Joseph Grijalva Section: 4
Final Poetic Vision Definition
When I try to think of my own definition of “poetic vision”, I always think back to the Anne Dillard essay we received at the beginning of the year. For me, her experience with the birds in the tree captures the essence of poetic vision. To see something poetically, we must be able to look past its physical appearance. Poetic vision is they way the world is made interesting. If everyone looked at the world in a purely utilitarian manner, we would probably all have died from boredom by now.
Another good metaphor for my definition of poetic vision would be the old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I generally find that an object or person’s exterior face contains the least amount of meaning. People do not generally draw much inspiration from the cover of a book. Though the cover might be what initially makes the book attractive, the true content lies within. One might also look at some cars as an example of poetic vision. For example, Volkswagen’s Karmahn Ghia looked quite sporty when it was first produced, but carried an engine equivalent to that of the Volksawagen Beetle.
Besides seeing what something is, poetic vision is also the ability to see what something can be. Someone without poetic vision might look at a broken down old house and only see a pile of boards fit for the dump. However, someone looking at the house poetically would see the potential for change. When Buddy Guy (blues guitarist, song writer, and singer) was once asked what he thought when he hears a guitarist who didn’t “have it” he told the reporter that he tries to listen to what the guitarist means to do, rather than what he or she is actually doing. Many of the images that people consider poetic concern the potential of their topics. Puppies, flowers, and sunsets are some of the most stereotypical poetic image to exemplify this trait. All of these objects lead into something else. The puppy will eventually mature into a full-sized dog, the flower leads to fruit, and the sunset leads to night which then leads back to day again.
One can also look at poetic vision in terms of the poem, “You Begin”. Usually, when we look at a blade of grass or petals of a flower, we see only the common, solid color that the plant is usually associated with. But, as many artists would tell you, a great deal of mixing occurs with the colors before the perfect shade can be produced. When we look at something poetically, we can see both the sum and the parts.
In order to see poetically, people must be open to doing so. Looking at a person or object for the inner value or potential is far harder than just taking the object of our attention at face value. To a certain degree, “poetic visions” can sneak up on a person. When Anne Dillard went walking through the forest and stopped to examine a tree, she probably didn’t expect any birds to burst forth from it. In fact, if the birds in the tree had not flown off by surprise, she might not have found the experience to be poetic. Even those who might not be expected to look at life “poetically” can find benefit in doing so. A doctor who is trying to determine the cause of disease, could look at the task poetically in order to see all avenues of possibility. In my opinion, poetic visions are not objects that exist in the world for us to find. Instead “poetic vision” is a way of looking at things in a way that makes them poetic. Thus, poetic visions can spring up anywhere, and at any time. Whether we are the ruler of a country or the poorest citizen, almost everyone is capable of seeing poetically so long as they have the desire.