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Seeing with Your own Eyes

Many concepts we use to interpret our experience originated in books written by people who are long gone.

That's why philosopher Norman O. Brown (who died in 2002) says in his book Apocalypse and/or Metamorphosis, "The bondage to books compels us not to see with our own eyes; compels us to see with the eyes of the dead, with dead eyes. There is a hex on us, the authority of the past; and to exorcise these ghosts is the great work of magical self-liberation."

Melville Davisson Post (who died in 1930) echoes the theme in his book Uncle Abner, Master of Mysteries. "It is the dead who govern. Look how they work their will upon us! Who have made the laws? The dead! Who have made the customs that we obey and that form and shape our lives? The dead! All the writers, when they would give weight and authority to their opinions, quote the dead. Our lives follow grooves that the dead have run out with their thumbnails!"

Whose dead eyes do you see with? What would it be like to see the world without them?


(excerpted from the revised and expanded edition of Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia)
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