perception

Practicing Factfulness

Practicing Factfulness

"Stories about gradual improvements rarely make the front page even when they occur on a dramatic scale and affect millions of people. And thanks to increasing press freedom and improving technology, we hear about more disasters than ever before. This improved reporting is itself a sign of human progress, but it creates the impression of the exact opposite." 

~ Hans Rosling

The Tug-of-War Between Routine and Novelty

The Tug-of-War Between Routine and Novelty

"Brains seek a balance between exploiting the knowledge we’ve earned and exploring new surprises. In developing over eons, brains have gotten this tension well balanced – an exploration/exploitation tradeoff that strikes the balance between flexibility and rigor. Too much predictability and we tune out; too much surprise and we become disoriented. We live in a constant tug-of-war between routine and novelty. Creativity lies within that tension."

~ David Eagleman

Total Eclipse of Internal Interference

Total Eclipse of Internal Interference

The real magic happens when we become intimately familiar with the moment-by-moment experience of being alive. Instead of trying to force complete experiences to happen. I focus on setting the stage for them to happen by exercising my attention. 

When remembering to notice that we're alive becomes a habit, we begin to erode the internal friction that obscures our view of the richness we're swimming in every day.

A Kind of Antenna for Other People

A Kind of Antenna for Other People

"I think one of my gifts is also one of my weaknesses. Which is, I have a kind of antenna for other people. My friends and my producers might disagree with me about this, but I think an antenna that picks up on what other people are feeling. But there's something good and bad about that."

~ Terry Gross

The World at Peace

The World at Peace

"The reason that we have the impression that the world is a violent place is that that's what news is about. News is about stuff that happens, not about stuff that doesn't happen, and all the parts of the world that are free of war, that are free of terrorist attacks just don't get reported to us and so we forget about them. We're getting better and better at reporting the violent events that do occur. Something blows up, you can be sure you'll hear about it, but we don't appreciate how much of the world at any given time is at peace."

~ Steven Pinker

 

 

 

The Threads of the Ego Experience Pulled Free

"Due to its nature as a construction, rather than as a metaphysical entity, the sense of being an ego can be radically deconstructed. Accomplishing this deconstruction requires noticing and tracking the sensory phenomena that together make up the construction of the self, and then patiently untangling them from the whole. One by one, as the threads of the ego experience are pulled free, perception shifts to encompass all of creation."

~ Michael Taft, highlighting key themes from his talk "Deconstructing The Perception Of The Ego/self" at the Science and Nonduality Conference, October 26, 2013

See also: The Atomic Components of Narrative Elements

The Difference Between Wisdom and Understanding

Excerpt from The Forms of Things Unknown: An Essay on the Impact of the Technological Revolution on the Creative Arts by Herbert Read:

Le Penseur (The Thinker), Auguste RodinA distinction which runs through the whole development of human thought has become blurred during the past two hundred years. Implicit in all ancient philosophy, acknowledged by medieval scholastics and the natural philosophers of the Renaissance, and even by Locke and Newton, is a difference of kind, if not of value, between wisdom and understanding.

By wisdom was meant an intuitive apprehension of truth, and the attitude involved was receptive or contemplative. Intellectus was the name given to this faculty in the Middle Ages.

Understanding, on the other hand, was always a practical or constructive activity, and ratio was its name — the power by means of which we perceive, know, remember and judge sensible phenomena. Philosophy was conceived as an endeavour to perfect this constructive power of the mind as an aid to wisdom.

To clarify perception, excluding all distortions due to emotion and prejudice; to analyse statements so that our knowledge is consistent; to establish facts, so that our memory is consolidated; to bring the inquiring will into harmony with the intuitive intellect, so that our judgment is true and constant — such have been the aims of all who called themselves philosophers.


See also: "The Forms of Things Unknown: A 1963 Essay on the Role of the Creative Arts in Society," Brain Pickings, August 29, 2012

Explore, Fixate, Repeat, All Day, Every Day

Leonardo da Vinci (c. 1503-05) La Gioconda (Detail) Oil on poplar wood. Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Excerpt from "Vision Is All About Change," by Susana Martinez-Conde, The New York Times: Gray Matter, May 17, 2013:

Every known visual system depends on movement: we see things either because they move or because our eyes do.

Some of the earliest clues to this came more than two centuries ago. Erasmus Darwin, a grandfather of Charles Darwin, observed in 1794 that staring at a small piece of scarlet silk on white paper for a long time — thereby minimizing (though not stopping) his eye movements — made it grow fainter in color, until it seemed to vanish...

