Considering the interrelations between sight, touch, and imagination, this book surveys classical, late antique, and medieval theories of vision to elaborate on how various spheres of the Byzantine world categorized and comprehended sensation and perception. Revisiting scholarly assumptions about the tactility of sight in the Byzantine world, it demonstrates how the haptic language associated with vision referred to the cognitive actions of the viewer as they grasped sensory data in the mind in order to comprehend and produce working imaginations of objects for thought and memory. At stake is how the affordances and limitations of the senses came to delineate and cultivate the manner in which art and rhetoric was understood as mediating the realities they wished to convey. This would similarly come to contour how Byzantine religious culture could also go about accessing the sacred, the image serving as a site of desire for the mediated representation of the Divine.
Roland Betancourt is an Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of California, Irvine. In the 2016-2017 academic year, he was the Elizabeth and J. Richardson Dilworth Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has co-edited Byzantium/Modernism: The Byzantine as Method in Modernity (2015), and is the author of a forthcoming book on the intersectionality of race, sexuality, and gender identity in the medieval world.
Acknowledgements; Note to the reader; Introduction: can't touch this; Part I. How Sight Is Not Touch: 1. The medium of sight; 2. The problem of tactility; 3. The commonalities of the senses; Part II. Photios and the Unfolding of Perception: Introduction; 4. Has the mind seen?: the language of effluxes; 5. Has it grasped?: apprehending the object; 6. Has it visualized?, I: the grasp of the imagination; 7. Has it visualized?, II: the problem of fantasy; 8. Then it has effortlessly ...: judgment and assent; Conclusion; Part III. Mediation, Veneration, Remediation: 9. Medium and mediation; 10. Tactility and veneration; 11. Synaesthesia and remediation; Conclusion: tempted to touch; Bibliography; Index.