Friday, August 16, 2019

To “have seen”

“We rush to exhibitions and rush through them, in part to have seen them”: the perfect infinitive in that line from Eva Hoffman’s How to Be Bored (2016) made me recall what I wrote in a 2015 memo about proposed sophomore-level survey courses in the English major:

Wide-ranging surveys always make me think of the experience of going to a museum to “have seen” the paintings, moving from one to another at a brisk pace as if the point is to cross things off a list. The better way to go is to spend some time, real time, looking at a handful of things. I think that’s the kind of attention to texts we should encourage at the 2000-level.
And I still do. I went on to invoke Richard Wollheim on patiently looking at a painting.

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