On summer mornings I lay in bed until I was called to breakfast, conducting lazy experiments with my eyes, closing first one, then the other. The different views were sometimes startlingly different: one eye saw only blankets, the other eye saw the sun coming through my Alice-in-Wonderland curtains. This bothered me. I thought a real artist ought to be able to render every view her eyes framed between waking and sleeping. If she had time outside time to paint her day, she could make something like a film, each frame a canvas. How could I be expected to draw things the way they really looked if in any given moment things looked, not one way, but two? In class, slipping my hand unobtrusively over one eye, then the other, I noticed that my geometry teacher's thick glasses, which notched the counter of her cheek and miniaturized her eyes, interrupted her face differently from my left eye than from my right. I could let my eyes slide out of focus and see two worlds, slightly out of register. They were different, but not very. But one day my eyes went out of focus and for an instant I saw two completely different worlds. I picked one, but ever since, I have been haunted by the feeling that this world is insufficiently real. It only happens to be as it is, it might have been otherwise.
When lying in bed in the dark I sneezed I saw blue cat-whiskers of light at the edges of sight. When I pressed on my eyes I saw concentric circles that slid around with my fingers, circles of blue and muted orange, the very color of pressure. When I opened my eyes the night however dark was not by any means simply black but a field of granular bits with complicated movements in it like boiling soup, a roiling, curdling quicksand that at times even seemed to firm itself up into meaningful entities, stern or laughing faces that alarmed me slightly, though I knew well enough from protracted drowsy study of the patterns in curtains and coverlets that any harmless pattern could spontaneously squirm, settle and become the leering face of some devil, elf or clown, and that while a runaway imagination might consider these characters envoys from some Mephisto with a bone to pick with me, I could and probably should take refuge in the supposition that my eyes were only overzealous about making sense of shapes, which was after all their job.

It was interesting to consider that my eyes were objects, not gusty spiritual wardens of the great void my face seemed to be. To touch the surface of the eye was a forbidden thing, I shrank from it without needing to be told, and that was probably because the eye was not really a thing, but a visible soul. Surprising, then, to study our cat's eyes from the side, one afternoon on the sunny sofa in my living room, and see that the colored part was a thin membrane, iridescent as a butterfly wing, stretched across a ball the front part of which I could see right through, and that the pupil was just a hole in the membrane whose edges tightened and flared as the light changed. Surprising also to half-open my eyes in the sunlight and see the rainbow corona in my lashes, and even see the lashes themselves, complexly cross-hatching the sky. Astonishing to consider that I really was looking out from between my eyelashes, across the swell of my cheek, down my nose.

In fact, I could see my nose. It was distressing, to discover that everything I saw was permanently haunted by a fuzzy pink Caspar, bobbing around in the bottom center of every single scene like the stuffed toys tourists carry with them to prop up in front of Vesuvius, Fuji, Lassen: my nose wouldn't leave me alone. To notice it drove me a little wild with craving a clear view. So did the blinding after-image of angled roof, tree, telephone wire against the sky, and the boiling that started up in the blue or indeed in any clear strong color if I stared at it for long. If I really wanted to render what I saw, then I would have to paint a faint nose-shadow just above the base-line of every canvas. In addition, I'd have to include the white ghosts of nearby shapes looked at too long and the incompletely joined, not-quite-duplicate views of objects closer to than the subject at hand: I'd have to learn to render the condition of Out Of Focus. Nothing stayed still and flat and bright like a picture, not even a picture. Everything was jostling, shimmering, bleaching out or darkening, receding and then riding forward with a jerk. To stop that hokey pokey for long enough to pick a view and draw it wasn't easy. Why didn't the books mention this? What a relief, when I finally read the words: "There are no lines in nature." So outlines, those supposedly self-evident bits of piping around every given thing, didn't exist. Finally someone had the guts to admit it!