What may be most surprising is that large eye motions and miniature eye jolts help us see the world in similar ways — largely at the same time.

Scientists had long believed that we used two types of oculomotor behavior to sample the visual world, alternating between big saccades to scan our surroundings and tiny ones to fix our gaze on a location of interest. Explore, fixate, repeat, all day, every day.

It seemed to make intuitive sense that we would have one brain system for exploring the environment and another for focusing on specific objects. But it turns out that exploration and gaze-fixation are not all that different processes in the brain.


See also: Choosing What We Perceive

When Things Do Not Fit Our Mental Map

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.  

~ Philip K. Dick

Excerpt from "Umberto Rossi on 'The Twisted Worlds of Philip K. Dick'," To The Best of Our Knowledge, Jan. 20, 2013: 

What I find fascinating in that famous quotation of Dick is that the basic idea is that reality is not something that manifests itself clearly, it's something that doesn't want to go away.

What's the meaning of this? The meaning is that we have a map, a mental map of reality in our head.

And sometimes we superimpose the map that we have in our head, the image of reality that we have in our head, that can be wrong sometimes.

We superimpose it on reality so sometimes we don't really access reality directly. We have our desires, fears, expectations, paranoias, whatever, that act like a sort of filter between [actual] reality -- creating a sort of virtual reality.

That happens for everybody. Well, in a media-saturated society like ours, this is even stronger. We know a match not because we have been there and seen that, we know a lot because we have seen it on TV, on the Internet on some website, or read it in the Wikipedia, and, well, when things do not fit our mental map, mental image, maybe we have touched reality. 

That's, I think, what an interpretation can be of that famous  statement by Dick. 


See also: Rossi, U. (2011). The twisted worlds of Philip K. Dick: A reading of twenty ontologically uncertain novels. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/692291452 

Personal Experience

Excerpt from The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman:

Television is a form of one-way entertainment, but that's not how people want to think about it. They want to believe they're somehow involved.

This is why they talk back to the TV. This is why they get upset if certain characters don't behave in a likable fashion.

This is why they complain when the story moves further from their own personal definition of interesting.

This is why they criticize boring episodes on the Internet and expect the show's writers to study their thoughts and care what they think.

This is why they love shows that involve voting. They believe their personal experience with television effects what television is.

But television is the only place where this belief exists. Within their actual life, they feel powerless. They believe voting is frivolous. They think caring is a risk. They assume they have no control over anything, so they don't even try.

They perceive reality backward.

Looking Without Seeing

"Lost in Art" by Liu Bolin

Excerpt from The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman:

I mean, seriously? Invisible? You should know better. You do know better. Tangible objects can't be invisible, ever. But they don't need to be. That's the crux of the concept. One of the most meaningful things I've learned from this is that people barely see what's openly in front of them, much less things that are camouflaged.

We all have a fixed perspective on how the world looks, and that perspective generates itself. We mentally change what we see to fit our unconscious perception of order.

I'm sure you're familiar with the phrase "People see what they want to see," but that's not really accurate. A more accurate phrase would be "People see what they assume must be seeable."

If there's no sense of movement and no unexpected sounds, we typically let our mind produce a backdrop that matches our memory. People will look at the world without seeing anything beyond their unconscious expectation.

See also:

Whatever is Not I

The problem of the experiencing subject holding the world together is not merely a language game, the grammar of the first personal singular creating ontology. It is more seriously a confessional ontology of the personalistic heart dominating our grammar, persuading us by our very sentence structures that when our pronoun is singular then so must be our verbs; our actions too must be single. The subject/predicate construction holds apart 'I' and everything else; whatever is not I becomes predicated of the subject. Imagine: we feel in such a way that this I, this me, is separate and over against the huge full world, as a pair of equal co-ordinates.

~ James Hillman, from The Thought of the Heart & The Soul of the World

Making Time

The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dalí, 1931

Finally, here is a “guaranteed” way to lengthen your life. Childhood holidays seem to last forever, but as you grow older time seems to accelerate. “Time” is related to how much information you are taking in – information stretches time. A child’s day from 9am to 3.30pm is like a 20-hour day for an adult. Children experience many new things every day and time passes slowly, but as people get older they have fewer new experiences and time is less stretched by information. So, you can “lengthen” your life by minimising routine and making sure your life is full of new active experiences – travel to new places, take on new interests, and spend more time living in the present.

~ Steve Taylor, from Making Time: Why Time Seems to Pass at Different Speeds and How to Control It 

[Pointed to Explore by Kit. Thanks!]