Friday, July 07, 2006


I have a friends who scour the web for curiosities and forward them to their curious friends, such as the following:

“cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!”

And this: (This small version of the picture doesn't work like the full sized one you may find at Ashioki’s illusion pages Please look at this picture to experience the impact of its perception.)

From the example of having chaos be perceived as coherent when the specific parts meld into the background of the context to the example of having still objects be perceived to move, a couple of hardly questioned “facts” are shattered. In the first, the initial perception of each word ase useless is overcome by our ability to sense context despite our perceptions prejudice. In the second example, perceptions are found to be no more reliable than rumors, but since both rumors and perceptions have origins in the universe, the information they carry is comprehensible if taken with a grain of salt.
When the agility of the ability to digitally insert oneself into a picture of people one never met became available to the general public I rejoiced for two reasons. Personally, I wanted the technology so I could do that too, but, considering the future of its use and the effect of lies on the public in the past, I thought, now that anyone can fake a picture, pictures will finally be realized for what they have only, always been: replicas of real or imaginary things — not the things themselves. Once again proving me to be naively optimistic about the ability of the culturally dependent faithful to behold possibilities and weighing of probabilities without certainties assumed.
The particular illusion I used above so shook my logic tree that all its reasons fell to the ground and rotted: my perceptions were not reliable! Now relegated to mere information along with news, blogs, books and hearsay, my perceptions are no longer in the company of what I had always considered my experience. Sure, I still experience listening to the radio, but everything I hear is mere information ripe for interpretation by my perceptions which I now realize is not necessarily experiencing the object perceived. Now comes the grain of salt: without insisting on the certainty of black and white facts to sense the truth behind what is perceived, ones intelligence can behold the flavor of perceptions against the infinite background of a value system formed quite organically of life experiences and genetic memory. Without the mistake of considering perceptions actual experience cluttering up the canvas, the value system takes on a much more coherent blend of flavors ready to be stretched to infinity by curiosity and imagination.
When I was tested for color blindness I failed 13 if the 15 tests and damn near wound up as a spotter in the infantry because camouflage doesn’t work on me. Other than that I couldn’t go to flight school it was no biggie for me. It explained why I could never find red tees in the green grass and that’s about it. Then one day I fantasized a hypothetical which slammed wide some doors of perception. Suppose that at birth three infants were implanted with different color filters; one red, one green and one blue. Being invisible from an observers viewpoint they were forgotten by everyone except the surgeon who implanted them. The infants grew to adulthood with no more problems than any other bundle of absolute potential has fitting culturally acceptable molds. When some one pointed to an object and said it was green, they each noted the color they were seeing and learned just as fast as anyone else to regurgitate the correct name for that color. If the object were, say, green, the person with green filters would see white, the blue filters would see aqua, and the red filters would see a kind of brown — but no matter what actually transmitted to their brain, they all answered green just as they had been taught and found agreement with throughout their lives. Still with me? Good.
Along comes the mystery doc who, under the guise of national cataract testing, puts these three guys to sleep and undetectibly removes the lenses. When our patients come out of the anesthesia’s effects they each think nothing is the same color anymore. For the first time their eyes are perceiving the true color of objects, and for the first time they disagree with each other and the rest of the world even though they are all seeing the world without filters. This little “what if” goes a long way for me in helping me understand how so many people from such a vast variety of origins can find anything in common. Moreover it explains a lot about how people from the increasingly uniform backgrounds found in definable cultures begin to insist those agreements are based on certainties, their being fewer and fewer willing to admit or to even realize their exceptions to the rules.
I still can’t find red tees but I know to swap them with my foursome for white ones. If we can’t admit and behave according to our uniquenesses and celebrate our differences as an enrichment of human potential and stability in a country that insists on the highly dubious premise “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” we better quit procreating and let that Creator make clones trained to pursue a happiness that will no longer come as an integral part. If this culture believes we were created equal, what is all that energy expended on making us uniform to insure equality? Just wondering?

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