The Lure of the Sea

The emotion required to enjoy the sublime spectacle prevents any rest, especially for the eyes. The infinite space of the sea is tiring for vision. In order to gaze at a vast object, “the eye must traverse the vast space of such bodies with great quickness; and consequently the fine nerves and muscles destined to the motion of that part must be very much strained; and their great sensibility must make them higly affected by this straining”. The eye that contemplates an extensive, uniform object “does not readily arrive at its bounds; it has no rest whilst it contemplates them”. This labour has, however, a therapeutic value.

Alain Corbin

The lure of the Sea

Polity Press, 1994

First published in France as “Le Territoire du vide” copyright © Aubier, Paris, 1988