Last year I had surgery on my “long blind” left eye and I now can see “at” or around, sometimes above, sometimes below the level of legal blindness. Three weeks ago I had my right eye operated on, (the same procedure, a delicate cataract removal–made more complicated by my damaged retinas from premature birth) and while the right eye can’t see as well as the left, I’m able to walk around and take note of things.
When one says “things” one means items both sublime and ridiculous. This morning in the early Iowa heat my guide dog Nira and I saw a rabbit in the uncut grass and it was standing like Pythagoras, all stately, probably scenting love. Damned if I knew. That rabbit was the color of a very dirty brownstone in Greenwich Village. It reminded me that my sister’s apartment is just half a block from Eleanor Roosevelt’s 11th St. flat. I decided to name the rabbit Eleanor. This further reminded me that Eleanor Roosevelt once observed that “England has 7 green vegetables–six of them are Brussels sprouts.”
Of course properly speaking, the sight of a rabbit, even a Pythagorean rabbit is hardly sublime. “The sublime” as Longinus told us long ago has to do with the sense of eternity and the human apprehension of all that is beyond our understanding. I’ll venture that human beings understand the rabbit. We do not of course understand the night sky or the chance music of a winter storm and so those things are still sublime.
Sometimes the commonplace–the “rabbit factor” becomes sublime through a marriage of happenstance and human incomprehension. This is when seeing is quite interesting. Take this morning’s walk. NIra and I were crossing a footbridge over the tributary of a small pond. Because I see things “up close” I noticed three stones on the hand rail of the bridge, three stones artfully arranged as if we were in a Jewish cemetery–surely these were the stones of remembrance. “How tender it is, to see that someone has arranged these stones,” I said to myself. And then I surmised that they were not stones at all, but rather, extraordinary deposits of goose shit.
The balloon of the mind expands only so far…