member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life


This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo


(Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Friday, February 27, 2009

Perception and "Reality"

I am looking here for solid visual aids and powerful emotive stimuli to help my subconscious along in its attempts to accept the idea that there are many universes, and that those many universes may in fact all be overlapping, occupying the same space; that it's not immense speed that we need in order to visit other streams of reality, it's simply a more masterful application of our visual capabilities, of our awareness. My conscious mind accepts the new physics. Greedily. Now I must train the rest of me.
This is a record of that search, and also a record of my own attempt to create doorways out of walls, and windows out of mountains. Following that visual theme, I'll start with a story borrowed from “The Holographic Universe,” by Michael Talbot, in which he relates an experience with a hypnotist his father had hired to entertain some friends at his house. The hypnotist performed a variety of the usual tricks with his subject, a friend of the author's father, named Tom:
“But the highlight of the evening was when he told Tom that when he came out of trance, his teenage daughter, Laura, would be completely invisible to him. Then, after having Laura stand directly in front of the chair in which Tom was sitting, the hypnotists awakened him and asked him if he could see her.
“Tom looked around the room and his gaze appeared to pass right through his giggling daughter. 'No,' he replied. The hypnotist asked Tom if he was certain, and again, despite Laura's rising giggles, he answered no. Then the hypnotist went behind Laura so he was hidden from Tom's view and pulled an object out of his pocket. He kept the object carefully concealed so that no one in the room could see it, and pressed it against the small of Laura's back. He asked Tom to identify the object. Tom leaned forward as if staring directly through Laura's stomach and said that it was a watch. The hypnotist nodded and asked if Tom could read the watch's inscription. Tom squinted as if struggling to make out the writing and recited both the name of the watch's owner (which happened to be a person unknown to any of us in the room) and the message. The hypnotist then revealed that the object was indeed a watch and passed it around the room so that everyone could see that Tom had read its inscription correctly.
“When I talked to Tom afterward, he said that his daughter had been absolutely invisible to him. All he had seen was the hypnotist standing and holding a watch cupped in the palm of his hand. Had the hypnotist let him leave without telling him what was going on, he never would have known he wasn't perceiving normal consensus reality.” (141)

That's what I mean when I say I want to make doorways out of walls.

The part of the puzzle I feel is represented by the chess board, if I continue following the imagery of Alice in Wonderland, is the social conditioning that limits what we see. For example, there is the Bartlett Effect. The Bartlett Effect is a major problem when the only evidence you have in investigating a crime is eye-witness testimony. Numerous experiments have shown that several people all present at the same event won't see the same thing. Your average, averagely fearful white suburbanite will tell you that the perpetrator was a tall black man. Thirteen people present at the same bank robbery will all point confidently at someone different in a line up: someone who was in Germany at the time and so couldn't have been there, someone they saw on the news, one of the other victims. Anyone the police officer next to them seems keen on. This is your mind, having bracketed the world into patterns, seeing what it expects to see. People get frightened in these scenarios, and if your mind can’t grasp what it sees, it’ll do a little overdubbing--see something it can grasp. In fact, according to current neuroscience, we actually “see” very little. We take in a bit of information through our eyes, and our brain fills in the rest based on memory, past experience-- what we expect. The breakdown can be somewhere close to 50/50: fifty percent of what we think we're seeing is in fact only what we're expecting to see based on a combination of what we've seen before and our inherited cultural expectations. (And then, a lot of what we've seen before was already based on those inherited cultural expectations...)
The following section of a BBC documentary on the brain plays with this idea a bit:





Now, if all that's true, then all kinds of amazing, impossible things could be happening right in front of us all the time, and we just don't see them. Right?

Rob Gonsalves' paintings are another fantastic representation of how training yourself to see from more than one perspective at once can allow you to see more than one existence at a time. Here's hoping this becomes a talent off the canvas as well:

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