You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor
look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the
spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.
–Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
Those who know of Joanna Field’s fascinating book “On Not Being Able to Paint” will recognize the hat-tip in this post’s title. Her book includes poignantly honest descriptions of the act of seeing. Not thinking about seeing, or seeing what she’d been told was there, or looking “through the eyes of the dead.” Not anything but what happened when, for instance, one object seemed to meet another as she looked out her own two eyes. Seeing for oneself.
I’ve been on an elusive quest to, as they say, find my voice as an artist. The great jazz musician Miles Davis once said, You have to play for a long time to play like yourself. I believe that is true, though I have not “played” long enough yet as an artist or even as just a person. The elusive nature of the quest is compounded by the whole “self” idea. What is myself? The more closely I look, the more slippery the whole concept becomes, Continue reading