Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Observation

First Words
Winter 2014

Seeing and Knowing

“The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled,” writes art critic and author John Berger in his 1970s Ways of Seeing.

Berger, a mainstay for students of art and Western culture, examines how a large part of what we see when we look at something depends on our habits and conventions, the things we think we know.

As men and women, Berger notes, we may see things differently. Our teachers, our books, even our communities tell us what we’re looking at and what it means. Children see things differently, again. Lacking preconceptions, they may recognize qualities in a work of … » More …

First Words
Summer 2012

The learned observer

“We should observe first, and think afterwards.”
—The Lancet 19 Oct. 1823

Part of the nature of a writer—but then again, perhaps I speak only for myself—is the constant reimagining of one’s self and context, the repeated immersion in myriad and esoteric subjects, all the while desperately hoping for infinite reincarnations in order to fulfill all the things one would like to understand, experience, and be. On the other hand, being a writer embraces the perfectly paradoxical satisfaction with one’s role as a learned observer.

Given the skeptical writer’s reluctance to rely on reincarnation, the only way to grasp these multitudinous desires and perspectives … » More …