The whole technical power of painting depends on our recovery of what may be called the innocence of the eye; that is to say, of a sort of childish perception of these flat stains of colour, merely as such, without consciousness of what they signify,-as a blind man would see them if suddenly gifted with sight.
            - John Ruskin, 1857

Ruskin, concerned with the stylization and over-perfection of art made by his contemporaries, published The Elements of Drawing in 1857. The book's point was that instead of trying to capture the world through with studied technique and imitation of those considered your better, you should view it with an blank mind and try to present exactly what you perceive and feel. This idea was grasped firmly by the world of Victorian art, and lead to the work of the French impressionists, among others.

This line of thought presents an interesting question, "At what point can one no longer subvert his knowledge?" That is, how far down can you actually push your cultural training, your innate manner of parsing reality. Some possible answers lie in stream-of-consciousness prose, abstract art, and some of more modern flavors of jazz. Trying to understand any of these without some innocence of the eye -- some willingness to put aside your preconceptions and jadedness -- will result in nothing but frustration. Of course, viewing everything with the pure innocence, pure willing acceptance, will lead to an inability to differentiate between true art and simple noise, between that which is required deep feeling and thought and that which is merely pretentious bullshit.

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