Crafting Gentleness

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The gaze as the limbs of the soul

"Traditionally the gaze was conceived as a way of fingering, of touching. The old Greeks spoke about looking as a way of sending out my psychopodia, my soul's limbs, to touch your face and establish a relationship between the two of us which is this relationship, and this relationship was called vision. Then, after Galileo at the time of Kepler, the idea developed that the eyes are receptors into which light brings something from the outside, keeping you separate from me even when I look at you. Even if I gaze at you. Even if I enjoy your face. People began to conceive of their eyes as some kind of camera obscura. In our age people conceive of their eyes and actually use them as if they were part of a machinery. They speak about interface. Anybody who says to me, I want to have an interface with you, I say please go somewhere else, to a toilet or wherever you want, to a mirror. Anybody who says, I want to communicate with you, I say can't you talk? Can't you speak? Can't you recognize that there's a deep otherness between me and you, so deep that it would be offensive for me to be programmed in the same way you are."

Ivan Illich, interviewed by Jerry Brown


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