Published in  
September 23, 2017

Muscae Volitantes

A while ago, I read about the curiously shaped, worm-like, floaty things that we often notice swimming in our field of vision.

There’s a name for these things: muscae volitantes. They are annoying, disturbing the clarity of our focus and yet resisting full definition themselves. With these critters, you cannot have a ‘closer look’. The more you try to focus on them, the more they retreat to the corners of your eyes. They seem to anticipate where we’ll look, moving with our glances, floating without a care in the world.

No items found.

Worse still, we cannot really tell others about them, because it seems they are not really ‘there’ to begin with. Like ghosts, or ‘phantoms of the optical’, they are vital absences, clouding our field of vision, haunting the purity of representation. From within. The little piece I read about these floaters suggests that this is all an inside job: floaters are bits and pieces of cells in our own eyeballs, the more-than-junk-matterings drifting in the soup that gives our eyes integrity in the first place. This made me think. It is not just that seeing is conspiratorial, a fragile folding of multiples, but that the things we often hope will get out of the way so that we can achieve some clarity are the same agencies that give meaning to clarity. Seeing is contingent upon not-seeing. Clarity sympathizes with obfuscation.