Squid Eyes

In his remarkable little book,Gifts of Unknown Things, biologist Lyall Watson mentions, among other things, ocean squid. From a biologist’s point of view there are some odd facts about squid, which add up rather strangely, if they add up at all.
The squid has an eye which is astonishing to find in a mollusc such as itself, a fairly undeveloped unsegmented invertebrate. The eye of the squid is extraordinarily developed: an iris, a lens that can focus at variable distances, and a retina with both rod and cone cells for seeing both contrast and color. The eye of the squid is every bit as developed as the human eye and has the ability to see as well. In spite of this, the animal to which this eye is attached does not have a brain with anything close to the capacity to process the visual information provided by the amazing eye. In fact it doesn’t really have a brain at all. Its nervous system has only very rudimentary nerve ganglia which serve the basic motor functions of the organism; no brain, no optic center to form images from the vast information received by the complex eye.
Also there are literally billions of squid. They are highly mobile, and are present throughout the oceans; at every depth, every temperature gradient, in every ocean of the world, day and night.
An eye capable of the best vision on the planet. Attached to a highly mobile and ubiquitous but extremely simple and easily reproduced organism, with a rudimentary nervous system having hardly any optical processing ability.
I read the book many years ago, but I still remember being absolutely floored by the implications of the one-liner with which Watson concluded his discussion on the squid:
“Visitors are warned that this facility is under constant closed-circuit surveillance.”
I wonder now if Watson knew how close he was:
“Seeing truly is not merely a change in the direction of seeing but a change at its very center, in which the seer himself disappears.” (Ramesh Balsekar)
It is clear that it is not the body/minds, not the organisms, human or squid, that are seeing.
That which is seeing
through the squid’s eye
is that which is seeing through
what you call ‘your’ eyes.

That which is seeing is All.

from ‘Perfect Brilliant Stillness’ by David Carse

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One comment on “Squid Eyes”

  1. Think this is my fave so far. Love how it all came together. Good times.


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