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Close the eyes



But what must we do? Where lies the path? How come to behold the inaccessible Beauty, which seems to dwell in sacred precincts, apart from the common ways where even the profane can see?

He that has the strength, let him arise and withdraw into himself, foregoing all that is known by the eyes, turning away forever from the material beauty that once made his joy. When he perceives the graceful shapes displayed by material bodies, let him not pursue: he must know they are copies, vestiges, shadows, and must hasten away towards That which they tell of.


What then is our course, what the manner of our flight? This is not a journey for the feet; the feet bring us only from land to land. Nor need you think of coach or ship to carry you away. All this order of things you must set aside and refuse to see. You must close the eyes and call instead upon another vision which is to be waked within you – a vision, the birth-right of all, which few turn to use.

      Plotinus: The Six Enneads , 250 C.E.
      First Ennead, Sixth Tractate (on Beauty),   Section 8.

Qu'as-tu vu dans ton exil?
Disait à Spencer sa femme,
A Rome, à Vienne, à Pergame,
A Calcutta?

Rien!... fit-il.
Veux-tu découvrir le monde?
Ferme tes yeux, Rosemonde.

     Jean Giraudoux: Suzanne et le Pacifique,  Paris, 1921, p. 186

     Set to music by Arthur Honegger:
     Petit Cours de Morale
, H. 148 no. 5, 1941.

Sluit uwe oogen op het licht:
dieper zal het branden...

Keer uw zinnen van den dag:
langer zal hij duren...

     Karel van de Woestijne: God aan zee.
     Bussum, 1926, p. 58.


Ben Vautier: "Fermer les yeux", 1992


Clarence H. White:
Blind Man's Bluff, 1895

Timm Ulrichs:
"Ich kann keine Kunst mehr sehen!", 1975




Daniel Spoerri: Les Lunettes Noires
("Fakir's Spectacles"), 1961
[Limited Edition, 1998]

Bruce Conner: Sleepers, 1997





Emmett Williams: Son of Man Trio, 1963
(Three stills from a performance)

Rudolf Schwarzkogler:
4. Aktion, 1965

Ben Vautier: "Je ne vois rien. Je n'entends rien. Je ne dis rien." 1966.

[The UbuWeb page "37 Short Fluxus Films" presents a 7'32" recording of a performance of this piece.]



Jannis Kounellis:
Untitled, 1978

Lorenzo Agius:
Angelina Jolie, 2005




Ben Vautier:
"Photo aveugle"


Gabriele di Matteo:
The Blind Man, 1997

[Photograph of Jorge Luis Borges]





The quotes from Jean Giraudoux and Karel van de Woestijne are discussed by Victor E. van Vriesland in Het werkelijkheidsgehalte in de letterkunde (Amsterdam: Em. Querido's Uitgeverij, 1962), pp. 82/83.

The information about Arthur Honegger's song cycle is from the Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive.




Compiled by Remko Scha. Most recent update: December 2011.