Someone once told me that Deja Vu does not occur when we have been in a situation twice or when a moment feels the same, but rather that each eye sees images within a microsecond of each other. I do not know if this is true, nor am I stating it as fact, but the binocular disparity made me think of that concept.
The most important aspect to take from “the optical chiasma, the point behind the eyes where the nerve fibers leading from the retina to the brain cross each other, carrying half of the nerves from each retina to each side of the brain” and “the measurement of the binocular parallax, or the degree to which the angle of the axis of each eye differed when focused at the same point” (83 Crary) is that our eyes see two images but our brain receives one. Brewster states that the ” ‘effect of the observer’s experience of the differential between two other images’ ” (84 Crary) is what causes the whole picture at the end. At the same time Helmholtz is saying ” ‘we get the impression, when we actually do see the object, that we have already seen it before and more or less familiar with it’ ” (85 Crary). There really is something ” ‘uncanny’ ” about this reproduction of reality, and Emerson backs up this claim; “Every roof is agreeable to the eye, until it is lifted; we find tragedy and moaning women, and hard-eyed husbands, and deluges of lethe” (472).
I have asked what amount of being an observer is attributed to setting judgments? But both Emerson and Helmholtz makes be question how much is made up of expectations; what image do we expect to see projected before us, and better yet what images do we least expect? And where do those expectations come from, past images or experiences or history?
In this Visual Culture Reader, it was said that we depend mostly upon our eyes, but being observant takes more than that one sense, it takes up the whole body, it takes up the whole person; observing is done within your own capability, thus observing is being analytically perceptive. As Brewster talks about “the play of the optic axes…uniting, in rapid succession, similar points of two pictures” and the different distances from which one sees an image and how that effects the interpretation, I realized that no one image is ever the same, not to the like of us or to one person alone.

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5 Responses to “Double-sided”

  1.   Dominique Says:

    I like the way you touch upon many different contexts implied in a discussion of “seeing” in this post.
    What I sense from your post is that you’re starting to see that the lack of “sameness” across images is not simply a matter of each viewer devising a different interpretation of an image but that such disparity is “written into” the physiology of vision itself.

    Also, isn’t it a little “uncanny” that both Emerson and Turner use the term “deluge” with reference to visual experience…? Why that word?

    Thank you for this first contribution.


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