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Elkins asks about objects that are too violent, too sexually charged, or too beautiful to look at directly. When we see a naked body, we either stare lasciviously or. For the art historian James Elkins, there is no such thing as “just looking. inconsistent, and undependable, he says in The Object Stares Back. In Elkins’s view, even the simplest, most reductive statement that can be made about seeing, “the beholder looks at the object,” is charged with.

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I have to re-read everything many times. Books by James Elkins. The Group Mary McCarthy. May 16, Rebecca rated it liked it. Philosopher Immanuel Levinas in arguing against the primacy of “being” in favor of ethics was once asked, “Attention to the other, can it be taught?

THE OBJECT STARES BACK by James Elkins | Kirkus Reviews

Jun 19, Jaclyn rated it really liked it. Add a tag Cancel Be the first to add a tag for this edition. People with achromotopsia can’t see any colors. Elkins’ task is to problematize the supposed ease at which we see.

Sep 05, Jesse rated it really liked it Shelves: The Object Stares Back: At first it appears that nothing could be easier than seeing. I am very happy I stumbled across it at that book sale at the Oglethorpe library. This might be a good complementry text for a level college course on a lot of things, but it wasen’t the phenomenology of baack or the neurological study of it I was hoping for.

This attempts to explore what we see when we see.

Object Stares Back

University of Queensland Library. Slog thr A very thought-provoking book, that I promise will leave you wondering and thinking about what you see–and don’t see–in your everyday environment. Every time I hear the phrase “Just looking” I think about this book. Very philosophical and reminded me of my college days studying art history. His discussion of the meaning and even language we find writ in the human face is powerful.


Book ratings by Goodreads. But now, even years later, I find myself remembering and sharing many of the things discussed in this book. Using drawings, paintings, diagrams and photographs to illustrate his points, Elkins raises intriguing questions and offers astonishing perceptions about the nature of vision.

My library Help Advanced Book Search. It’s a subject that gack take for granted and draw large assumptions about. Set up My libraries How do I set up “My libraries”? Though he forms his ideas from medical and eokins facts as well as much philosophy, John Elkins is frequently loftily intellectual in his starea in an incredibly thoughtful way. Open to the public ; But I do wish I had read it with a book group or a class to thrash out stzres of the ideas in conversation.

As fascinating as this book is, there are times when I quibbled with the author’s reading of certain acts. Open to the public. Notes Includes bibliographical references p.

Jan 10, Shawn Frey rated it really liked it. Lectures on Literature Fredson Bowers. The chapter on blindness didn’t seem so well done to me–he more talks about how normal sight really incorporates blindness into itself than about perceiving the world as a blind person this disappointed me. These omissions would not be so glaring if Elkins did not constantly try to find the telling in the trivial.


It was interesting and there are a few good ideas to think over, but it was a struggle. But are six photographs of Chinese executions and a long discussion of the moment of death or extended disquisitions on nude models really relevant?

He also coordinates the Stone Summer Theory Institute, a short term school on contemporary art history based at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I might be a little harsh because I’m obsessed with good art history writing. The world is flooded with light, and jxmes is available to b I was intrigued to find an art historian discussing the concept and implications of seeing.


These 13 locations in All: Unlike the stomach or the heart, eyes are our own to command: For example, I had no idea there was a condition called achromotopsia, an inability to see starws. Using drawings, paintings, diagrams, and photographs to illustrate his points, Elkins raises intriguing questions and offers astonishing perception about the nature of vision. Description At first it appears that nothing could be easier than seeing. One may remind me vaguely of a time when I was interested in romantic novels.

Objects molt and alter in accord with what we need them obect be, and we change ourselves by the mere act of seeing.

I have trouble assigning agency in the absence of intention, particularly when you’re talking about an inanimate object. This book is very heavy. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.