seeing and looking

Briankle assigned us a terrific book: Stealing the Mona Lisa: What Art Stops Us From Seeing, by Darian Leader. (Another pro and a con critique are posted here, scroll down.)
I’m interested in the way Leader describes the difference between looking and seeing. One may look and not see. Simply, this is perceptually similar to hearing but not listening, however Leader is really dealing with consciousness and what it means to know that one is being looked at without ever knowing for sure what (who?) is being seen.


And what if seeing is the primary receptive sense? Of course I’m thinking about the Deaf, and of my involvement with ASL. Of knowing that one is being watched. I wonder if one of the factors in the differential success of varying ASL students has to do with the willingness to be seen? Because one certainly is! I recall many instances of horror when I was in my beginning and intermediate ASL courses. The self-consciousness of attempting production, the discomfort of generating inadequate performances. And the pleasure of adequacy. ­čÖé
As I think about it, there was (is!) satisfaction on two levels: the achievement of linguistic meaningfulness and of relational acceptance. If I can be looked at when operating at what often feels like my most vulnerable (as in, most exposed) mode, and accepted as a person doing a good job at her profession, that carries a lot of validation. Note: I’m not talking about the adulation that is sometimes expressed by people who do not know the language (which I consider generally superficial), but with Deaf persons and colleages.

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