Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Gift of Seeing What's There

From Robert Hass's "An Oak Grove," which appears in What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World:
One of the gifts people who teach can give to students is a sense of complexity, because desire tends to simplify what it sees. We are usually, left to ourselves, egrets fishing through our smeared reflections. Another thing teachers can give them is the gift of seeing what’s there. They can give them some of the skills of distinction, discrimination, and description and give them concepts of enormous power to refine and organize their seeing. Seeing what’s there usually requires patient observation and the acquisition of particular skills and disciplines—not that those things guarantee our seeing clearly or freshly. Often in both the arts and the sciences, we see what’s there in a flash, but it has taken us hours or years of patient labor to get there and then to name what we have seen. 

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