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Last paragraphs] On our last night in Norway, the sky finally began to clear. Even if glimpsing the sun at midnight was completely arbitrary, I still wanted to see it. I scurried up a small mountain, just reaching its crest at 11:58 p.m. I had low expectations; I was ready to be disappointed by whatever I saw. The clock struck midnight, and there it was: the sun, unimpeded, resplendent. The same sun as always. But what a sun. And what an earth. I imagined myself at the top of a swiftly spinning planet, tilting its head in salutation to that distant solar body. It was what I had seen every day but I had never seen it before today.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/09/19/travel/reif-larsen-norway.html?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

Does the author Mr. Reif Larsen say that he sees this view every day, but didn't appreciated it before he saw it from Norway that day? Even if my surmise is right, isn’t his diction (use of ‘seen’ twice) baffling?

  • The repetition is not intended to puzzle but to emphasize the difference between seeing as bare perception and seeing as perception informed by imagination and insight. – StoneyB on hiatus Sep 29 '14 at 16:34
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It means the author had seen the sun shining in the sky several times, but never "seen it" [the midnight sun] before today.

He was seeing something commonplace in his life, but in very a different way. We could say he experienced an epiphany.

The meaning of the both "seen" is different. has to do with the verb to see(refer to the dictionary link for the meaning of the numbers below):

The first use has the meaning (1): To perceive with the eye. "it was what I had seen every day".

The second use conveys another meaning: He gained a deeper understanding of the Earth and the Sun (4), that he was seeing it that way for the first time (8), or another meaning, but not the same as the first. The author was not just looking at something.

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