Chapter 7

Disjointed Views

Attention and Perspective

As we saw in Chapter 6, in the context of Casper David Friedrich’s diptych, the window takes on metaphorical significance of the modern self; its demarcation of physical and visual boundaries evokes a tension between one’s thoughts and emotions and the world “out there”. This bifurcation was heralded in Descartes’ introspective stance. Motivated by a desire for epistemological certainty – in the face of equivocations of everyday encounter – Descartes saw the window as an appropriate motif for redefining our circumspect relationship to the world:

If by any chance I look out of the window and see men crossing the square, I normally say that I see the men themselves …; And yet, what do I see ...

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