Thursday, July 5, 2007

Covering v. uncovering

Some dedicated decluttering of my workspace (inspired by Merlin Mann's example) yielded two nice finds today: Harvey Pekar's The Quitter, which I bought last fall and then placed upon a stack of books (which continued to grow), and, sitting in a file tray, a page with some thoughts on the idea of "covering" a century or half-century of literature in a college semester:

When I think about what the word cover is supposed to mean, I think of the joke scenario of tourists rushing from one landmark or museum to another, determined to "see" (or better, "have seen") each one so that they can cross it off their list and get on to something else. But the desire to "cover" or "get things done" is antithetical to genuine appreciation of places or works of the imagination. (And I'm reminded that one of the meanings of cover is "to hide from sight or knowledge.") The real work of seeing might be thought of as a matter of uncovering, which takes time and extended attention. That's the mindset of the museum-goer who looks at just a handful of works and leaves the museum having had an authentic experience of looking at art. And who then keeps looking, again and again.

Another decluttering post
Notary Public

Teunously related post
Harvey Pekar's The Quitter

comments: 4

Genevieve Netz said...

Well, yes. But if you won't be there often, you have to try to see as much as possible when you have the chance. That's the case with both literature students and tourists. The difference is that tourists hurry through the museums voluntarily but most literature students must be drug along. (I imagine this is true.)

Michael Leddy said...

Sometimes dragging, more often a gentle push. : )

JuliaR said...

That's why I like special exhibits - someone collects specific works of art for a reason and you can go see them and only them. This Summer, the NGC is having an exhibit of Renoir's landscapes. You don't usually think of Renoir and landscapes, so it's a new way to look at his work.

Michael Leddy said...

Julia, there's a passage from Proust re: Renoir and landscape that you'd like. I'll post it later today.