A Catalogue of Sight

What we see defines us. It behooves us to examine this – a catalogue of sight. Let us begin this exercise with one lawyer’s day.

9 hours, Modern Commercial Architecture

Sturdy wool carpets and large marble tiles. Clean white walls and cubicle panels up to a high ceiling. Black ergonomic plastic and leather chairs. Big glass windows. Recessed lights. Glass and wood veneer table, black keyboard, monitor, and mouse. Assorted pens, a Mont Blanc, and a yellow writing pad. Right-angles and geometric shapes.

5 hours, Words

Black Arial 11 to 15 point font on a white rectangular background, perfectly straight and horizontally arranged. Grey background apps, black ribbon on the bottom adorned with little colourful icons. Time and date. File-Home-Insert-Draw-Design-Layout-References-Mailings-Review-View-Help. File-Home-Send/Receive-Folder/View-Help. Colourful personalized background photo obscured by everything else.

1 hour, Men in business wear

Male faces with trimmed beards, coiffed hair, mostly balding. Various-sized bodies filled into suits, white/blue/pink shirt, blue/red/grey tie, dark blue/gray jacket and pants. Brown/black dress shoes. Backpacks and briefcases. MEC, LV, Nike. Mostly sitting, some eating, standing and walking. A few lips moving, brushed, cleaned white teeth. 80/20 poker faces to other expressions.

2 hours, Beautiful People On a Screen

Young, beautiful people, mostly white, dancing and singing. Barely covered coiffed muscled men flexing and talking. Barely covered made-up athletic women in tight clothes bending, dancing, twisting and talking. Close-ups of symmetrical eyes and faces.

1 hour, Violence and Death on a Screen

Male and female bodies thrown, torn, broken, bleeding. Dead bodies by the dozens. Swinging fists and knives. Guns firing, bombs and cars exploding. People running, hiding, sweating, crying, and angry.

1 hour, Things To Buy on a Screen

Well-lighted and arranged bags and clothes. Gleaming cars, pens, computers and phones.

45 minutes, Urban Mix

Grey and black tile and cement floors filled with dirt, snow, salt, and trash. People of different shapes and sizes. Gray sweat pants, torn black jacket, blue suit, rainbow scarf, gold shirt, brown work boots, dress shirts, all walking. A few sitting with cups with coins, instruments, dogs. Columbia, Timberland, LV, Adidas, Nike, Lululemon, Kate Spade. Faded red and white train car.

35 minutes, Wife

Wife talking, smiling, eating, arguing, reading, sitting while viewing a screen, and laying in bed.

30 minutes, Children

Children talking, crying, laughing, eating, studying, playing, and laying in bed.

30 minutes, Modern Residential Architecture

Painted grey drywalls, thick beige carpets. Restoration Hardware lights and dark brown kitchen table. Brown leather La-Z-Boy, faded brown-green cloth sofa. Williams and Sonoma utensils, cups, plates. Copper pots and pans. White takeout boxes. Large black TV over the fireplace. Rooms with white doors. Big white bath tub. Floor-to-ceiling shelves in a walk-in closet. King bed with a mahogany headboard.

30 minutes, Alcohol

Thick amber liquid in a curved bottle in a black gold-embossed cardboard box, poured inch-high into a small round glass. Bottles of amber liquid with bubbles and pop-off tops.

15 minutes, Women in business wear

Female faces made-up, coiffed hair, coloured. Various-sized bodies filled into suits, blouses, pants, dresses. Heels high and low. Backpacks, purses, briefcases. MEC, LV, Nike. Mostly sitting, some eating, standing, and walking. A few lips moving, brushed, cleaned white teeth. Diamond and gold earrings. Nodding and smiling.

15 minutes, Sex on a Screen

Naked, athletic, large breasted women and muscular endowed men having sex.

5 minutes, Nature

Green pines planted into sidewalks. Middle-aged brown and bare maples and green pines bordering houses and buildings. Low semi-cut bushes. A brown squirrel scurrying quickly.

2 minutes, Urban Panorama

Framed in large windows: the sun setting over shimmering blue water in the distance, tall buildings on the shore, highways and little cars the size of toys. A silver airplane.

1 minute, Face of Self In Mirror

An aging face. Brushing teeth, making a face. Shaving beard. Combing hair.


*Postscript: Would it surprise us if we were told this lawyer was racist, sexist, capitalistic, alcoholic, and angry? Sight is, for those of us who have it, our primary sense. Like all sensations there is an aspect that is involuntary – we cannot help but see what is in front of us, there is also an aspect that is voluntary – by choosing the environments we place ourselves in, from where we work to where we live. We see what is in those environments. With such choices we thereby limit our sight by avoiding any manner of humanity and nature. It is the thesis here that we are at least in part shaped by what we see, and that we should thus take for ourselves a catalogue of sight. The exercise should yield clarity in introspection.

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