Saturday, April 14, 2007

"Blinded by the Light"

Via Raminagrobis, this brief, sharply-observed post on two paintings by Rembrandt, Anna and the Blind Tobit and A Man Seated Reading at a Table in a Lofty Room, which hang in the same room in the National Gallery in London.

Solitude is the unifying theme of these two paintings. Tobit's blindness isolates him from his wife Anna, and he prays for death ("for it is profitable for me to die rather than to live […] turn not thy face away from me." Tobit 3:6). The reader (or is he a writer? Is that a pen in his left hand?) hunched over his desk, withdrawn fully within the ‘little world’ oblivious to those symbols of the ‘big world’ on the right: what looks like two globes, barely visible in the gloom. The function of the light here, it seems to me, is paradoxically not to draw the eye ‘outside’, but to involve it more deeply in the darkness.
More follows, on the relationship between blindness and writing.

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