There seems to be a poetic schism between the eye and the ear in certain texts. The eye is seen as an engine of great dispersal, while the ear is a funnel that gathers together in an intimate sense.
I thought of this while flipping randomly through the Kybalion. This mystic text begins its first chapter as such:
“The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of Understanding”
Which I thought was strange, because I was sure that the common conception of Mysticism was that things were ‘viewed’ in a new way. That’s why there’s the idea of the ‘third eye’. But this Mystic text begins with an evocation to the ear.
This reminded me of a part of a poem by Wallace Stevens, where he talks about the myth of death – The Owl in the Sarcophagus
These forms are visible to the eye that needs,
Needs out of the whole necessity of sight.
The third form speaks, because the ear repeats,
The third form is viewed as a mother figure, as opposed to the two brothers:
Two brothers. And a third form, she that says
Good-by in the darkness, speaking quietly there,
The schism of sight and sound is brought about again when John Donne describes the awakening of himself to his lover in his poem The Dream:
As lightning, or a taper’s light,
Thine eyes, and not thy noise wak’d me;
Yet I thought thee
(For thou lovest truth) an angel, at first sight;
This verse talks about the happiness of waking to a lover, but it’s juxtaposed against the next stanza, where the narrator begins to fall in doubt about the truth and irreality of the love:
Coming and staying show’d thee, thee,
But rising makes me doubt, that now
Thou art not thou.
That love is weak where fear’s as strong as he;
‘Tis not all spirit, pure and brave,
If mixture it of fear, shame, honour have;
This reminds me of the concept of the ‘blind-spot’. That certain spot of the eye where some things simply cannot be seen due to the way the eye is constructed. Then again, auditory illusions also exist in the world. The ear is not exempt from the world of illusions.
The ultimate exhortation of this schism comes from the mystic Meister Eckhart, who writes as such in his sermon:
“That is why one master declares that the sense of hearing is nobler than that of sight, for we learn more wisdom by hearing than by seeing, and in it live the more wisely.”
If we are to compare the eye and the ear, the eye is a circus. It is all encompassing color, turning into texture and hues. The ear, usually, can only listen to a limited scope at a time. When there are many channels of sound, it turns into a noise, or a clamor.
One also has to think about the intimacy of whispers. They say you have to be a good listener, and not a good looker. Complimenting a person as observant is not as good a compliment in the realm of love. It is a compliment for detectives, but not lovers.
The ear is a tunnel and a spiral, and it seems to draw into itself. The eye is an orb. It sparkles outwards. How many more mysteries are there to be found between these two objects?