|"The pleasure a man gets
from a landscape would [not] last long if he were
convinced a priori that the forms and colors
he sees are just forms and colors, that all structures
in which they play a role are purely subjective and
have no relation whatsoever to any meaningful order or
totality, that they simply and necessarily express
nothing....No walk through the landscape is necessary
any longer; and thus the very concept of landscape as
experienced by a pedestrian becomes meaningless and
arbitrary. Landscape deteriorates altogether
--Max Horkheimer, The Eclipse of Reason (1947).
|[M]any newly sighted people
speak well of the world, and teach us how dull is our
own vision. To one patient, a human hand,
unrecognized, is "something bright and then
holes." Shown a bunch of grapes, a boy calls out
"It is dark, blue and shiny....It isn't smooth, it has
bumps and hollows." A little girl visits a
garden. "She is greatly astonished, and can
scarcely be persuaded to answer, stands speechless in
front of the tree, which she only names by taking hold
of it, and then as "the tree with the lights in it."
When the doctor took her bandages off and led her into the garden, the girl who was no longer blind saw "the tree with the lights in it." It was for this tree I searched through the peach orchards of summer, in the forests of fall and down winter and spring for years. Then one day I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with the lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed. It was less like seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance. The lights of the fire abated, but I'm still spending the power. Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells unflamed and disappeared. I was still ringing. I had my whole life been a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck. I have since only rarely seen the tree with the lights in it. The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, for the moment when the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam.
--Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974).