Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Today, while admiring the elegance of the swallows giving me the honour to again spending a summer under Seanhenge's roof, suddenly Chapter 5 [On Convention] in 'The Short Story' by Sean O'Faolain came to my mind.
I jumped up, took the book, opened page 173, finally put on my skirt in order to type the following:
'We forget when enjoying the pleasure of any art, of music, poetry, painting or the theatre, that a very great part of our pleasure has been dependent on convention. We are expected to forget it. In the theatre we have all tacitly agreed to see nothing odd about a room that, on the stage, has only three sides; or, in painting, it does not seem odd to us that we see a view as if our heads were held in a vice whereas in life we let our eyes wander east and west, shift position a dozen times and see the landscape under fifty changing lights. The point is elementary; that is why it so important; because it is so very obvious it is constantly forgotten, and this forgetting has, as I will show in this chapter, profound implications. I will here barely hint at one of them by recalling how a humourous philosopher once pointed to a cow in a field and said to me, 'What do you see there?'
I obligingly said that I perceived a cow. 'But you do not,' he replied. 'You deduce a cow. All you see is the appearance of one-half of the outside of a cow. And when you look at a portrait of your aunt all you see is a picture of the outside of one-half of your aunt. You go through a series of lightning processes before accepting this superficies as a portrait of your aunt. It is, for instance, the whole case against realism that it concentrates on giving us the outside of the one-half of everything.' In other words the convention of realism depends for its success on our forgetting that realism is a convention. So does every other convention.'
The peace of the night!