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  • Bianca Vinther

Look, Observe, See: The Nightmare Before Christmas

What do you see when you look at things?

Christmas tree decoration in form of Jack Skellington

Look, observe, see … Although these words sound similar, they differ fundamentally in meaning. You look with your eyes, observe with your mind, and see with your heart, i.e., your higher consciousness. How you look at the world determines what you actually see. Because seeing is a way of seeing, and the way we see affects us and our place in the world.

Your eyes and your mind are the windows to your heart, which is the centre of your inspiration and creativity in art. You can block access to your heart by keeping your windows closed. Or you can choose to open them widely, so you can see the light that comes from within.

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince)

We’re sometimes too close to see the possibilities in front of us. Because we’re blinded by our nearsightedness. Or we’re manipulated to see things differently from their true nature. The original meaning of things or their wide spectrum of meanings is often covered or hidden away. Furthermore, how we see is mediated by culture, which influences, changes, or alienates the original meaning of the things we look at.

"Of course, I've been too close to see! The answer's right in front of me." (Jack Skellington, The Nightmare Before Christmas)

The good news is that we can change our perception, rewire our brain, and access our higher consciousness at any time! If you’d like to know how, you might want to read this blog post till the end. Because I’m gonna be talking here about the fundamental difference between looking, observing, and seeing, as well as about the relationship between the concept of seeing and Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. 🦇

The difference between looking, observing, and seeing

Seeing can’t be reduced to visual perception. Our eyes are only an instrument. As the American philosopher of science, Norwood Russell Hanson, said,

Seeing is an experience. People, not their eyes, see. There is more to seeing than meets the eyeball.”

For example, when I look at the sky (one of my favourite sources of inspiration, by the way), I usually get a fugitive impression of its colour. But when I look at it slowly and mindfully, I begin to notice the movement and shape of clouds along with a myriad of tonal values and contrasts. I sense a feeling in my body, and I become aware of it. I’m delighted by the blueness of the sky, or impressed by its dramatic scenes. I feel my spirit expanding, and I liberate my mind.

Stormy clouds in the sky
A personal vision of the sky by Bianca Vinther. Mixed media on handmade cotton paper.

The sky is where fear ends, and freedom begins. The more I observe the sky, the more I see: the sky reveals its meaning to me.