Between a sun and crescent moon, he stood on deck and filled his lungs. Wind circled in the palm of his hands. Pithy, these thoughts of meditation, cacophonies of bondage caught inside an untranslated meaning of a smile. A man’s world was always noisy. He preferred the roar of cities, the motion of land, and people. He gazed at the shadow standing by the Bridge of Baiae and asked why lakes carry a belly full of sky. Then let his hands fall, like the colour of jade, into uncaring waters.
‘We do a lot of looking: we look through lenses, telescopes, television tubes. Our looking is perfected every day – but we see less and less.’ – Frederick Franck
When I read the above quotation, the words felt quaint, almost warming, and hard to believe they were written only forty years ago. The extract is taken from the start of a book, The Zen of Seeing: Seeing / Drawing as a meditation, written by Frederick Franck in 1977.
I bought the book a couple of months ago from a car boot sale and the reading has brought home a realisation, as a writer, I was becoming blind. Not in a physical sense, more in a way that I was detaching myself from the world around me.
Where Franck mentions television tubes, change those words to iPhone, iPad, laptop, desktop, television screen. Technology appears to have made the world bigger. Has it become smaller?
There is an excellent exercise in the book where Franck asks the reader to concentrate their eyes on something in front of them, then close their eyes for five minutes and try to relax. When their eyes are reopened, he asks the reader to refocus on the object and record what they see. Although this book is predominantly aimed at artists the exercise can be adapted for most creative practices.(more…)