Anthropology is being there and being detached from there at the same time. It is a modern absurdity whose sense I will try to grasp here. I believe it is essentially related to the function of bad eyesight among humans, and its future survival will depend on whether or not laser eye treatments will become more accessible. When I was in my mid 20s, my eyesight started to worsen. After two or so years, I accepted that I would need to see an eye doctor. I had to have glasses. That changed everything in my life until last year. I had been doing professional photography and then studied for a degree in economics. University revealed itself to me as the essence of socially instituted boredom and mass-organised life outside life. I had moved to an Indian Ocean island to be close to the beach and explore my limits. I met French anthropology students there dressed up in funny Indian, African and South American batik cloth, playing African drums at their parties and dancing in strange manners. They smoked a lot of pot and talked about social exclusion and all the bad that came from the ‘Americans’ (les américains). I found them terribly sectarian. They made me think about German sociology students with their asymmetrical I-am-different haircuts. During a conversation with the only professor of anthropology at the university there, who was actually a philosopher, I shared my fascination about the big moral concepts of beauty and innocence. He encouraged me to graduate in anthropology (called ethnologie in France). In the classroom, I met the batik people again. It was at that period that I had started to wear glasses. It was terrible. I was no longer free to see the world as a whole, but through two little frames. I had to move my head if I wanted to see beyond these frames. They remained there. I was no longer entirely in the world. Luckily the graduate program did not involve too much classroom teaching and I could avoid the funnily dressed people. I investigated beauty which led me to study what people thought about nature, their own nature, and eventually their own death. The study was in itself uncanny and self-revealing to me. I realised that I used other people’s experience and emotions essentially to study my own fears and understandings of the world. The glasses played here a crucial role. They separated me from the world and allowed me to analyze what happened out there, through the scopic vision provided by my little frames. At the same time, my body was evidently still in the world. The only suspension of this anthropological mode of schizophrenic existence occurred when I took my glasses off – in the shower, in the lagoon, during sex, when I slept. My girlfriend started to comment on the act of taking off my glasses with loud ironic exclamations about the possible fully unframed bodily involvement to come. I went on to do a PhD. Most of the batik folks left or took off their exotic attires. I am bemused by my own sarcasm here, as we all were there to test our boundaries and play with possible identities – while claiming that our study work was really important to understand society. Later, when I worked at a university in England, I met contemporary artists. It was hard to understand what they were doing, and why some of their works became publicly considered as important, while others not. Through the frames of my now professionally trained eyes, I could see parallels with anthropology. I started to frame the actual frame through which I critically framed reality. I saw how my students tested the limits of the ontological and moral order that described their worlds. Like generations of former students, including my self and the batik people in the Indian Ocean, they went to see what happened in the margins of their worlds. They studied gypsies, fishermen, farmers, merchants, prostitutes, scientists, migrants, tourists. After their fieldwork they usually returned as different persons. Most were wearing eyeglasses (some already before). The results of their research, like my own, often stated the obvious. Migrants have worse health conditions, prostitutes feel socially excluded, the rich dominate the poor, the poor fascinate the rich, scientists claim truth, gypsy life is a lot about music and dancing, but not only, tourists go on holiday to recharge their ‘batteries’. The knowledge thus created was published in articles and books, usually with an extremely limited circulation. It was mainly about recognition among peers and getting a permanent job. Like with contemporary art, it was not really clear why and how anthropology managed to perpetuate itself as a social institution. Contemporary art at least is carried into the public, creating debates and emotions among newspaper critics, art folks and the mundane visitors who silently work their way through museums and galleries. But anthropology remains invisible. It is not practical for the development of policies or to sell stuff (as is sociology) because it uses emic categories to explain social reality ‘from within’. Furthermore, ideologically, many of the former batik people who are now professors pursue political agendas far off from the pragmatism and mainstream of current policy. After the Lehman Brother’s bankruptcy and ensuing banking crisis two years ago, for instance, I saw many declaring, with enthusiastic eyes, that ‘finally!’, the end of capitalism had arrived, a new era – of what? – to come. Following discussions at the Open Anthropology Cooperative, I got more and more convinced that anthropology is above all about anthropology. It has not much to do with the world out there, yet remains intimately inside this world out there. It has become a sacred realm hidden from, yet within the world, only liminally surfacing in times of crisis, through messianic messages about the end of whatever, propagating its ‘secret’ knowledge about common knowledge (that usually remains badly understood by the public), its moral position above public moral. I came to the conclusion that anthropology is like a nun who stays inside the cloister to experiment (with) God. The process of becoming an anthropologist requires years of self-decentring and social hermitage. It is not astonishing that the discipline provides aura to its graduates. They know something about life most others do not know. There is even a sacrificial aspect involved here. Through the social isolation that is part of their training (to become self-aware), anthropologists suffer (joyfully I do hope) a form of social Zöllibat. However, unlike priests or nuns, they don’t embrace God, but they marry their fieldwork subjects (sometimes quite literally). They create links – symbolical, carnal, and magical ones – between the here and now, and the worlds out, or in, there. Through their knowledge and also through their bodies, they keep the fragments of the world together. Beautiful. I got my eyes laser-corrected last year and no longer need glasses. It was one of the greatest reliefs I've experienced in my life. I no longer need to take off my glasses before jumping in the sea or having sex. I can freely move my eyes to see all that, which had remained previously outside the frame. I do no longer have to move my head to follow a bird in the sky. My neck pain also got better, while I started to have stiff fingers when I wake up in the morning. But that may have different reasons. I am back in the world and wonder if I still need anthropology. I guess I cannot get rid of it anymore.