Book Review: “Sight and Sensibility”

A few posts back I told you guys about my experiment to fix my physical vision through a combination of meditation and study of the anatomy of the eye.  This little experiment of mine started well before I picked up the book Sight and Sensibility: the ecopsychology of perception, but once I did, the validation I felt for having undergone such a strenuous process (trying to re-focus the eyes is no small effort, and with only limited success!) was certainly worth my otherwise frivolous endeavor.

I gave y’all a few quotes from the book that were most helpful in orienting my meditative process as well as the way I conceived of my eyes working in my own mind, but my review of the book itself remained forthcoming.  Now, at long last, I reveal to you the reason for this wait.

Sight and Sensibility is an incredibly tough read, not necessarily because the language is inaccessible or because it is too dry, but because it reads like three books smashed into one.  It seems, at least to me, to be doing entirely too much.

In the book, the author makes use of extremely rich imagery, anecdotes and the like in order to make the connection for the reader, again and again, that the relations between the health of one’s eyes and one’s own world view are vast and powerful..  She speaks of the love language of frogs singing noisily on a summer evening, of feeling the grand open drop of the Grand Canyon as she cycles through with a friend, and of the practice of mindfulness, a skill associated at length with meditation.

She also speaks on her own studies of sight and one’s ability to naturally mend the eyes.  I learned a great deal on the inner workings of the eyes from this book, and it certainly did help me in understanding the work done by both the brain and the eye itself in capturing, reorienting, synthesizing, and finally comprehending the images taken in by the eye.

Insofar as my need for the book’s information, it was very informative and useful.  However, I couldn’t get past its indecisiveness about its own purpose: was the book about spirituality and oneness? was it a book about sight correction? or was it, in fact, a book geared toward solving the problem of binaries and rigidness in Western philosophy?

Between the rather flowery language and the author’s apparent inability to believe that her reader could come to the conclusions she sought with her rather than being shown where the author decided to go, it was rather difficult to say.  Reading this book was like being given a very useful roadmap that some stellar artist had taken and drawn heavily upon in thick pencil and marker.  The narratives and heavy use of imagery drastically diminished the author’s overall message in many key places.

This is not to say that I didn’t like the book.  I could, at times, feel myself walking with the writer through a quiet forest at midday, taking in the sights and sounds and smells and – the problem was simply one not of sensibility, but hypersensitivity.

4/10 would recommend (unless you also happen to be doing meditative experiments on your sight, then this is a must!)Let me know what you think if you read it! ♦

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