Sunday, July 1, 2012

And now July

I can't deny, this has been an
amusing Sunday in the mode of the
recent past. While shaving this mor-
ning, I found myself endeavouring
to splash from a corner of my left
eye an apparent bit of English cock-
er hair, resembling a small dollop
of seaweed as I blinked the water
from my eyes. It turned out not to
be superficial, but something swirl- 
ing about in one's vision pool,
so to speak. After showering and
dressing, and refreshing my ban-
dagings for a surgery previously
reported, I thought to call a 
friend's mother, in medicine in
town, who said, oh yes, floaters;
of course, that could mean a
detached retina; you probably
ought to have it examined.

Not one's plan for the day.
Telephoning the ophthalmologist
on call for this Sunday at the
University hospital, I was cor-
dially invited in for a glimpse,
given that I could be there in
a few minutes and the day was
not terribly busy. 

In this entry I do mean to affirm
a boy's fascination with optics -
or rather, at least my boyhood fas-
cination, whether this is a prov-
ince of boys or not. I have a 
thing for lenses and their en-
thralling properties, their clev-
er behaviours, their offerings of
resolution. I admit, a large bit
of my interest in photography is
shamelessly devoted to exploiting
the delight of playing with glass.

Within a couple of hours, I was
back on my way home, having had
two tears in my left retina treated
by laser optics, to re-affix this
vital little tissue to the optical
wall where nature originally laid it.
I could not be more pleased to have
had this telephone conversation with
my friend's mother, whom I called
immediately thereafter, with an in-
vitation to come on out to this 
farm and take up residence for a 
while, just to notice what else 
might be escaping my notice of de-

Do you know what happens when
people speak to each other, divided
by a million dollars worth of optics
but no more than four or five inches
of space? I noticed, in a smashingly
exotic optical array from Berne,
Switzerland (exquisite machining),
an effect on the voice which the
lenses really do account for, in
part; and I noticed it again, in
the laser panoply of optics from
(can you believe it) Italy. First,
precision optics impress upon the
organs of discourse a great quiet
of concentration and an enormously
calmer rhetorical flow. Second, 
their existence as a barrier per-
mits the tenderest and softest
tones to intervene because the
impersonal aspect of the exchange
is so expensively protected.

Do you know this feeling, as you
focus your camera? You may very well
know it, macrophotographically, as I
do. But you may also know it from
framing a portrait; and you exper-
ience this envelopment in caring as
an element not merely of precision,
but of selection.

If no one living, knows about you
in this world, you may synthesise
this relationship with the inter-
vention of optics. I have always
felt a great debt to the optics I
was born with, however, and I was
glad that for the moments in which
their use lay in the balance, other
lenses configured a rapport I could
hear and with which, by the grace 
in part of their genius for intim-
acy, I can read in my own sight. 

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