Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Doorway to the Soul - Spissky Hrad, Slovakia (Spring 2003)


It's said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. I wonder what the doorway is. A doorway would be more functional, it would seem (and I've been told I make a better door than window). I'd like to think my doorway looks a little like what you see above.

Anyway, something I've recently been pondering is the fact that reality is perceived differently by different individuals. Superficially, this should be readily obvious to everyone. However, what I'm referring to is the differences in brain structure that lead to these profoundly different perceptions of the world.

One example, as related by V.S. Ramachandran in his book "A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness" is that of a woman who had damage in the middle temporal area of her brain, which is one of the visual processing regions. As a result of this damage, she perceived the world as a series of static images, rather than the smooth flowing visual stream that most individuals experience. For her, reality was such that it made functioning in the world quite difficult. Crossing the street, she would have no way of knowing how fast the cars around her were going since they would appear frozen in place as if lit by a strobe light. And yet, that was her reality.

A person born blind lives with the reality of a world without light. A person born deaf lives in a world without sound. I suppose we like to think that if we're born "normal" then we're experiencing all there is to experience. But then, what about dogs, who can differentiate smells to a degree far beyond our own capacity for scent recognition? What about bees that can see wavelengths of light we can only imagine? What about elephants that can sense vibrations in the ground far below the intensity required to register in our own vibratory receptors? What about certain stroke victims who lose one half of their perceptual fields due to damage in the regions of their brains that tell them they have a right side requiring their attention?

These realities are no less valid than the reality of a "normal" human being. They are just as real and inescapable to the ones experiencing them as my own "reality" is to me. It's profoundly interesting that an organism's world is created by the perceptual tools that it has been given and by what it is able to do with the data gathered by those tools in the processing centers of its brain. The world we think we know does not exist except in our own minds.

"For we are such things as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep." - W. Shakespeare The Tempest

8 Comments:

Blogger teardrops101 said...

hello! thanks for your advice... it really helped me... hope we cud be friends...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006  
Blogger nicely said...

do you have a friendster account?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006  
Blogger An Enlightened Fellow said...

No, I actually don't. Why?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006  
Anonymous thinck said...

hi marty, This is the first time i have checked your blog, i think. gerald wasmer turned me on to it. nice work, i especially like your new photos. (it's especially gratifying to do a double-take to someone's photos and not be dissapointed). thanks for quoting the tempest, it reminded me of how eager i was, coming to europe, for a "sea-change into something rich and strange".

Thursday, January 12, 2006  
Blogger An Enlightened Fellow said...

Hey Tim,

Glad you dropped by. I've been keeping myself up to date on your own site. Liked the fontainbleau (sp?) video. Next time you're in SoCal, you'll have to visit the JTree with me. Anyway, I look forward to your continued visits to the blog and the addition of your own words of wisdom.

Ciao

Thursday, January 12, 2006  
Anonymous thinck said...

good! i'm afraid i left you quite an epistle on 31 December 2005.

Thursday, January 12, 2006  
Blogger An Enlightened Fellow said...

Duly noted. :)

Thursday, January 12, 2006  
Blogger X said...

This post is top-notch. I'll think about it in class today..while my realie students are writing responses to the Salem Witch Trials.

I can say this-reality for the Christian and Non-Christian is entirely different. I'm so glad I've gotten to know their point of view this year. It makes me wonder how many times I've forced my unrealistic views on people...

Monday, January 16, 2006  

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