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Citizen SpectatorArt, Illusion, and Visual Perception in Early National America$
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Wendy Bellion

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807833889

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807838907_Bellion

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Sight and the City

Sight and the City

(p.113) 3 Sight and the City
Citizen Spectator

Wendy Bellion

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter illustrates how eighteen-year-old Arthur Mervyn encountered a world that confounded his senses. Raised on a farm in rural Pennsylvania, some forty-five miles to the south, Mervyn was a newcomer in search of work as a mechanic's apprentice. Fascinated by the lights and sights of the busy concourse, Mervyn surrendered his self-awareness to the dizzying swirl of the urban street. Unfamiliar things captivated his eyes; his footsteps barely registered as his vision succumbed to marvel. However, Mervyn soon paid the price for his sensory absorption: pausing to rest in a stall after strolling the length of the market sheds, he quickly forgot the small bundle of belongings he had carried with him. When he returned to the market a short time later in search of his pack, it was too late. A thief had claimed his possessions. So begins a story of misperception and loss.

Keywords:   Arthur Mervyn, Pennsylvania, senses, misperception, self-awareness

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