How might Annie Dillard's ethical perspective as expressed in her essay "Seeing" apply to issues in society today?

Expert Answers
lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dillard's writing isn't always the easiest to analyze or interpret, given as she is to asking questions without necessarily ever suggesting answers; it can be a frustrating experience for some, this state of limbo that Dillard often creates.  However, in "Seeing" she ruminates on the difference between noticing something and really seeing it, experiencing it, and finding oneself to be part of the same greater whole as the thing one is seeing.  Dillard's work tends to be grounded in nature, and the "Seeing" essay is no different.  Basically, her ethical perspective lies in what might be called the "circle of life", the interrelatedness of all things in the universe whether one realizes it or not, acknowledges it or not, wishes it to be--or not.  In our world today, one might very easily look at poverty and war, terrorism and fear, the haves and the have nots--and see that thanks to technology, digital media, and the internet, more so than ever, our world is smaller, our connections tighter, our movements and countermovements rippling out in ever wider circles to affect those around us. Consider this admittedly vastly oversimplified cause and effect chain of recent years:  The United States relies far too heavily on oil from the Middle East and our gas prices go up or down based on what's going on over there, and people learn to hate us because of our policies.  Terrorists who affiliate themselves with radical Islam attack our cities and then we go to war, and our young men die, and surviving veterans return home, and maybe they're dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder the rest of their lives.  Candidates for president say they will drill for oil in North America, or not, and some people will make their decision as to who to vote for based on that policy.  While Dillard's focus on the interconnections tended to focus on nature, one doesn't have to look far to see that these connections are not restricted only to the natural world. 

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question