The essay discussed here talks about how it can be hard to see something or appreciate something, like the Grand Canyon or Mexico or a dogfish. The author thinks that there are many things preventing us from seeing and appreciating things like this. His very interesting essay talks about these things and many more things. He is a very good writer. It is hard to say what his final point is. But maybe he is saying that for many reasons the I will talk about later in this essay, society has become so big and everything is for sale now, so that makes it hard to see the beauty and meaning of things without being distracted by many different things. At the end I will try to say what the writers’ main conclusions are.
The first example the author used is the Grand Canyon. He imagines the first person to ever see it, and how that person probably appreciated it for its true beauty and meaning. But that is not how tourism sees it, since people who go there and pay for tours to see it have a image in their minds about how it should look and they know that it is a very important thing to see but they are distracted because of how the think it should look and of how their guide books show it. This is most true when the tourist takes pictures instead of looking at the Grand Canyon. The author seems to say that instead of enjoying the sight and the moment the tourist is thinking about having something to look at and, show people later. So the tourists experience is shaped more by what he wants in the future than by what he is seeing now.
The author talks about things that you can do to see it and appreciate it anyway. Like you could not follow the tour guide, but go to a part of the Grand Canyon that people don’t go to. In a small way then you can appreciate the sights but it still isn’t the same because you still had a picture of what you expected it to look as. Maybe if there was a great war and every thing was destroyed then the Grand Canyon could be discovered again. But the author says that even then you would still see not just the Grand Canyon but the destructed hotels and tourist booths to.
Another example the author gives is to go to Mexico and experience what Mexico is really like. But where do you go to see the real Mexico? All you find on maps are different towns, and you will never be sure that you see the real Mexico. Even if you see a real Mexican dance you will not be appreciating it but worrying about which part of the dance you should watch to see the real thing and to see the real Mexico.
Then the author talks about poetry and dogfish. A student at a very good university like Harvard university will get a good education. But when he reads poetry he will not be appreciating the poetry, but he will be lost in how it is presented to him by the teacher. He might want to get a good grade so he will want to know what parts of the poetry are the most important, but then instead of appreciating the poetry he will just be studying it. Even the same is true of science like biological science. The author says that the student who is studying the dogfish by dissecting it will not know what it really is. To him (or her) it will just be an example of a dogfish. A guy who is lost on a desert island will know better what a dogfish is if he catches one, or even if he finds a dead one and looks at it. Because then he will not be seeing it as an example of something but as something that is its own thing. The author even makes a joke (but I think he is really serious) that if the dogfish was on the student’s desk in the poetry class the student would appreciate it better than the student in the biological class who is meant to study the dogfish. And also if the biological student had poetry from Shakespeare on the desk it would make more sense to appreciate it instead of studying it.
The author is not against science, but he does seem to say that the more that science explains something the harder it is to see what the thing is and appreciate it. I can’t understand what the author means with his talk of double deprivation but one thing I think he means is that it isn’t really the fault of the teacher that the student of biology or poetry can’t really connect to what they are studying. He just means that the student has to make a special effort to see what they are studying as something real as it really is, and not just as specimen of something else.
Maybe what the author is saying is mostly that it is hard to wonder at things these days, since we have an idea about how they should be and since the things have explanations from science. If you found a rock or something in the ground you might wonder what it is and how it came to get there. But if you see the rock in a museum you won’t wonder about what it is and how it came to get there because there will be a sign telling you what it is. And you will know how things usually get to museums by people donating them to science. But the author is not against museums just as he is not against science I think. Maybe he means that with things the way they are today you just have to look a little harder to really see and appreciate things, and you have to find a way to wonder.