Seeing and Reading (converting pictures into words)

According to some, the work of writers is to convert what they see, think and hear into words in such a way that the reader can recreate from the page what the writers "saw" in their minds' eyes. People think that reading and seeing are 2 very different activities - that reading is sequential but a picture is instantly taken in. This isn't true. Isherwood wrote a novel called "I am a Camera" but our eyesight is best in an area as small as a thumbnail at arm's length, so our eyes jump around, often returning to objects for another look. Some think that "in each visual configuration, be it simple or complex, there exists a built-in trajectory for the observer's gaze." [Gan91, p.25]. Certainly our eyes look at faces, bright colours, doors and vanishing points before exploring the peripheries. Even when we're staring at something our eyes are never still - saccadic movements keep the image fresh upon the retina.

Sometimes poets try to help the reader share the original sensations by

Things to do


Back to workshop index
Tim Love, April 1996.