Wooden Eyes: Nine Reflections on Distance

Wooden Eyes: Nine Reflections on Distance

by Carlo Ginzburg
     
 

Ginzburg addresses the question: "What is the exact distance that permits us to see things as they are?" He reflects on themes of feeling astray, of familiarization and defamiliarization, going on to consider the concepts of perspective, representation, imagery, and myth, and the recurring issue of the opposition between Jews and Christians.

Columbia

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Overview

Ginzburg addresses the question: "What is the exact distance that permits us to see things as they are?" He reflects on themes of feeling astray, of familiarization and defamiliarization, going on to consider the concepts of perspective, representation, imagery, and myth, and the recurring issue of the opposition between Jews and Christians.

Columbia University Press

Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement
The essays show familiar qualities of Ginzburg's writing, his preference for unconventional perspectives, the vigour and sharpness of his reasoning and his mercurial yet highly disciplined intellectual zest.

— Luigi Meneghello

Choice

Although the text ranges over diverse sources, the essays are succinct and thought-provoking.

Times Literary Supplement - Luigi Meneghello

The essays show familiar qualities of Ginzburg's writing, his preference for unconventional perspectives, the vigour and sharpness of his reasoning and his mercurial yet highly disciplined intellectual zest.

Place and Environment Ethics

Given Ginzburg's astonishing intellectual range - he dances with intimidating ease across half a dozen languages and two and a half millennia of writings, quoting his authorities with the easy familiarity of deep study - the essays dazzle as much as they inform. The book is an intellectual banquet.

Booknews
Prolific writer Ginzburg's (U. of California-Los Angeles) primary message here is that familiarity, which is in the last analysis bound up with cultural belonging, cannot be a criterion of what is relevant. The essays, three previously unpublished, result from challenges the multi-cultural milieu in California brought to his research agenda. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
How far from an object or event do we need to be to see it clearly? In nine connected essays, noted Italian intellectual Ginzburg ponders the nexus between distance and vision and thus explores the relationship between the difficulties of objectivity and the confusions of subjectivity. From this stimulating starting point, Ginzburg (History/UCLA and Univ. of Bologna; "The Cheese and the Worms", not reviewed, etc.) acts as intellectual cicerone for an arty/smarty jaunt through the ages. The heavyweights of the western tradition are trotted out, poked, pondered, and plundered as he teases new insights from an impressive array of materials. The scope of his primary sources-philosophers from Aristotle to Adorno, authors from the gospel writers to Proust, artists from Caravaggio to Magritte-befits a thinker of dazzling erudition and innovative brio. Chapters typically begin with a quick distillation of a moment of cultural concern, such as Pope John Paul II's apology for Catholic anti-Semitism, third-century Biblical scholar Origen's "Homilies on Exodus," or Alan Sokal's postmodern hoax in "Social Text "that rocked the ivory towers of academia in 1996. Ginzburg stitches one thinker to another, piecing together a world of disparate geniuses into a unified analysis of human perception. In one of many memorable passages, he analyzes the moral implications of proximity by probing a moment from Balzac's "Le Pere Goriot", in which two characters muse over the necessary emotional distance to commit murder. He persuasively argues that questions of distance and perception are inextricably tied to matters of myth, morality, conscience, deceit, representation, and culture. Ginzburg's work represents thefinest in philosophical musings, as he coaxes the reader into new perceptions of the seemingly simple concept of distance, which he renders startlingly fresh. His breadth is intimidating, his depth daunting, and his conclusions staggering. (26 plates)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231119603
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
07/03/2001
Series:
European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism Series
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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