We would pray, or kneel, or perhaps make the sign of the cross over that screen in an impotent gesture of exorcising such evil, such insanity. But there we sit, programmed as we are to look-at, to stare passively at those burning tanks, those animals choking in oil spills. We perfunctorily shake our heads, take another sip of our drink, and stare at the manic commercials until the thing switches back to smiling bigwigs reviewing honor guards, rows of corpses, and beauty queens preening.

No wonder that once the art of seeing is lost, Meaning is lost, and all life itself seems ever more meaningless: “They know not what they do…” for they do not see what they look-at.

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