Friday, February 14, 2020

"The Art of Seeing." And a gift

Happy Valentine's Day!

A thank you to all who show up here. You are awesome!

And now, the question: Did Aldous Huxley had a handle on The Art of Seeing

If legs were treated like eyes, he said, and they were injured or harmed in some way, we would see a sorry lot of people hobbling around on crutches or in wheelchairs. 

With legs, we try to fix them. With eyes, we slap glasses on faces and go our merry way.

Are eyes one of the few organs of the body without any self-correction or healing? 

“When conditions are favorable, sick organs tend to recover through their own inherent powers of self-healing.”

If they do not recover, it tells us that the condition is incurable or that the conditions are not favorable. 

I just checked the date when I wrote “Check Your Eyeballs,’ about The Bates Vision Training, where I related my personal experience. (February 28, 2019. (Time, what can I say?) 

I ended my Bates training with 20/20 vision. I don’t know what it was before, but that print in the phone book had become impossibly small.

That post was my most commented on post to date. That tells me there is a great interest in seeing better.

What else can I offer besides what I have already written? Encouragement, perhaps to do the simple exercises I explained in Check Your Eyeballs, or maybe there is more. 

I am guilty of being lazy with the exercises too, and I wear glasses to read and to see the computer screen, but I do remember to look near to far. That is to look up from the screen and out into the back yard every once in a while. And I remember to ”Palm” my eyes, meaning rub my palms together and hold them over relaxed eyes for a few minutes. And I know to blink, not stare, for moving eyes are healthy eyes.

Part of our vision problem is that we grow tense and grip the muscles around our eyes, and we lock our eyes into glasses most all day. Take them off once in a while and let your eyes try to see without them.
Huxley wrote the Art of Seeing in gratitude to Dr. W.H. Bates for creating Perfect Sigh Without Glasses (New York 1938) and to Mrs. Margaret Corbett’s whose skill as a teacher brought about the improvement in his vision.

He wrote The Art of Seeing because he believed there was a correlation between modern psychology and critical philosophy.

Scientists tend to deal with the physiology of specific organs, but we know that our whole being enters into the play. Isn’t that what holistic medicine is about—treating the whole person?

I was motivated to write about vision after finding a comment by Aldous Huxley, and then I’ll be darned if I would find the very quote that started this trip in the first place.  So I looked up Huxley’s book and found it to be quite expensive, and so I didn’t buy it. 

I found a comment online by Bennet Cerf, who said he had attended a lecture by Huxley where Huxley could hardly read his notes.

Did Bennet Cerf know Huxley’s history? At sixteen, Husley had a violent attack of keratitis punctata that left him virtually blind and relying on Braille for reading and a guide for walking. 

After eighteen months, he was promoted to glasses, which allowed him to see around a patch of opacity at the center of his cornea. Reading this way produced eye strain leaving him mentally and physically exhausted.

In 1939 he came upon a method of vision training, and since glasses were no longer doing him any good, he decided to take the plunge and begin the training.

How can we know if the Bates Method is the correct technique?

Does it work?

One aspect of the training is that you expect it to work. And it is like most all psycho-physical skills, like learning to play the violin or singing, or acting, --Learn to combine activity with relaxation.

Huxley’s eyesight never became perfect, but the improvement was phenomenal.

Within a couple of months, he was reading without glasses and without the exhaustive eyestrain. Also, there was definite evidence that the opacity that had remained unchanged for twenty-five years, was beginning to clear up.

Have you ever had a bad day?

Part of being human is that sometimes we feel good, sometimes bad. One day our digestion is off. Another day, we’re sailing through a five-course meal with delightful abandon.  Sometimes we can face trying situations with barely a flutter of irritation. Other days, we want to tear our hair out—or someone else's. 

So does vision fluctuate and depend on psychological and physical conditions. 

And from my experience, I got it that it was training the brain to see more than the physical eye.

From a paper by Joseph E. Barmack, titled- “Boredom and Other Factors in the Physiology of Mental Effort,”(1937) Huxley quotes Barmack as saying, “Where there is boredom, the situation seems unpleasant because one is responding to it with inadequate physiological adjustments caused in turn by inadequate motivation.”

Hum, so boredom makes you not see so good. Interesting.

Sunglasses? Hum again. Shield an organ that has developed for the express purpose of responding to light waves? I’ve seen blind cavefish that lost their eyes because they lived in darkness, and therefore didn’t need them. You explain that to me. 

Now sunglasses have become compatible with youth, smartness, and sex appeal. The trouble is the more one uses them, the more that bright light will become painful to the eye. And sunglasses can become as addictive as alcohol or cigarettes.

My heavens, listen to this: “About seventy percent of children are sufficiently stolid and well balanced to be able to go through school without visual mishap. The rest emerge from the education ordeal with myopia or some other defect of vision.” (Written in 1943.)

In the following ways, schools can harm children: Being bored, being cooped up for long hours, being frightened, reading and listening to stuff which seems to them largely nonsensical, compelled to perform tasks that they find not only difficult but pointless. Competition and the dread of blame or ridicule can foster chronic anxiety. Being constantly bombarded with new material can also affect the vision for vision relies largely on memory. Holey cow—this doesn’t only apply to children but think of little bodies in the process of becoming. 

I’m stopping here but will add more regarding vision on the next blog.

All this was leading up to your Valentine's gift.

Unfortunately, I have only one. How can I be fair in giving it? 

I found online that Huxley’s book The Art of Seeing varies in price from $22.00 to $851 (really), but on eBay, I found two offered @$12.00 each (1989 edition), so I bought both of them.

And, I’m giving one to you.

But who?

Maybe one creative soul can convince me that they are the one. Tell me why you want it, and if you have the best reason (my judgment), I will send the book to you as a gift. I will need your name and address, and I would like it if you would permit me to print your reply. If I have no takers, I will sell the book on eBay.

On the next blog, l will describe “Ironing out the cornea” in an exercise using dominoes. I think I will try it—first buy dominoes.