Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Eye-Movements and the Aesthetics of Visual Form
Stratton, George M.
Gr. M. Stratton. 
longer satisfactory. For it would now require us to suppose that 
suggested movements, for some reason, could retain a much greater 
psychological weight than the actual and present movements of the 
same organ. We should expect, however, that mere suggestions 
would seem tenuous and unreal in the presence of an actuality which 
flatly contradicted them. Even supposing that such suggestions had 
all the vividness of reality, the pleasure so derived would at most 
be offset by the unpleasantness of the actual movements that were 
ugly. Such a supposition is probably over-generous, however, to the 
suggestion theory, and it is improbable that suggested movements 
under such circumstances could normally have this vividness and 
feeling-tone. And, moreover, if the graceful following of a curve 
cannot now by any possibility be carried out by the eye, it is un¬ 
likely that it occurred in the past. The absence of any previous 
experience of such eye-movements would therefore he a most serious 
difficulty in the way of our supposing that their ideal revival is an 
important source of pleasure. 
So that, on the whole, it seems probable that the motor and tactual 
sensations obtained during the vision of a beautiful outline are no 
more intimately connected with the final aesthetic effect than are the 
sensations from our leg-muscles with our pleasure as we walk through 
the gallery at Dresden. The external apparatus of the eye merely 
brings the retina to such points of vantage as will permit various 
views of the more significant details, and out of the series of snap¬ 
shots obtained during these stops in the eye’s course the mind constructs 
its object into a clearer whole. The part played by the external 
muscles of the eye is thus a menial one aesthetically. They are not 
the star-actors of the performance; they are mere scene-shifters. 
Shall we say then that the chief part must now be assigned to 
the retina? This would seem almost as far from the truth, although 
perhaps not quite so far, as when we ascribe the main effect to the 
muscles. For it would seem as if one might justly attribute a certain 
primacy to the retina as against the eye-muscles in this connection. 
There is no opportunity here to discuss at length so intricate a problem 
as this. But it may not be out of place to recall some observations 
during my experience with inverting lenses, showing that, as regards 
the direction of movement, the retinal impression is able to dominate


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