Vision and representation

I have done some damage to the cornea in my right eye. I have only told two or three people, but now here it is for all of you to know: while my sight is fine again, I now possess — and presumably, will permanently possess — a tiny black dot in my right eye’s field of vision. Everywhere I look, in the middle of my view is a tiny dot resembling a flitting fruit fly. This phenomenon is called a floater, and I say that it is presumably permanent because it is caused by a small bit of dead cells in (the Platonic cave of) my eyeball that is, as my ophthalmologist stated, “best left alone.”

While I proceed in getting used to my new field of vision, I realize that this black dot is like a laser pointer that aims at anything I look at; I feel like a cyborg with a scanning and processing mechanism implanted into my eye. But more than this, I am suddenly hyperaware of my ability to pinpoint, focus on, and study the objects around me. My focus is not merely mental or visual anymore, but insofar as this dot is a material mass of dead cells in my eye, my ability to focus has become physical.

I am still coming to terms with what this means. Mostly, it’s terrifying to be aware of the fact that I am aware. I am reminded of William Wordworth’s The Prelude, in which he writes about his childhood memories, then steps back another moment and writes about his act of writing about his childhood memories. In this way, the materiality of the ink on paper is another physical focus. Perhaps this blot and stain in my eye is some invocation for me to write the world again. Or perhaps you think me self-indulgent.

And perhaps I am. But the fact of the matter is, the way I look at things has just changed.

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