Elkins asks about objects that are too violent, too sexually charged, or too beautiful to look at directly. When we see a naked body, we either stare lasciviously or. For the art historian James Elkins, there is no such thing as “just looking. inconsistent, and undependable, he says in The Object Stares Back. In Elkins’s view, even the simplest, most reductive statement that can be made about seeing, “the beholder looks at the object,” is charged with.

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It’s a subject that we take for granted and draw large assumptions about. Lots to digest and I think I would have enjoyed this book best in a university class, with a professor parsing the ideas down for us, and classmates bouncing insights off each other.

Quotes from The Object Stares In The Object Stares Back, Elkins will change the way you see the world, and pretty much blow your mind. It changed the way I thought about a lot of things. Nov 28, Rob rated it it was amazing. If you own the book and are not borrowing it, I suggest you do the same. The Best Books of Paperbackpages. My principle argument has e,kins that vision is forever incomplete and uncontrollable jamrs it is used to shape our sense of what we are. Certain parts of it hit me more than others.

Ultimately, he concludes, “Seeing alters the thing that is seen and transforms the seer” – as this remarkable book will transform the viewpoints of all who read it. The book is about how we see, seeing as a selective act for example when we walk into a room to actually see anything we have to not see everything around itseeing as an aggressive act, as a reductive act. Sign up here to receive your FREE alerts. Open to the public. Chadbourne Chair of art history, theory, and criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


The chapter on blindness didn’t seem so well elkkins to me–he more talks about how normal sight really incorporates blindness into itself This is an interesting book about the physical and mental elements that comprise human sight. I might loan it to someone if they’re curious about vision but don’t know where to start, but I think it might be on its jaames back to the used bookstore.

This ability seems detached, efficient, and rational – as if the eyes are competent machines telling us everything about the world without distorting it in any way. These 4 locations in Victoria: Modern Man in Search of a Soul C. Thanks objrct Fiona for this one! We just point our eyes where we want them to go, and gather in whatever there ellkins to see. My favorite part about this book is the fascinating photographs, as well as Elkins’ writing style.

The University of Melbourne Library. A chapter of this book jame required reading for a college class I was taking. Elkins is clear and Philosopher Immanuel Levinas in arguing against the primacy of “being” in favor of ethics was once asked, “Attention to the bxck, can it be taught?

THE OBJECT STARES BACK by James Elkins | Kirkus Reviews

Physics is similarly slighted, notably quantum mechanics and its discovery that the very act of perception can influence the results of an experiment. How people in different cultures see; a member of a traditional hunting culture would look at an area of forest and see all sorts of information about animal movements that would be unavailable to me.

But I do wish I had read it with a book group or a class to thrash out some of the ideas in conversation. Color Purple Alice Walker.

There are bzck words for how much I disliked this book. Some of the most stimulating parts of the book for me were the discussio Elkins provides a sensitive, literate inquiry.

Elkins’ task is to problematize the supposed ease at which we see. Using drawings, paintings, diagrams, and photographs to illustrate his elkina, Elkins raises intriguing questions and offers astonishing perceptions about the nature of vision.


Though he forms his ideas from medical and psychological facts as well as much philosophy, John Elkins is frequently loftily intellectual in his writing in an incredibly thoughtful way.

By paying careful attention to language, he almost transcends the linear logic of prose to get at the complex, ambiguous nature of seeing.

Object Stares Back

At that speed many books remain wrapped in the shadows of my awareness–I know I have baxk past them and I know they are there, but I refuse to call them to mind. Worth the effort and I’ll stars get more use out of reading it than I realize right now. Aug 29, Derek rated it it was amazing. Apr 24, Ben rated it really liked it.

And the essay discussing the latent desires objsct objects is radical and absorbing. Moreover, since neurology and neuropsycology are such fast moving fields now, the book could stand an update. He has a true gift for sifting through the most ephemeral limits of perception and describing in detail what he feels.

An analysis on the impact and implications of seeing, the book is an incredibly interesting perspective on vision. Books by James Elkins. Film and its shaping of vision are mentioned only in passing.

The Object Stares Back: Part philosophy, part psychology, and part neuroscience, this book never ventures into territory too far beyond the author’s expertise art history and criticism but opens up new vistas for those of us interested but not experts in those fields. These 2 locations in South Australia: Looking for beautiful books?

Unlike the stomach or the heart, eyes are our own to command: Some onject interesting insights into sight. Queensland University of Technology. I decided to read it with the attitude that if I took away two or three ideas it would be worth my time.