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La Rochefoucauld writes, “Le soleil ni la mort ne se peuvent regarder fixément”: “Neither the sun nor death can be stared at (looked at fixedly)” (Maxim 19, edition of 1678.)  In each case seeing would undo sight.  But impossibility is apt to be disregarded.  We may think of the peril of raising one’s eyes to the Sun King; or of a philosopher who, following Socrates, practices dying and being dead (Phaedo 64a), until he becomes unable to see life as others do.

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