Looking for a text about depth, darkness, corneas
December 5, 2022 10:52 AM   Subscribe

I'm writing an essay to submit to https://aftertheart.com. I'm writing about a Mvnch painting, paired with my own recent diagnosis of keratoconus, a cornea disease. However, the editors also want "a text" (can be any kind). I haven't found one that works.

The text can be a poem or a news article or an essay or manual--literally, anything textual.

As far as the topic, that's pretty broad. Bad night vision and lack of depth perception are two big symptoms. The paining shows a girl by the sea.

I've already been looking for ones about depth perception (like the virtual cliff) night vision, fear of the dark, Mvnch's bio, skimmed two big books about vision and art, considered poems by Plath, Eliot, and others.

Do these make you think of anything? TIA for any suggestions.
posted by mermaidcafe to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your theme makes me think of Nyctinasty: why and how some flowers close up at night . . . as [y]our eyes do at the same time there-or-thereabouts.
In her latter years my mother went blind from macular degeneration; a side-efect of which was Charles Bonnet syndrome CBS where the photons on what was left of her retina were "made sense of" by her optic cortex in the most extravagant fashion: “ . . .the old chap in the portrait over the side-board – he’s now wearing a flowered garland . . . and there’s a sailor with a hairy leg swimming in the sea beside your father’s last command . . .”
Depth perception? might do some research on Horatio Nelson whose depth perception was ~zero after losing one eye.
posted by BobTheScientist at 12:21 PM on December 5, 2022

Milton's sonnet When I Consider How My Light is Spent is generally considered to be about his blindness.
posted by FencingGal at 12:22 PM on December 5, 2022

Milton's sonnet When I Consider How My Light is Spent is generally considered to be about his blindness.

In fact it's also known as "On His Blindness" which also made me think of the poem of the same name by Jorge Luis Borges.
posted by babelfish at 12:47 PM on December 5, 2022

A little extreme for your purposes perhaps, but this from Handel's Samson gave me a chill:

Why should I live?
Soon shall these orbs to double darkness yield.
posted by jamjam at 12:52 PM on December 5, 2022

Stephen Kuusisto's poetry and prose deals alot with these themes, both metaphorically and literally.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:03 PM on December 5, 2022

I immediately thought of the chapter "Seeing" in Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. You can read it online here. The sections about Dillard reading a book by Marius von Senden seem particularly relevant, especially difficulty with depth perception:

When a newly sighted girl saw photographs and paintings, she asked, “Why do they put those dark marks all over them?" "Those aren’t dark marks," her mother explained, "those have shape. If it were not for shadows many things would look flat." "Well, that’s how things do look," Joan answered. "Everything looks flat with dark patches."
posted by rabbitbookworm at 1:08 PM on December 5, 2022

Best answer: Lisel Muller, Monet Refuses the Operation:

Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and change our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.
posted by basalganglia at 3:44 PM on December 5, 2022 [14 favorites]

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