David Michael Levin
For quite a few years, I have been questioning vision, the gift of nature we call sight. My thinking in this regard has been guided by the hermeneutical method of phenomenology that Heidegger worked out in Being and Time, already announcing his decisive break with Husserl in the potentially very radical, very subversive formulation of his Introduction, because this method alone, I believe, truly and appropriately respects the reality of our experience as lived: it alone enables us to articulate this experience in a way that dynamically and creatively carries it forward; and it alone, therefore, appropriately legitimates and empowers subjectivity-beyond essentialism, beyond the will to power, beyond nihilism.
Since, for me, respecting experience involves questioning it, my thinking has not only been concerned with the articulation of our experience with sight, but has also attempted to put it into question, subjecting our experience as beings gifted with the capacity for looking and seeing to problematizations and challenges that draw on many different discursive domains of thought and enquiry.
This gift of nature-sight-is a capacity with a potential that can either be appropriately realized, developed and fulfilled or else be neglected, repressed, violated and denied appropriate cultivation and fulfilment. Since its realization, development and fulfilment are not predetermined by the conditions of nature, this task becomes the joint responsibility of the individual and society. Beyond the biological development of this capacity, there is also the ethical, moral, political and spiritual development of our vision-a telos which has been inscribed from time immemorial in the secrets of the flesh, and for which we as individuals must certainly assume some responsibility, but towards which we cannot hope to progress without the enabling conditions of our society and culture. Thus, when we ask, with Foucault, what kind of body-or what kind of gaze-our society and culture require of us, we must also ask what kind of society and culture the fulfilment of our potential for vision might need. With this question, of course, we can subject the conditions of our society and culture