Seeing Visions :: Seeing Reality
The middle ages, we are told, was an era of sight and smell. Passion plays preached and cathedrals told stories. With the reformation, text replaced vision. In the west, visual culture was more expensive to produce, and the forms of knowledge associated with it were therefore necessarily less available, therefore confined to an elite, therefore esoteric. Is visual culture necessarily esoteric, or is it a question of the market of experience? Of the esoteric in general, similarly, what is that 'soul', 'spirit', 'consciousness', what have you, that leaves the body on morphine, that experiences esoteric knowledge? And is it esoteric simply because of market value, or what value have the esoteric forms of knowledge that can only be experienced by the individual?
Say that web culture is a great clamoring at the gate of the people for access to the arcane technics of visual culture. What does this mean?
McLuhan thinks that visual culture is necessarily less linear than text, therefore has a higher learning curve, therefore in its mass dissemination is more spectacular and enthralling, less liberating than the text: although advanced visual culture breaks down the hierarchical assumptions of the text. Is there a threshold when general knowledge of visual culture goes from spectacle to critical awareness? Will mass dissemination of visual culture change anything? Cure or poison?
The Galileo Project entry on Giordano Bruno
Excerpts from Frances Yates' Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition>
Wikipedia on Marshall McLuhan